The Instigator
wingnut2280
Pro (for)
Losing
30 Points
The Contender
Rousseau
Con (against)
Winning
86 Points

Atheism is foolish

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,281 times Debate No: 757
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (36)

 

wingnut2280

Pro

I believe whole-heartedly in the freedom of religion.

That said, I think, from a practical standpoint, atheism is foolish. Strictly from a consequentialist standpoint the value of being an atheist is far less than that of being any other religion involving punishment/reward in the afterlife.

No one can be CERTAIN about religion. So, if you are an atheist and you die and it turns out you were right, what do you win? Weight that against what horrors you would recieve if you were wrong. So, purely from a practical standpoint, it makes WAY more sense to believe in some sort of afterlife religion just because of the risk involved. No matter how confident you are in your belief, the risk is to great to chance. Following this practicalist logic, no one should be an athiest for their own good.

*NOTE: I will not turn this into a religious justification debate. This is from a practicalist standpoint and I am not arguing for or against the validation of any religion from anything but a pragmatist view. I'll clarify upon request. Thanks.
Rousseau

Con

I see your point, and it is almost true... for the mddle class american. However for the rest of the world that isn't as comfortable as many of the people of America, we have to realize that being religious opens you up to a world of violence. Due to religion people kill others, leaders start gruesome wars over religion, and potential friends become bitter enemies. The simplest way to block this world from becoming a reality for you, is to shun religion. a great many Christians in America despise and loathe athiests, however, to my knowledge, the worst this has ever come to is verbal blows. Religious stability for non-athiests has always been suprisingly low, especially when combined with cultural, social, and military instability. In fact, it would productive if no one was religious. This leads me into my second point.

It is important to distinct humans from machines and computers. Machines view the world in cold hard facts sprinkled with logical decisions. They view the pros and the cons. Now what you suggest is that people look at choosing religion as a logical choice. That's is all and well, but if everyone were to view religion as a machine, then the logical conclusion would be that there is no such thing as religion, because religion is largely based on faith, which holds no place in logical discussions. In fact, it would be the logical choice for no one to be religious. This would prevent arguments, and stop wars. Logically, no one wants to die, especially because the belief in after-life is a humongous jump of faith, especially to a logical entity. However, the fact is, humans aren't logical. Maybe we used to be, back when survival depended on it. It is important to realize that although many people aren't as comfortable as the middle class American, they still aren't facing life or death situations too often. Because humans are driven by emotion, it is impossible to suggest that someone repress their views of say, athiesm, just because it is logical.
Debate Round No. 1
wingnut2280

Pro

Maybe I was unclear as to my claim. I stated using a pragmatic framework, no one should be athiest. This is different than saying no one should be athiest because of pragmaticism. Your whole second paragraph stems from the latter of the two distinctions I just stated. I don't want to say that no one should be athiest. What I do claim, is that when using this pragmatic framework, it is illogical to be athiest. Therefore, the compassion toward belief or faith is a non-issue.

The argument you do make is that the only logical decision is to avoid religion because religion is based largley on faith. This is contradictory. The uncertainty of the existence or lack of of an afterlife gives way to some remote possibility of these afterlife scenarios, no matter how small. A logical person would realize that the benefits gained from denying this small chance are small in comparison to the consequences even when the astronomical odds are accounted for. Therefore, the logical decision is to assume this smal chance and basically ensure oneself, despite the unliklihood. Logic doesn't dismiss the unlikely simply for being so, especially when the risks are so large.

That being said, you argue that, in a pragmatic or practical framework, shunning religion is logical because it avoids all of these tribulations and conflicts that religion starts. This is conceptually and historically false. Abstainment has never been an effective route to avoiding conflict, especially when religion is concerned. Take the numerous examples of "godless hethans" being violently converted by more powerful religions. Whether you believe in no god or a different god, a non-believer is a non-believer to these religions you describe. If the conflict erupted solely out of conflicting opinions, you would be correct. But, religion calls for believers, whether they disagree or have no opinion. Where religion is concerned, abstainment is definately not the road to no conflict.

So, using a pragmatic framework or paradigm, athiesm is not a valid choice for religion because of the lack of benefits and the enormous harms, despite the atronomically small risk. The real world effects of athiesm are untrue. Religious conflict stems to all people, religious or no. Athiests do not avoid this as you yourself testify "a great many Christians in America despise and loathe athiests", proving they are subject to conflict, despite their lack of belief.
Rousseau

