What if Someone Believes in God for Bad Reasons?

by Daniel Carrington

Do you believe in God? Why do you believe in God? Do you know anybody that would answer that question using a less than ideal answer? Perhaps something like, “My parents were Christians.” Or maybe, “Everyone I know is Christian.”

If you or somebody you know is a Christian for one of those kinds of reasons, you (or they) don’t have a very good reason to be a Christian. There are lots of people all around the world, but particularly in United States, who are Christians for those kinds of reasons. In other words, lots of people are Christians for really bad reasons.  An important question to ask when this is the case is, “So what?”

Now, please understand before we get further into this, I am not advocating an anti-intellectual Christianity. In fact, I’m going to advocate precisely the opposite. The problem as I see it, is that people often will use the fact that Christians have poor reasons for believing as evidence against the existence of God. This typically leads to things like the Genetic Fallacy.

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The Genetic Fallacy is an informal logical fallacy. One commits this fallacy by attempting to refute a belief by identifying the origin of the belief. For example, if someone argues that the only reason a person believes in God is because they were raised in a Christian home, this is the Genetic Fallacy. While the believer may not have any better reason for their belief than the fact that they grew up that way, that bears no weight whatsoever on whether or not the claims of Christianity are true or false.

If someone has very poor or weak reasons for holding to their faith, it is illogical that they should abandon their faith. Rather, they should work to find whether or not there are good reasons to adhere to such faith. Whatever the case, bad reasons for believing something does not mean that thing is not true. It just means your belief may not be yet justified. It certainly does not mean that the belief is false…


The God Question(s): What if Someone Believes in God for Bad Reasons?