What are your qualifications?

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This is the fallacy of arguing that if someone has not received formal education in a particular topic, he or she is not allowed to present criticisms on that topic of interest. It is essentially an ad hominem attack and a defence of their view by an argument from authority.

This question represents a fallacy because information is legitimate or illegitimate regardless of whether the individual reporting it is an expert or authority. Although an expert likely knows more about a given subject, may be more likely to be correct unfounded assertions, and may be more believable, information itself does not rely on an authority for its legitimacy. Therefore, whether an individual is presenting valid criticisms of an idea depends not on his or her qualifications, but on his or her information and reasoning.

"He has attended no Bible college, taken no home Bible study courses, does not teach a Sunday School class, has not even taken first-year, basic Hebrew or Greek. [1]"
"Now hold on—are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that? [2]"
"Do I have an expert knowledge of the three languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) in which the Bible was originally written? Do I have a clear grasp of the context in which each book was compiled? Do I have a correct understanding of every passage and of the sense in which the writer used words or numbers? Can I in every case identify the author's use of language, so that I can determine whether he was employing metaphor or hyperbole, or using a simile or a localized idiom? [...] Any individuals who can truthfully answer 'Yes' to all of these questions [...] may feel qualified to press on with their attack. If not, surely it would be wiser-and humbler-to try a different approach.[3]"

Setting the bar for prior knowledge at an unreasonably high level is Loki's wager.

Many Muslims believe that the Qur'an requires extensive training for correctly interpretation.


  1. [1]
  2. The Young Turks, Ben Affleck Angrily Defends Islam Against Bill Maher/Sam Harris, 6 Oct 2014
  3. John Blanchard, Why believe the Bible?, 2004

v · d Common objections to atheism and counter-apologetics
Personal   Why are you trying to tear down other people's faith? · Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs? · What are your qualifications? · Atheists believe in nothing · You are a communist · Why do atheists inspire such hatred? · That's not my God
Religious   That's not in my Bible · They're not true Christians · You just want to sin · Atheists know there is a God · It takes more faith to disbelieve than it does to believe · God doesn't believe in atheists · Science is a faith · Atheism is a religion · Atheists worship materialism · Hypocrisy of celebrating religious holidays · Atheism is based on faith · Religious belief is beneficial
Science and logic   You can't prove God doesn't exist · Science can't touch god · God can't be defined · So you think we came from nothing / pondsoup / monkeys? · If God didn't create everything, who did? · That might be true for you, but its not true for me · Religion is another way of knowing · Apologetics and dinosaurs