Surfing Apologetics: Building Your Own Apologetics Database with The Poached Egg
guest blog by Andy Willhoit
Greg’s Note: When longtime TPE visitor (and endless source of encouragement for me), Andy Willhoit, told me that he had a method for building his own apologetics database using primarily TPE, I was very much intrigued and asked if he would consider writing a guest blog about it he didn’t hesitate. One of the complaints I hear about TPE most often is that I post too often and it can be a little overwhelming or intimidating, and I can concede that point, but I always tell people to treat TPE like a newspaper—don’t try to read everything, just pick what grabs you and leave the rest to look up in our archives whenever the mood strikes. I must say though, that Andy has come up with a great system here that’s easy to implement and organize, so instead of going on anymore about it, I’ll let Andy take it from here. Enjoy!
I can't recall how I first discovered The Poached Egg (TPE), an online Christian Apologetic ministry created and operated by Greg West. It was obviously just by chance during one of my typical nights of surfing the net for specific apologetic material. All I can say is - “thank you God for leading me to this site.” However, if one were to ask me were I discovered the majority of my recent apologetic internet resources, I'd tell them “from The Poached Egg, where else?”
TPE has literally changed the way I surf the net for all things apologetic. The actual sport of “surfing” is a great analogy to use too. In the past, like a true surfer, I would expend great effort, scanning the horizon and paddling swiftly to catch the next good wave (finding a particular post or article). Many times the waves would peter out (not what I was hoping for) and I would repeat the process, over and over. Occasionally I would get lucky and ride a wave all the way in. Rinse and repeat.
The beauty of TPE, is that Greg does a fantastic job of compiling TONS of apologetic material, mostly web links to other fantastic sites hosted by talented writers, both professional and lay people, and he posts them on the TPE Facebook page. This is a super friendly format, as it is like quickly scanning a food menu, allowing the reader to quickly decide what topic is of interest and which is not, all from one very familiar and accessible source - my personal Facebook newsfeed. Now days, my surf method is letting the calories build up around the waist line as I no longer have to paddle fast and hard to find that next great wave. The waves come straight to me, in frequent pulses, one after the other. TPE is doing all the hard work for me, sending the good waves straight to my location.
There are times when I feel a bit overwhelmed. Too many good waves to choose from. I don't know how Greg does it, but he finds awesome material to link, and be forewarned, when he is on a roll, he is on roll! There are days when TPE posts fill up my newsfeed. But that's fine by me, it's kind of like opening up the mail box to see that it's stuffed with all of your favorite magazines that only come once a month. Perhaps you'll end up like me, with 3 or 4 web browser pages open, and a dozen or so tabs open inside each one of these - afraid to close one and move on to the next because the information is too good. Pretty soon the computer's RAM starts to bog down and I am forced close everything and reboot. It was during one of these reboots that the inspiration to get organized and take advantage of the many TPE posts finally hit me.
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I have always been the type of person who lazily saves a document by simply hitting “save”. Not paying any attention that it defaults to “my documents” along with all the other documents I have saved over the eons. It ends up looking like a basket full of mismatched socks. Totally unorganized! It was the quality of TPE's multiple posts, and my passion for apologetics, that finally inspired me to get organized. I can honestly say that my document file system is something I am very proud of. Now if only my physical library could look and function so organized. Since I started saving TPE articles in my new file system, it has made my apologetic perusing much more effective and enjoyable, and my computer's RAM is happier in the process as well – fewer reboots.
Here's how “I” do it: Under “my documents” I created a new folder and named it “Apologetics”. Inside this folder, I created another new folder and named it “Study Resources”. Inside this folder I created a multitude of additional folders, giving each one a specific name related to the numerous topics within the discipline of apologetics. My folders include titles such as, “Archaeological evidence” “Arguments against God” “Arguments for God” “Answering Atheism” “Biological sciences” “Canonicity” “Christianity vs World Religions” “Copy-cat myths” “Curriculum resources” “Creation I.D. vs Evolution” “Did Jesus say he was God” “Early church fathers” “Ethics, Cultural & Morality” “Evangelism & Apologia” “Evil & O.T. Ethics” “External evidence” “Eye witness testimony” “Founding Fathers” “Internal evidence” “Scripture reliability” and so on, and so on. You get the picture! I have many more files not mentioned here. The point is, TPE posts on such a wide variety of topics that I need very specific folders to save the articles to. Which leads me to the next step.
When I open a TPE link from my Facebook page, I am linked directly to the official TPE web site. The beauty of Greg's format is that he presents merely the text from the first few paragraphs of a particular article found elsewhere from another blog or website. This allows the TPE fan to quickly scan the article for interest and relevance. Once I determine that I want to read more, I click on the link below the prompt included with each article from an external source– it reads, “FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING >>>”
Clicking on this link takes the reader straight to the source of the original article. From there, I decide whether or not the article continues to meet my personal criteria. If it does, I will either read it in it's entirety, or as is most often the case, I save it as a pdf file (you have to have Adobe Acrobat installed to do this) to a specific sub-folder (i.e., “Evangelism & Apologia”) inside my main “Apologetics” folder, and read it at a later date when I have more time or am in need of a material from a specific topic. I often get even more specific as I go. For instance, under my “Evangelism & Apologia” folder I have created another sub-folder titled “starting apologetics at your local church” (a frequent topic of TPE links).
Using this method has freed up a lot of my time, given me piece of mind in that I am not missing out on relevant articles, and allows me to efficiently organize and build up an enormous library of extremely valuable apologetic material. My current focus as of late has been crafting introductory curriculum for apologetic studies. Having TPE at my fingertips, along with my document folder system, enables me to find exactly what I am looking for, quickly and effortlessly. Thank you TPE!