Con

Your first paragraph is basically just a re-clarification, and so therefore there isn't much to cover. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Your second paragraph basically talks about how my argument is contradictory. However, maybe you just misunderstand. It is in no way contradictory, because logically no one wants to make a leap of faith to something that may or may not be there. Your second point in the paragraph is that however unlikely a religion is in being right, one still has to try. Now let me remind you that there are thousands or religions, not all of them still practiced. There is a strong likelihood that the religion one chooses is wrong. This leads to the question of: "Is it more likely to be punished for worshipping the wrong God, or simply wanting to avoid being wrong (which isn't neccesarily being absent of faith, just absent of decisiveness). The logical conclusion would be that one would be punished more in a religious after-life for practicing the wrong religion then not practicing a religion at all. An example could be... for instance, a kingdom. One would get in more trouble for following a different king (treason) than for not not following kings in general. Granted both are liable to punishment, but the point is that false worship is more punishable. Now, you may say that the chance of being right outweighs the chance of punishment. However, logically, one would not want to risk eternal hell against a 1 in 1,000,000 odds of being right.

You third paragraph talks about how abstainment from religion isn't a guarentee of safety. Thats true, in fact I agree. But the point isn't that athiesm is a get out of jail free card, if you will, but rather that an athiest is less likely to be targeted than a conflicting religion. Goes back to the king metaphor. Also, you argue that historically it hasn't been true. However, thats completely ridiculous. Name one war waged upon athiests? Can't think of any! Maybe if you dig into the history books you'll find some, but the fact is there are more wars fought against religion than wars fought against athiests. You give an example of godless heathans being converted, but thats wrong for two reasons. First off, many of these "godless heathans" actually did practice religions. The only thing was that they were polythiestic or referred to God as something unusual. This is just another reason that Athiesm is logical. My other response is that even if a heathan was godless, and then forced to conform, that hasn't happened for... 400 years? 500 years? 600 years? A long time, rest assured. Whereas, religious wars are still being held today. The last thing to cover is "religion calls for believers, whether they disagree or have no opinion. Where religion is concerned, abstainment is definately not the road to no conflict." Indeed, thats true, but again is a misinterpretation of what I said. I never said that athiesm is a guarentee of safety, rather it is more effective than a conflicting religion. This is because athiesm has no texts or leaders that shout for wars on other religions. Whereas, Religion A and Religion B both beleive they are right, and both of the texts and leaders call for war on other religions. Voil´┐Ż, war! Now this could happen to Athiesm too, but the fact is... it is much more likely for a organized religion (such as Religion A or B) to fight, than a un-organized, non-religious group (Athiests).

So, using a pragmatic framework or paradigm, athiesm IS a valid choice for religion because of the enormous harms being religious opens you up to, and the very, exetremly low chance of it rewarding you. Logically, you go for the thing that has the most chance of rewarding you. There is a strong chance that your religion offends someone violently, compared to the low chance of your religion being right. As to you using what I said on how athiests are despised, thats actually kind of funny. First off, you didn't use all of what I said, and secondly... athiests may be despised, but that hatred is nothing compared to the hatred between warring religions. Who hates the Islamic people the most in America? Definantly not the Athiests, probably the Christians. Did the Holy Crusades target Athiests? Nope, it was other religions. Athiesm is, logically, the smartest choice. My argument is basically that even if Athiesm isn't logical, actual organized religion is even less so.
Debate Round No. 2
wingnut2280

Pro

Your argument makes one HUGE assumption. That atheism is punished less in the afterlife. If Atheism is punished less we can way some kind of risk/reward, but it simply isn't true. As I stated before, non-believers are non-believers. History proves this. When the Christians conquered America, the Natives were seen as godless, despite the fact that they practiced other religions. The only thing that mattered is that they were not christians. A non-believer and a "counter-believer", you might say, are viewed equally in the eyes of religion. Atheism is deemed a religion. The only way out of being a non-believer is to be ignorant of that particular religion. Atheists are not ignorant to this if they are making the choice between the two. Athiesm is not a lack of religion, but a whole religion in itself. This makes athiests heretics just like the rest. THis means they will be equally punishable in the after-life. Also, even if we assume that athiests get punished less, the difference isn't significant enough to draw a viable distinction. Both would be eternally damned.

That being established, there is a big problem with your next argument. If they are equally punished, then they only benefits would be real world ones, as atheists have no post-mordem reward, only punishment. This means, disregarding real world situations for now, the only possible outcome of being an athiest is either neutrality or horrible eternal damnation of some sort. This means that we have to take the small chance, as it is our only hope for saving ourselves from this remote, yet terrible possibility. Regardless of the fact that there are multiple religions, one could theoretically be correct, therefore, we must practice one in order to have SOME hope of salvation. Atheism is a denial of this hope, as only bad things can come of it, no matter what.

