The Instigator
SOPHERlM
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
TheButters
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Belief Without Factual Basis is Fraudulent

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/15/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 12 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 298 times Debate No: 91274
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)

 

SOPHERlM

Pro

I will show that any belief without evidence is fraudulent. To believe what you want to believe or what is comfortable is not reality. To explain this, establishments of business cannot legally advertise a product cheaper than it actually is. This would be, legally speaking, fraud. What though about religion? People do have the right to believe, I have no quarrel there. What I have a quarrel with is the people in charge of false beliefs, who know it to be fraudulent and blind people from the truth. People do have the right to believe, but they don't have the right to promise what they know to be false.
TheButters

Con

Belief without factual evidence is not fraudulent; it is faith. The term "fraud" usually implies some sort of deception or lie. This term is not applicable when used to describe sincerely held beliefs because there is no inherent deception taking place. Simply lacking a a factual basis is not grounds for claiming that someone is being deceptive when they describe their religion/philosophy. Such a belief may be illogical and it may be irrational, but if one sincerely believes it then it can not be said to be fraudulent. I will argue that holding a belief without factual evidence is a common part of life and that the word "fraud" does not describe such beliefs. Moreover there is a difference between teaching something that is not evidently true and something that is evidently untrue and I will seek to distinguish between the two in order to clarify what we mean when we talk about faith.
Debate Round No. 1
SOPHERlM

Pro

My point is, where should faith be placed? To illustrate, there are many chairs in an abandoned house. Most are obviously in bad shape, so bad in fact, that if you tried to sit in one of these they would probably fall apart. However, attached to the floor is a chair that is brand new and is in perfect shape. Which chair do you sit in? Will you place your misplaced faith in the many chairs to hold you or would you choose the chair which may not move, and is not quite comfortable but is definitively safe? Similarly we can choose whatever we like with religion, but if it doesn't have a factual, safe basis, then what is the point? Believing in something without factual basis is the same as believing a lie. Taking the old song "I believe I can fly" is, without some kind of aircraft, humanly impossible. Believe all you want, but you will not fly. So what of ones who teach beliefs that they know to be false just to make money? That is the fraud. Taking a familiar name of Jim Jones as a teacher of false faith, what happened to those fooled by him? Religion is no toy or fantasy. It is a very serious decision that can either mean life, or death by some crazed cultist like Jim Jones.
TheButters

Con

(I am assuming that the format is that this round is presenting my argument and that the following rounds will be rebuttal with the final one including a concluding statement. If I am incorrect in this I apologize and I will meet your arguments in the following rounds.)

To begin, I wish to clarify some words. If we're going to discuss what facts, beliefs, and fraud are then we should define our terms. I'm going to defer to Merriam-Webster and propose the following:

Fact - something that truly exists or happens; a true piece of information. - http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Fraud - the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person; a person who pretends to be something her or she is not. - http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Belief - (when referring to religious belief) a feeling of being sure that something exists or that something is true; a tenet or group of tenets held by a group http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Given this, we can examine the proposition that "Belief without factual basis is fraudulent." Using our terms we can re-write this as "feeling that something is true without information to confirm it is dishonest." The problem with this idea is that it frames people who hold sincerely held convictions as being dishonest; that is that they do not actually hold the beliefs that they proclaim to hold. To prove this proposition requires the ability to read minds. Someone who would propagate something they know to be false would be fraud. However beliefs are tricky in that without a confession from the person in question we can never know if they are promoting something that they do not believe in. We can conjecture all we want whether someone is lying about their beliefs, but it's impossible to determine that they are a fraud without an admission of lying.

Well perhaps they are intellectually dishonest? This is more to the point as it is much more evident that people hold biases and use fallacious arguments to support their beliefs as opposed to people propagating a belief system that they do not actually believe in. Having a confirmation bias is dishonest thinking. However is it fraudulent? That's trickier.

