Lots of good advice from someone who I think is the most promising Christian apologist aged 25 and under.
About the writer:
Jonathan has been a Christian since 1996, having had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. He has become interested in Christian apologetics over the last 4 or 5 years. He holds an honors degree in Forensic Biology, and a Masters (M.Res) degree in Evolutionary Biology. He is a proponent of the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), about which he has written extensively on Evolution News & Views and Uncommon Descent, in addition to being involved with the Centre for Intelligent Design UK. He is also a contributor to various apologetics websites, including CrossExamined.org, AllAboutGod.com, and GotQuestions.org. He has participated in a number of summer internships: those have been with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, with AllAboutGod in Colorado Springs, and with Frank Turek in Charlotte. He is also a graduate of the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA) and the Discovery Institute’s student summer seminar program. Outside of his academic interests, he is also a tournament chess player, with a FIDE (International Chess Federation) rating of 1855.
The post lists 13 lessons, here is one:
Lesson 1: Be Careful How Early You Enter into the Public Arena
It’s perfectly natural that, when you have a new idea, you want to share it with the world. Over the last decade or so, there has been an explosion in the popularity of online blogging, which has given people the ability to spread ideas and information quickly. This has its obvious advantages, but it also has some significant risk factors and draw-backs, especially for young people. Among these is the fact that what you publish publicly on the internet is effectively public material forever.
Why might that be a risk-factor for young people? When you’re young, your views and ideas are still in the process of crystallising. Being less wedded to a given paradigm than those of the older generation means you are more likely to revise your position or change your mind on certain issues. I, for one, have seen an evolution in my own views and arguments over the past five years. Your arguments also become more refined and sophisticated over time as you learn from the experience of defending them and conversing with people who are better acquainted with a given field than you are. You also become increasingly better informed as you read more and more about a subject. Imagine the frustration, then, when someone Googles your name, and the first hit is to an article you wrote some four or five years ago, articulating views or argumentation which you would no longer defend. You may well have expressed your current views and better refined arguments elsewhere, but that is not necessarily the first thing people will see. Things you said years ago can come back to haunt you for years. So, exercise caution!
A second danger here is that some areas relating to apologetics present particular risk factor when seeking employment in certain professions. For example, in the academic environment in which we currently find ourselves, being overtly public about your views on biological design may land you in seriously hot water when it comes to building a career in that field. The modern formulation of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has become so entrenched in modern academia that people do not want to put their own careers in jeopardy by being associated with someone who has public affiliations to intelligent design. Similarly, as we have seen with increasing frequency, public criticism of same-sex marriage may land you in hot water in certain career paths.
My advice would thus be to give careful consideration to how early you enter into the public arena to express your views. Think about allowing them to crystallise first. Otherwise, a pseudonym or alias may be a relatively safe option.
It’s true for any profession, as this week’s Brendan Eich story proved. I really recommend that younger Christians consider using an alias when writing on controversial topics. You do not want people to search for your name and find Christian views that are no longer popular in the culture as a whole. People do screen you for “fit” with a company. And Christian conservatives do not fit with many companies. Just ask Mozilla. Even giving a donation is now enough to get you labeled.
Sometimes the consequences for speaking out under your real name can be even worse than not getting a job, or getting fired. Some countries have Human Rights Commissions, which are tribunals where groups favored by the left can sue conservative and/or Christian persons for offending them with speech. And if you write about Islam under your real name, you might get a visit from some angry extremists. These are all things to consider before you write under your own name.