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Is Christianity A Fallacious Legacy?

April 15, 2013

Today, we’re offering a brief lesson on an atheistic argument that’s quite common: The argument that a Christian believes in God only because his or her parents believe(d) in God. Does this argument have any value in favor of atheism?

While this argument may have some truth to it–after all, many Christians grew up with one or more Christian parents– it does absolutely nothing to disprove the existence of God, and so effectively does nothing to fault a Christians belief in God.

Many atheists will often say something like “You/others only believe there’s a God because your parents believed”.

This commits the Genetic Fallacy of saying that because you’ve shown how a belief originated, you’ve shown the belief to be false. Now you may be spot-on correct about the origination of the belief, but you haven’t shown the belief to be false.

Every belief has an object of that belief. The belief, and the object of the belief are two separate subjects.

Now you may show that the origination of the belief to be weak or faulty, but you’ve done absolutely nothing to disprove the object of the belief. And if you have not disproved the object of the belief, although you may show the origination of the belief to be weak or faulty, you also have not shown the belief itself to be weak or faulty because you have not disproved the object, which in this case is God.

To illustrate:

Your mother taught you to believe in God; therefore the belief is false.

Here, the belief is in the existence of God. God’s existence is the object of the belief.

Your mother taught you that flowers need water to grow; therefore the belief is false.

Here, the belief is that flowers need water to grow. The fact that flowers need water to grow is the object of the belief.

It’s obvious that flowers need water to grow. The fact that we may not know this from a standpoint of botany, but rather received the simple instruction from our mother, does not change this fact. The fact that our mother taught us that flowers need water to grow does not disprove the fact that flowers do in fact need water to grow.

Similarly, the fact that belief in Gods existence originated with our mother (and/or father) does not disprove Gods existence.

What we’re really dealing with here are three things:

1) The origination of the belief

2) The belief that is held

3) The object of the belief

Now, as has been shown, showing how a belief originates (1) does not invalidate the belief that is held (2). And if the belief that is held is not invalidated, the object of the belief (3) has not been disproven.

Not only this, but the argument that ones belief originated with their parents neglects and avoids any and all education on the matter since the introduction of the original belief. One may become a botanist, or learn the process by which flowers grow. One may study apologetics, or study the Bible from historical, cultural, philosophical and scientific points of view, and therefore come to a rational, reasonable acceptance of Gods existence.

So what we see here is that the argument “you believe in God because your parents do” holds no water on any level and fails to have any value as an argument in favor of atheism.

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