The Big Game—Week 3
Ask Anything: You’re only a Christian Because Your Parents Are
As a teenager I received this very accusation from some of my atheist friends. During this season of my life my parents were going through a divorce which meant an otherwise stable environment I had always relied upon was uprooted. The Enemy used this temporary lapse in life stability to introduce an argument against my faith which at the time carried with it an element of truth that I was unable to explain away. I really hadn’t investigated Christianity’s truth claims for myself. The appropriate response should have been to do just that. Unfortunately, the angry and hurt teenager that I was back then threw in the towel on God and I turned my back completely on God and everything I believed had to do with Him.
Much later in life (January 2009) I finally did embark on that journey and it only seemed natural to first tackle the problem that led to my doubts in the first place. A variation on the argument can sometimes go like this if we break it down into a logical syllogism:
1) You were born in a Western culture that is predominantly Christian.
2) If you had been born in Mumbai, India you would be Hindu.
3) Therefore, Christianity is false.
If you’re scratching your head wondering what the first and second premises have to do with the conclusion, then you’ve landed squarely on the problem of recognizing that this formula has an error in it, formally known as Genetic Fallacy or fallacy of origins. It is the idea that you can invalidate someone’s belief/position by showing how a person came to hold that position or belief. How a person came to believe something (even if they have inadequate reasons for doing so) has nothing to do with whether the belief or position is true or not.
Coming to this realization, I then applied the same formula to my own situation and realized I now had 1) permission to investigate the truth claims for myself with no commitment to a particular outcome, 2) resolve any doubts encountered to the best of my intellectual powers of reason and known data at that time, and that 3) given a thorough investigation, putting truth and evidence above all other factors, I could have confidence I would arrive at the truth and have peace in it knowing I had done proper due diligence.
If you’re investigating Christianity for yourself, and if you happen to be attending AC3 for the next couple of weeks during that process I hope you’ve found an environment where you’re encouraged to ask questions and do your own digging without fear of condemnation. We’re glad you’re here!
-Written by James Boerner