The Genetic Fallacy: "You're only a Christian because you were raised in America!"

Can you invalidate someone's belief by showing how they came to hold it?  

As you'll discover in this short video, when someone confuses the ORIGIN of a belief with the TRUTH of a belief, this commits a textbook logical fallacy. Hear special guest Dr. William Lane Craig explain the Genetic Fallacy.  

Be sure to grab a copy of Dr. Craig's book "On Guard" to learn more about this and other arguments on how to defend your faith with reason and precision.

Is Faith in God Reasonable?

What hath Jerusalem to do with Athens? Or what hath faith to do with reason? Drs. William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg debate this all important and pervasive question concerning the reasonableness of faith in God.

The nature of the question in this debate is no mere academic matter. The question of God is the most important question. One’s answer to it will impact nearly all other beliefs one holds from common notions of morality to politics and from our interest and investigation of our world to what we take to be our purpose(s) in life.

Is “faith” foolish? By this, should it be understood to be blind? Or is it reasonable and, if so, by what measure and to whom is it foolishness? For many, Mark Twain is right on the mark when he said that “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” Yet the great thinkers of Judaism and Christianity like Philo, Moses Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin considered faith to be an extraordinarily important virtue (moral and/or intellectual)! Indeed, it is not only the condition by which salvation is appropriated in these Abrahamic faith traditions (which are taken by insiders to actually be knowledge traditions), but it is the basis for movements from Mother Teresa’s compassion and our concern for the poor to Isaac Newton’s inspiration in science in light of God’s creation of the world and man being made in God’s image. Is faith in God reasonable? Ought we to have faith in God? Captured February 1, 2013 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.

A Powerful Apologetic Method: ABDUCTIVE Reasoning!

"What in the world is 'Abductive Reasoing'?" Well, abductive reasoning is employed by crime scene detectives, car mechanics, and your medical doctor.  Abductive reasoning is when you look at all the known facts, and seek to form the best explanation to explain the data.  Abductive reasoning seeks to find the "inference to the best explanation" for the known facts.   

This is a vital way of thinking and investigating that all serious Christians should be engaged in....

 - Pastor J. 

An Apologetic Master: Interview of Dr. Geisler

Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Norman Geisler?  If not, I hope that you will take some time and acquaint yourself with some of his books and lectures.   

Many of today's most effective Christian apologists, such as Dr. Craig and Dr. Ravi Zacharias, were trained by Dr. Norman Geisler early on.

Watch this video and listen to the wisdom and insight of this Apologetic Master...

 

Dr. Craig: " 'Knowing' you believe vs. 'Showing' why you believe"

What is the relationship between our Faith and our Reason?

What is the difference between "Knowing" something is true, and "Showing" it's true?

These are the questions that are answered in this short video.  Dr. William Lane Craig gives a short but cogent description of why "Faith" and "Reason" are not mutually exclusive terms, but rather complementary in the quest for truth, evidence, and reality.

This truly is a helpful and vital distinction to make, especially when many believers misunderstand the need and use of apologetics within our churches, and non-believers also are confused as to how a person can believe something based upon personal internal experience.  

This is a great answer and response to commit to your memory, for future discussions. 

- Pastor J.

The Christian Faith Is An Evidential Faith

Sometimes Christians have a mistaken definition of “faith”. Because faith is sometimes described as believing in things that cannot be seen, Christians often think of faith as an act of believing in things that have no evidential basis. In essence, some Christians believe that “true faith” is believing in something in spite of the evidence or believing in something when there is no evidence to support the belief in the first place!

But this is not the Biblical definition of faith. While it is true that God is a Spirit and cannot be seen, it is not true that there is no evidence to support the existence of the unseen God. While we may not see anyone throw a rock in a pond, we may indeed see the ripples that the rock created on the surface of the water and come to the belief that someone threw a rock into the pond on the basis of this evidence. In a similar way, there are many good reasons to believe that God exists, and the Biblical model of true faith involves examining the evidence for God’s existence. Let’s examine the Biblical model of evidential faith:

Christians Are Called to Use Their Minds

God tells us that we are to love Him with more than our heart. We are to have a relationship that is emotional and intellectual (Matthew 22:37-38).

Christians Are Called to Understand the Value of Evidence

God has given us a number of good evidential reasons to believe that He exists and that Jesus is who He says He is. We are not called to have blind faith, but to have a well reasoned, evidential faith (Acts 1:2-3, Acts 17:2-3, Acts 17:30-31).

