A Secular Lifestyle is superior, and often more moral than a Religious one.
Debate Rounds (4)
I would like to specify: I will be debating someone who believes that a religious lifestyle would provide my life with some sort of benefit, or, conversely that there is some consequence or negative factor to a secular lifestyle. Opinion and appeals to emotion will not be discredited, as this is hardly a factual debate. I would like to begin with providing some benefits to a secular life that, overall wouldn't be present in a religious lifestyle. My opponent my refute these or present benefits for their own side.
*Leading a secular lifestyle frees you from judgment.
It is true that, specifically the bible, but most religious texts are full of opinions about a variety of social and political issues. Christianity specifically condemns homosexuality, non-believers, and sex. As an atheist, I have the freedom to decide for myself where I stand on these issues. I realize that there are religious people of all different opinions, but I have no template. I choose what I believe to be moral based on observation and critical analysis. For example, I believe that the homosexual community should have every last right that we do. I believe this not because a text tells me so, but because I see them as fellow human beings. I don't condone or condemn any race, group, or idea because of anything any group of pre-existing rules say. My opinions are organic and subject to change, a quality I believe is utterly crucial for moral decision making in an ever changing world, as well as a quality that utterly conflicts with religious belief.
*My actions are led by logic, not religious texts or emotions
I believe logical thinking and skepticism to be the two most important qualities to a social animal such as the human being. If the bible tells me that I shouldn't have sex before marriage, and even then so, only specifically for procreation, my logical mind tells me that this is a poor way to go about finding a mate. So long as the two parties use contraceptives, consent to the sex, and are not hurting anyone with their actions, I think it is a bit silly to believe that these people are dirty sinners for enjoying what is undeniably one of the most pleasurable acts there is. Another point is, people can be dishonest. Not to say that one should never trust anyone, but a filter of skepticism can be helpful in not being mislead.
*I am lifted of a burden of what is, in my opinion, unwarranted guilt.
This is one that pertains pretty well to Christianity. I believe that so long as you are not harming anyone with your actions, what you do with your own body and your own life is your freedom, and your decision. In religion there are copious amounts of things to feel guilty for. One of the most heinous of these would be the concept of thought-crime. The idea that I could be punished for thinking something, Merely thinking, without acting upon it, is ludicrous to me. This means I do not have to scrutinize my mind, or feel bad about feeling natural feelings of lust towards an attractive individual, or anger towards a person who has wronged me. My thoughts effect no-one but me, and I feel no remorse for holding them.
I thank my opponent in advance for accepting this challenge and I look forward to an intelligent and well thought out debate.
For the record, I am an ordained Christian minister of the gospel and have been in ministry for about 10 years. My religious beliefs form the core of who I am, and the opinions and beliefs that I hold are hard won through diligently seeking God's council. If they differ from those of other believers, it is because I am more religious, not less.
I would like to begin by answering the Pro's benefits. The Pro begins with the statement "Leading a secular lifestyle frees you from judgment." First, I have to say that in my experience atheists as a group tend to be very judgmental. I've always found it an odd thing that atheists should exist in the first place. I do not believe in Diana, I don't believe Diana ever existed, and although I know several people who profess to worship Diana, I have never felt compelled to label myself an a-Dianist or to join groups or post discussions on the absurdity of Diana worship. It has always struck me as odd that one should feel compelled to vehemently protest something one believes does not exist. I don't believe in Santa, but I don't need to convince little children that he's not real.
Regarding homosexuality, the Bible contains passages that condemn an activity that some translations render "homosexuality," but this is not the whole truth. The simple fact is that the very concept of "sexuality" as a form of identity has only emerged in the past 150 years. The world in which the Bible was produced knew nothing of sexual identity or sexual orientation. The Bible cannot speak directly to such concepts because such concepts did not exist in the human world of that day. The plain fact of the matter is that homosexuals as a group have been discriminated against throughout history by both religious and secular cultures. The anti-Christian Nazis, the atheistic Communists, and the agnostic psychologists all treated homosexuality as a perversion to be suppressed or treated or jailed. Were this a debate on homosexuality, I could delve much deeper into the Christian response, but, suffice it to say, Christian opinion on this issue has not been radically different from secular opinion until the last several years. However, much of the Church takes seriously the new research and have been working toward the stance of full equality (1). It is more interesting to note that the major impetus for the various rights movements over the past two hundred years, the movements of which gay rights is only the latest manifestation, has been the Christian religion.
