The Instigator
The-Voice-of-Truth
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Philocat
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points

AUTUMN REGULAR TOURNAMENT: Atheistic Protection Under the American Constitution.

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Philocat
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/24/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,851 times Debate No: 78863
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (42)
Votes (2)

 

The-Voice-of-Truth

Con

Introduction and Disclaimer:

This debate is a part of the Autumn Regular Tournament, hosted by bsh1 and tejretics. Only Philocat can accept this debate, as he is my assigned opponent.

The full resolution is as follows: "Resolved: That, at the Time of the American Founding, Atheism was Constitutionally Protected Under the First Amendment."

Debate Layout:

First Round is Introduction and Instigation by Con and Acceptance by Pro.
Second Round is Constructive Arguments; absolutely NO REBUTTALS whatsoever.
Third Round is Rebuttals ONLY.
Fourth Round is Counter-Rebuttals, Conclusion, and Summary.

Definitions:

American: Of, relating to, or characteristic of the United Statesor its inhabitants. [1]

Founding: The establishment or origination of an institution or organization, especially by providing an endowment. (Definition contextually modified to adhere to the circumstances of use in the Resolution). [2]

Constitutionally: In a way that is in accordance with a political constitutional. (In this case, the American Constitution).[3]

Protected: Secured, sheltered, in safe hands, safe, guarded, out of danger,safeguarded, or preserved. [4]

Under: As provided for by the rules of; in accordance with. [5]

First Amendment: An amendment to the U.S Constitution, prohibiting Congress from interfering with the Freedom of Religion, Worship, Speech, Press, Assembly, or petition to the government. (Definition contextually modified to adhere to the circumstances of use in the Resolution). [6]

Rules:

No trolling.
No Kritiks/Ks.
No inappropriate behavior (cursing or insults).
Arguments from semantics are allowed (thus the lack of certain definitions).
Opponent cannot define words in the Acceptance round.
Semantics may only occur in the Arguments, Rebuttals, and Counter-Rebuttals.

The First Amendment:

Due to the nature of this debate, both I and my opponent will be citing and quoting the First Amendment. For the sake of the debate and the convenience of the participants, I will provide the full text of the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." [7]

Acceptance Disclaimer:

By accepting this debate, you agree to abide by the above rules and debate format. Also, you agree to remain within the parameters set by the definitions. Any violation of the rules or debate format, or any straying from the established definitions, will result in a complete forfeiture of the debate.

I look forward to debating Philocat. He is an intellectual as I am, and as such I expect no less than his full effort. I hope this is going to be a fun yet serious debate. May the best debater win.

And thus begins the Assault on Reason.

"Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one." [8]

-George Washington

___________________________________________________
[1]http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[2] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[3] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[4] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[5] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[6] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[7] http://www.archives.gov...
[8]http://www.brainyquote.com...
Philocat

Pro

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
The-Voice-of-Truth

Con

A brief thank-you to bsh1 and tejretics for hosting this tournament, and to Philocat for accepting.

For simplicity, Supreme Court will be abbreviated as 'SC' or shall simply be referred to as 'the Court,' and First Amendment will be 'FA.'

Overview:
For years, Atheism was not constitutionally protected under the FA. That is, until 1978, when the SC case Theriault v. Silber, 1978 changed the meaning of religion [1, 2] In this case, the SC expanded the religious clause of the FA to included non-religion.

Violation of Precedence:

Theriault v. Silber, 1978 opposes the decision made by the SC in the case Commonwealth v. Abner Kneeland, 1838 [1] -- a clear violation of Court precedence, which is not illegal per se, but is widely frowned upon in the American Judicial system.

In Commonwealth v. Abner Kneeland, 1838, the Court says the following:

"[The First Amendment] embraces all who believe in the existence of God, as well... as Christians of every denomination.... This provision does not extend to Atheists, because they do not believe in God or religion; and therefore... their sentiments and professions, whatever they may be, cannot be called religious sentiments and professions." [1, 3]

Let us take a look a that again:

"...This provision does not extend to Atheists, because they do not believe in God or religion; and therefore... their sentiments and professions, whatever they may be, cannot be called religious sentiments and professions."


There is something about "This provision does not extend to Atheists..." that makes me wonder if Atheism was meant to be constitutionally protected.

Of course, under judicial review as established in Federalist No. 78 [7] and Marbury v. Madison [8], the justices of the SC can interpret the Constitution as they please, right? That is why in Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961 [4, 6] and Grove v. Meade School Dist, 1985 [1], it was resolved that Secular Humanism is a religion; and in Malnak v. Yogi, 1977 [1, 5], Atheism was found to be a religion.

Although Judicial Review is established and widely accepted, it has been misapplied in the aforementioned cases. The purpose of Judicial Review is for the SC to interpret laws and formerly enacted legislature via. courtroom precedence. The above cases all violate SC precedence.

The Importance of Precedence:
Courtroom precedence is important to the interpretation of laws by the judiciary. Courts decide what laws and various legislature means based on previous cases and how the verdict was reached.

