John W. Loftus is all about error. It’s sad and funny at the same time. This time, he’s on about a typical atheist talking point: the fact that religion is inherited from the culture.
Of course, this does nothing to impugn the credibility of a particular religion. Truth is still truth. The argument isn’t an attack on the truth claims of Christianity. Instead, it seeks to use human nature against religion. It is not in dispute that we inherit beliefs unquestioningly from our parents and culture. Likewise, there is no dispute that we like to feel special and good. But how does this argue against any particular religion?
Loftus has this to say:
Why do they [Christians] think they are privileged to be born in the right time and place when others are not? If there is a God why would he privilege them like this? Why? It’s the natural tendency we humans have for thinking we’re special, that’s why. All ancient societies built temples to their gods which they thought were located directly on the center of the world. This thinking is still being embraced by Christians in many ways for they claim their geographical religion is where God has revealed himself and can be known. (source)
People tend to inherit the religion of their parents. Big whop. Does that mean we are privileged? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it:
- All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. But there are some of you who do not believe. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. (Jn 6:37, 44, 64-65)
- And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom 8:28-29, the so-called Golden Chain of Redemption)
- So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Rom 9:16)
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Eph 1:3-6)
- In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:11-12)
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
So, since God can determine everything about us (he foreknows us, Rom 8:29, see also Ps 139), it stands to reason that the place and time of our birth is under his control as well. That would mean geographically inherited religion is nothing less than a mechanism by which God can predestine his elect.