Christians Are Called to Examine Their Beliefs

God wants us to know what we believe and why we believe it. We’re not called to numbly trust everything that might be taught in our world today, even if some Christian teacher is the source! We’re expected to be critical, skeptical and thoughtful (Acts 17:10-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, 1 John 4:1)

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Question of the week

Proper Motives for Faith

Dear Dr. Craig:
Please forgive the prologue, but I think it's important to give a quick summary of how and why I've reached this point in my life. My father is a retired minister, and I attended church (and Christian school) my entire life, but like many of my PK friends, I've abandoned my faith--actually, I don't think I ever had it. But I am still searching. My parents are good people, and I respect my dad a great deal, as he has been a great role model and has lived out his beliefs. He had a rather remarkable conversion experience as an adult, and I only give this background, as it has much to do with my primary question dealing with how and why people are "saved."
I've read and viewed just about everything on reasonablefaith.org over the past 3 years, including all your debates, and I actually attended your debate with Sam Harris at Notre Dame. I've listened to this debate about 10 time since, and I'm still troubled with many issues, but one continues to stand out, since it truly takes me back to my own so-called conversion as a 5-year old child. At one point during the debate, Sam Harris characterized salvation as people grabbing on to a sort of "fire insurance," which, after a year of thinking about this, I think is a very apt description. You responded with the following:
"You don't believe in God to avoid going to Hell. Belief in God isn't some kind of fire insurance. You believe in God because God, as the supreme Good, is the appropriate object of adoration and love. He is Goodness itself, to be desired for its own sake. And so the fulfillment of human existence is to be found in relation to God. It's because of who God is and his moral worth that he is worthy of worship. It has nothing to do with avoiding Hell, or promoting your own well-being."
So, for those who "get saved" because they've been scared out of their minds about hell, are they truly saved? Must they all feel as you described above? I grew up in hell-fire and brimstone churches, and as a 5-year old child, terrified of hearing about hell 4 times a week, I prayed to God "asking Jesus into my heart." What other "choice" did I really have? What child wants to burn (or adult)? And I probably prayed the prayer another 100 times as a terrified child. And now, my wife, who has been a believer her entire life, and she takes our 7-year-old son to church faithfully, and he's just like I was! He's terrified of hell and prays the prayer or raises his hand every time someone gives the old "alter call." And I know why: because he's terrified of burning in hell! Who wouldn't be! I have no idea what to tell him, and I just go along, agreeing with all of the Bible stories that I've been told and that he's now hearing--and it's killing me, because I've come to the place where I don't believe any of it.
I apologize for taking so long to get to my question, but I think it's important to mention these things as it helps me frame these constant thoughts. So, keeping in mind your statement from the debate, that salvation isn't (or shouldn't be) fire insurance, what if there was no hell, or heaven--just nothingness after death? If going to heaven should not be the desire, and the fear of hell should not cause one to desire "insurance" from it, what's the point? Who among us is exactly and perfectly altruistic? Or would do or act a certain way without benefit? We all do things to produce/receive and even to avoid a specific result. And as you say, the only reason to get saved should be because: "You believe in God, as the supreme Good...worthy of worship...fulfillment of human existence...etc", but what if when you die, there's nothing? That's it. How can all of your worship, morality, etc. have meant ANYTHING? After all, you didn't do it all because of heaven; you were supposed to accept Christ for the reasons you stated, so heaven/hell should have nothing to do with it. Right?
Given my 30 years in the church, and my own ongoing experience and struggle, I contend that there are a great many who are trying to avoid hell? I would say, if people were honest, most would admit to this. I have a good many other questions and doubts, but your statement in this debate continues to haunt me. I think mostly because Harris' statement it so accurately described my (and many others') childhood conversion experiences. So how exactly does a person make himself not want to avoid hell and only desire to worship and have a relationship with the only worthy God? Please help...
Kind Regards,
Mark
United States
Your personal situation and struggle, Mark, illustrate poignantly why it is important that we think rightly about God. I am so glad that you’ve grasped and reflected on how different is the motivation for belief in God that I described, which represents the classical Christian tradition, than the frightful caricature painted by Sam Harris. I hope that you can have the strength to embrace in all its beauty and wonder this new vision of God as the Highest Good, which to know is the fulfillment of human existence.
So, you ask, are those who "get saved" because they've been scared out of their minds about hell truly saved? read more ---->