Can You Reject Christianity Based on Religion’s Possible Benefit to Survival?

Sometimes I’ll hear people try to discredit Christianity by saying religion has only natural causes and, so it simply gives you survival benefit. That is why religion and Christianity have thrived. It has nothing to do with whether or not God exists.

For example, lets suppose that the early humans on planet earth evolved the creative ability to form tools and to learn the principle of cause and effect in nature. That set them apart from the animals. It allowed them to create tools that gave them the ability to influence their environment, and begin to understand their environment. When you strike two stones together, it creates a spark. If that spark is harnessed the right way with the right materials, it can be used to start a fire that can be used for positive reasons (cooking dinner or scaring animals away).

Well – the story continues. Because people intuitively understood cause and effect and understood nature, we then invented a God that looks like us. A personal being that we just placed all our hopes and aspirations onto. And humans began to pray to that God. Prayer made them feel better! And so, these humans survived longer than the ones that didn’t. So, religion becomes embedded in our genes. The person concludes. “I’m sorry – religion isn’t based on anything true. Rather, it is just inherited circuits in the brain.”[1]

 

The Genetic Fallacy

There is a fundamental problem with this whole idea. It is built on a logical fallacy of irrelevance called the GENETIC FALLACY. Logical fallacies are examples of faulty reasoning. The genetic fallacy happens when you try to demonstrate why an argument is true or false based on the origin of its premises. But that doesn’t follow logically, that’s simply incoherent. You need to measure the truthfulness of an argument based on the CLAIMS of the argument’s premises, rather than the ORIGIN of its premises.

The genetic fallacy “judges a claim good or bad based on where it came from. This avoids the claims of the argument … leveraging existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad.”[2] This is fallacious because it is a distraction from the original argument and draws us away from the claims of that argument.

So why is the idea about the source of religion logically fallacious? Well, isn’t it saying this?

 

The Human Tools Argument Against Religion:

The origin of religion is found solely in the ability of early human tool makers .

Therefore, religion is false.

 

Well – that is simply a logically false argument. The early humans could very well have harnessed tools, sought to influence the environment and some cultures absolutely did point to natural phenomena and suppose those things were gods. And they might very well have tried to project their aspirations onto the idea of a supposed God idea. But – what relevance is this to the question of the existence of God and Christianity?

Whether or not any or all of that is a true account of human beginnings, this has no bearing on the truthfulness of Christianity. It is all simply irrelevant. You need to asses the actual truth claims of Christianity to decide whether it is true or not. For example, the historical testable claims of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the historical foundation of Christianity. That is an important area to assess when determining the truth of Christianity. The supposed cause of early human religious ideas has no bearing on whether Christianity is true because it has no relevance to it. It’s a logical fallacy.

[1] Is God a Delusion?, Reasonable Faith, accessed 22nd November, 2019, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/is-god-a-delusion/.

[2] Genetic, your logical fallacy is, accessed 22nd November, 2019, https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/genetic.

 

Published by

Respond

I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s