2

Even if there is a deity, why should your god be the one?

This is a common response from the nonbelievers. I assert that it is a logical fallacy, not because the statement in itself is totally foolish, but because they put it forward (often implicitly) to defend their position. It is a logical fallacy because anybody can put forward that argument whenever there are more than two choices: You promote the value of science and scientific thinking, and that truth is attainable through science, etc., and I go: Well, religion A claims the same thing, so does religion B, so does that pseudo-science, etc., so why should science be true?

Obviously—at least, to me—this is a stupid argument. Anyhow, is there a name for this type of fallacy?


ADDENDUM

Respectfully, I do not understand why this question has turned into (almost) a religion discussion. I thought, my question was simple: It cannot be a rational argument to defend one's position with respect to “Why don't you accept preposition P” by stating that “Well, I choose preposition Q, because there are other propositions, P1, P2, P3, etc., Why should I choose yours?”

What I am saying is that even though “Why should I choose yours?” is a valid question, it does not carry any value with respect to defending choosing preposition Q.

19
  • 7
    Not only is it not a fallacy, it is a very sound argument against all the metaphysical proofs of god, like the Kalam cosmological argument: "well, let's even say your flawed argument works and there must be a first cause we name God, does it in anyway prove that it is YOUR god and that anything in your sacred scriptures or laws is more than fiction ?". The burden of proof is on you, you have to prove that god is the way you claim it is. Lastly, the reversal you propose does not work: unlike religion science makes very precise predictions about counter intuitive phenomenons. Science works.
    – armand
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 2:25
  • 4
    I don't see how this is a fallacy. In fact I think it's a legitimate question to ask why should I believe in the existence of any god over, say, Zeus.
    – Cell
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 2:28
  • 2
    Whether this is a fallacy depends on the context of the argument that you omitted. If you are the one arguing for a particular deity this is a valid objection, it is also valid against generic theism (since it is hard to pick a preferred deity). It is also valid if you are both arguing from a neutral position, say, whose view is more plausible. It is only if they are arguing for science (or some other deity) this would be shifting the burden of proof.
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 5:25
  • 3
    I don't quite understand what the analogy is trying to demonstrate, since to me, "Why should science be true?" is itself a perfectly fair and valid question.
    – H Walters
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 1:18
  • 4
    -1, just because these questions seem all too common on SE.Philosophy. Specifically, someone doesn't like something that casts doubt on their position on something, so they ask what manner of fallacy it is. The trouble's then that people who want to be helpful try to reinterpret the statement into something fallacious to appease the asker. This makes such questions into communal strawman competitions.
    – Nat
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:15

9 Answers 9

10

As currently phrased, this does not have the form of an argument, and therefore cannot be a fallacy. As @Josiah noted, this is a completely reasonable question to ask (if asked in good faith, as part of a discussion) and is perhaps best addressed as such.

However, as I read you, you're asking about this question used in a purely rhetorical fashion, as a stand-in for the claim "there is is no reason to believe in any one given god over another." This, if used as a conversation-ender, not a conversation-starter, is really just a disguised version of the argument from ignorance ("I don't know a reason, therefore none exists"). It's also (in the form you've explained it in), an example of false equivalence (at least, in the case that the arguments for all gods are not, in fact, equally strong).

Strategically speaking, it's worth noting that, even in this form, this line or response still opens the door for you to explain why you do believe in the God you worship, and not other gods. It can sometimes be useful in an argument to take people for the face value of what they say, even if you are sure they are being insincere. It's also worth noting, if you find it unanswerable, or if you're the one who treats it as a conversation-ender, then it may be that the weaknesses are with your position, and not your querent's.

