Atheist fallacy #3: Genetic Fallacy
An atheist commenter to the Godevidence.com Facebook page writes,
“It is an absolute fact that if you had been born in an Islamic country you would almost certainly be a Muslim; if born in India you would be a Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist depending on the region and your culture; and so on. It’s all down to happenstance.”
According to this commenter, then, belief systems such as Christianity should be discarded because they are learned from one’s cultural environment. But to suggest that the origin of a belief has some bearing on whether or not this belief is true is known in logic as the Genetic Fallacy. For example, millions of schoolchildren in the USA are routinely taught that all people are born with a set of basic and inalienable human rights. But to suggest that the fact that schoolchildren are taught this has some bearing on whether or not this is true would be the Genetic Fallacy (also known as the Fallacy of Origins). An excerpt from the Wikipedia post for the Genetic Fallacy:
The genetic fallacy (also known as the fallacy of origins or fallacy of virtue) is a fallacy of irrelevance that is based solely on someone’s or something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. In other words, a claim is ignored in favor of attacking its source. The fallacy therefore fails to assess the claim on its merit.
Further, the above commenter fails to notice that, for example, atheist philosophy associated with Darwin’s theory of evolution is very commonplace in western culture. As Chinese paleontologist Jun-yuan Chen puts it, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin!” But does the fact that atheist philosophy is routinely propagated by the American media and academia have any bearing on whether or not it is correct? To suggest as such would be the Genetic Fallacy.
Christianity must be judged on the merits of its claims, rather than the source or origins of its claims. And evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is plentiful, but one must be willing to actually examine this evidence, rather than summarily discard it because it does not fit one’s worldview. As I discuss in The Ancient Fable Behind Disbelief in Christ’s Resurrection:
Most disbelievers in Christ’s resurrection are likely blissfully unaware of just how far New Testament scholarship has swayed in favor of Jesus’ resurrection in the last 40 years. Readers are strongly encouraged to view a You Tube video titled The Historical Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection That Even Skeptics Believe:
In this video, New Testament scholar Gary Habermas explains that, among New Testament scholars, if you talked about the empty tomb in the 1970’s ,“There would be a lot of snickering, and nobody but evangelicals who published in that area would accept it.”
If you mentioned post-resurrection appearances in the 1970’s, “Everybody would have laughed.” However, Habermas reveals that, “Today, the majority of New Testament scholars, theologians, historians, and philosophers who publish in the area [including atheist and agnostic academics…not just Christians] believe in the empty tomb.”
“In the 70’s, if you talked about bodily [post-resurrection] appearances of Jesus, they’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s nice. Go back to your church and talk about it, but don’t do it on a university campus.’”
Today, however, belief in Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the predominant view within New Testament scholarship.
As Habermas puts it, “Today, bodily resurrection is the predominant view in the academy.” Habermas also notes that, “Raymond Brown (probably the most prominent New Testament scholar in America), shortly before his death, said that the majority of contemporary theologians are conservative today.”
Habermas titles his argument for the resurrection of Jesus the “minimal facts argument” since it is based only upon the data that is granted, in his words, “by virtually all scholars on the subject, even the skeptical ones” (such as atheist and agnostic scholars). These five “minimal facts” are as follows (as detailed in his book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus):
1) Jesus died by crucifixion
2) Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.
3) The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed.
4) The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.
5) The tomb was empty.
Habermas explains that the following phrase will receive virtually no dispute among contemporary New Testament scholars (whether Christian, agnostic, or atheist):
“Jesus earliest followers had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.” (Scroll forward to 52 minutes into the video to view Habermas make this statement).
References to God’s self-sacrifice on the cross exist in several cultures unaffiliated with the Christian Bible.
Further, references to God’s self-sacrifice on the cross, as an atonement for human sin, exist in several cultures other than the culture which produced the Christian Bible, as I describe in Which God is Real?
Roy Abraham Varghese cites excerpts from the Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas and Upanishads, which predate (by hundreds of years), and very convincingly seem to prefigure, the life and mission of Jesus, in his book The Christ Connection: How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus. The Vedas date to at least 1200 B.C. and the Upanishads to around 500-400 B.C. Below are a few of these passages:
“The Supreme Creator took a perfect human body (Nishkalanka Purusha) and offered it up as a self-sacrifice.” (Brihad Aranyak Upanishad 1:2:8).
“If you want to be delivered from the sin, which you commit through eyes, mouth, ears and mind, bloodshed is necessary. Without shedding the blood, there is no remission for sin. That must be the blood of the Holy one. God is our creator. He is our King. When we were perishing, He came to save us by offering even his own body on our behalf.” (Tandya Mahabrahmana 4.15).
“The redemption is through shedding of blood only and that blood has to be through the sacrifice of God himself.” (Taittiriya Aranyaka, verse 3).
“This [sacrifice] is the only way for the redemption and liberation of mankind. Those who meditate and attain this man, believe in heart and chant with the lips, get liberated in this world itself and there is no other way for salvation too.” (Yajur-Veda 31:18)
“The Purusha was above sin, and only in knowing him does one attain immortality.” (Chandogyopanishad 1:6:6-7)
“After giving Himself as the supreme sacrifice, this Purush resurrected himself.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 188.8.131.52-5; Kathopanishad 3: 15).
“The purpose of this sacrifice is to provide the only way to Heaven and the only way to escape from Hell.” (Rig-Veda 9:113:7-11; 4:5:5; 7:104:3).
“His hands and legs are to be bound to a yoopa [a wooden pole] causing blood shed.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3.9.28; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6).
“The sacrificial victim is to be crowned with a crown made of thorny vines.” (Rig-Veda 10:90:7, Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3:9:28).
“Before death he should be given a drink of somarasa [sour wine made of an herb called somalatha].” (Yajur-Veda 31).
“None of His bones must be broken.” (Yajur-Veda 31:; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6)
Please review this article from the Indian newspaper The Hindu, which makes the same points as Varghese.