Christianity is the largest religion on earth with approximately 2.2 billion adherents. Do you think the undeniable success of Christianity provides a prima facie reason to believe it is true?
— Tentative Apologist (@RandalRauser) October 4, 2018
In this article, I’d like to offer a response to the 40 percent of respondents to my survey who believe the extraordinary success of a worldview like Christianity provides no prima facie reason to believe it is true.
To begin with, “prima facie” refers to a preliminary impression. In other words, the claim is that when assaying which worldview to consider as most likely to be true, one ought to begin with the majority position. And if there is no majority position, then one ought to begin with the plurality position. The idea is not that the majority is always correct, for that would be to commit the error known as the ad populum fallacy. Rather, the idea is simply that, all other things being equal, this is the most reasonable place to begin.
In other words, all other things being equal, a worldview that claims 2.2 billion adherents has a prima facie rational advantage over a worldview that has two million or two thousand adherents. Of course, one may conclude after an investigation of the evidence that the majority is wrong. That is perfectly consistent with taking the position that the most widely held position nonetheless has a prima facie privileged position.
To sum up, while not guaranteeing the end point, this modest consideration does offer a reasonable starting point. And it suggests that those surveying worldviews for serious intellectual consideration ought to begin with Christianity.
EDIT: A Footnote
Here’s a simple illustration of my point. I don’t have cable, but I regularly watch live streams of news channels on YouTube. Unfortunately, finding a good live stream is a bit of an art because they are always coming and going and many purported live streams are, in fact, bogus.
One of the surest guides to finding a good live stream is simple: look for the highest numbers of current viewers. Consider, for example, this screenshot of three live streams: one has 598 viewers while the other two have 14 and 2 viewers. All other things being equal, you ought to start with the stream with the highest number of current viewers. My simple point is that the same basic reasoning applies to worldviews, including Christianity.