Inherited Religion?

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.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on June 16, 2010, in Apologetics, God, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Such a glib reply by assuming what needs to be shown is uncharacteristic of a thinking person.

  2. Wait, predestine his elect? So he’s already decided who’s saved and who’s going to burn? Or am I misinterpreting?

  3. Oh this is some calvinism thing, right? Kind of depressing. You’d think god would at least want all of his creations to be saved, even if it doesn’t work out like that.

  4. Well, the thing about religion being inherited is that that property should necessarily motivate someone to compare it with the other possible beliefs (or lack of beliefs). It’s like multiple people having a map to get to say, Destiny town. None of the maps agree. For some reason, you’re only holding onto map M because you were first delivered it in the mail, the others either didn’t come or came after you had read it and been convinced by it. You read it entirely, and it made some sense, if you accepted some unverifiable a priories (maybe severely unverifiable).

    Now, if you’re a logical person, and you suddenly realize that there are hundreds of other maps, that people tend to believe the one they were delivered first, you should draw yourself away from the belief you have inherited, PRETEND IT IS FALSE, and look at all the possible beliefs available(about Destiny town) OBJECTIVELY. You may go as far as realize that there is no evidence that Destiny town even exists.

  5. Well, as for the rest, it makes God not seem very nice, I think that is indeed Calvinism or something, as Stoo said. So God has pre-condemned most of the world? I’m not an expert, but doesn’t that go counter to Paul’s teachings about converting the Gentiles or something? Shouldn’t people attempt to convert the other religions to Christianity? Doesn’t the bible predict that they would find great success (100 to 1, the sower’s parable)?

  6. You tick me off. First off, your logic is so circular that you should be getting dizzy. You claim the bible as your source of all truth, yet the proof outside of its claims are few and vague. Even Paul’s testimonies of his experience on the road to Damascus don’t agree, so shall you chalk this up to the fact that he’s human? Wait… I thought the bible was inerrant? You “refute” our anti-biblical arguements but that by no means proves us wrong, it’s just your (per)version of the truth. You’re so arrogant in your belief that you’re obviously right that you fail to properly respond to MANY critiques and quesions of us skeptics other than nitpicking at semantics and using terminology that indicates that we must be morons.

    I agree with Loftus that religion is largely a geographical/cultural phenominon. If you’re born in the middle east, you’re most likely Muslim, due to the theocratic rule of many countries. If you’re born in the southern and bible belt of the U.S., you’re probably some form of fundamentalist christian. If you’re born in India you’re most likely Hindu. If you’re born in the Philippines or South America then you’re most likely a die-hard Catholic.

    I don’t know how you live with yourself. Your cognitive dissonance must be off the charts. Calvinism is crap. I can find any scripture in the bible to support my (per)version of my chosen faith. Humans were NOT meant live out of such fear of the unknown, which is ultimately what all most major religions use to continue spreading their cancer. It’s an abusive relationship. It says “believe in me and obey me and love me or else you will suffer unending eternal torment.” Heck, nobody can even get a straight answer to what this omnipotent and omniscient being desires, it’s all interpretation… and you need to be a historian, theologin, linguist, entymologist, philosopher and sadomasochist to have a good grasp on the bible and its message… which is kill everybody who is against Jehovah… no wait… it’s lovingly kill everybody… no wait… it’s love everybody but shun those who are against Jehovah… no wait… it’s just love everybody and have faith in jesus… no wait… it’s repent or you’ll be thrown into the lake of fire…

    FEAR FEAR FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN!!!! RUN AWAY!!!! BE AFRAID!!!! This thing that we can’t see or hear (unless you’re insane) or touch or taste or smell is going to make you writhe in eternal pain and everlasting torment unlesss you worship it and follow its vague and confusing message!!!

    Insanity. Total irrational insanity. My rant here is done.

  7. Ah yes, The Bible says so, so you are wrong argument. (an argument we must accept by faith since there is no rational proof of Corey’s claim)

    It is self-evident to all who are willing to see it, that most people adopt the religion of their tribe. (family, social group) People believe what those before them believed until confronted with beliefs/truth/evidence that challenges their tribal religion.

    In Calvinism everything is settled. God has predetermined everything, including the fact that I am writing this comment. Thank you God. 🙂 (and I was a Calvinistic Baptist pastor)

    I surely hope that Corey is not going to try and argue against John’s book with the Bible. If so………it shall indeed be a wasted exercise. But, Hey maybe it will drive up this site’s visitor count.


  8. Thought excercise.

    Suppose for the moment that Christianity is the truth. Suppose for the moment that those who accept it will go to heaven, and that those who do not are going to Hell. Forget the rationale for it. Just suppose it is true. It would still seem insane. It would still seem deranged. But regardless of it all, suppose God would convince you of its truth if you chose. And when you died, you would go to Heaven. Would you choose?

    • How would we determine it to be truth?
      How would we determine it was God, THE God, any God convincing us of its truth?

      Answer these and maybe I’ll play.

