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Belief / Faith

Does Our Location Determine Our Religious Beliefs?

Does Our Location Determine Our Religious Beliefs
Image Credit: Pixabay from Pexels

In a 2008 article author Ken Midkiff wrote the following of religious believers: “If you were born in Afghanistan, chances are excellent that you’d be a Muslim and bow to Allah. Norway – Lutheran. Israel – Jew. India – Buddhist… Religion, in that sense, is not a choice. It just depends on where you’re born.” [1] A 2018 study of English Christians revealed there was some truth behind Midkiff’s words: 45% of Generation Z Christians listed “growing up in a Christian family” as one of the most important reasons they became a Christian. [2] If one’s faith in Christianity is simply the result of their upbringing, how can one have confidence that their faith is real?

Whether an individual can justify their belief in a truth claim does not determine whether the underlying claim is true; Christianity may still be true even if every individual Christian cannot give justified rationale for their belief. Assuming for a moment that the claim of Midkiff is true (that Christian believers only follow Jesus because of the culture or family into which they were born), Christianity itself must still be addressed. The truth of a faith system is not dependent on its adherents. Christianity makes many truth claims which should be fairly evaluated. It is possible Chrisitans believe in the truth even if they arrived there by “accident.”

The argument put forth by those like Midkiff does not stand up to scrutiny. Midkiff’s general argument is that people believe whatever they believe primarily due to cultural influence. There seems to be no reason this argument would not apply to Midkiff’s own beliefs. Even if Midkiff holds beliefs primarily due to his upbringing or culture, he appears to believe he is objectively correct in believing them and that his beliefs apply to others. Implied in Midkiff’s own argument is the idea that culture or rearing would not disqualify one from having true beliefs. And if it were not the case, and Midkiff were not raised with atheistic beliefs, then the idea that worldview is solely the result of culture would be refuted by his very existence. Further, this argument seems to have a very Western bias; can you imagine telling a Christian in China or Iran they only believed in Jesus because of the way they were raised? Arguments such as these do not speak directly to the truth or falsehood of Christianity but rather attempt to attack the character of individual believers Click To Tweet

There seems almost to be a suggestion by this line of argument that religion is the result of upbringing but atheism the result of serious study. However, in what way atheism is categorically different from any other worldview one might be raised with? Ultimately, claims such as Midkiff’s are simply distractions: arguments such as these do not speak directly to the truth or falsehood of Christianity but rather attempt to attack the character of individual believers by labeling them as anti-intellectual or unthoughtful.

For more information about the impact Jesus and His followers had on history, read Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World That Rejects the Bible. This unique and innovative book makes a case for the historicity and Deity of Jesus from history alone, without relying on the New Testament manuscripts. It contains over 400 illustrations and is accompanied by a ten-session Person of Interest DVD Set (and Investigator’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

[1] Ken Midkiff, “Religious beliefs depend on where you were born,” Columbia Daily Tribune, last modified August 22, 2008. https://www.columbiatribune.com/article/20080822/Opinion/308229701.

[2] Aaron Earls, “The Surprising Reasons Members of Generation Z Become Christians,” Lifeway Research, last modified March 27, 2018. https://lifewayresearch.com/2018/03/27/the-surprising-reasons-generation-z-become-christians/.

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Written By

Jimmy Wallace (J. Warner's son) holds a BA in Psychology (from UCLA) and is currently completing his MA in Theology - Applied Apologetics (from Colorado Christian University).

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michael

    November 22, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    Huh? Of course your upbringing influences and forms your beliefs, that’s why Mormons dominate Utah and Muslims Indonesia. At least be honest, this counteract is silly.

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