Argument from Common Consent
The Argument from Common Consent admittedly does not claim to prove God’s existence; instead it tries to demonstrate that God likely exists. It argues that if the vast majority of all people believe in something, then that something is likely true, otherwise it would not have been adopted as a best practice. Therefore, since the majority of all humans throughout history believed in some form of God, the divine is likely to exist, and “to be an atheist you have to be a snob. You have to believe that most of the people who have ever lived have guided their lives by an illusion. And you must believe that you and your few fellow atheists are the only ones clever enough to have discovered this gigantic hoax.”
However, this is the exact, literal definition of the argumentum ad populum fallacy, which powers the Bandwagon Effect. If all your friends jumped off a cliff, that doesn’t mean you should.
When confronted with the Argument from Common Consent, and immediately mention the problems caused by religious plurality; ideally phrased in a way that mirrors the clergyman’s argument. For example: “Do you really believe that two billion Christians could all be wrong?” should be countered with “Do you really believe that a billion Muslims could all be wrong? Do you really believe that a billion Hindus could all be wrong? Do you really believe that a billion atheists could all be wrong?” This is especially effective, because a tyranny of the majority requires a majority status, or the perception thereof, in order to operate.
In addition, this is a circular argument, because it claims that people should believe in God because people believe in God. Additionally, the associated snobbery claims often attached to this argument are an ad hominem; the fact that an atheist may be a snob is independent of the truth or falsehood of any of their claims or statements.
- ↑ P. Kreeft, Faith and Reason: The Philosophy of Religion (Recorded Books, 2005).