By the time she turned up in New York, [Justina Walford’s] faith had long since unraveled, a casualty of overseas travel that made her question how any one religious community could have a monopoly on truth. But still she grieved the loss of God. “It was like breaking up with someone that you thought was your soulmate,” Walford told me. “It’s for the better. It’s for your own good,” she remembered thinking. Even though it no longer made sense to her to believe, she felt a gaping hole where her Church—her people, her psalms, her stained-glass windows—used to be.We can see the usefulness of using emotions to judge truth, as young Walford has done, leads to grief—and error. If what feels good is true, then truth depends on your digestion (as subjective probability does). However, everybody, except magazine writers and feminist organizations, know this, so skip it.
Concentrate instead on this: could any one religious community have a monopoly on truth?
If you find yourself saying, “Gee! I guess it can’t!” then you have committed the One True Spartacus Fallacy. Twice.
The first time is implicitly saying “I now possess the monopolistic truth that my religion, that of myself being the ultimate judge of good and evil and of the truth and falsity of religions, must be true, because no one religious community could have a monopoly on truth. Except my community of one, or of the community of like-minded people who come together to celebrate their infinite perspicacity.”
You can’t say it is true there is no truth. Unless you’re an academic—in which case you could secure tenure with idiotic statements just like that. Given this is the internet, let me be painfully clear. You can’t say all religions are false unless you can prove it, which means, for a start, proving the necessary Being is not necessary. Best o’ luck.
The second time the fallacy is used is worse. It is to say there can be no true Spartacus because all the other men stood up and said that they were the one true Spartacus. And that because so many men said it, and were wrong, therefore there could be no one true Spartacus.
It would be like a scientist saying, “Because there are all these other rival theories purporting to explain this effect, each claiming to be the one true theory, and all are wrong except for mine; therefore, there can be no one true theory explaining this effect. Therefore I must be wrong, too. There is thus no reason to search for the one true theory. Science is a farce and a fake and a fraud. I’m taking up Yoga instead.”
Not only that, he would be applauded as being wonderfully aware. He’d win the Gold Fedora for having made this brilliant deduction.
There have been lots of scientific theories of effects, each claiming to be the one true theory, or a portion of it. Just as there have been lots of religions claiming to be the one true religion, or a portion of it.
Think! If any theory or religion said it was wrong, admitted up front that it’s so much bovine spongiography, who would follow it? Who practices a theory or religion that they knew is false?
Of course, mistakes have been made. But we don’t give up on science, because science, like religion, is self-correcting. We do think we can jettison religion, though, based on arguments as dumb as the One True Spartacus Fallacy.
What galls the modern mind is a religion with the temerity to say it is the one true religion. The stakes in religion are higher than in any science, so it’s natural emotions run hotter. But what’s really happening is that people making the Fallacy have already judged the religion under discussion false, and not only that religion, but all religions, and without the benefit of arguing why. Therefore they’re only rejecting “one more God”, as the internet-atheists say.
Tough cookies. There is one true religion, and all the others are either false or only approximations to it, containing, possibly, some truths and not knowing others, while, possibly, also containing falsities.
Naturally, some reject this one true religion for reasons other than the silly “all religions but my own are false.” But if it’s because this one true religion openly calls itself the one true religion, which you “feel” is an affront, then you have made the Effeminacy Fallacy.
Which brings us back to the beginning. You have rejected a religion because it has hurt your feelings. Suck it up, buttercup.