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Catholic Christians are likely wrong

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/24/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,842 times Debate No: 27473
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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1. Catholic beliefs are absurd. For example, the concept of believing a man was born of a virgin is unrealistic.

2. Pretty much every Catholic response to an Atheist argument is as well questionable. For example, "evil in the world comes from Satan from when evil triumphed over good." To that I'd say prove it.

3. I don't believe in your god for the same reasons you don't believe in other religion's gods (I'll elaborate in response).

4. Overwhelming evidence that Jesus didn't exist (tell me why you think he exists...).

5. It's unfair to say that every time the Bible doesn't make sense it's allegorical and every time it does make sense it's true. That is like saying the Bible is the word of god except when it's not.

6. Nobody deserves to go to hell for eternity (not even Hitler), especially for making human mistakes... because we are only human beings.

7. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence... which of course there isn't any of.

8. Christians can't prove the Bible is allegorical, but just take it as that because literally it doesn't make sense.

9. You can't disprove anything there isn't proof of. So don't say you can't disprove god... you also can't disprove invisible smurfs but I wouldn't believe in it.

10. There is evil in the world (tell me where evil came from).

11. All these beliefs come from a book that's history is very questionable.

Try to respond to each of these if you can


Hello Joe. You're doing two debates that are almost identical, aren't you? I wonder why.
Here's the other one.

Socialpinko is a good and experienced debater, but I'm new, so the debates should be quite different.

1. Well, yes. That’s the whole point. If a man were born of a non-virgin it would be unremarkable and we wouldn’t have heard of it.

2. It can’t be proven. That’s where faith comes in.

3. The reason why Catholics don’t believe in other religions’ gods is because they take guidance from the Pope. Can that be the same as your reason?

4. Actually, there is pretty clear evidence that Jesus did exist as a historical figure. If you don’t forfeit next round, I will go to the effort of listing some of it.

5. Life is unfair, but life exists.

6. I know. It’s so cruel. However, I don’t see how it makes it less likely. Lots of things are cruel that exist.

7. Yes. Speaking of unfair, though, I have always found it unfair that scientific-rationalists insist on a scientific process of argument when discussing the existence of God. If only religious argument was used to discuss the existence of science, it would be equally unsatisfactory.

8. That’s right. Again, the Bible isn’t a scientific document. It’s a religious and historical text.

9. You wouldn’t believe in invisible smurfs and you don’t believe in god. Neither of those is compelling evidence that Catholic Christians are wrong.

10. God moves in mysterious ways. See 2.

11. See 8

Debate Round No. 1


1. I guess I'm just a realist. I wouldn't believe in something that weird unless there was amazing evidence. You know, not just a book with questionable history said so.

2. You probably don't know what I'm saying with this but that's okay, I didn't really expect anybody to. As for the faith thing, I don't honestly think that's a good enough excuse to believe something absurd wthout super good evidence. Even hardcore Catholics I know (I'm at a Jesuit school) tell me that "faith is never a good enough reason.

3. I see what you're saying with the Pope thing, but it isn't what I'm talking about. Think of it like this: You and I are sitting at a table with a huge stack of cards, each one representing a religion and what their beliefs are. I ask you all of your reasons why you think each religion is wrong. Eventually you would notice a lot of the arguments are reusable. Once we've gone through the stack there is one left- Catholicism. I'm sure almost all the arguments you said against other religions sould work well against Cahtolicism as well. I guess the moral is that Christianity is no better than anything else, but they are convinced they are right and others are wrong (at least most of them).

4. I'll be glad to hear your arguments for Jesus existing. Here a mine for him not existing: I think that Jesus was based on Joseph in the Old Testament- Please read this: ( ). Jesus' time is considered one of the most well-documented periods in history from what I've heard, and all the many historians that lived around his area during or just after the life of Jesus never mentioned a word about him despite all his miracles. Also, the born on December 25th, walk on water, born of a virgin things were unoriginal; there were other gods before Jesus that apparently did that, and are now considered myths.

5. Oooh. This has nothing to do with what I was saying. I guess I shouldn't have said "unfair". What I mean is that a literalist Christian is easy to prove wrong, correct? But most reasonable Christians say they look for the message in each passage. They determine when it is not supposed to be taken seriously and when it is, but what I'm trying to get across is that you can't really just say nearly every time a story that doesn't make sense in the Bible (example, Noah's Ark) you aren't supposed to be taking it literally, but whenever it does make sense it actually happened. How do you know Jesus wasn't just an allegorical character not to be taken literally.