For example, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment [8]. What exactly is cruel and unusual punishment? How may we specify what this is? This is where judicial review accounts for the lack of clarification. The Court determines via. review and analysis of previous cases what exactly defines "cruel and unusual punishment."

In every instance of review, each decision is supposed to be based off of a previous decision or decisions; this is called precedent. For the SC, the precedent must be followed. [10]

"To show that your constitutional rights have been violated, you point to good court decisions in earlier cases and describe how the facts in those cases are similar to the facts in your case. You should also show how the general principles of constitutional law presented in the earlier decisions apply to your situation." [10]

So, judicial review in the SC is limited to what was previously resolved in preceding Courts.

At the Time of the Founding:
As time progresses and cultures intermingle, language changes, and along with language, so does the meanings of various words.

The FA allows the freedom of religion (see R1). But what it religion? How can we know what the Founders intended to protect? Why, we look at what the definition of 'religion' was during that time period:

Definition of Religion:
"Noun relij'on. [Latin religio, from religo, to bind anew; re and ligo, to bind. This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or the obligation of such an oath or vow, which was held very sacred by the Romans.]

1. religion in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion

2. religion as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. James 1:26.

3. religion as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law.

Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion

4. Any system of faith and worship. In this sense, religion comprehends the belief and worship of pagans and Mohammedans, as well as of christians; any religion consisting in the belief of a superior power or powers governing the world, and in the worship of such power or powers. Thus we speak of the religion of the Turks, of the Hindoos, of the Indians, etc. as well as of the christian religion We speak of false religion as well as of true religion

5. The rites of religion; in the plural."

Hold on.... What was that? Let us take a look at #1 again:

"...the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion." (Emphasis Added).

Apparently, the Founders did not see Atheism as religion.

Just for the sake of argument, let us look at the definition of Atheism during the time:


Definition of Atheism:
"Noun. The disbelief of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.

Atheism is a ferocious system that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us, to awaken tenderness."

It is apparent that the two definitions contradict each other, and it is reasonable to conclude that Atheism was not protected nor intended to be protected under the FA.


Double-Standards Due to the Absurd:
Ever since the implementation of the doctrine of Separation (if it were to actually stand under thorough scrutiny, but that is another debate entirely) by the SC in the 1960s, the Court has been operating under double-standards [1, 14].

The SC has been slowly but surely integrating Atheism into American society, yet, in Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961, it is thought that Atheism is defined to be a religion [13]. If this is true, the government is removing Christianity from the public and is installing Atheism [1, 14].

To back this up, I will provide a few articles concerning related issues (Note: these are not cited as sources):

1. http://newsok.com...
2. http://www.cbn.com...-/
3. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net...

So, really, after reading the above articles and the previous paragraph, it is natural to conclude that, in order to prevent the unconstitutional establishment of a religion, the government is establishing a religion..... quite a dilemma for the Court.

It is thus determined that Atheism was never intended by the Founders to be protected under the FA.

_______________________________

1: The Myth of Separation: by David Barton
2: https://casetext.com...
3: http://www.reclaimamericaforchrist.org...
4: http://www.wnd.com...
5: http://www.leagle.com...
6: https://supreme.justia.com...
7: http://www.constitution.org...
8: https://en.wikipedia.org...
9: https://www.law.cornell.edu...
10: http://jailhouselaw.org...
11: http://webstersdictionary1828.com...
12: http://webstersdictionary1828.com...
13: http://atheism.about.com...
14: http://www.str.org...
Philocat

Pro

Thank you for an interesting opening argument, VOT, and I would also like to extend my thanks to bsh1 and Tejretics for hosting this tournament.

Observation

The full resolution, as stated by Con, is:

"Resolved: That, at the Time of the American Founding, Atheism was Constitutionally Protected Under the First Amendment."

The use of 'atheism' in this context clearly isn't used to mean 'the ideology of atheism', because ideologies aren't granted constitutional protection; only US citizens are granted constitutional protections (1). Therefore, I am justified in interpreting 'atheism' in this context to mean 'the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism'.

The point of contention in this debate is whether the First Amendment constitutionally protects the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism, in such a way that pertains to their belief.

What is atheism?

Atheism is defined as:

'Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.' (2)

In other words, atheism is prima facie a particular ideological set of thoughts/ideas. These thoughts and ideas include the belief that there is no God.

However, in a political sense, atheism is far more than simply an idea that God does not exist. The Government has no way of knowing what ideas a given person holds to (ideas, in themselves, are not visible to outside observers); so if atheism is simply the belief in the idea of God's non-existence, then the Government, or anyone else for that matter, cannot possibly know that someone is an atheist.

But our everyday empirical observations often do recognize atheists, this is because atheism invariably encompasses the expression of the idea of God's non-existence. Granted, some atheists may potentially hold the idea of God in their minds but give no outwards expression of that belief, but almost all atheists express their beliefs through books, speech, social media or debate. And it is fair to say that these expressions of atheism, are actually a fundamental part of atheistic belief in a similar way to how the public expressions of theism are a fundamental part of theistic belief.