For the true Christian, our lives are not lived by following a set of rules but by living in relationship with the Spirit of God. For us, the Bible is the story of God's revelation of Himself to mankind. God is an infinite being, and only the fool would believe that we could know everything about him in only a few hundred pages. God is a living God, and we are to live in relationship with Him. This means that as He continues to reveal Himself in the life of the individual believer, we are to respond to this continuing revelation as we move through our lives. For the sincere Christian, this means that our faith is anything but static.
The Christian's stance on premarital sex is conditioned by the Bible, the living Spirit of God, and, of course, the culture in which the question is asked. The Bible itself has no specific text that condemns premarital sex, let alone sex as a whole. In fact, the Bible recognizes sex as a beautiful part of our humanity, a gift from God (2). Christian opinion is near unanimous that sex before marriage is a bad idea; however, there is certainly no condemnation of sex in and of itself.
The Pro's point about being led by logic and not emotion is followed by the example of sex, which has already been rebuffed. However, I would point out that the Pro's arguments do not seem to follow any logical pattern on this point. Basically, it seems as if he's saying "if it feels good, do it." This stance refuses to acknowledge the numerous dangers of premarital sex, both physical and emotional. Sex is not something to be played with like a child's toy, but, according to University of Michigan's Professor of the History and Theory of Sexuality David M. Halperin, "Sexuality holds the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of the human personality; it lives at the center of the hermeneutics of the self (1)."
As to the burden of guilt, religion is not the source of these feelings, but many have found relief through the practice of religion. Everyone deals with issues of guilt. Christianity teaches that this comes from the fact that we have all done things that violate the moral laws that comprise human nature. We do things we know to be wrong. We experience guilt, which prompts us to change our ways. Like anything in human nature, guilt can be exaggerated in an individual or manipulated by others. The promise of Christianity on the other hand is freedom from guilt.
The Pro expresses a concern about what he calls thought-crime. In the sense of human justice, being punished for something that you didn't do is ludicrous. But the crux of Christianity is that we are more than our physical selves. We are eternal beings, souls that will never die. The things that we think have a profound effect upon who we are even in this life. The Bible realizes that sin, which corrupts and destroys the soul, begins in a person's thoughts.
The Pro says he doesn't want to scrutinize his thoughts, but the greatest men and women throughout history have been those of great mental discipline. This is not a religious truth but a human one. We are animals, but we are more than animals. We have the faculties that the Pro praised previously of logic and reason. It seems unreasonable to desire to live a logical life without disciplining your mind.
Again, the Pro fails to argue against what the Bible actually says. The Bible plainly recognizes the emotion of anger, and does not condemn it. Anger is not sin. The Bible actually says "Be angry, but do not sin." As for lust, the Bible condemns not the natural appreciation of beauty in the opposite sex but the objectification of human beings. This is the problem with pornography as well. When we look with lust, we turn the other person into a mere object to fulfill our desires. We do not consider the whole person, but only those parts which would quench our own passions. We lose sight of the humanity of the object of lust, and by so doing we harm not only ourselves but them as well. How many a woman has complained that men look at them like a piece of meat?
My opponent has obviously had some bad experiences, but on the whole, the religious lifestyle offers greater depth and breadth than the secular one. I hope that this debate brings to light some of his misconceptions and offers hope to the readers, because in the end, Christianity is a religion of hope – hope for man on earth and hope for an eternity with the God who is love.
I would also like to mention that this is my first debate on this site and I am very excited to jump into it.