So, we have the real world argument. The fact that religious wars have been fought is true, but as Atheism is a religion, atheists run an equal risk. Atheists are just as vocal as religious people in their views and because of its relatively new arrival in the popular stream, we are just starting to see these conflicts arise. Religions are just as angry at people who denounce the validity of their religion as they are at people who practice something else. Declaring yourself an atheist doesn't make it less likely for religions to come after you. If anything it makes it more likely. Religious toleration extends more twoard other believers with different views than simple dissenters. There is no proof or rationale that being an atheist somehow makes you less of a target.

So, atheism, in a pragmatic paradigm, is foolish because no possible good can come of it. This is weighed versus the even slight chance that some religion can save you from eternal torture. If a religion provides us even the slimest of chances to escape that terrible fate, we should take it versus ensuring our damnation by practicing atheism. In atheism, nothing good can happen post-mordem. As atheists are included in the non-believers, they are punished equally and hold no chance of being punished, just a little less, if there even is such a thing. Also, because they are viewed equally as non-believers, they are subject to religious conflict just as much. Atheists are not non-relgious people, but a whole religious denomination in themselves. This means they are equally subject to real world consequences, while carrying, not even the slightest hope of salvation. This is weighed against ANY religion, which carries even the slightest chance of safety from this terrible fate, along with equal real world risk. Therefore, Atheism is foolish because it carries equal real world risk, but lacks that small chance of hope, ensuring dmanation.
Rousseau

Con

Your first argument in the first paragraph was basically assuming that the actions of Christians undisputedly reflect God's wishes. However, this is in fact a fallacy. We do not have any actual data to suggest that God punishes non-believers more than counter-believers. Also, there is nothing to suggest the punishment is equal. You also said that even if counter-belief is punished more, there isn't a strong enough difference. Again, this operates on the assumption that you know how God rewards things. The fact is, you don't, and neither do I. This means that you cannot make any assertion that atheism is illogical because it is necessary to know what God rewards. Without this piece of information, you can make no real assumptions on what is logical or not. You proposed the topic in discussion, and therefore you propose that you know something. I am arguing that in fact, you cannot be, in any way, sure of your claim. Therefore, I believe I win this point.

Your second claim is that atheists have no "post-mortem benefits". Well again, this is under the assumption that God rewards blind-faith in his religion. Who are we to say that God condemns skepticism and rewards blind-faith? The opposite is just as likely to be true. It is quite possible that God wants only the morally altruistic people to populate heaven, and thusly the blind-believers aren't the only ones able to reach heaven. If a person is concerned with right or wrong, it would make sense they want to figure out what is right or wrong (i.e. being skeptical of religion as it has no concrete proof). This means there is a 50/50 chance either way. That is, unless you have some concrete proof that God punishes the skeptics. Another thing... who is to say that a belief based upon trying to secure the most benefits for yourself is really a belief at all? It is quite possible that God would see that the belief is insincere and thusly not reward it.

Your third point (on real-world consequences) basically assumes that atheism is new, and hasn't been around long enough to anger religious people. Well I argue two things. First off, atheism has been around since the earlier days of Greece emerging from some of the popular philosophers. Secondly, if it were going to anger religions, why would time be needed to anger? Christianity immediately angered pagan rulers, so why not atheism? Also, there are negative connotations in the real world stemming from being religious that an atheist can ignore. Consequently, a religious edict can be adverse upon a religious man, whereas it won't affect an atheist. Also, you never argued that an atheist is more likely to be caught up in a war than a Christian (for example). This holds true at the very core of religion. A belief-based religion believes in a God (quite generally, with few exceptions) whereas atheism doesn't. Atheism doesn't preach vocality of its (supposed) correctness. However, religion does. A smart atheist is able to hide his beliefs as to not be punished from a religious figure, whereas a Christian (again, for example) isn't a Christian unless he is vocal about it. Thus leading to a more inevitable clash between religions.

As the Pro side, in order to win, you must present a way that you think is correct and fight off the Con's attacks on it. The Con, to win, just has to prove that the Pro's case is unlikely or not true. My belief is that I won today's debate because of several things. First off, the Pro case assumes several things.
- That God would reward blind faith over skepticism
- That God would punish non-believers just as much as counter-believers
- That the correct God is worshipped, or that the correct God's religion is still in practice/has been in practice yet
- That God would reward people that don't necessarily believe at a deep level, just at a surface level for the rewards

You simply cannot assume any of these things without concrete proof. Since he hasn't brought any of these things up, we have to assume that there is none. Therefore, these points are lost. This is important because his case relies HEAVILY upon these points. Not only that, I have proved that the real-world benefits of atheism outweigh those of religion. As for the post-mortem benefits… well those cannot be ascertained, and therefore it is just as likely that God rewards atheists over blind-believers. Also, he assumes that the right choice will be picked. There are roughly 2500 Gods (Douglas Kreuger's "What Is Atheism") and that makes your likelihood of getting the reward less than 1 in 2500. Long-odds… Anyway, for these reasons, I urge a vote for Con in today's debate.
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AntiPatriot 9 years ago
AntiPatriot
To mv:

