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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Genetic Fallacy and Political Issues

When discussing political issues, it seems that the Christian is often at a disadvantage from the outset. The question "Why do you impose your Christianity on everybody?" is sometimes used as a sort of misdirection to throw a Christian's argument off track. However, this charge bears no weight, not because Christians are innocent, but because every single person is guilty. Plainly, whether proposing, voting on, or challenging a law, everyone acts in accord with their own religion and/or worldview.

Every law imposes someone's convictions upon the rest of society. Speed limits exist because someone said "It is my conviction that placing restrictions on driving speeds is the best way to promote safety on the road". A law was proposed and a majority voted in favor (meaning that such a law coincided with the majority's viewpoint as well). In the same fashion, every law (once passed) imposes one's position on a certain issue upon everyone else. Essentially, law means "We impose upon you that you [do this thing or don't do this, you fill in the blank]."

Additionally, every position grows out of one's worldview. Every view is drawn out of an individual thinking "I believe the world operates in such a way, and these certain things are valuable, so my position on this issue is that . . . ". Thus a law like a speed limit is passed and enforced because an individual felt that human life was valuable and worth saving, and the majority of that individual's culture agreed.

Mind you, this does not excuse a responsible Christian from understanding and being able to defend a position beyond "The Bible says so". However, to discount a position just because it grows out of a Christian worldview is committing a genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is committed when an idea is either accepted or rejected because of its source, rather than its merit. Again, the Christian must be knowledgeable about the merit of the position and ready to defend it, otherwise they are being just as lazy about their argumentation as the skeptic.

Thus, every law imposes somebody's convictions on everyone in that culture and all convictions come from somebody's worldview. So, while understanding this will not give your argument any additional credence, it can at least prevent your argument from being disregarded off-hand.

Note: This does not mean that we should try to make illegal everything that is a sin under Christian teaching (can you imagine a society where gluttony and lying are illegal?). Nor does this give us permission to judge the world by the same set of moral tenets and standards that we judge ourselves by inside the Christian community (Paul strictly prohibited this).


lovewilbringustogether said...

"However, to discount a position just because it grows out of a Christian worldview is committing a genetic fallacy."

Nice... it does of course work BOTH ways...

Discounting a position because it grows out of a seemingly 'Unchristian' world view does likewise. The Merits need to be 'considered' and not judged, by anything so small as 'us' - God is Great! :-)

you're not too bad yourself! ;-)

p.s. TAG - now you are the one who is 'it' (for rules visit home blog link)


Jared said...


You're absolutely right, it does work both ways! Christians are making the same genetic fallacy when discounting something they think is coming from an unbiblical or non-Christian view just because of it's source.