Unfortunately my opponent stepped on his facts and committed some fallacies, but I'll reach that in a bit.
I will be commenting on many of my opponent's posts, and then presenting more of my own.
"I do not believe in Diana, I don't believe Diana ever existed, and although I know several people who profess to worship Diana, I have never felt compelled to label myself an a-Dianist or to join groups or post discussions on the absurdity of Diana worship."
This is a hypothetical that doesn't accurately describe the situation. The difference comes down to 2 things. The first reason that Atheists feel the need to label themselves (and many don't) is that we do not want to be tied to a religion. I wouldn't think to call myself a Non-stamp collector, but then again, if 84% of the world were Stamp Collectors and I wanted to distance myself from that group, I wouldn't have much of a choice. The term stems from a necessity to not be defined as the majority. The other reason stems simply from the concept of harm. Diana has never been the source for atrocities, rape, murder, discrimination, hate, and all other forms of negative conduct. A belief in Diana has never led to wars, or driven people to fly planes into buildings or condemn lifestyles. My opponent is comparing a benign example to something that beyond a shadow of a doubt has led to atrocities.
I would also ask my opponent not to lump us all in a definition of Atheist I wouldn't agree upon.
"It has always struck me as odd that one should feel compelled to vehemently protest something one believes does not exist."
This is implying a definition of Atheist that simply isn't true. The term is simply the lack of a belief and nothing more. There are no tenants to Atheism, no doctrines and no requirements. It is simple a label that has been given. And to this I would respond with the fact that religion isn't special. If someone came up to me and said "there is a tiny troll on my head" Would it be so horrible for me to say "I think you are mistaken?" Religion doesn't deserve a free pass from criticism just for being religion. I would also say that there are just as many "Vehement Protesters" on my opponent's side of the fence. The Westboro Baptist Church, The Evangelical movement and their "Hell Houses" and the Mormon "yes on 8" campaign to name a few.
"Santa, but I don't need to convince little children that he's not real."
This analogy also simply doesn't work. Are you comparing believers to little children? Sure you used to believe in Santa, but you grew up and realized it was silly. I see no reason why this can't be applied to a belief in god, since you appear to have done it yourself.
"The simple fact is that the very concept of "sexuality" as a form of identity has only emerged in the past 150 years. The world in which the Bible was produced knew nothing of sexual identity or sexual orientation. The Bible cannot speak directly to such concepts because such concepts did not exist in the human world of that day."
This phrase is splitting hairs. Just because the term "sexuality" wasn't yet understood as a social construct doesn't mean it didn't exist. Sodomy and other homosexual acts have been performed since long before mainstream religion, and just because they didn't have a name for it doesn't mean they couldn't condemn it. even still that's hardly the point. The argument is over the lifestyle. And the simple fact is that religions on the whole condemn homosexuality. In the last 20 years, I think it would be difficult to find an anti-homosexuality based protest that wasn't spawned by religion. The fact that there are even "passages that condemn an activity that some translations render 'homosexuality'" is proof enough. The Atheist has no book, no tenants, and so there is no pre-ordained condemnation of any kind. I decide what I condemn based on my own morals, NOT an obedience to a text.
"The anti-Christian Nazis"
This is the biggest error in my opponent's entire argument. This much needs to be understood.
Hitler was a Roman Catholic.
Hilter stated in several of his speeches that he was "Doing the work of god" and spoke positively of the Church. There where Churches erected in Hitler's Honor and they are all plastered with the swastika. It's true that Hitler made Nazism a state Religion, and in some aspects paints Organized religion in a Negative Light, I would strongly argue that while the Nazis may not reside on my opponent's side of the Fence, they are most Certainly not on mine.
I think it is time I moved on. but this is fun!
"It is more interesting to note that the major impetus for the various rights movements over the past two hundred years, the movements of which gay rights is only the latest manifestation, has been the Christian religion."
I wouldn't be so sure. I would argue that Christianity had halted progress on far more accounts than it has helped it. Christianity as a whole cannot be blamed for the various halts, but without the relentless actions of young-earth creationists, a notion that, I hope we can both agree is simply false, We would be farther along in understanding our universe.