The question of whether or not it is dishonest to hold beliefs without a factual basis is muddied by what we are wiling to hold as a fact. A Christian may use the Bible as their reference point for everything and describe its contents as "fact." They often do this by stating that the Bible must be true because it is the word of/inspired by God. God is a supernatural entity that can not be tested or falsified. It's fairly evident that this line of reasoning is intellectually dishonest as it reduces to a non-falsifiable unknown as its final proof. However it is also quite true that this proposition has not been disproved and thus it becomes impossible to say it is not true. This is the difference between not evidently true and evidently untrue. The former is how inductive reasoning works and the former is dishonesty. If someone claims to have facts that support their worldview then are not doing anything dishonest even if those facts are insufficient or plain wrong (in which case they are not facts at all).

Additionally we have the problem that we can lack factual evidence for something and still be correct in our conclusions. We live our lives as human beings and we form models of reality based on our experiences. If a plant falls off a window in my house I can reason with a high degree of certainty that my cat knocked it over. I can do this based on my experience of seeing my cat knock over plants in my house and never seeing a plant fall over for any other reason. Thus if I come across a plant that"s been defenestrated in my house I can logically assume the cat did it without having any evidence that the cat did so. I can still be correct without evidence or facts directly relating to the incident in question and be sincere in my belief about it.

This ties into another problem: do we have any facts that show that anything at all is definitively true and not a product of imagination? No one has solved the problem of solipsism yet, however we can all live our lives and build successful models of our reality using inductive reasoning. Not having facts that provide definitive evidence does not render everyone's model of existence a fraud. Instead we use available facts and we evaluate their veracity and weigh their importance. A person holding a religious belief can certainly pick out facts that support their world view and dismiss those that do not comport with it. That does not make them a liar; it means they have cognitive dissonance. The path they use to find truth may be fraught with intellectual dishonesty if they ignore inconvenient facts and only select ones that prop up their worldview, but if they sincerely believe their conclusion then they have another problem altogether.

The bottom line is that one can not be labeled a fraud for propagating sincerely held beliefs. If they believe something, it means that they hold it to be true. If the facts they use to support a belief are wrong then they are mistaken. If they lack sufficient evidence to validate their belief then they may be illogical or irrational. If someone has a belief that contradicts all available evidence, then they suffer from cognitive dissonance. Someone can only be a fraud if they claim to believe something that they do not actually believe.
Debate Round No. 2
SOPHERlM

Pro

You have the wrong idea of my argument. I am not saying that believers are frauds. I am saying that there is one way to truth in reality. Take truth and accept the bitter with the sweet, or take what may seem to be comfortable but is really falsehood. It's each individual's choice, but it means their life.
TheButters

Con

I must be misunderstanding something because I thought that you wrote that "belief without evidence is fraudulent" and "believing in something without factual basis is the same as believing a lie." I am arguing against this based on the idea that fraud and lies involve dishonesty and that one can be sincerely mistaken or wrong. I maintain that one can believe a patently wrong thing, but that it is insincerity or an attempt to deceive someone else that makes one a fraud. Believing something without enough facts to make some kind of conclusive judgment is faith. Believing something when the weight of available facts counters your belief is being mistaken. The missing piece is determining how many facts are needed for evidence and how we are to evaluate these facts. I am detecting that you assume some kind of absolute standard for weighing evidence; otherwise all faiths can be called fraud. Am I correct in thinking this?

As for your chair analogy: how do I know in which chair to sit? The answer is I don't. The apparent "newness" of an object is not a fact that favors the idea that it has superior loading bearing properties. That perception I have about it being new is an item I file away in my mind and use inductive logic to sort. Is something new in better condition? Based on my experience: yes. Will a chair that is newer support my weight better? I have no idea, but my experience would tell me it"s less likely to fall apart than an older model. However if I were to choose the "incorrect" chair and hurt myself, it would not be because I had some kind of blind belief in the ability of a piece of furniture to hold my weight. Instead, I either made a judgment error in evaluating the available facts or there were insufficient facts to make a sound judgment (or both, or neither). I could be presented with all the facts and be wrong due to external factors (I"m drunk/distracted/concussed) or a flaw in my reasoning. Nowhere do I have faith in an inanimate object, but rather my own ability to make a decision based on past experience.

