The objection is that the only reason this person is a Christian is because they grew up in a Christian family, and therefore had a bias in favour of Christianity. This bias makes him incapable of proving that Christianity is true over other religions since Christianity is the only religion he’s ever known.
What to consider
“Before you can show why someone is wrong, you need to show him that he is wrong.” (C.S. Lewis)
In most of the public debate we hear, people argue against another person’s position by explaining why they hold that position (ex. “The reason capitalists defend capitalism is because they’re rich business-people who benefit from the capitalist system.” )
- The position is assumed to be wrong from the outset, and evidence given to support the fact is the person’s motivation for holding it.
- Lewis coined the term “Bulverism” for this line of argumentation, which holds that refuting facts is unnecessary in order to make an argument. All you’d need to do is attack a person’s reasons or motives for believing as they do.
- This method effectively silences the person, because they become distracted trying to defend their reasons for believing as they do, rather than defending the facts that validate their beliefs.
- The first thing to address in this question is this logical error of Bulverism that the friend is committing.
How to approach answering the question
1. Learn how to ask good questions, because we aren’t trying to win arguments, but people.
- Asking questions is respectful. The way we defend our faith is as important as the things we say. It’s important to understand the person we’re talking to so that we’re not talking at them; keep the long game in mind.
- Asking people good questions is the best way to help them begin to question their own assumptions, and the Holy Spirit can used well-placed questions to begin piercing their blindness to belief.
- For example, ask “How does the bias of my Christian upbringing makes me incapable of knowing whether the facts of Christianity are true or not?”
2. Point out that the argument from bias cuts both ways.
If I am incapable of proving my beliefs to be true because of my upbringing, then that must be equally true for them.
3. Explain that dismissing each other’s beliefs on the basis of our upbringing isn’t an intellectually honest way of determining if our beliefs are in fact true.
- It would be better to evaluate the truth of our beliefs based on the reasons and evidence that exist for or against their truthfulness.
- Share some helpful resources with your friend to help them think through and evaluate the truth claims of Christianity (see Resources below).
Bonus question: Do we have to have a good understanding of all other religions to know that Christianity is true?
- No, because we’re not comparing Christianity to other religions, but evaluating its truth claims based on its own merit (coherence, evidence).
- Ultimately the way we have certainty of our faith is not by weighing evidence, but from the ministry of the Holy Spirit that makes the things of God perceivable to our fallen minds.
“The Case for…” series by Lee Strobel, such as The Case for Christ, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Faith, which are evidence-rich books for those searching for facts to support Christianity.