"For the true Christian, our lives are not lived by following a set of rules but by living in relationship with the Spirit of God." I Don't understand this sentence. This is a case of th "no true Scottsman" fallacy. What if a different "True Christian" thinks differently. You're using a term whose definition is not a unanimous fact.
My Opponent also has interpreted my argument as "If it feels good do it." I would argue that this is not the case. If one is using their logical mind to make decisions, one would of course consider the Consequences of those decisions. But not all, but the catholic church specifically condemns Contraceptives, an act which I believe is impractical, illogical, and immoral. Never once did I speak of Sex as a Children's toy. But I believe making decisions about what is and isn't moral about sex for yourself, based on ones own morals is still more beneficial than to do what "God Says." If you aren't following a book of rules then what I ask, are you following? God doesn't physically communicate with his people. Nobody has ever had a literal conversation with their god. So am I to assume that if Christians don't always follow a book of rules, and they follow God, what are they following? No thanks, I'd rather trust the chemical synopses in my brain thank you.
"the crux of Christianity is that we are more than our physical selves. We are eternal beings, souls that will never die."
Right, but I as a non believer don't follow this notion. and even still, I don't see how this condones thought crime.
"We lose sight of the humanity of the object of lust, and by so doing we harm not only ourselves but them as well. How many a woman has complained that men look at them like a piece of meat?"
You say we harm them and ourselves. how so exactly. I honestly can say that I have never attributed physical or mental harm to a pornography actress by simply viewing a film they are in. These women aren't being objectified and they aren't being held and filmed against their will. This notion of harm only applies if you adopt the concept of thought-crime, which I do not. The point is, if no one is being negatively affected by your actions, then in my opinion they are not immoral.
just as my opponent believes I have misconceptions about Christianity, I believe he too has misconceptions. thank you and now I await your response.
rkkell forfeited this round.
My argument stands.
As a respectful gesture, I will also forgo this post and give my opponent a chance to comment on my previous post.
hope to hear from you soon.
I will begin with my opponent's last point, that of the harm of porn. Feminist activist Gail Dines wites:
"Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanisation of an oppressed group . . . The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls' sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire (1)."
If you'll forgive me a long quote, the facts reported by the Guardian are of particular interest:
"As a result of her research, Dines believes that pornography is driving men to commit particular acts of violence towards women. "I am not saying that a man reads porn and goes out to rape," she says, "but what I do know is that porn gives permission to its consumers to treat women as they are treated in porn." In a recent study, 80% of men said that the one sex act they would most like to perform is to ejaculate on a woman's face; in 2007, a comment stream on the website Jezebel.com included a number of women who said that, on a first date, they had, to their surprise, experienced their sexual partner ejaculating on their faces without asking.
"Sexual assault centres in US colleges have said that more women are reporting anal rape, which Dines attributes directly to the normalisation of such practices in pornography. "The more porn sexualises violence against women, the more it normalises and legitimises sexually abusive behaviour. Men learn about sex from porn, and in porn nothing is too painful or degrading for women." Dines also says that what she calls "childified porn" has significantly increased in popularity in recent years, with almost 14m internet searches for "teen sex" in 2006, an increase of more than 60% since 2004. There are legal sites that feature hardcore images of extremely young-looking women being penetrated by older men, with disclaimers stating all the models are 18 and over. Dines is clear that regular exposure to such material has an effect of breaking down the taboo about having sex with children.
"She recently interviewed a number of men in prison who had committed rape against children. All were habitual users of child pornography. "What they said to me was they got bored with 'regular' porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped a child (1)."
Feminist Warrior Naomi Wolf writes:
"In many more traditional cultures, it is not prudery that leads them to discourage men from looking at pornography. It is, rather, because these cultures understand male sexuality and what it takes to keep men and women turned on to one another over time—to help men, in particular, to, as the Old Testament puts it, "rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times." These cultures urge men not to look at porn because they know that a powerful erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family (2)."