Therefore it is fair to say that, in a political/sociological context, atheism is not solely the belief in God's non-existence, the outward expressions of that belief are parts of it as well.

The First Amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

In other words, the First Amendment (henceforth referred to as the FA), outlines five distinct individualistic rights/protections:

1. The right to free exercise of any particular religion.
2. The right to freedom of speech
3. The right to freedom of the press
4. The right to peaceably assemble
5. The right to petition Government for a redress of grievances

Since atheism isn't a religion in the proper sense of the word, right #1 doesn't protect atheism.

Right #3 may or may not protect atheism, dependent on whether there exists such a thing as an atheistic press. However, I do not think the debate over freedoms of atheistic press is relevant to this particular resolution.

Finally, right #5 doesn't pertain to any specific theological ideology, either religious or atheistic, so atheism per se isn't protected by the right to petition Government.

This leaves us with two remaining rights:

2. The right to freedom of speech
4. The right to peaceably assemble

Bringing it all together

Now, consider that atheism includes the outward expression of the idea of God's non-existence (already established). What may the 'outward expression' consist of?

Well, humans are both vocal and social creatures, in that we naturally seek to communicate ideas vocally through speech as well as congregate together to share and support these ideas.

Given this, an outward expression of any kind is most likely to be either vocal and/or social. An atheist would therefore express their belief through speech, and may even decide to participate in an atheistic society. In other words, the outward expression requires freedom of speech and/or freedom to peaceably assemble.
These are both outward expressions of atheism and therefore an inherent part of atheism.

In a logical form, if A = B and B is protected by the FA, then it logically follows that A is protected by the FA as well.

If A is atheism and B is the freedom of atheistic speech and atheistic assembly, then A = B (as established above).
Since freedom of atheistic speech and atheistic assembly are encompassed by the general right to freedom of speech and assembly, which are protected by the FA, then freedom of both atheistic speech and atheistic assembly are also protected by the FA.

As atheistic speech and assembly are inherent parts of atheism, it stands to reason that atheism is protected by the First Amendment.

Hence I affirm the resolution.


Debate Round No. 2
The-Voice-of-Truth

Con

Thank you, Phil, for a quick response.

Ideological Protection:
My opponent states that ideologies are not protected under the FA, only citizens of the U.S. This means that Atheism, as an ideology, is not protected under the FA. But what is an ideology? How about we take a look:

Ideology:
1. A system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. [1]

2. The ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual. [1]

Do the religions of the world not have ideals? Do they not have ideas? Of course they do, and the free exercise of these ideals and such are protected under the FA.

Let us take the Ten Commandments, for instance. The Ten Commandments are the basic principles of both Judaism and Christianity. These principles help establish the ideals and values of both religions. Values and ideals, as stated in the definition, are encompassed in ideologies.

The free exercise of these values and ideals are permitted under the FA: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (See R1).

To help illustrate what I am getting at here, let us say that Religion = A; Ideology = B; Worship of God = C. Religion equals A, which is made by combining B and C. The free exercise of religion is protected under the FA, so we can logically conclude that:

FA protects the free exercise of A. A=B+C; since A is protected under the FA, we can see that B and C must be protected as well. Religion is protected, so it reasonably follows that all of its components are as well.

In accordance with the logic above, the exercise of values and ideals encompassed within ideologies is protected under the FA, and thus is the exercise of ideologies itself.

It is then affirmed that “Atheism” within the resolution refers to the ideology.

False Definition of Atheism:
In my argument concerning the definitions of various words at the time of the founding, I defined Atheism as "The disbelief of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.” (See R2). The modern definition of Atheism is "Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods,” as my opponent defined it. [2]

There is no definition of Atheism as an ideology.

Also, my opponent defining Atheism as "the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism" is inaccurate. This is a definition of Atheist(s), as it describes the people, not the belief. It is like me defining Christians as “the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices.”

The Problem of Tense:
My opponent claims that "The point of contention in this debate is whether the First Amendment constitutionally protects the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism, in such a way that pertains to their belief." This is not true. "Protects" indicates the nature of current being. What we are determining is whether or not Atheism was protected during the Founding, not is it protected now.

Concerning Atheism:
My opponent defines Atheism as I did above, and then goes on to say that it is an ideology, which affirms that Atheism is not protected under the FA. However, he goes on to say that the government cannot know what ideas a given person holds, and then says "...(ideas, in themselves, are not visible to outside observers)..." This is true, but what he fails to see is that what a person says and does reflects ideology (for instance, I am doing this debate right now). He is saying that ideologies are not protected, but beliefs (which consist of ideologies) are.

He then claims that Atheism is the belief in God's nonexistence, and, since it is only a belief, the government cannot know who is Atheist. Now, using this logic, Christianity (or any other religion) is the belief in God's existence, and the government cannot know who is Christian (or Buddhist, etc). Religion is the expression of the idea of God's existence, just as Atheism is the expression of the idea in God's nonexistence. It is then reasonable to assert that Pro is inadvertently defining Atheism as a religion.

