Reductio Ad Absurdum
I’m going to pick on BibleAlsoSays, Twitter phenom, one more time tonight then I am going to bed.
Though I know that what I’m about to do commits the same fallacy, allow me to do it anyway:
Which, apparently, means that we should close every school. Because they inculcate our kids with math, science, history, language arts, and other truth. If it was true, it wouldn’t require so much inculcation, after all!
Okay, now that I’m done engaging in reductio ad absurdum, let’s unpack this a little bit better.
We need to look at inculcation. According to dictionary.com:
[T]he act of inculcating, or teaching or influencing repeatedly or persistently and repeatedly so as to implant or instill an idea, theory, attitude, etc. (source)
I fail to see why religion is wrong for doing that. Ever been to school? They drill math into your head, make you memorize dates in history, practice handwriting the same letters again and again; and frequently you are penalized for creativity or outside-the-box thinking.
I remember once I wrote a poem about the sunrise in English class. I tried to coin a word, which poetry is the medium for doing that. I got marked off for it!
This tweet fails as an argument against religion because it commits a category error. It assumes religion is self-evident truth.
There are truths that are self-evident, such as 2 + 2 = 4. No argument. A baby can see that if you take two walnuts, and put two more walnuts with it, you will have four walnuts.
On the other hand, a claim like E = mc2 requires a defense, or a persistent (and perhaps in-your-face) teaching or influencing to implant the theory. Matter is really energy? It defies casual observation. Yet, upon much, much, much examination and experimentation it does wind up being true.
Religion, or more specifically religious concepts, are not necessarily self-evident. The existence of God, I think, is self-evident. But that fact alone becomes a war of semantics to define God. Which god really exists, therefore, is not self-evident.
The deity of Christ is also not self-evident. It must be examined and wrestled with, as scientists did for years with E = mc2.
There is no education required for self-evident truth. However, there is much required for more subtle truths, and the truth of the Christian religion is one such subtlety that requires both a solid education and a firm defense.