The question, “Why are you a Christian” is always a bit of a tricky one. Like many others, I was born in America, raised by Christian parents, with Christian friends, while attending a Christian church. For me, the claim skeptics make, “You’re only a Christian because you were born in America,” may very well be true. If I was born in Iran, chances are I’d be a Muslim. If I were from India, I’d be more likely to be a Hindu. Does this mean Christianity is not true, and my belief is only a result of my heritage?
This claim makes a logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy. That is when you don’t bother to respond or attack the other person’s argument but instead go after where the argument came from. In this case, the skeptic is not proving anything about whether or not my belief in Christianity is true. All they have done is point out where my belief originally came from. That may be interesting, but it says nothing about whether the view is right or wrong.
What About those who Change?
This objection sounds a bit scary at first but think about it for a minute. This person is saying one of two things. Either they are saying that we as humans cannot determine truth and are just playing along with what our culture and environment teach us. If that’s the case, how did they become an atheist while living in the same America as me? How do we account for the countless people who change their minds and become different religions for reasons besides upbringing? The argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Alternatively, they may be saying that they could change their mind, but you either have not or cannot. If this is their claim, they have stopped making an argument and begun calling you names. They have just admitted that they believe they are smarter and more open-minded than you are. Maybe they’re right, but that’s a claim that better be backed up by sound reason and evidence, not asserted to shame a Christian who has good reasons to believe. Call them out on this.
So What I was Born in America?
Despite having logical fallacies and making bad arguments, maybe they’re right. Perhaps I am a Christian because of my culture and family. The next question ought to be simply, “so what?” The challenge throws Christians off because we know it may be true. That said, the impact of the objection is not significant. Unless they have good reasons to say that my beliefs are false, their origins are meaningless. This would be like claiming that because nostalgia influences my love of Toy Story that it’s a bad movie. Proving the first is irrelevant to the second.
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