Pro states that “…atheism is not solely the belief in God's non-existence, the outward expressions of that belief are parts of it as well.” It is the same for religion: it is not solely the belief in God, but the outward expression thereof as well.

Pro is defining Atheism as a religion and claiming that it should be protected, but my definitions of both words provided in R2 clearly disprove that, at the time of the Founding, Atheism was meant to be protected as a religion.

Concerning the FA:
My opponent quite reasonably asserts that Atheism is protected under the Freedom of Speech and of Assembly. Since he says:

“Right #3 may or may not protect atheism, dependent on whether there exists such a thing as an atheistic press. However, I do not think the debate over freedoms of atheistic press is relevant to this particular resolution.”

And:

“…right #5 doesn't pertain to any specific theological ideology, either religious or atheistic, so atheism per se isn't protected by the right to petition Government.”

I agree with this and will accordingly not raise this issue.

Now let me say this: the courts actually ruled against Atheistic expression and assembly. Here is the proof:

Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824:
“Abner Updegraph… did unlawfully… and blasphemously say…: ‘That the Holy Scriptures were a mere fable: that they were a contradiction, and though they contained a number of good things, yet they contained a great many lies.’” [3]

Note the use of “blasphemy.” How did the court define blasphemy?

Blasphemy: “…denying his [The Almighty’s] being or providence, or uttering contumelious reproaches on [him]…” [3]

Where was this definition acquired? It was from none other than the writings of William Blackstone. Blackstone, according to Congressman Robert K. Dornan in his book Judicial Supremacy, was an oft-quoted authority among lawyers of the period. [3, 4]

The following is the verdict reached by the Jury:

“The jury… finds a malicious intent in the speaker to vilify the Christian religion and the scriptures, and this court cannot look beyond the record, nor take any notice of the allegation, that the words were uttered by the defendant, a member of a of a debating association, which convened weekly for discussion and mutual information…That there is an association in which so serious a subject is treated with so much levity, indecency, and scurrility…. I am sorry to hear, for it would prove a nursery of vice… there is not a skeptic of decent manners and good morals, who would not consider such debating clubs as a common nuisance and disgrace to the city…. when [words as such are] spoken in a Christian land, and to a Christian audience, the highest contra bonos mores; and even if Christianity were not part of the law of the land, it is still the popular religion of the country, an insult on which would be indictable.” [3]

It would seem that Atheistic expression was considered blasphemous, and was punishable by law.

Also notice that this blasphemous statement was spoken in an atheistic debating society, which was said to be “a nursery of vice,” and was said that any good man would consider these associations “a common nuisance and disgrace to the city.” [3]

Blasphemy (which, in the following cases, were Atheistic/Secularist expressions) was also ruled against in The People v. Ruggles, 1811 and Commonwealth v. Aber Kneeland, 1838. [3]

The People v. Ruggles, 1811:
In Ruggles, the defendant was indicted for loudly proclaiming “Jesus Christ was a bastard, and his mother must be a whore.” The defendant was tried and found guilty. [3]

The words of Chief Justice Chancellor James Kent, the author of Commentaries of American Law, ruled:

“Such words uttered with such a disposition were an offense at common law… The authorities show [in the case Rex v. Woolston] that blasphemy against God… and profane ridicule… are offenses punishable at common law, whether uttered by words or writings… because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order.” [3]

You may notice that these are all State SCs, so you would naturally assume that the decisions do not carry as much weight as a National SC decision would.

What if I told you that the three above cases were cited as precedence in the United States SC case Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892? [3, 5]

So, the USSC cites 3 State SC cases as precedence, all of which claim Atheistic blasphemy are not protected under the FA. This hereby refutes Pro’s statement:

“…an outward expression of any kind is most likely to be either vocal and/or social. An atheist would therefore express their belief through speech, and may even decide to participate in an atheistic society. In other words, the outward expression requires freedom of speech and/or freedom to peaceably assemble. These are both outward expressions of atheism and therefore an inherent part of atheism.

This also disproves his claim that Atheistic expression (being B) and thusly Atheism (being A) is protected under the FA.

By citing the SC cases above, the conclusion can then be logically reached that the freedom of Atheistic speech and expression and the right of Atheists to assemble are not protected.

Insofar, the resolution remains negated.

__________________

1: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...

2: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...;

3: The Myth of Separation; Dave Barton

4. Judicial Supremacy; The Supreme Court on Trial; Robert K. Dornan ans Csaba Vedlik, Jr.

5. https://supreme.justia.com...

Philocat

Pro

Ideologies

A basic premise of my argument is that the expressions of an ideology, including exercising ideals and values, is a component of an ideology. So to say that X ideology is protected is to say that public expressions of X are also protected.

Con concedes this premise when he writes:

'In accordance with the logic above, the exercise of values and ideals encompassed within ideologies is protected under the FA, and thus is the exercise of ideologies itself.'

Since there is agreement here, I will no longer devote space to arguing that the expressions of an ideology are inherent parts of that ideology.