It goes without saying that someone who teaches things to they know to be false is a fraud, however that did not seem to be the main thrust of your proposition for a debate titled "Belief without factual basis is fraudulent." You mention that your main gripe is with those who propagate false beliefs, but who are these people? Are they cult leaders, known charlatans, or are you referring to the clergy of an established religion? You mentioned Jim Jones, but it"s hard to say that he was a fraud when evidence points to him believing his message. One can safely say that he was crazy and wrong, but it"s difficult to say he was dishonest when he killed himself along with his followers. That seems like the ultimate act of sincerity of belief. Moreover if this is your only assertion, that frauds commit fraud, then where is the debate? How do we determine who is a fraud? I have asserted that it is nearly impossible to determine fraud when it comes to belief and I have yet to hear an argument against that.

However I think my biggest question is: what is this one way to truth you speak of, how does it provide factual evidence for belief, and why did you not lay it out in your opening argument? I really get the feeling that there is a world view that you are assuming here, yet you have not stated what it is. What is the one way to truth?
Debate Round No. 3
SOPHERlM

Pro

SOPHERlM forfeited this round.
TheButters

Con

Nothing to add.
Debate Round No. 4
SOPHERlM

Pro

SOPHERlM forfeited this round.
TheButters

Con

TheButters forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 1 year ago
FollowerofChrist1955
TheButters
Excellent idea. I shall await the completion of this debate and issue the debate to you as indicated. Thank you!
Posted by TheButters 1 year ago
TheButters
FollowerChrist1955
I think you need to consider the position I am taking in this debate (Con) and re-read what I wrote. At no point did I declare any belief fraudulent. In fact I implied that beliefs are by definition sincere and outright stated that fraud can only occur if one professes a belief that he or she does not in fact hold. I did consider that there might be intellectual dishonesty in a believer's epistemology, but I did not declare that Christianity or any other religion is outright fraud. You may have our positions reversed.

If you wish to debate the topic of the God of Bible then please post a debate on this site. I think I'd learn quite a bit.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 1 year ago
FollowerofChrist1955
TheButters;
Consider your statements ..... you have no beliefs therefore you declare any other belief to be fraudulent! Your argument is based on misconceptions and inaccurate data. The population of the planet is approximately 7 billion people, give or take. Of those 2 billion, if estimates can be believed, profess a knowledge and relationship with God!

Naturally because you do not know Him (God), your perception would instantly be that it's non-factual. This is where you are wrong. God not only exists, but moves freely in the lives of those whom have believed. To those who know Him (God), that is not a guess, or delusion. Suffice it to say, that God, performs numerous, supportive acts in the life of each believer. God constantly upholds His children, in the everyday workings of their lives. That this occurs on a daily and consistent basis, and is evident in all believers.

You see the God of the Bible, is very Real, and leads the day to day events, towards a specific goal, written long ago! Heaven is REAL (emphasis) and Hell is REAL (emphasis). Unlike God, your perception, is not, will not and does not impact reality. Many do not believe in Hell, and that's too bad because they are going there anyway!

You want evidence of God? Pickup the Bible .... ask Him (God) to show you He is real, with a humble heart .... and God .... The God will respond to you! But approach Him with arrogance, self will and He will leave you to your fate! Not everyone who calls Lord Lord will enter into heaven but only those that do the will of the father! Of the 2 billion, only those who have died to self, and take up their cross and follow Him daily, shall go with Him! Those who decrease that the Holy Spirit may increase!

In closing, Hell is real, and you will be there instantly upon your death ..... the good news is, that it doesn't have to be that way ...... you have a choice!
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