“Proving too much” is a philosophical phrase applied to an argument that seems to make a valid point until you realize the point is so broad that it is not able to remain true when the obvious is pointed out. There are variations on the exact phrasing of the definition, but the point is always the same – you prove too much and the result is you prove nothing.
I recently read an on-line article that discussed the feelings of some atheistic parents after one of their children embraced religion. As with most on-line stories there was a comment section, and as with most on-line stories involving atheism and any form of faith the comments were predictable to say the least.
Out of all the comments, one stood out to me – but it wasn’t original to the commenter. I have seen roots of the comment (which was presented as a passive argument in this case) used multiple times. And unfortunately I am sure it will continue to be used despite the fact the comment proves nothing by proving too much. In fact, the “challenge” of the comment can be logically answered with fewer words than it takes to propose the argument.
The argument under consideration is, “Everyone is born a non-believer or atheist and until brainwashed by parents or others would remain that way.”
Ignoring the fact a child knows nothing concerning matters religious or secular, how does this “default mindset” argument prove too much? Simple. The answer is this – if that argument is completely true then religion in any form would not exist!
Let me quickly explain: If atheism teaches there is no God to present a message of “religion” and therefore the message is completely dependent upon the parents passing it down through “brainwashing”, then according to the argument under consideration the message should have never started due to the fact that at one point in time (according to atheism) all parents were supposedly atheists. If atheism was the starting point for all of humanity then none of humanity should have left it because there was nothing else to pass down from parent to child!
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV)