“Apologetics for Cats” – clever clickbait or savvy strategy?

cat w glasses“Apologetics for Cats” emerged out of a {frustrated} brainstorm session while I was puzzling over the state of apologetics in the Church.

(So, of course I’m not actually going to write apologetics for cats – but see below.)

When I started this blogging journey, I noticed at once that there is a lot of creative, engaging apologetics content out there.

And, yet.


Even cat videos do better than Apologetics debates!
Even the big name faith defenders, aka, the Million Dollar Apologists, tend to have a mere few hundred to a few thousand “likes” on their videos and blog posts. {What chance do we One Dollar Apologists have??}

Popular science sites have ten times that; and, not surprisingly, entertainment, sport, and celebrity sites run close to a million views. Even cat videos do better than apologetics debates on, say, the origin and meaning of life!! {The two million cat videos on YouTube average something like 12K views each.}


Why aren’t more people using these resources?
Why is the Church ignoring these hard-won faith-defending resources?? Why aren’t more ordinary people engaging with the content?


Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answer
I have some guesses, but I haven’t solved the puzzle. Maybe there’s a question we’re missing? If people really are looking for cats and not the meaning of life, what can we do? We can’t say, “Here, read this book!” all day long – but what can we say instead?

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My first Dead End
A year ago, confident and hopeful, I started this blog, excitedly heading down the Internet Highway to find and share useful apologetics content. I reasoned that if I could point busy, overwhelmed Christians to satisfying, field-tested answers, they’d confidently engage their neighbors on tough questions about faith. Conversion stories would begin to trickle in, Christians would grow bolder, hard-working apologists would be appreciated.

Road to Nowhere
But, I hadn’t traveled very far across the landscape of unbelief when I began to tire of the same old attacks on Christianity from skeptics. The landscape seemed littered with mangled logic, wrecked conversations, and piles of unread apologetics and theology books. The answers were available, but nobody seemed to have a real appetite for truth. Well, not nobody. But, few. Then, like annoying highway billboards, the same inflammatory rhetoric appeared all along this road to nowhere: the Bible is full of Contradictions; the Old Testament God is Genocidal; All Religions are the Same; Jesus Didn’t Claim to be God; Evolution has Disproven the Bible; You can be Good without God; Evil and Suffering disprove God….  All of these have been asked and answered.  Long ago, and thousands of times. This road was going nowhere.

Escape! {from the first Dead End}
Dismay began to seep into my soul as I watched internet skeptics circle like vultures over the carefully curated truths and patient explanations of Christian apologists. Fending them off seems to take so much energy and time. Still, dispiriting as all this has been, it’s to be expected. It is the nature of the battle – and only eternity will reveal the ultimate outcomes. The apologist-as-prophet is charged with proclaiming the truth, preparing and making a defense, not with converting anyone. That’s the province of the Holy Spirit. We can take comfort in the fact that God’s Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish its purpose. Apologists also understand that our ministry is a rubble-clearing, highway-straightening endeavor that can prepare the way for the Gospel. It is possible for noble souls such as we are to persevere, even on such short rations.


The second Dead End
But, as I chugged on down the road in search of apologetics gold, I made the mistake of glancing in my rear view mirror. And it is what I saw there that made me veer off into the Slough of Despond. Because what I saw was: nothing. Those busy, overwhelmed Christians weren’t eagerly following. They weren’t in pursuit of life-transforming truths to share with their neighbors, their children or even their own souls. Well, it wasn’t too surprising that nobody was following a beginning blogger, and I had strategies and mentors to help me with that. I could deal with that; it would just take time. But – the Big Name Apologists didn’t seem to have very big crowds either. Almost all of them were making funding appeals. And the highest social media engagement stats were in the low thousands. Worse, when I looked closely, the thin crowds following the Big Name Apologists seemed to look suspiciously like other apologists. Ordinary Christians seem to be abandoning the fight to a small band of dedicated apologists. Decades after CS Lewis, apologetics is still where the line is thinnest.

Still Stuck
Christianity is in trouble in America and the West; at the same time, we have better answers than ever before to age-old challenges to the faith. Science and archaeology are proving to be particularly powerful allies in the fight for truth. In a sense, we are, indeed, living in Strobel’s “golden age of apologetics” – we’re training more apologists and producing a wealth of creative resources to equip the Church. And, yet. Bible literacy is at a dismal low. So are are personal holiness and zeal for the Gospel. Virtually nobody shares their faith with their neighbor. The rising generation of Christians, we are told, is slipping away from us.

Still Puzzling
It’s obvious that the Church urgently needs apologetics training – the puzzle is, “How?” Everything I’ve thought of so far has been done. Simpler books on philosophy and theology have been written; books for kids have been written, resources and forums for parents have begun to appear; hundreds of thousands of short answers have been made available in blogs, videos, and podcasts. Contemporary analogies have been developed, and image-rich content made freely available. Apologetics schools and degrees have popped up, the apologetics blogosphere is expanding steadily, campus ministries and church training events are filling the calendar. Anyone with YouTube access can be mentored in the art of apologetic debate by watching the best minds and orators of our generation.


But, so far, only bona fide apologists and apologetics junkies seem to be able to tear themselves away from the internet’s two million cat videos.

As for me, for now, I’ll likely be found in the Slough, drafting Foundations of Feline Apologetics.

Let me know if you have a better idea.

 – Heather

 

2 thoughts on ““Apologetics for Cats” – clever clickbait or savvy strategy?

  1. I love apologetics and it’s the reason I found Christ. Through researching Jesus mythicism (particularly the ‘dying and rising’ pagan god spin) , after coming across the claim in a terrible documentary, I found the true Christ. It was the last thing I was expecing to find. Reading apologetics on the issue drove me to look for more answers to my concerns over the validity of Christianity, until I was left in no doubt.

    Unfortunately some of the more desperate “Christian” sites I have seen over recent years have resorted to calling out pop stars and celebrities over their supposed worship of Satan/Baal/Horus/Spaghetti. I think it is called click-bating. Then there is the eschatalogically obsessed “the nephilim are coming to get us” alternative sites that do the faith absolutely no favours. There is so much craziness out there for those who are new to the faith, or potentially thinking of making that leap, that I am reminded of the young newly hatched turtles leaving their nest on the beach and making for the open sea. Before they get there they have to endure all kinds of preditors, natural forces, and even their own adult kind. Many start the journey, far fewer make it. These sites are hugely invaluable, and neccessary. Please keep up the work. To some of us it really makes a difference.

    • Thanks for taking the time to write this encouraging comment! I will share it on the Apologetics Bloggers FB Group page so that my brother and sister apologists can be encouraged, too. The turtle metaphor is really motivating – I might just have to find a turtle poster for above my writing desk! And I believe you’re right; we each need to keep broadcasting the truth in our little area just in case someone is tuning in to find it!

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