3
  • 2
    I think you're wrong. It is obvious from the context that this scenario is a casual conversation so you cannot expect an argument with premises and conclusions all laid out. This question is an implicit argument. The argument is that there likely is or isn't a/aren't god(s). If there likey is/are, then because there are >1 groups that claim the true god(s), I'm certainly to be punished one way or the other thus I'm not any worse off not believing in any of them. I suspect your answer was chosen because it was the only one to reaffirm the original poster's beliefs.
    – Cell
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 22:56
  • 1
    @Cell I would encourage you to post this as your own answer. And anyone who disagrees with the green checkmark is free to vote. With that said (a) you, me, and the OP all agree this question is an implicit argument, so there's no disagreement there. (b) I realize there's not enough room to develop a full argument in a comment, but your argument, at least as outlined above, is no stronger than the ones I did consider. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 13:10
  • 1
    @Cell I did make some edits to address your concern that this answer panders to the OP's point of view. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 13:15
11

As mentioned in the comments, it is not a fallacy. It is a question.

That is, presuming that you are arguing that your God exists. If you are just arguing that at least one god exists, then it is a red herring.

But if you are arguing further then the appropriate response is to answer the question.

If they, say, ask "why not Zeus" when you have been talking about the creator of the universe, then they are committing the fallacy of conflation. They are using other examples that take the word "god" but do not have the properties under discussion of being a creator being. However, I would suggest that rather than say "that is a fallacy" it would be more helpful to say "ah, because even the ancient greeks did not think Zeus was the creator of the world."

If they ask "why not Brahma?" you will not have that particular get out. (aside: I think it is more helpful in a discussion setting if you are the one to bring up the examples that you don't have convenient get outs for, ideally immediately after talking about Zeus not being a creator) In that case you just need to acknowledge the case is not quite closed yet and start looking at the closer details. Which brings me back to "answer it as a good faith question."

1
  • 1
    I don't worry about red herrings because I have bigger fish to fry :-)
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:15
2

Partial fallacy, it does not disapprove God, but it does disapprove certain religions

Let's assume we have agreed that there is a certain supreme being called God. But what are his positive qualities ? What do we know about him ?

For example, what does God command to do with adulterers ? Should we stone them to death (Judaism, Islam) or have them repent then forgive them (Christianity) or God(s) simply do not care about them (Cthulhu Mythos ) ?

As you can see, simply believing that God does exist does not affirm any other religious belief about him, there is no logical chain from God's existence to any of known or unknown religions.

However, fact that we do not know much about God's nature is not a proof that God does not exist either. In that sense, this (rhetorical) question is a fallacy as a way to disapprove God's existence .

0
2

A concrete example: A believing Christian and a believing Muslim might give the exact same argument for the existence of their god. If we accept their arguments, it still leaves the possibility that the Christian God, or the Muslim Allah, are the real thing.

So it is entirely reasonable to ask them both this question, expecting that at least one of them won’t find a good answer.

1
  • 1
    "Two men say they're Jesus... One of them must be wrong" Worse: if they both give the same argument, then they both could be right! Calamity, they would have to agree with each other then!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:02
1

This question is not structured as an argument. It cannot be a fallacy. Further, it is a pretty damn good question. There is no reason to re-examine the premise of the question, because it does not follow any sort of fallacious reasoning as a means to debase the position of theism.

2
  • 1
    As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Meanach
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 0:52
  • "Re-examine all that you were told. Dismiss what insults your soul." - Walt Whitman
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:11
1

The ACTUAL answer to this question, if you're still seeking the answer (and to anyone else who wanders upon this post) is somewhere between Pascal's Wager and Roko's Basilisk.

Pascal's Wager is a punnet square of whether or not there is a god, and whether or not you worship that god, the 4 sections showing the resulting outcomes of the following

Rewarded for worshiping the real god Wasted time for worshiping fake god Punished for not worshiping the real god Time not wasted for not worshiping fake god

Roko's Basilisk is the idea of an AI computer punishing those who did not put in effort to bringing it to life, and therefore the question arrises of "Should you help create it?" because when it's complete, if it's completed by others and you did not help, you will be punished, but if you help and complete it, then you will have caused the suffering of others by creating it. This is comparable to the idea of worshiping God in case he's real so that he does not punish you for not worshiping him, but if he's not real, and you have caused harm to others in his name, then you will have been responsible for this harm.

