Quick Replies to Tough Questions

Quick Replies to Tough Questions

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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I have been teaching the last few weeks at our Sunday morning men’s group, and for the last two Sunday’s have posed some tough questions for them to consider. 

Here are three questions they wrestled with that may leave a Christian flat-footed the first time they hear it. 

If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would be a Muslim. If you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu. The only reason you’re a Christian is that you were born in America or that your parents raised you as a Christian.

You have made a ‘choice’ to be a Christian, not because your parents or grandparents were Christian. A family’ heritage’ is something that is handed down, usually something that adds honor or pride to a family or individual. A heritage is acquired because of one’s birth into a family or inheritance received, not because of a deed, action, choice, or behavior.

For example, my own family had a heritage of naming the firstborn boy John. We had several generations of John’s in my family, my older brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. I don’t know who started it or why, but I ended it. I much prefer Jedidiah over John, so we named our son Jedidiah John. 

When someone tells you you are a Christian because you were born into a Christian family, or you are a Muslim because your parents were Muslim, or Hindu because you were born in India, commit the genetic fallacy.

I may have started out as a Christian because I was born into a Christian family, but that has nothing to do with the ‘truth’ of my religion. People (often professors in college) will be the first to make this claim to young believers. You’re a Christian because you were born in America. Many students will have never heard this before and do not have a thoughtful, reasoned response. It could be the first in a long line of objections that undermine their faith. We need to be Christians who are Christians because it is true, not because our parents were Christians.

Students need to have established their faith within themselves before they go to college or join the workforce, or at least begin the process. The truth of their belief has nothing to do with their being born into that religion. Hopefully, they have some reasons for their faith (reasons they can share with others), and they’re not just parroting their parent’s beliefs.

God states in Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder. But, then in Joshua and Judges, God allows and even commands people to murder and destroy cities, all the men, women, and children. Isn’t that a contradiction?

It is not about what people call murder, but what God calls murder. Murder is killing that is not morally justified.

Yes, God called for the destruction of cities and people groups, but there is an essential distinction between killing and murder. I will add that if you make it, you own it. God granted us our lives, and He has the prerogative to take them away.

For example, the Canaanites were not destroyed because of race, religion, or land. Neither were they killed to convert to Judaism. It was their sin. They were a violent people who practiced idolatry, group sex, rape, bestiality, and child sacrifice.

The earliest Canaanite laws prescribed the death penalty for incest, but a few centuries later, it was a mere economic penalty, liken it to a parking ticket.

We also have sources outside the Bible that confirm child sacrifice was taking place regularly within the Canaanite religion; no other ancient culture did this consistently.

If God is so loving and forgiving, why can’t he be more tolerant of our sin?

God is loving, God is forgiving, and God is merciful, but that is not necessarily the same as being tolerant. The word tolerant today has changed into being accepting of other views. That is, you have to agree with them, not just tolerate them.

Look up tolerance online, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and you will see the words “marked by forbearance or endurance.” In other words, you have to struggle with something that rubs you the wrong way, something you find disagreeable or even painful.

There is a reason God does not tolerate sin. His nature is holy and pure. There is no impurity within Him, and He cannot be in any kind of relationship with sin.

It is His combination of mercy and justice that gives us the answer we so desperately need. His mercy by itself cannot satisfy his perfect justice any more than His justice can be satisfied by His perfect mercy. Both demand a Godly response.

The sin has to be paid for, and His paying for it not only satisfies His justice but His mercy. God is VERY intolerant of sin, but His love for us, His mercy toward us, provides a way for us as imperfect vessels to dwell with a holy and perfect being.


Quick Replies To Tough Questions by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/blog.

If I was born in Iraq…

Reading Time: 4 minutesI would probably be a Muslim. If I was born in India, I would probably be a Hindu. If I was born in Israel, I would probably be Jewish. If I was born in China, I would probably be a Buddhist. So? What follows from that line of thinking?