Definitions of atheism

Firstly, Con denies that atheism is an ideology, which is an odd statement considering the definition of 'ideology':

'A system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.'

Is atheism a system of ideas and ideals? Yes, this is what we empirically observe of atheism - atheism is a system of ideas (namely the idea that God doesn't exist) and ideals (that we should live as if God does not exist).

Etymologically speaking, atheism is an ideology because it is a philosophical term with the suffix 'ism', which is used to denote an ideology. (1)

Con claims that I define atheism as 'the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism' - but this is incorrect, I never defined atheism in this manner, all I pointed out was that the resolution does not pertain to whether atheism, as an ideology, is protected. Rather, it pertains to whether the people who ascribe to atheism and express their atheistic beliefs are protected. This wasn't so much an argument on my behalf, just an observation regarding the resolution of this debate.

Tense

Next, Con writes:

'My opponent claims that "The point of contention in this debate is whether the First Amendment constitutionally protects the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism, in such a way that pertains to their belief." This is not true. "Protects" indicates the nature of current being. What we are determining is whether or not Atheism was protected during the Founding, not is it protected now.'

His quibble here is inconsequential. I know that the resolution refers to the time of the founding, it was an honest mistake to refer to atheism's protection in the present tense. For the record, I concede to Con's observation about my incorrect use of tense and so I would like to change my original comment to the past tense.

Atheism

Con misunderstands me, what I am saying is that ideologies are only not protected if all we take 'ideology' to mean is a certain idea in the mind (such as 'God does not exist'). But myself and my opponent are in agreement that ideologies also consist of the practices and expressions of the beliefs that form the ideology.

Secondly, I do not deny that religious ideologies also consist of the beliefs, practices and expressions of the idea of God's existence. I think that expressions of belief are equally inherent parts of both religious and atheistic ideologies.

Finally, I never even attempt to define atheism as a religion. It isn't; to claim that it is a religion is misguided.

I don't claim that atheism is protected on the grounds of freedom of religion, I claim that it is protected on the grounds of freedom of speech and assembly.

First Amendment

Pro's entire rebuttal of my argument consists of court rulings after the American founding. As such, they do not pertain to the resolution of this debate, which concerns whether atheism was protected at the time of the founding, not at any point thenceforth in American history.

Updegraph v. Commonwealth may have ruled against atheistic expression and assembly, but all this entails is that atheism wasn't constitutionally protected in 1824 - it in no way proves that atheism wasn't protected at the time of the founding (1776)[2].

Again, The People v. Ruggles only denied atheistic protection in 1811, not at the time of the founding.

If Con is to use SCOTUS rulings from after the founding, then why should only 19th century rulings be valid? If all post-1776 Supreme Court rulings are valid, then I could easily cite the case of Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson 1952, which ruled that restrictions on blasphemy ('sacreligious' material) are an unconstitutional 'restraint on freedom of speech and thereby a violation of the First Amendment.' (3)

So if Con is to be consistent, then he must either argue without reference to post-1776 court rulings, or otherwise try to argue that the 19th century rulings he cites are valid but the 20th century ruling that I just cited is invalid. The former negates most of Con's argument's content, and the latter places on Con the dubious task of proving that his cited rulings are valid whereas my own are not.

Rebuttals of Pro's Opening Arguments

I have little to refute here, because Con only really argues that atheism wasn't intended to be thought of as a religion by the Founding Fathers. This is inconsequential however, because I never claimed that atheism is or was ever a religion of any sort.

Con's case is a non-sequitur, consisting of the logic:

1. 'Atheism wasn't intended by the founding fathers to be considered a religion'.
2. Therefore, 'Atheism wasn't protected by the right to religious freedom established in the First Amendment'.
3. Therefore, 'Atheism wasn't protected by the First Amendment'.

The logical jump from 1 to 2 is perfectly sound. The non-sequitur is present in the jump from 2 to 3. The logic would only hold if the right to religious freedom is the only right established in the First Amendment, but it isn't.

For whilst atheism may not be protected under the 'freedom of religion' clause of the First Amendment, it most certainly is protected by the 'freedom of speech' and 'freedom of assembly' clauses.

Therefore, the resolution has been affirmed.




(1) https://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) https://www.google.co.uk...
(3) https://www.law.cornell.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
The-Voice-of-Truth

Con

Thank you for waiting to post, Phil.

Ideologies:
Pro states: “A basic premise of my argument is that the expressions of an ideology, including exercising ideals and values, is a component of an ideology. So to say that X ideology is protected is to say that public expressions of X are also protected.” What he fails to point out is that he also asserts in R1 that ideologies are not protected under the FA: “…ideologies aren't granted constitutional protection; only US citizens are granted constitutional protections…” Pro claims that Ideologies are constitutionally protected, but in R1, in order to support his side, he stated that ideologies aren’t protected under the Constitution.

To sum-up Pro’s logic: “Ideologies are protected under the FA, but they are not protected under the FA; however, the exercise thereof is.” A bit contradictory, isn’t it?