Porn is degrading and harmful to both men and women, normalizing violence and dehumanizing women. Porn also exacts a heavy emotional toll on men and women alike, robbing them of the intimacy and fulfillment of real sexual relationships.
The Pro takes issue with my use of the term true Christian and my definition that such a one is guided by the Spirit of God. However, the Bible itself affirms this point: "He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life (3)."
Orthodox Archpriest Paul O'Callaghan expresses the essence of true Christianity as follows:
"So if Christianity is not a "religion of rules;' then what is it? What is the true spirit of Christianity? Let me share what I believe are a few characteristics of the true Christian spirit.
"First of all, Christianity is a religion of the heart. This is what the New Covenant is all about. Jeremiah prophesied about it in this way: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel — not like the one I made when I brought them out of Egypt. I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts; I will be their God and they will be my people. None of them will teach their neighbor, saying, ‘Know the Lord,' for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest" (see Jer. 31:31-34).
"So New Covenant religion Christianity — is a religion of the heart, in which we know the Lord in our hearts, have his law written in our hearts, and desire to serve him freely from our hearts. It is not a set of dead written rules that we must obey.
"Secondly true Christianity is a positive religion. It affirms that when God created his world, he said, "It is good." Its two commandments are positive: "Love God" and "Love your neighbor:" Christianity does not look around the world and say "this is good, but this is bad" It sees that all is good — it is only the misuse of human freedom in the abuse of things that is bad. So alcohol, sex, the body, money, television, and music are all good things. It is only the abuse of these things that is bad — drunkenness, pornography, compulsive gambling, etc. Even drugs marijuana, cocaine, heroin — all have good uses for medical and other reasons. It's only the abuse of them for pleasure that is wrong. The true spirit of Christianity is positive: it upholds the goodness of God's world.
"Lastly, Christianity is a religion of Spirit. True Christianity means having the Holy Spirit of God living within you. It means His Spirit is active in your spirit to guide you to what is true and good. Now this does not imply that we are to simply be guided by our feelings or whims; we must come to recognize the genuine voice of the spirit within. In this regard, the written Word of God must be our standard of discernment. In other words, the inner leading of the Spirit will always be in full harmony with the Spirit-inspired Word. Nonetheless, the practice of Christianity is not an attempt to attain God's favor by fulfilling a "written code"; it is an outflowing of the life-giving Spirit's presence within (see 2 Cor. 3:6).
"In conclusion, then, we can say that Christianity is a religion that begins on the inside with faith in the heart — not with a list of rules on the outside. Being a true Christian means that you desire to live all your life in faithfulness to God, because His Spirit is in your heart and His law is written there (4)."
Unfortunately, I've run out of space. Briefly, homosexual practice as it was known then is categorically different from what we know now. In gay rape and gay marriage, the mechanics are the same, but these are obviously dramatically different practices. Homosexual practice condemned by the Bible is rape, prostitution, and man-child sex, not loving affirming relationships between equals.
I rescind my argument about atheistic judgmentalism. This was an invalid point and I should not have brought it up. Thanks and sorry again for missing the last round.
My opponent's first rebuttal is to pornography.
The sources that Con has cited are from what he says a "Feminist Warrior" and a feminist activist. I'd be surprised to find an anti-porn feminist that revealed statistics that showed that porn has a positive effect on society. One thing that research has taught me is that everything can be spun, and everything can be misinterpreted to promote an agenda. These are clear and cut examples of Bias sources, they weed out the bad, and ignore the good. I can play that same game.
"Over the years, many scientists have investigated the link between pornography (considered legal under the First Amendment in the United States unless judged "obscene") and sex crimes and attitudes towards women. And in every region investigated, researchers have found that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased." (1)
That quote is from Milton Diamond, a writer for The-Scientist.
There is another Article entitled "Porn Up Rape Down" (2) that shows that a survey has revealed that Sex crime has seen an 84% Decrease since 1980, especially since porn has been readily available on the internet.