You may have heard of this reason to dismiss your religious beliefs. Yes, it is probably true, if I was born in Iraq I would most likely be a Muslim. So what? If I was born on Mars, I would be a Martian, but how that relates to the truth of Martianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism is completely irrelevant.

This is known as the genetic fallacy and it implies that a person’s faith is irrelevant because he or she was, can I say brain washed, and they are now just parroting their parents’, their culture’s faith.

Gary Gutting in a New York Times article wrote, “Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning.” 1

If someone had been born in a Christian home they might very well be a Bible thumping Baptist believing southern conservative. So what follows from this? Of course our religion can be from social conditioning, but what does that have to do with the truth of our religion?

Take a college class in philosophy and you may hear this one day. Your faith, your religious convictions, stem from social conditioning and has little or nothing to do with truth. That is a bold claim. To put it another way is, no one investigates the truth of their religion or actually has reasons and evidence for their beliefs.

My mom used to tell me, “One way you know you have won an argument is when they start to insult you.” Her point was if someone starts to insult you, it is often because they can’t come up with any other reasons as to why you are wrong.

One way to help you view and recognized the Genetic Fallacy is to compare it to the ad hominem, or personal attack. An example of the ad hominem, (which is Latin for ‘to the man’) would be, “Martha Stewart spent time in prison; I am not going to listen to her ideas on home decor any more.” What does her time in prison have to do with the quality or truthfulness of her advice in home decor? The ad hominem attacks the person, not the reasons. The genetic fallacy attacks where the belief came from.

There are several variations of the Genetic Fallacy. Here are a few examples that might help you recognize them.

1. Jim: Women should not serve in the military.
Tom: You don’t agree with the idea of women in the military because of your Christian conservative upbringing.

2. Jim: If you want to learn self-defense Kajukenbo is the best martial art out there.
Tom: You say that because you are from Hawaii, and that is where Kajukenbo was founded.

3. Jim: I just bought this book on how to start a business by Bill Gates. Have you read it?
Tom: Why would you listen to Bill Gates on how to run a business? He was arrested in 1989.

4. Jim: Did you read this article on gay marriage written by GLAAD?
Tom: I would not believe a word of it, because it was written by homosexuals.

5. Jimmy: I don’t believe in Santa Claus.
Tommy: My mommie said Santa Claus is real, so he must be real.

6. Jim: Hey Tom, have you met Tony yet?
Tom: I would not trust Tony because he is a Muslim and he might be a terrorist.

7. Jim: Everything on that shelf is only a dollar! What a deal!
Tom: I wouldn’t buy anything on that shelf; all of it was made in China.

Click on this link for  a very short clip of Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, committing the genetic fallacy.

Notice, as in #5 the genetic fallacy can go both ways. That is, you can commit this fallacy by believing something is true because of where it came from. Look at the idea and judge it on its merit, rather than the source. If you accept or reject an idea because of its source, you commit the genetic fallacy.

Got Questions.org put it this way, “The problem with the genetic fallacy is that the truth of a statement is in no way based on the origin of the concept. A philosophical or theological concept is true or it is not; it does not matter how a person came to believe the concept or who, in the past, held that concept to be true.” 2

Christians who investigate their faith find support from a variety of venues. We have arguments from origins, design, morality, astronomy to name a few. Greg Koukl put it this way, “Biblical faith isn’t wishing; it’s confidence. It’s not denying reality, but discovering reality. It’s a sense of certainty grounded in the evidence that Christianity is true – not just ‘true for me,’ but actually, fully, and completely true.