If he were only to assert that ideologies aren’t protected under the FA, his reasoning would be flawed — how can the exercise of ideologies be protected, but not ideologies themselves? Ideologies and the exercise of ideologies go hand-in-hand; if one is protected, so is the other.

If he were to argue that ideologies were protected under the FA, then he would concede my arguments entirely.

This is the point I was trying to make when I addressed this particular contention earlier.

So when Pro claims:

Con concedes this premise when he writes:

'In accordance with the logic above, the exercise of values and ideals encompassed within ideologies is protected under the FA, and thus is the exercise of ideologies itself.’”

It is actually Pro that concedes my point, as Pro previously stated that ideologies were not constitutionally protected.

All of this to say, the resolution includes the protection of Atheism as an ideology.

Definition of Atheism:
I did not deny Atheism being an ideology. It is true, though, that I showed Atheism was not being defined as an ideology. I pointed this out to show that Pro’s arguments surrounding Atheistic protection due to it’s being an ideology were null according to his own logic, as, following his statements in R1, we are not debating this particular subject, as ideologies are not constitutionally protected. I used it to show the contradiction.

Here is Pro’s main rebuttal to my indication of his false definition of Atheism: “Con claims that I define atheism as 'the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism' - but this is incorrect, I never defined atheism in this manner, all I pointed out was that the resolution does not pertain to whether atheism, as an ideology, is protected. Rather, it pertains to whether the people who ascribe to atheism and express their atheistic beliefs are protected. This wasn't so much an argument on my behalf, just an observation regarding the resolution of this debate.

This is inaccurate. Pro does define Atheism as this. For he even says: “…I am justified in interpreting 'atheism' in this context to mean 'the various persons who hold and express the ideology of atheism’…” What does interpret mean? To interpret something means “to assign meaning to, to explain or translate.” This is also called DEFINING. [1]

Just to clarify, the “various persons” who exercise Atheism are Atheists, not Atheism in and of itself. Defining the adherents to a belief as a belief is a bit fallacious; it is an unwarranted assumption, equivocation, and a suppressed correlative all at once.

Atheism:
Pro says: “Con misunderstands me, what I am saying is that ideologies are only not protected if all we take 'ideology' to mean is a certain idea in the mind (such as 'God does not exist’).” This is not true. I understood what was being said, thus my saying “…using this logic, Christianity (or any other religion) is the belief in God's existence, and the government cannot know who is Christian (or Buddhist, etc). Religion is the expression of the idea of God's existence…” Religion is protected under the FA. Religion consists of worship, beliefs, and ideas. Ideas are expressed through actions, or the exercise of ideologies. Ideas are thusly protected under the FA, and so are ideologies.

Pro says: “Secondly, I do not deny that religious ideologies also consist of the beliefs, practices and expressions of the idea of God's existence. I think that expressions of belief are equally inherent parts of both religious and atheistic ideologies.” Then why are ideologies not protected under the FA if we refer to ideas? Are ideas not a key component of beliefs? Religion has beliefs, which consists of ideas. The protection of religion encompasses all aspects thereof. After reading this, one naturally concludes that, if ideas are not protected, and religion has ideas, religion is not protected under the FA — we all know this false statement to be self-evident.

Pro says: “Finally, I never even attempt to define atheism as a religion. It isn't; to claim that it is a religion is misguided.” I said it was reasonable to assert that Pro was inadvertently defining Atheism as a religion. Pro says that Atheism is the outward expression of a lack of belief; I claim that religion is the outward expression of belief. Using this comparison of Pro’s take on Atheism and my take on religion, we can see how they are very similar, and, though there lacks a literal exactness, we can say that the same concept is used in these definitions. Thus, Atheism is being defined as a religion by Pro.

Pro says: “I don't claim that atheism is protected on the grounds of freedom of religion, I claim that it is protected on the grounds of freedom of speech and assembly.” I know this already, but he claims that ideas are not protected, which reasonably means that religion is not protected, either, as established above.

Tense:
It seems this issue has been resolved, so I will not debate this any further.

First Amendment:
It is true that my rebuttals consist of SC cases after the Founding — but these decisions were made when some the Founders still existed, and thus still reflected their views. Some of the Founders that were still alive during the two above decisions were: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Monroe, and Alexander Hamilton [2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Needless to say, these decisions still accurately reflected the values of the Founders, as none of them objected to the decisions [2]

Pro begs the question: “If Con is to use SCOTUS rulings…. a violation of the First Amendment.’” Not all SC decisions after the Founding are valid. Beginning with Everson v. Board of education, 1947, SC precedence was violated [1]. Most SC decisions after the 1940s that concern religion or Atheism are inaccurate, as they deviate from precedence. Thus my arguments about double-standards and the importance of court-room precedence that Pro seems to have completely dropped.

Pro then moves on to say: “So if Con is to be consistent…. whereas my own are not.” It is valid to use SC rulings up to the 20th Century, as the decisions made did not deviate from original precedence and former rulings, as those of the 20th Century did and those of the 21st still do. My content is sound and remains upheld, and my cited rulings are proved valid via. my arguments from precedence and double-standards, which, again, were dropped.