6. This was smart of you. I've though about it myself. I guess this whole thing plays on the "God is good" thing, right? But the debate is whether or not Catholics are wrong, and I take it that they say God is good, yet he allows humans to burn forever for making very common mistakes.

7. This is the agnostic side of me. I'm not a science person, I just think a lot. I don't claim to know why we are here, but rather that it is for now beyond our knowledge to know all the answers. You seem to be agreeing with me on the lack of evidence. Why would you believe in something absurd wthout great evidence?

8. But why do they say it's allegorical? Because they don't want to be wrong? To add, most Christians I know or have heard of are sure they are right, even though they must accept it's a *belief*.

9. I forgot to mention this is a response to a common argument I hear: You can't disprove God. My bad.

10. Prove to me that God moves in mysterious ways. Like I said, faith isn't enough. This also brings back my second argument that each Christian response is as well questionable, especially by saying "prove it". If there was much proof in Catholics being right, I would find it easier to believe in.

11. See 8.

Sorry about the formatting, I wanted to do it my own style. Thanks for responding.


Hello again Joe. The formatting is fine. Of course you can instigate a debate any way you like. Because of the character limit, though, I want to go at the themes directly this round.

The idea of the virgin birth is not “weird” and “absurd”.

This is a lovely example because to my mind it summarizes the entire problem here. You believe that a virgin could not have given birth in the days before IVF. But why? It cannot be a certainty derived from your own experience. Rather, you judge the case to be inconsistent with a biological rule that you believe in. The rule is that pregnancy is caused by sexual intercourse and no other means (pre-IVF). You believe in the rule because everyone in our society believes it to be true. You have probably had the rule explained to you by your parents, and by your science teachers. The rule is supported by the books you read and the conversations you have. It is consistent with broader theories of biology. Like everyone else in our society, you accept its truth without searching for further evidence.

Catholic Christians believe in the virgin birth. The virgin birth violates the biological rule. Therefore, you conclude that Catholic Christians are wrong. The other possibility, of course, is that the rule may be broken in certain rare circumstances. However, you don’t believe that it has been. Why not? Because you’d need “amazing evidence” for something “that weird”. In other words, you would need evidence that was consistent with your scientific understanding of biology. I suggest to you that you would also change your mind in the face of broad social acceptance. For instance, if there was a sudden consensus among leading scientists that the virgin birth did occur, if it was headlined as true in all mainstream media with accompanying graphics, if your teachers, family and friends were convinced and talking about it in an excited way, then you too would change your mind and think that it could well have happened.

The point I want to make here is that the belief process is the same for you and for Catholic Christians. During your life so far, you have drawn a pattern of belief from the society around you. Catholic Christians have done the same. You may speak of “evidence” for your beliefs, but what you really mean is that your beliefs are supported by scientific and social authorities. In a Catholic Christian society, beliefs are supported by religious and social authorities. To a Catholic Christian immersed in Catholic society, it is not weird or absurd to believe in the virgin birth, but rather utterly ordinary.

So how to decide who is wrong? The Vatican claims that there are almost 1.2 billion Catholics in the world today, about one sixth of the world population.

There are 45 countries where Catholics are in the majority.

And about a third of the world is Christian.

So Catholic beliefs are not “weird” in the sense of being very strange but, on the contrary, widely held. It is not enough to say that their beliefs are inconsistent with your beliefs to prove that they are wrong.

Faith, evidence and ignorance

“What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean.” Isaac Newton

"There are more things in heaven and earth…/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” Hamlet, Shakespeare.

The vastness of our ignorance, the smallness of our vision, these are constants of the human condition. Catholicism encourages its adherents to maintain a humble awareness of their own ignorance. They would not presume to understand everything about God. The parallel would be an atheist who does not claim to understand everything about the universe, who would accept that such understanding is beyond a mortal’s abilities. This is a sane and realistic perspective. It is what I mean when I said “God moves in mysterious ways”.

