A response to “Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe” part 1 of 2
by Greg Reeves
The popular YouTube clip titled, “Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe” is an attempt to show the fallacy of religion and religious belief. The video is very well done, and has a narrator with a soothing voice calmly raising several objections to religion. There seems to be real power in this video because the objections keep coming, keep piling up, and if the unwitting believer (or unbeliever) watches, it’s really easy to be either bewildered by the objections, if the believer is not ready to answer them, or to say, “Yeah, that’s so true!” if you are an unbeliever.
The problem is, this clip is filled with logical fallacies and arguments that are easily shown to be false. In this blog post, I will go through the main objections to religion raised in this video (which also happen to be commonly used by unbelievers) and show how each one of them fails.
Summary of the video
Much of the video is devoted to the question of why a religious person believes. The implication is that believers have no good reason to believe. In fact, you only believe because your parents told you so. The narrator asks, since there are many religions out there, which cannot all be right, then how would a person choose one religion over any other? The narrator then claims that this means no religions are indeed correct.
The end of the video pays homage to modern science, saying that “now we know better”. The narrator does not blame ancient peoples for turning to fantasy to comfort themselves, but in this day and age, because of the advent of modern science, we should leave those superstitions behind. The implication is that, any reasonable and clear thinking person will cut him- or herself free from the fairy-tale of religion and realize the “truth”: there is no god.
The irony is that, if you are using reason to help form your basis of belief regarding the big questions, such as, “Who am I?”, “Why are we here?”, and “Is there a God?”, you will soon see that this video has nothing logical to say about it. In fact, most of the objections against religion raised by this video are self-refuting, a hallmark of poor reasoning.
In this series of this posts, I will go through six objections to religion in general (and Christianity in particular) portrayed by this video. In each case, I will state the objection as I see it being raised by the video (either implicitly or explicitly), paraphrase (not direct quoting, although I will put it in quote blocks) the relevant parts of the video, and then respond to the objection(s).
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Objection 1: “You’re only a Christian because you were born in America to Christian parents.”
Is the faith you practice the dominant one within your culture? Aren’t you suspicious that most people adopt the religion of the society in which they were born? Yet remain convinced they’ve found the one true faith? Did you know that most people choose it not for reasons, but because they were born into it? Can it be just an accident of geography? Did you know nearly all religious devotees believe what they are taught to believe by their parents?
This is the main thrust of the video: religious people around the world have no reason to believe what they believe. I actually have no idea whether or not the assertions made by the narrator here are true. Is it really true that most people don’t choose their religion for good reasons, but because their parents told them to? Maybe so. But this objection to religion commits two fallacies: (1) it is self-refuting (this is the death knell of any argument), and (2) it commits the genetic fallacy.
It is self-refuting because it cannot withstand its own scrutiny. The implication is that since religious people only believe because they were born in a culture dominated by their chosen religion, then that religion cannot be true. But the same can be true of unbelievers of any stripe. You are only a postmodernist because you were born in late 20th-century/early 21st century America. Or you are only an unbeliever because you were told so by your parents. Yes, I understand that many unbelievers in America (especially young people) grew up in the church, but since there is a trend of young people leaving the faith, I could just as easily say it’s a cultural thing for young people to do (and not based on reasons). Especially if these young people leaving the faith are spouting the same self-refuting objections found in this video…
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