Opening Arguments:
This should have been the only thing that Pro addressed. Nevertheless, I will overlook the error.

Pro’s rebuttal:
Con's case is a non-sequitur, consisting of the logic:

1. 'Atheism wasn't intended by the founding fathers to be considered a religion'.

2. Therefore, 'Atheism wasn't protected by the right to religious freedom established in the First Amendment'.

3. Therefore, 'Atheism wasn't protected by the First Amendment'.

The logical jump from 1 to 2 is perfectly sound. The non-sequitur is present in the jump from 2 to 3. The logic would only hold if the right to religious freedom is the only right established in the First Amendment, but it isn't.

For whilst atheism may not be protected under the 'freedom of religion' clause of the First Amendment, it most certainly is protected by the 'freedom of speech' and 'freedom of assembly' clauses.

I was discussing Atheism as a whole, but I did include the intended protection of Atheism as a religion for sake of argument. I have shown using SC cases, as well as definitions and reasoning, that Atheism was not meant to be protected under the FA, whether religiously or ideologically, and the free exercise of it was never protected. Pro’s argument here fails.

Conclusion:
My contentions hold true, and the resolution remains negated.

___________

1: Webster’s New World Dictionary

2: The Myth of Separation: by David Barton

3: http://www.history.com...

4: http://www.history.com...

5: http://www.history.com...

6: http://www.history.com...

Philocat

Pro

Thanks for the debate, Con, it's been a good one to start the tournament :)


Atheism

Firstly, Con claims that I say 'ideologies aren't protected under the first amendment'.

But I don't actually say this per se, what I do say is:

'If an ideology is just an idea, then they aren't protected. But I think that an ideology isn't just an idea'

I hope that clears up the misunderstanding, and demonstrates that Con's rebuttal was a straw-man argument. Con makes multiple referrals to myself supposedly denying that ideologies are protected by the FA, but this is a false accusation and thereby I invite voters to consider it as such.

Con then states that, if I think ideologies are protected under the FA, then I concede his arguments.

This cannot be true though, because none of Con's argument rest upon the premise that ideologies are protected. If anything, the premise that ideologies are protected is one that affirms the resolution, since atheism is an ideology and would therefore protected by the FA, given the veracity of the premise.

Next, Con decides to play semantics by saying that 'interpreting' is synonymous to 'defining'. Anyhow, such a rebuttal is irrelevant to this debate, since 'interpreting' can be used to mean things other than defining. For example, you might interpret a girl dancing with you to indicate her being attracted to you, but that doesn't mean that attraction is defined by dancing.
In other words, I interpreted atheism, in this context, to refer to the various persons who express atheistic views - but this isn't to say that I am defining atheism in that way. Just like in the FA wording, 'religion' in the context of religious protection means 'the various persons who express religious belief' despite this not being the formal definition of religion.

In regards to ideas, whilst I do accept that the expression of ideas are an inherent part of the ideas themselves, an idea in itself is just a thought in the mind, even if it may also be fundamentally the same thing as the expressions of that thought.

Precedence

Con argues that the pre-1900 rulings are valid but the post-1900 rulings are invalid because the latter 'violates court precedence'. But this isn't sound; since accordance to precedence isn't the be-all and end-all in determining validity of a SCOTUS ruling. Precedence may be important, but not to the extent that it invalidates the post-1900 rulings.

For instance, Brown v. Board of Education, by ruling segregation to be unconstitutional, violated the court precedence of Plessy v. Ferguson (1). But it would be absurd to claim that Brown v. BoE was, ipso facto, invalid simply because it violated precedence. Therefore, Con has failed in his attempt to invalidate Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson the basis of precedence alone.

Con also tries to validate his cited rulings whilst invalidating Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson by appealing to the fact that some of the Founding Fathers were alive and supposedly didn't object to the rulings that ruled against atheistic expression.
However, this is a fallacious 'argument from silence'; the Founding Father's silence on the matter of prohibiting blasphemous talk does not mean that they approved of such prohibition. So Con cannot cogently argue that the court rulings opposing atheistic expression are valid because the Founding Fathers were alive at the time and didn't explicitly oppose it.

Conclusion

This has been an interesting debate, and I invite voters to vote impartially and intellectually. I will now summarise the debate.

Con makes two main arguments that directly pertain to the resolution:

1. Atheism wasn't considered a religion and so shouldn't be defended by the FA.
2. There exist 18th/19th century SCOTUS rulings that suggest that atheistic expression isn't constitutionally protected.

Whereas I make one main argument:

1. Atheistic expression is an inherent part of atheism, just as the expression of belief is an inherent part of that particular belief. Therefore, since atheistic expression is protected by the freedom of speech and peaceable assembly clauses in the FA, atheism as a whole is protected.

Con's first argument is a non-sequitur, as I have explained at the end of round 3, since religion isn't the only thing protected under the FA and hence something need not be a religion in order for it to be protected by the FA.

