Some Muslims will never speak of “converts” but only “reverts” because they believe that everyone is born a Muslim, even if some babies have this truth hidden from them by their parents who tell them they’re Christians or atheists.
The problem with this argument stems from an unsubstantiated claim regarding Allah. In order for this statement to be true, Allah must exist. The author assumes this is the case and offers no substantiation. When the first sentence in an article requires a logical fallacy it is unlikely that anything logical or truthful will be derived from it.
And there’s a style of atheist rhetoric that makes exactly the same point. To take two random examples from my recent Twitter stream: Joan Smith wrote: “I’m not convinced there are Muslim or Christian children. They have religious parents, but should be able to decide when they grow up.” And Richard Dawkins wrote: “When you say X is the fastest growing religion, all you mean is that X people have babies at the fastest rate. But babies have no religion.”
But there are no atheist babies, and certainly no agnostic ones.
How come my son was not born believing in Zeus or Thor? How come my daughter does not know about Vishnu or Budha?
This is for two reasons. The first is that if we’re going to be consistent, and to demand that babies only be ascribed identities that they themselves embrace, there are no German, British or Chinese children either.
The comparison is not the worst attempt at a false analogy I have ever seen. First, religion or belief has nothing whatever to do with genetics. You are comparing belief to genetics. I can look at someones DNA and tell where their ancestors came from. I can not look at someones DNA and tell if they are Hindu, Christian, or Muslim. Next, you do not embrace a lack of belief any more than you embrace a lack of a hobby.
There are simply the children of German and English and Chinese parents, who will in due course learn the habits and the rules of the cultures around them and grow into their parents’ language, nationality, food habits – and religious opinions.
Oh, so you are not talking about genetics, you are talking about culture. And based on what you just said (religious opinion) you concede that your entire argument is false.
The way in which they express these will become more subtle and more interesting as they grow up – or at least we can hope it will – but the fact remains that babies are entirely anchored in the world by their parents.
As you are pointing out babies learn about culture (including religion) from their parents. Before they learn religion, they have no religion. Therefore, as your own argument points out, Dawkins is correct.
But you don’t get Dawkins and Smith complaining because people talk about “Chinese babies”.
They think religion is different. Well, it is.
No kidding, as you have pointed out it is taught, and it is trained.
For one thing, and despite the existence of loathsome and barbaric laws against apostasy, in most of the world it’s much easier to change your religion than your language or nationality.
“Apostasy” would only be loathsome or barbaric if you had started by proving Allah existed. Neither you, nor anyone, has done so. So those laws protect people from charlatans that lay claims that are unfounded and unproven.
It is generally accepted that changing your religion is a human right, but changing your nationality is not.
Okay, so you have demonstrated another way that you used a false analogy.
The big difference is that religions usually make it hard to leave and nationalities usually make it hard to enter.
No, that is NOT the big difference. That is one of many differences. You are a very confused individual.
But in neither case does an individual get to choose as if no one else were involved.
Actually, someone can decide to leave a religion without consideration of anyone else. It happens all the time. You even mentioned it earlier talking abut “Apostasy.”
To imply that babies have a default theological position of atheism is as silly as assuming that they have a default language or nationality.
No, this would be like saying they have no default language (which they do not). Your comparison to nationality is unwarranted and has already been identified as a false analogy.
Of course, in an environment where religion is regarded as weird and old-fashioned, children grow up atheist because that’s what their parents are. They don’t think about it. They may have profoundly superstitious and unscientific beliefs, but they will think of these as rational and atheist because that’s what – they know – all decent people are.
Since you do not seem to understand what an Atheist is, I will help you out. An Atheist is literally man without god. When we use the term Atheist we are talking about someone that has not been provided with adequate evidence that there is a god or god that exists. This has nothing to do with superstition, or holding unscientific beliefs. An Atheist would simply state that you have not done an adequate job of proving a god or gods exists.
This is a perfectly sensible piece of conformist time-saving – life’s too short to live without prejudice – but it isn’t a reasoned rejection of belief after serious consideration of its possible truth.
Your posit is wrong therefore your conclusion is wrong.
There is another reason why babies can’t be atheists or agnostics.
In neither of the quotes you provided did anyone say anything about agnostics. I will assume for the rest of your argument you mean atheists only, since that is all that was implied.
Everything we know from science shows that supernaturalism comes naturally to children.
So does imaginary play. Like religion.
It is not just that they believe much of what their parents and the surrounding societies tell them: they show a preference for remembering and transmitting stories that defy scientific rationality. So do we all, unless we train ourselves out of it.
So the basis of your argument is that because some people of a certain age have a preference for fiction that does not correspond to reality, we are supposed to agree that it is the “normal.” Great, why do Muslims get preferential treatment in this instead of the Greek pantheons, Hindus, Christians…
To reach the state where you can really reflect critically on your own beliefs – rather than simply understanding that your parents are deluded old fools – takes a long time if it ever happens at all. As Bertrand Russell observed, many people would rather die than think and most of them do. And that is why no one can really be called an atheist or an agnostic until they have grown up.
Your conclusion has no support. You have failed. An Atheist is someone that does not believe in god, a baby can not understand the concept of god. You posit that though a baby can not understand the concept of god, they believe in (your specific god), anyway, and you state this with no proof.
Andrew Brown – Thank you for the opportunity to practice dismantling arguments.