The Instigator
ryanc66
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Riley12
Con (against)
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Can there be morals without religion?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/7/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 968 times Debate No: 24155
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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ryanc66

Pro

Recently, this argument popped up between me and my father. He is a christian and I am an atheist. His position is that without the Bible, there would be no morals, laws, etc. He stated that the Bible was the first actual written code of laws and is the true word of "God"-The Judeo-Christian God- so it is infallible. (This does not necessarily have to be my opponent's point of view, I'm just providing a common point of view, since this was/is preached in my father's church and churches around the world.)

Now, that there is some background to what sparked this argument, I will provide my stance on this.
To start off, there is absolutely no evidence supporting the Bible. There is no way to prove that the Bible is indeed true. A common argument is that it is God's word and must be true. That is absolutely ridiculous. That is in no way evidence that proves the Bible to be infallible. Also, the Bible is not the first written code of laws. The Code of Hammurabi, the set of laws written in Babylon is the first written set of laws that we know of. The Code of Hammurabi was written in 1772 BCE. The earliest books of the Bible are estimated to have been written around 1440 BCE. That gives the Code of Hammurabi a lead of about 300 years.
And now that I have cleared that up, I can move on to the next area of this topic. My father(and other Christians) state that without the Bible there would be no morals. Humans would not know how to conduct themselves properly. This is completely false. The laws in the Bible(the ten commandments and other rules/laws) are based off of morals that Humans already had. It's pretty obvious to any species, not just humans, that murder is immoral. It hinders the progression of your species, giving an advantage to any other competing species. Now, today there really aren't any species that compete with Humans, but back millions of years ago, our ancestors had to deal with predators. Humans were most definitely not on the top of the food chain.
Morals are a form of natural selection in a way. Species that have no morals will go around killing members of their own species, and give the upper hand to species that do have morals. The species with the most advanced morals that survive will become the dominant species and the others will either cease to exist or stay lower on the pyramid.
Morals being a mechanism for natural selection rules out the need for a creator to have created morals for us.
Riley12

Con

I would just like to state for the record that I do believe that religion or some belief governing power is responsible for modern morality, but this does not mean that I follow a specific religion. I am a deist, and I am simply accepting this debate with the hopes of furthering my own and other's knowledge of the subject.

Religion as defined by Dictionary.com is "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects." Under this assumed definition of religion, all morality has been the result of various religions throughout history--while I do agree with you that the Bible is not the universal moral compass that most modern day Christians hold it to be, you cannot disagree that it has played a large part in developing American laws and morals until previous decades.

This is all beside the point though--what I am really interested in dissecting in your argument is your statement about natural selection. Morality is, in my opinion, an abstract concept created by humanity on the basis of trial and error--with morality being an abstract concept, it could not and is not a part of natural selection; morality is not passed from one generation to the next biologically, but rather socially through learned "right" and "wrong." Assuming the above definition of religion to be correct, then it would be understandable to assume all morality stems from religion; morality is religion--it is a collection of organisms ("species" you refer to them as in your pyramid example) which hold similar beliefs and ideals together, thus enabling them--if you assume it is a part of natural selection--to conquer the other "species."

You define morality as a religion in your original argument.
Debate Round No. 1
ryanc66

Pro

ryanc66 forfeited this round.
Riley12

Con

I await a response from my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
ryanc66

Pro

ryanc66 forfeited this round.
Riley12

Con

Riley12 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ashes2ashes 5 years ago
ashes2ashes
Values are a human trate, part of what seperates us from animals. Along with our abilities to love, hate, create, reason etc. Christians have morals hammered into their way of life, but even christians stray from the flock. For exaple preists in the curch of england were amoung the most corrupt money hungry forces of all time. It doent matter if you have religion or not morals are bestowed in individuals requardless or their religious choice.
Posted by Mike_X 5 years ago
Mike_X
Yes, of course without religion you can have morals. Why would something like religion regulate how society feels about something such as murder. You do understand if you kill someone, at least if you are mentally okay, that you have done something wrong, be you atheist, be you theist. Of course morals exist if you are in a hunter gather tribe or if you are in a modern day society.
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