There are dozens of similar articles showing the same thing. We are in a free society. What we choose to do with our own bodies is our own business. Con has tried to show a link between Pornography and Sex Crime using Bias Sources by authors with clear agendas. I have shown you sources that, while not necessarily being without bias, at least are written by people that do not seem to be Porn enthusiasts, or Porn Directors or Actors.
I would also like to point out the Fallacious attempt my opponent makes to support his argument. We can both agree that Child Pornography is immoral. In the Dines interview she has deduced that watching porn led these men to commit Child-Rape. Saying that Porn leads to rape is like saying that since many murderers use knives, then owning a knife is the cause of murder. The tendency to rape is not Caused by porn, and in fact, it allows an outlet for sexual frustration. I also would like to mention that while my opponent argues a causal link between porn and sexual violence, I could, in the same vein, argue that Catholicism causes Catholic Priests to commit Child Rape. I wont because the notion is ridiculous, But I would argue that this is a case of sexual Violence for which no porn is present, and the Catholic Priest, while not an accurate representation for the common christian, is clearly on Religion's side of the fence.
My opponent's next debate topic is a long and drawn out semantic argument that Christians are led not by the bible, but by god in their heart. He can quote scriptures and pastors all day, but it doesn't change the fact that there is simply no factual proof of this. Besides, my opponent nullifies all of this sidestepping with the following.
"we must come to recognize the genuine voice of the spirit within. In this regard, the written Word of God must be our standard of discernment."
Not only has my opponent admitted to drawing morals from the bible, but his lofty language such as "Voice of the Spirit Within" simply means, "Interpretation."
So what exactly is the "Voice of the Spirit within" for the passages that condone slavery, or rape, or incest? are these symbols? then what is real and what is symbolism?
My opponent stresses the term "True Christian," and promised examples and sources. So far he has yet to provide me with anything but opinions of Pastors and bible quotes. The bible quotes are the most interesting. I find it fascinating that you try to prove yours isn't a religion of written codes by quoting a WRITTEN CODE that says so.
What's most interesting is that my opponent seems to say that In order to be a true christian, you must not always follow the bible but follow god. If one sees that the bible condones eternal sin and one believes that this is immoral, (And it does, Jesus himself condemns anyone who denies the holy spirit for eternity.) then they are making a SECULAR judgment based on SECULAR morality. the idea that this thought that is contradictory to God's word is somehow inspired by him is completely paradoxical. My morals come from me, they don't come from a collective or a religion. I am the decider of my own morality. It's a great way to dodge pesky things like atrocity and immoral actions in a "holy book."
My opponent, by listening to "god in his heart" is making moral decisions based on Logic and secular judgment. By arguing against the rules set in his holy book, I believe he has only supported my case.
Now onto some new points.
Secularity is tied to prosperity. I would like to quote an article from the Sunday Times
"RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems."(3)
If my opponent discredits these studies, then he must also discredit the studies he has shown to demote pornography.
There is a statistical link between Atheism and the positive morality of a country.
"Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.
He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.
The study concluded that the US was the world's only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from " uniquely high" adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested."
I believe I have shown you that beyond a shadow of a doubt, both logic and statistical proof have shown that Secular Morality is not only more beneficial to society, but is also a must used by the Atheistic and Religious alike. For the Atheist, it is things determined by their logical minds that they have deemed wrong and immoral, based on their own observations. For Religious, it is the cause for Special Pleading or the insistance that "This quote is misinterpreted," or "That quote isn't meant to be taken literal," or even, "times have changed."
Indeed they have, and it's time to stop drawing our morality from a Bronze Age Archaic superstition and draw them from what we know, what we can observe, and how our actions affect those around us. not because god says it's a good Idea, but simply because it's the right thing to do. nothing could possibly be more elemental to our continued existence. Thank you.
Vote Pro. That is all.
rkkell forfeited this round.
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Vote Placed by Atheolibcon 6 years ago
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