3
  • We made God in our image, so we can punish other people for not agreeing with us.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:10
  • In my experience, it's the other way round: the question above is a rebuttal to Pascal's wager. Commented May 14 at 11:13
  • Also, when I bring up Pascal's wager, I often like to ask if God will treat those who do not worship the same or differently from those who worship the WRONG god. With the number of religions all saying they have the right beliefs, and that the others will be punished in the afterlife for following the false idols, I ask how they know theirs is the correct one that won't get you punished, effectively replacing "did not worship" with "worshiped wrong god" which has "wasted time, punished" at a 50/50 with "worshiped correctly, rewarded" with an asterisk for the number of religions. Commented May 16 at 4:43
1

"Why should your god be the one?"

Without starting a religious debate and staying at the level you wanted it to be:

It is not an attempt to support any position. It is an attempt to falsify or weaken the opposing position. You may prove a statement wrong or weaken it without providing a working solution. It is not a fallacy.

Your suggestion that falsification is fallacious, if no working alternative solution is provided, is a fallacy.

You know the proverb "I came to destroy your castle, not to build my own."? No. Me neither. I just made it up. But it fits what I just stated.

1
  • "My God's better than your God, my God's better than yours! My God's better 'cause He gets Veneration, my God's better than yours!"
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:06
1

I think that the question 'Why should your god be the one?' commits the very fallacy it purports to unmask. It assumes, without a shred of evidence, that there is any valid god hypothesis to consider in the first place. The burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of those making the affirmative claim that a god exists. Until compelling evidence is furnished, the default position of simply not believing in any god due to lack of substantiation - is the only rational stance.

To turn the argument on its head - why should the belief in unicorns, leprechauns or the Flying Spaghetti Monster not be taken as seriously as the god hypothesis? They have just as much validating proof, which is to say, none whatsoever. Asking 'Why not this other faith?' implicitly grants a credibility to the entire religious enterprise that it has never earned through fact or reason.

Posing the question doesn't mean raising a profound point about religious tolerance and choice. It's just begging the very question under dispute - assuming an equivalence between mythologies that has no factual basis. It's a fallacy dressed up in the festive verbal garb of magnanimity. A case of letting humans off the hook from making tough rational judgments by embracing cloying "openmindedness" instead.

4
  • Yes. Everyone should just shut up about anything related to God or gods. Like, completely. It should be a personal matter.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 11 at 22:00
  • 1
    @ScottRowe Why shut up? It brings pretty good living to some of my friends priests. =) On a more serious note, a more cynical answer - "My god is the one, cause we need to control everything, and not those guys". One should understand the real purpose of religion as a social and political institution, then this question wouldn't be asked, at least not seriously.
    – Groovy
    Commented May 12 at 4:26
  • Right, if people acting in causes of religious motives would do the right things maybe no one would mind? I guess that approach hasn't occurred to them.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 14 at 10:43
  • 1
    @ScottRowe They are doing the right things. The right things from the perspective of real goals of religion - control, power.
    – Groovy
    Commented May 15 at 8:04
-1

Relativism

What you're trying to explain or find out is the fallacy of relativism. The illustrative quote "why should your God be the one" is incomplete, it is actually, "why should your God be the one, since one God cannot be the true one". It is an assumption against objective truth and for religious pluralism which is cultural relativism.

4
  • I'm not quite understanding...
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 14 at 10:39
  • @ScottRowe If you see Paul Hacker on neo-Vedanta (pg 8 onwards) it should be clear enough. pg 10 Nondualism is a monstrosity
    – Rushi
    Commented May 14 at 12:29
  • @Rushi I quite agree, all -isms are monstrosities. Go for the real thing.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 14 at 14:31
  • What's difficult to understand? The illustration is an example of relativism, pushing against objective truth for religions. It says one religion can't be true. Either all are true or false, but not one true religion.
    – Michael16
    Commented May 14 at 17:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .