‘If you were born in Saudi Arabia,’ the argument goes, ‘you would probably be a Muslim. If you were born in the Bible Belt of the US, you would probably be a Christian.’ Conclusion: religious belief and commitment are conditioned by one’s culture and environment. Truth, evidence, reason and personal decision have nothing to do with it.
But the argument cuts both ways. A person born in France, for example, would probably be a secularist rather than either a Muslim or a Christian. Shall we say, then, that secularism is also culturally determined?
For a time during the last century, a young person growing up in the Soviet Union would likely have been a member of the Communist Youth, but growing up in Germany the chances would have been in favour of membership of the Hitler Youth. Do we conclude that all political systems are morally equivalent?
Geography doesn’t settle the matter. Truth claims must be evaluated on their own merits. We must make every effort to recognise cultural influences, reflect on them, and, if necessary, resist them.
It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.
(Based on an article by Paul Copan in The Apologetics Study Bible, p1199)