05 / 06

The Genetic Fallacy?

The One Minute Apologist with William Lane Craig

Time : 00:01:33

Can you invalidate someone's belief by showing how someone came to hold it?

Grab a copy of Dr. Craig's new book "On Guard" to learn more about this and other arguments on how to defend your faith with reason and precision.


Bobby Conway: Some sceptics would say, “Hey, you know what? This whole Christian thing, it’s just a fluke. Suppose somebody was born in Saudi Arabia—they would be a Muslim by nature of where they were born.”

Dr. Craig: Yes, that’s very true. But to think that somehow invalidates a person’s Christian belief is a textbook example of a logical fallacy called the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is trying to invalidate a position by showing how a person came to hold it, and that’s obviously an invalid way of reasoning. A person might come to hold a belief for any number of reasons, some of them inadequate, but that doesn’t show that the belief itself is false.

So, for example, if you had been born in ancient Greece, you probably would’ve believed that the earth is flat, and perhaps that the sun goes around the earth. But does that mean that your belief that the earth is round and that it goes around the sun is, therefore, unjustified or false? Well, obviously not. You cannot invalidate a belief simply by showing how a person came to hold it. That is to commit the genetic fallacy.