The 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 resurrection?
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.
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