I still don’t have time for much writing, but thought I’d share this excellent meme I found yesterday…
Of course it’s a variation of what I’ve written before – god is nothing more than an explanation for the unknown, invented by primitive man, and handed down through generations of indoctrination.
Once, when I wrote something like that here before, a commenter took offense and accused me of a genetic fallacy, then presented his version of an argument from first cause. And that prompted me to write about the argument from first cause. (Not my best piece of writing but it’s not bad, I think. I didn’t know what special pleading is, although I mentioned it without using its name.) Of course, in the case of the argument from first cause, it introduces a rule that everything needs a creator, in a sequence of causes and effects that can be traced back to a “first cause”. Then it leaps to the conclusion that the first cause is god (a non sequitur because that does not follow) and states that god does not have a cause, which violates the rule of its premise.
But seeing the meme I’ve shared today made me think about it again. The question in my mind, which I’d like to address today is: How can you believe that questioning the origin of god is a genetic fallacy?
So what is a genetic fallacy? From the Google preview…
The genetic fallacy (also known as the fallacy of origins or fallacy of virtue) is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on someone’s or something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context.
So, clearly this is a fallacy where one reaches a conclusion on something, based solely on the origin of that thing, without considering its current meaning or context. I see then, how a person could claim that rejecting belief in god based on the origin of god might be considered such a fallacy… But I also see how that would be wrong. Can you?
It’s like this: If you assume that god exists, then the origin of the claim that god exists becomes irrelevant, because god exists.
Of course, the reason that’s wrong should be obvious… Like every religious apologetics argument, it starts with the assumption that god exists. That’s not how logic works.
In fact, almost every apologetics argument has this problem. And many of them work like this:
- Start with the implicit, always unstated assumption that god exists.
- Make some statements about something else.
- Conclude that god exists, even though it does not follow logically from whatever statements were made. (Steps two to three are a non sequitur.)
As you can see, questioning the origin of god can only be perceived as a genetic fallacy if you assume that god exists. And as I’ve shown above, this conclusion that god exists, in apologetics arguments in general, often only “works” because the assumption was made. (“I know that X is true because I assume that X is true.”… without stating the assumption directly but stating some unrelated stuff after making it.) This is why we often argue in circles in debates between theists and atheists… The theists always start with the assumption that their conclusion is true, but they do not realize that it’s illogical (circular reasoning) to do so.
But because that assumption (that god exists) is implied, not stated, the theists who debate expect us to address their other statements, the irrelevant ones from which they take a leap of faith to conclude that god exists. (Even though the leap of faith only makes sense if one assumes that god exists.) Arguing about the irrelevant statements, whether that involves refuting straw man arguments of science or whatever, is pointless, because they are irrelevant. This is why, when someone wants to debate evolution, I like to short-circuit the debate – suggest to them that we ignore evolution. Assume that it’s false if you want, and ask them how they get from unknown to god. Short-circuit the debate and reveal the assumption. But they don’t want to discuss their actual claim that god exists, or face the fact that an assumption was made. Since there is no evidence for god, they prefer to discuss something else.