God does not want your leap of faith. He wants your step of trust. When you realize you’re not just wishing on a star about eternal things, that step becomes a lot easier.” 3

Abe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1. Gutting, Gary. “Beyond ‘New Atheism.” Opinionator 14 September 2011 New York Times. Web. 15 March 2015.
2. “What is the genetic fallacy?” Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. 20 March 2015
3. McDowell, Sean. Morrow, Jonathan. Is God Just a Human Invention? Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2010. Print.
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If I was born in Iraq by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

Brainwashed

Reading Time: 4 minutesThe atheist stood before the large auditorium which was full of Christians. He began his talk about world views, and told them he was an atheist. He asked how many of them were raised in the Christian faith. Of course most, if not all of them raised their hands. He then asked how many of them, if they were raised in India, by a Hindu family, would probably be Hindu in their faith. Slowly, reluctantly, most everyone raised their hands. He then asked them if they were raised in Egypt, by a Muslim family, how many of them would be Muslim. Again, slowly, most of them raised their hands. Finally, he asked if they were raised in one of the educated socially enlightened countries of Europe, with an atheist family, how many of them would be an atheist. Painfully, and with sad disheartened effort, they all raised their hands.

This is a common tactic used by unbelievers to point out to believers how they have been brainwashed by their culture and their family to believe what they believe. If they are professing a Christian faith, it is supposedly only because they were raised by a Christian family or a predominately Christian culture. Same of course for those raised up in a Hindu or Muslim faith, they in turn are a Hindu or a Muslim. This is called the Genetic Fallacy, and a widely used argument that holds no water for those with this simple understanding. An idea should not be accepted or rejected based on the source, but on its own merit. Let me give you a couple examples.

Say you were raised by your parents to believe that 2+2=5. In your first few years of school, you would not agree with your teachers. In fact, you might have tried to explain to them that 2+2=5, and even quietly told some of your friends that your teacher was wrong. Eventually around 2nd grade, the basic math facts of addition would come into play and you would realize on your own that 2+2=4. Maybe your parents told you that the Easter Bunny was real, or that Elves would collect little acorn caps at night and leave you little presents. Just because daddy said so does not make it true. Just because mommy said so does not make it true. Now there is one more way to be fooled by the Genetic Fallacy.

Suppose someone said President Obama had two daughters. Someone might reply, “You don’t know what your talking about, you don’t even know the Obamas. Furthermore, you have never even met the President of the United States.” While this maybe be true, it has no bearing on your statement. Just because you have not met the Obamas does not mean he does not have any children. Your statement must stand or fall on its own merit.

When someone tells you you’re a Christian only because you were raised that way, or brainwashed to believe it, they commit the Genetic Fallacy. If Christianity is true, it is true in America, in Europe, in India, and in Egypt. If there is a God, it is true everywhere. If there is no God, it is false everywhere and has nothing to do with the messenger, family, culture, government, geographic location.

Granted, many Christians believe what they do because they were raised that way. Many Christians are unable to defend their beliefs and only parrot what their parents taught them without ever investigating what merits are imbedded in their faith. But how they came to this belief, and who taught it to them, is irrelevant to the validity of the Christian doctrine. If Christians raising their children to be Christians disproves Christianity, then atheists, who raise their children to be atheists, disproves atheism.

A Biblical example of the Genetic Fallacy is found in John. Philip found Nathaniel and told him they found the one Moses wrote about and it was Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. How did Nathanael reply? “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” John 1:45-49 (NIV) Philip spoke truth and Nathaniel did not believe him because nothing good can come from Nazareth.

If someone is critical of your faith, then they must address the Christian world view and what is false about Christianity, because the fact that you were raised in a Christian home has nothing to do with the credibility of Christianity. Do they doubt Jesus was a real person?

Do they doubt the New Testament and its accuracy?

Do they doubt the resurrection?

Were the disciples lying just to gain power and wealth?

Maybe they blame religion, specifically Christianity for most of the wars in our history.

Could it be the seemly senseless deaths in our world that keep them from believing in God, or tragedies that serve no purpose?

These issues and more can all be researched and validated to provide evidence to the truth of scripture. It is up to the individual to do their homework and decide for themselves if Christianity it true. Just remember, if anyone ever tells you that you’re only a Christian because you were raised that way, tell them how you were raised has nothing to do with the truth of Christianity.

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There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true.

Soren Kierkegaard

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