Argument from locality

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Map of major religions around the world. One might expect a single religion to exist if they reflected a God that wanted universal belief.

The argument from locality states that every religion that has ever existed, or will ever exist, had an origin at a specific time and place within a specific culture. Any god or gods who truly wanted all humans to follow them logically could have started their religion at the very instant that the human race appeared and would have informed all cultures, not just one, thus giving all humans who would ever be born an equal chance at joining. The fact that no religion has ever done this shows that no religion is the "correct" one — or, at least, that no religion so far has had a "rational" deity.

Tenets of the argument[edit]

  1. Any god who wanted all humans to follow him/her would have revealed themselves to all humans at once, not just one culture or race at a time.
  2. If rewards and punishment are given for belief and nonbelief respectively, then any god who waits hundreds or thousands of years before revealing itself to humans is unfair, since the people who lived and died before this revelation didn't have a chance to believe.
    • If believers are rewarded for their belief then it is unfair for only a specific group of people to receive more evidence than others.
    • And vice versa: if nonbelief is punished then it is also unfair for some people to receive less evidence than others (or no evidence at all).
  3. Any religion that strongly reflects the beliefs and thoughts of the time in which it was created is not the "true" one.

The argument and Christianity[edit]

  1. God revealed himself only to the Jews at first. He was the god of the Jews and no one else. It wasn't until Christianity came along that he became the god of the world.
  2. Even though Christianity states that its god will save anyone who follows him, he still waited thousands of years before revealing this plan to humanity. Plus, the reason he suddenly decided to save all humans instead of just the Jews was never explained — thus making it unfair for the millions of non-Jews who lived before Christ, who never got a chance to be saved.
  3. The Christian god rewards believers. Thus, the fact that he only revealed himself to a small group of people in the Middle East 2,000 years ago and left it up to humans to spread his word is very unfair of him.
  4. Non-belief is punished as well, which reinforces the unfairness of only telling a small group of people.
  5. The Bible strongly reflects the beliefs and thoughts of the time (e.g. a flat earth, women being inferior to men, slavery, etc.).

Possible objections[edit]

William Lane Craig provided the following rebuttals in his debate with Christopher Hitchens:

  1. The population was not that large before Jesus
  2. Jesus appears just before the exponential explosion of the population
  3. The conditions were stable – Roman Empire, peace, literacy, law, etc.

Nevertheless, the above rebuttals fail to address the following:

  1. What happens to those who have never even heard of Christianity due to distance in time or space? What chance do they have in escaping damnation? Did they all go to Hell when they died, simply because God chose not to tell them the way to salvation? Or did they somehow get to Heaven without the redemptive powers of Jesus or even the Jewish law? And if so, if this is possible, then what was the point of sending Jesus or giving the law at all?
  2. Why does the Bible strongly reflect the beliefs and thoughts of the time? Why not something new?
  3. The above is a strong argument that any God which might exist is not omnibenevolent and is not just or fair as most Christians believe God to be. It is consistent with the near maltheist concept of God that Fred Phelps for example preaches though most Christians disagree strongly with Phelps.

Fortunately there is no reason to believe that the unjust, unfair -by human standards- God of the bible exists.

Maybe God has already expected that some people will not believe in him regardless of the evidence. Maybe God has his own standards to judge us. Maybe God wants us to explore the wonders of the world on our own. Maybe God wants us to develop our sense of morality on our own. Maybe God rewards us for using our critical faculty that he gave us and punishes blind faith.

Maybe. Yeah, maybe God does not exist at all!

See also[edit]


v · d Arguments against the existence of god
Existential arguments   Argument from nonbelief · Problem of Evil (logical) . Who created God? · Turtles all the way down · Problem of non-God objects · Argument from incompatible attributes · No-reason argument · Santa Claus argument · Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? · Outsider test
Arguments from the Bible   Failed prophecy in the Bible · Biblical contradictions
Evidentiary arguments   Problem of evil (evidential) · Inefficacy of prayer
Reasonableness arguments   Occam's Razor · Outsider test · Argument from locality · Argument from inconsistent revelations
Other arguments   Emotional pleas