Like riding a bike

We’ve recently undergone the task of teaching our daughter to ride her bike without training wheels. And through the tears we often hear the protest “you’re hurting my feelings” from our less than enthusiastic daughter. To her, riding a bike has gone from an enjoyable activity to a huge chore that her parents force her to undertake almost every evening.

While working with my daughter I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between learning how to ride and learning theology and apologetics.

Learning how to ride a bike is hard. Especially for children whose motor skills and sense of equilibrium are still developing. Learning how to ride a bike results in a lot of falls, tears, and anger. And worst of all, it is not over in a day.

The same could be said for learning theology and apologetics.

It takes hard work, time, and a willingness to risk making mistakes (sometimes very big mistakes) to learn theology and apologetics. Feelings are bound to get hurt along the way as we both develop and sharpen our beliefs and as we learn how to argue for our beliefs. Sometimes we get embarrassed when we go to argue for a newly formed belief we don’t quite fully understand and, due to our lack of experience, end up falling flat on our face when blindside by a rebuttal we hadn’t considered before.

And just like riding a bike. We don’t learn theology or apologetics because it makes us feel good or because the potential positive feelings later on will outweigh the pain experienced now. We learn how to ride a bike because it is a good thing to learn in and of itself. With theology and apologetics, we can add to this that we also study them because they help us grow closer to God.

No one said that learning theology and/or apologetics is easy.

It’s like riding a bike.


5 responses to “Like riding a bike

  1. And like riding a bike, mastering apologetics has no bearing on whether or not your life will be happy or fulfilled or even if it matters in the grand scheme of the universe.

    • Learning to ride a bike is a metaphor for learning in general. Did you miss that? Was I unclear in my post about that?

      As for whether one can live a happy and fulfilled life without learning apologetics or riding a bike. Well I suppose that all depends on what you define a happy and fulfilled life to be. If you mean a life full of sensual pleasure, then sure you could be essentially brain-dead and live a happy and fulfilled life.

      However if you define happiness in the more classical sense then the study of apologetics is indeed required if for no other reason than to eliminate contenders for the worldview that best represents reality.

      So its important, if one cares about wisdom. Do you care about wisdom?

      • Your metaphor was clear, I just found it also presented an opportunity to look at it in my way as well. Pretty clever if I say so myself.

        And it was remarkable how you jumped from a life lived without learning to ride a bike or learning apologetics being akin to a life of brain-dead-ness. Your powers of hyperbole are strong!

        Seriously, though, one can spend a life learning and growing in intellect without opening a single page of your or anyone else's apologetics how-to instructions. So, I reject your false dichotomy premise in your final question.

        • Well, to be honest this post was more geared towards those who have already decided which bike they want to ride on. I suppose the discussion between you and I would be in regards to how well our respective bikes work, how far they take us, etc. However in order to do that with any measure of effectiveness we would both need to be pretty familiar with our respective bikes or worldviews, wouldn't we?

          I would think that anyone seeking a well-reasoned intellectual discourse between opposing worldviews would welcome a post encouraging adherents of a particular worldview to both know it well and seek to actively engage with others.

  2. That's a fair point, I'll grant you.

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