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Discussion 5 to Reflections on Ethics 76
A whole raft of categorical statements about "Christians"

by: Mark Grace

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I'm sending this to you neither to praise or complain, but simply to respond to your thoughtful article on the often asserted claim by some Christians that belief in God and morality are inextricably linked. As a person who identifies with the term "Christian," and as someone who has had more than a passing interest in philosophy for almost forty years now, I found myself whole heartedly agreeing with your thesis. It isn't difficult at all to find notable exceptions to that wishful opinion that many Christians vigorously assert as though the more vigorously they asserted it, the more likely others might be to believe it.

On the other hand, I found myself surprised that having ably dismissed this patently prejudicial stereotype, you would then proceed to make a whole raft of categorical statements about "Christians," as though the lot of us were one hive mind and that the last two thousand years of Christian thinking had only produced two or three opinions, which if cited would suffice to sum up the entire conversation. Not to worry, I have come to believe that naming a logical fallacy quite often has the curious effect of both activating the tendency toward that fallacy within oneself, while also blinding one to its presence in one's arguments. A great deal of careful thought is required to avoid falling into the same logical defects one so readily observes in others.

On a related note, it might help you to reflect on the fact that the more refined version of the argument that you are seeking to refute would definitely NOT assert that morality necessarily implies belief in God. In fact, the very fact of widespread subscription to specific moral concepts like the ethic of reciprocity would be seen as evidence that human beings from every creed had been gifted with the same general revelation (cf. Romans 1 for an example of this kind of thinking within the Christian tradition). That is not to say that your assertion is invalid, only that if you are looking to avoid the straw man fallacy you probably ought to search with a little bit more diligence so as to assure yourself that you are, in fact, engaging the ablest arguments from the other side of the intellectual divide and not simply satisfying yourself by defeating arguments that the vast majority of competent Christian thinkers would themselves have much trouble with.