Wednesday, 27 June 2012

You Wouldn't Believe That If You Were Born Somewhere Else!

Hi folks,

There is a famous argument going around that if you were born, for example, around two thousand years ago into a native american tribe in North America, you wouldn't believe in God or any of the "prophets" since you would be worshiping nature and dancing around fire.

Somehow this is supposed to invalidate the belief in God. The first response, as any serious anthropologist would give, is that you don't know what native Americans at that time really believed in, they could have believed in some kind of a Creator whilst honoring nature (and believing in some lesser gods), but no definitive statements could be made given that we have too little evidence at the moment. 

The biggest problem, of course, is that this kind of argument falls into the category of logical fallacies we call the genetic fallacy where you try to invalidate an argument by explaining how the belief came about rather than assessing the veracity of the claim itself. A good example at how problematic this argument can be it to invalidate someone's belief that the Earth is round by saying that "well, if you were born in medieval Europe, you would have believed that the Earth was flat". Well, the fact that I might have believed the Earth is flat at that time and place certainly doesn't mean that my current belief that the Earth is round is false!

1 comment:

  1. Genetic fallacy. Good spotting. Also historical problem. Natives of Americas 2000 years ago (south) had advanced mathematics and believed gods. Natives in North, we don't really know becuase they didn't write, but when Europeans met them they did bleieve in "God" "the Great spirit."