(I would be happy to debate this with you :D )

Atheists wouldn't have to defend themselves against something they DON'T believe in if the people who do believe in it would just stop trying to convince them otherwise. When people tell an atheist he is going to hell and needs to repent and if he doesn't he is messenger of the devil, then the atheist is almost required to defend his position of atheism. Because religious people have a fervor for converting the non-religious, atheists have to respond the this fervor and tell the religious why they DON'T believe in God.
Posted by Rousseau 9 years ago
Rousseau
wow, this was overwhelming responses in my favor. I honestly think it was a lot closer, but I'll take the win regardless. Good debating, wingnut.
Posted by mv 9 years ago
mv
what does atheism have to do with the belief in claus, the easter bunny or loch ness? if anything, wouldnt the atheistic viewpoint be that there is none of the above existing today? and yes i would take them seriously because they actually believe in something whereas an atheist again argues on something they DON'T believe in. i don't mind that it denies what i believe in, i just find it interesting that atheism entitles defending their position on something they don't believe exists.
Posted by lazarus_long 9 years ago
lazarus_long
If you find it hard to take atheism seriously, do you also find it hard to take someone seriously if they argue against the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Loch Ness monster, or the validity of astrology? If not, then please tell me what is different about atheism, besides the fact that it denies what you yourself believe in.
Posted by mv 9 years ago
mv
it's hard to take atheism seriously. they defend their atheistic point of view by arguing about something they DON'T believe in.
Posted by blond_guy 9 years ago
blond_guy
wingnut...
saying that we should believe in an afterlife religion just in case we will suffer horrors in the afterlife is a silly argument. I, as an atheist, think I'd be showing great disrespect if I became religious just because I might have a terrible afterlife as to doing so for the goodness of humanity. Also in your argument you asume atheists are bad people by implying that they will suffer horrors in the afterlife which I find a disrespectful asumption
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
wingnut2280 -

Pascal's Wager is bunk. The odds that you're angering the real god (or godS) by worshipping the Christian god are EXACTLY THE SAME as the odds that atheists are angering the real god (or godS) by not worshipping them.

That reality becomes even clearer when one considers that most of the major religions aren't uniformly agreed upon what the central tenets of the faith are - and many of them don't consider the other sects to be "real" members of the religion. So even if you're worshipping the right god(s), there's no guarantee that you're worshipping it(them) in the right way.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
Leonitus_Trujillo -

Clarification: Evolution theory says nothing about the origins of the universe. All it says is that species evolve over time - it doesn't even attempt to explain how those species first appeared on Earth. Nothing about it is incompatible with religion.
Posted by Leonitus_Trujillo 9 years ago
Leonitus_Trujillo
I rather don't like Pascals wager being a Christian myself I wouldn't use it in a debate.

What you don't think that if god existed he knows your insincere?

Atheism is logical only there is an alternative to god. For a long time there was not an alternative to god and for a long time atheist were illogical beings, with more faith vested in the fact that god doesn't exist, than Christians have vested in the fact that he does.

Evolution provides the viable alternative, and today being atheist is logical becuase there is an alternative to god.

However Evolution itself is flawed and illogical, but its still widely popular among scientific circles so atheism itself is still logical.

The only question is: If god exist which religion has it right?

thats a personal quest but for me It's Christianity the only religion who in the pure form isn't contradictory, and hasn't been scientifically proven wrong by a non-theory. I even debated the issue and almost won but I was late on my last reply and a forfeited a crucial round and lost by a small margin. The only debate I've lost too.
Posted by lazarus_long 9 years ago
lazarus_long
Pascal's wager, which is basically what the "pro" argument started out with here, is invalid in at least two ways. The argument, simply put, is that it is better to believe in God and then find out you were wrong, than it is to NOT believe in God and then find out you were wrong, hence you should believe.

The first and most obvious problem with this is that it gives no guidance whatsoever as to just WHICH "God" you should believe in, as was sort of pointed out in the third-round "Con" argument. Clearly, believing in the Christian God does you no good whatsoever if it turns out that the Hindus have it right, and vice-versa; most of the various belief systems are clearly mutually exclusive.

A more subtle, but just as serious, flaw in the argument is that it assumes that there is no cost for belief - i.e., it does no harm to believe and might well do some good, so you may as well believe. But for practically all religions, this is not so; they impose beliefs and both required actions and prohibitions which could clearly be detrimental, or at the very least highly inconvenient, to the individual who chooses to follow them. In some cases, they could literally be fatal (oh, come on now, surely you can think of THOSE examples?).

An argument which is fundamentally based on something so flawed (and which has been known to be so for quite some time) can't get my vote. Sorry.
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