Fallacies and Belief

A common objection I hear many non-Christians make is that we believe in Christianity simply because it makes us feel good.  We’re not interested in truth or rational enquiry, we just believe it because we “fear death,” or because we have “blind faith” in it.  People are unbelievers because they’re rational, while people that are believers believe for non-rational or irrational reasons.  This is an exasperating claim, but it seems initially plausible. How do we think about this assertion as believers? Fortunately, it is ultimately impotent as an argument, and here is why.

First, it commits the genetic fallacy.  You commit a genetic fallacy when you attempt to falsify an individuals belief by where it originated.  But what does the origin of an individuals faith have to do with its veracity?  A certain worldview or viewpoint could be true regardless of where the belief came from.  For example, maybe I’m a Christian because I fear death.  Does this say anything about the veracity of Christianity or theism?  No.  It only says something interesting about me as a person, but not about whether my viewpoint is true or not.  Similarly, a person may be an atheist for some nonrational reason, like fearing the idea of God’s judgment, but this doesn’t have anything to do with whether atheism is true or false, it only tells us something about the person himself.

Second, it’s just an assumption.  How would the non-Christian know why we believe unless he knew us personally?  Perhaps he thinks this because most Christians he’s known believed it for the reasons stated above, but why does it follow that all of us also believe it for those reasons?  Does the unbeliever think that only his view is a legitimately rational view and ours isn’t?  Isn’t it possible that rational thinking and evidence played a part in our belief as well?  Even if it doesn’t play a big part in our faith, can’t it still be a rational belief to hold? I’m not trying to promote relativism here, I’m trying to promote humility and respect.  I’m also not saying that evidence needs to play a primary role in everyone’s faith, but I’m saying that a person shouldn’t make assumptions as to why a Christian, or anybody for that matter, believes what he does. People need to ask sincere questions as to why a person believes what he does rather than make assertions without basis.

While there are good reasons to believe Christianity, unaided reason operating in a vacuum doesn’t bring us to God. It can, at best, bring us to believe some abstract notion of God, but it won’t enter us into a relationship with Him. That’s something that God initiates Himself. It was God who created Adam and Eve and entered into a relationship with them. It was God who came to Abram and promised to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3). It was God who started His covenant with Israel (Exodus). And it was God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save sinners like us, that we may become children of God (Rom. 8:12-17). So let’s not feel overly proud of ourselves that we’re smart enough to believe in Jesus Christ, but be humble that God loves us so much that He revealed Himself to us through His Son.

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This entry was posted in Apologetic Thursdays, Campus Mind, Spiritual Growth and Theology, Why I am a Christian. Bookmark the permalink.

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