The argument from popular belief


One of the most common arguments one can hear from the religious centers on the proposition that as so much of the world’s population is religious, or at least believes in a deity, and as religion has been such a consistent theme through human history, who am I to doubt the beliefs of the vast majority of the world’s population?
this argument, I find myself so often explaining, is such an old and famous fallacy that it actually has an official Latin name. It is called Argumentum Ad Populum, or “appeal to the people”; a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because it is popularly believed, and alleging that “If many believe so, it is so”. I find that the easiest way to expose this fallacious reasoning is by considering the case of witchcraft. Probably more than any one organized religion or any one deity, witchcraft used to be an accepted part of life in every single part of the world. The interesting thing to note is that witchcraft was just as nonsensical and ridiculous back when most of the world’s population used to believe in it, as it is today. Religion suffers from the exact same problem for the exact same reasons.
Another flaw in this already flawed argument is thinking that religion is a thing in which many can claim to believe. In reality, religion is a collective name for thousands and thousands of different contradictory beliefs in thousands of different deities over thousands of years. I do not think religious people realize that when they attempt to lump themselves together with the rest of the religious world, they are indirectly (and probably unknowingly) attempting to also justify everything from Greek polytheism, Aztec human sacrifice, Nordic blood rights, and the violent religious misogyny of the Taliban, together with their beliefs. If one tries to package “religion” as one collectivized thing, then one should be prepared for the implications of this.

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