Con's second argument fails because he used rulings that were made after the American Founding, which therefore are irrelevant to the state of atheistic protection at the time of the founding. But even if it was appropriate to cite post-founding court rulings, then I could easily just cite Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson, which ruled atheistic expression to be constitutionally protected. There are no valid grounds on which to validate the 18th/19th century rulings against atheistic expression whilst invalidating the 20th century ruling that superseded the previous rulings and ruled in favour of atheistic expression. 'Precedence' isn't a valid distinction because non-accordance to precedence doesn't ipso facto invalidate a Supreme Court ruling. Moreover, the fact that the Founding Fathers were alive during the earlier rulings (and didn't voice any dissent) but were dead during the latter ruling also fails to bear any relevance, since a lack of recorded opposition doesn't equate to approval. To say otherwise would commit the 'argument from silence' logical fallacy (2).

My argument remained unrefuted, since Con concedes that expression of a belief is an inherent part of that belief (the first premise of my argument) and fails to argue against classifying atheistic expression as a form of expression that is protected by the FA. His only attempt is to appeal to 18th century court rulings that suggest that atheistic expression isn't protected, but I have already explained multiple times how this appeal is invalid.

Therefore, I have refuted both Con's arguments and upheld my own. It is then clear to see that I have fully affirmed the resolution and fufilled my burden of proof.


Debate Round No. 4
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
Envisage
Most refreshing debate I have read in a very long time. And it was on religion - to boot.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
tejretics
== RFD ==

I'm not allowed to vote, being the moderator of this tournament, but am presenting an RFD anyway, displaying my analysis of the debate. RFD in Google Document, link follows -

https://docs.google.com...
Posted by The-Voice-of-Truth 1 year ago
The-Voice-of-Truth
Thanks for the vote, Whiteflame!
Posted by Philocat 1 year ago
Philocat
Thanks for voting, Whitflame :)
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
RFD (Pt. 1):

Despite there being a lot of argumentation in this debate, there's really not much in the way of important points that are solidly contended, as Con points out in the final round, so there's not too much for me to cover. Since Con concedes that atheism is not a religion, the focus of the debate is solely on atheistic expression, and whether or not it is protected under the FA.

To this end, what I have to compare is relatively minimal. Pro argues that expression of a belief is inherently protected so long as the FA applies to expression through speech and assembly, something which both sides seem to agree is the case. Pro's argument is misrepresented by Con, so the basic point flows through and we have a logical reason to support the resolution.

I don't get similar logic against from Con, but what I do get is a series of court cases that purportedly support the resolution by showing that, "at the Time of the American Founding, Atheism was" NOT constitutionally protected. It's pretty clear that case precedent supports Con's arguments, and he spends a great deal of time in his opening round explaining why precedent is important.

This is probably the most difficult part of the debate because it's at once the part with the most explanation and the part that seems to depart most from the resolution. Pro gives a lot of examples and analyzes how they impact the view that expression of atheism is constitutionally protected. Since that lack of protection came first, that lack of protection embodies the views of the Founders, and therefore upholds the resolution.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
(Part 2)

Now, Con doesn't really attack precedence as something upholding validity until the final round, far too late considering these arguments came up in R2, but he does hit important points, in particular the idea that Pro's examples showcase the views of the Founders, whereas Con's don't. This is an interesting view that Pro probably should have supported more strongly. Con effectively argues that his main counter-rebuttal (that some of the Founders were alive at the time of these cases, and didn't say anything) is weak on the basis of being an appeal to silence.

So I look to the general question of what precedence actually means, which Pro asserted in R2 without any response. The problem is that it appears to be entirely based in the validity of the precedent as a means to determine what's constitutional, but while that precedent establishes what is constitutional after the decision, it avoids the issue of what was intended at the time of founding.

In the end, what I'm left with is a question of which I should view as paramount: the argument that asserts that the most proximal USSC views are emphasize the most valid views on constitutionality that were evident since this country's inception, or the argument that expression of belief, which both sides agree atheism is, is inherently protected under the constitution. The former case could have won this if there was a clear link between the cases presented and the Founders, but appealing to their silence was simply not enough. Con's case, while lacking in empirical analysis, ends up appearing the strongest by virtue of its relatively untouched logic. Most of the other arguments just seem like so much fluff intended to argue for a different resolution, whether by arguing for what is most valid in a different time period or for what piece of the FA applies or doesn't apply to atheism. This just seems like the most direct argument to address the resolution, and thus is the reason I vote Pro.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
Working on it, guys.
Posted by The-Voice-of-Truth 1 year ago
The-Voice-of-Truth
Nowhere close to it, Roman. >:)
Posted by Romanii 1 year ago
Romanii
lololol VoT, if you're planning on making your argument in our pledge debate anything similar to this.... it's gonna be fun >:-D
Posted by The-Voice-of-Truth 1 year ago
The-Voice-of-Truth
Thanks for the vote, Midnight!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
The-Voice-of-TruthPhilocatTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by Midnight1131 1 year ago
Midnight1131
The-Voice-of-TruthPhilocatTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD IN COMMENTS. Feel free to PM me if either of you have any issues with this vote.