      • I could say the Bible would confirm it, because it will. But a skeptic won’t accept that from you. I could say your prayers would now be answered, and they will be. But a skeptic won’t accept that from you. I could say that you would suddenly appreciate the intelligence behind the universe, and you will. But a skeptic won’t accept that from you. Just as you haven’t accepted those from Christians so far.

        So under these circumstances, “suppose God would convince you.” Would you choose for Him to? The only test remaning (Bible, prayer, and ID notwithstanding) is that you are convinced. Knowing this, would you choose to be convinced?

      • As your circular argument shows…….this game can not be played. The Bible is true because it says it is true.

        You presuppose belief in a religious text. You presuppose that that religious text is a supernatural text written by a supernatural god. You presuppose that that supernatural text is truth.

        I accept none of your presuppositions. Your God can not convince me of anything, even if I agree to it, because he does not exist. (and how will you prove otherwise)

      • Thank you Bruce… I wasn’t sure how to respond to this one, because I found his logic quite fuzzy.

        But let me bite for a moment… would I choose to be convinced of the supposed truth of christianity? Hmmm… I’m not sure…

        No. There’s my answer. This will probably come back in a future statement to show that I’m just an angry non-believer.

        No. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE FOR ETERNITY, ESPECIALLY NOT KISSING GOD’S ASS. Because if the god of the bible is real, then truthfully I’m afraid of him, and surely don’t love him because he’s an abusive megalomaniacal father.


      • Bruce,

        >>As your circular argument shows…….this game can not be played. The Bible is true because it says it is true.
        You misunderstood me. My point is that the Bible would never convince you. Prayer would never convince you. ID will never you. But, what if you could be convinced, not those things, but by God? Would you choose to be?

        >>Your God can not convince me of anything, even if I agree to it, because he does not exist. (and how will you prove otherwise)
        If God convinced you He existed, then I wouldn’t have to prove it to you.

        So, please realize what you’ve done: I would not choose God to prove Himself to me, because He doesn’t exist.

        Who’s being circular now?

        You’ve answered my question.

      • Caleb,

        Before you agree with him, please note Bruce’s circular reasoning: I would not choose God to prove Himself, because He don’t exist.

        But, I see you too answered my question.

        >>Because if the god of the bible is real, then truthfully I’m afraid of him
        You Caleb, actually have hope, because you do appear to be as you yourself say… an angry non-believer (I actually doubt you are generally angry, but that people like me make you angry; not my intent). Quel the anger, and your fear of God may become the beginning of wisdom.

        – – –

        I simply wanted to point out how free will works. Some of us choose for God, and some not. We all have our reasons, but God honors our choice.

        Some point to the verse that says that God chooses us. Another verse says for us to choose God. Which comes first? Well, choose God and you will find out that He chose you. Did God choose you? Maybe not. But choose Him, and you will find that He did. How does this work? How do you know you aren’t choosing Him for the simple reason that God hasn’t chosen you? Well, consider that God’s outside space-time… perhaps allowing for us to choose first cosmologically, but God to choose first temporally. Most theologians reason only temporally. Don’t reason yourself out of Heaven.

    • Around and around we go, eh?

      You want to say, to a being you say exists, that I see no evidence for,and you can give no proof for, “God convince me you are real?”

      Ok…..”God convince me you are real.”

      Now what?

      Silly, yes?

      You say choose God. It that the Christian message?

  9. I’ve come to the realization of something, and it’s time to put it at end. Since my deconversion about seven months ago, I have changed immensely as a person. I was very angry for a bit of time… christianity was a bad marriage for me, and I finally came clean that I wanted a divorce. I gave it all that I was. If I didn’t love god, nobody did. But I got tired of the unanswered prayers (vague coincidences at best). I got tired of the abuse of guilt… the list goes on… no doubt Loftus and Bruce see my point of view.

    I’ve realized that my little stint here is because I am angry at Cory because of some deep-seeded personal issues, and that he refuses to accept my stance. I can’t change Cory. I want to fix him, but he thinks he’s fixed. I’m wasting my time here for some personal satisfaction. It’s stupid minutiae and I admit it.

    I would love to receive an email from Cory stating that I was right, he was wrong, and that his faith was all a delusion. I admit it. How immature and petty of me. I admit it. There are infinitely more important things in life than Cory Tucholski’s apologetics blog, and I will now embark on those things.

    Take care old friend, I hope you come to your senses.

  10. Caleb,

    Don’t sweat it. You will find these discussions never go anywhere.

    What many Christians can not fathom is that people can and do walk away from the Christian faith. (of course the Bible says “true” believers can’t so anyone who walks away is not a “true” believer) Instead of our deconversion being about the evidence, it must be for some other reason. (anger for example) I have been psychoanalyzed every way possible by Christians. They just can’t except I don’t want their Jesus any more.

    As I tell every Christian who comes to my blog and tries to to ply their apologetic skills……my reason for leaving the Christian faith is simple…….I do not believe the Bible is an inspired text. I do not believe it to be God’s word. In fact, It has little, relevant meaning for today. Once the Christian finds out I don’t believe the Bible…the discussion is over. I will gladly talk theology and even debate it…but it is a mental exercise and that’s it.

    It really is all about the Bible.


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