Therefore, it is possible for a Catholic to continue in her faith even if parts of the doctrine make no sense to her. Personally, I have never been able to make much sense from the good and evil, sin and redemption, Heaven and Hell aspects to religion. However, I often meet Christians who speak confidently, earnestly, and with controlled patience on this subject as if it is all quite clear to them and my obtuseness remarkable. Alas, it’s the same thing again for me with quantum mechanics, James Joyce, and many other subjects.

When you start to meditate on how much we operate on faith and how much on evidence, it soon becomes obvious that even the most hardened atheist is a faith-based creature. For example, when you wake up in the morning, you have the following beliefs, among others:

  • that your memories are representations of actual events
  • that your recent dreams, although vivid, were random mental associations and otherwise meaningless
  • that there is a future you can plan for and anticipate.

These are no more than beliefs. A minority of people may sit about ruminating on their truth or otherwise. Most people, however, simply assume their truth and move on to more interesting activities.

Here is a site that claims that the moon landings were faked by NASA.

I haven’t read it closely, because without a shred of evidence other than popular opinion, and without more than a glance at it, I don’t believe it. I have faith in NASA. Why? Path of least resistance. You can’t live life like a jealous husband, checking her wallet for receipts when she claims to have been shopping, snooping on her phone, trying to catch her in a contradiction. People who live life in a state of suspicion are often diagnosed with a mental disorder, and rightly so.

I don't mean that we should never be suspicious, never check sources, always believe what we're told. Far from it. I love that a whole lot of people are suspicious of NASA. I'm just trying to make the point that everyday life, even for the non-religious, requires constant acts of faith, and that this is good, adaptive behaviour.

Every week at mass, Catholics gather together to say the Creed. “We believe in one God, the father, the almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen…” Evidence is not mentioned. Arguments of justification are not given. Humbly, knowing they are operating on faith, these Catholics are stating the assumptions on which they centre themselves during the week. Not only is this not wrong, it is marvelously self-aware, pragmatic and sublimely human.

Historical Jesus

I'm running out of space, so I'll be very brief. Christian and non-Christian sources are listed here:
There's no space to discuss it all, but I want to make one argument.

The Gospel of Mark begins, "This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." To a cynical mind, it sounds like an introduction to ancient propaganda. Let's suppose, for the sake of the current discussion, that it is. Suppose Mark and all the other writers of in the New Testament were part of a movement that was using the story of Jesus for its own purposes. In my opinion, it is far more likely that they would distort and exaggerate a real story than make one up from nothing, simply because it's easier. It's not far-fetched to suppose that there was a man who preached against religious laws, annoyed the authorities and was executed. In an age of oral history, it would be easy enough to take the story and use it for your own ends. I am not trying to suggest that this is what actually happened! There are other, better, arguments (see link above), but this is why I personally believe in a historical Jesus.

The Joseph/Jesus theory seems to me to be a list of weak coincidences, but I'll say more next round.

Old testament= allegorical, gospels=literal. Very different texts.

I look forward to your next post.

Debate Round No. 2


"The rule is that pregnancy is caused by sexual intercourse and no other means (pre-IVF). You believe in the rule because everyone in our society believes it to be true. You have probably had the rule explained to you by your parents, and by your science teachers. The rule is supported by the books you read and the conversations you have. It is consistent with broader theories of biology. Like everyone else in our society, you accept its truth without searching for further evidence." This may be the single most hypocritical statement I've heard in awhile. Approximately zero people in the entire world choose a separate religion from their parents' religion. Nearly every Catholic I've ever met (pretty much my whole area is Catholic) have never considered whether or not it's true, and never search for more evidence. You say being born of a virgin isn't weird!? I don't just accept it as truth because my parents told me, I accept it as truth because the only known case is in Jesus, who doesn't for sure exist! I don't think I should worry about scientists discovering a new way of giving birth, because if it happens it will be because of technology rather than something the Holy Spirit did. You saying that I might be ignorant like most people isn't helping you out ("if your teachers, family and friends were convinced and talking about it in an excited way, then you too would change your mind and think that it could well have happened."). Besides, you blew this entire *example* out of proportion. You're going to have to accept the Bible sates some pretty weird ("absurd") stuff. The law of killing your neighbour for working on the Sabbath say? The whole belief system even makes you say "Oh what the #%^*". Here's a quote from George Carlin, who is a comedian (you probably know) but also one of the smartest men of all time: "Religion easily has the greatest b/s story ever told. Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there's an INVISIBLE MAN...LIVING IN THE SKY...who watches every thing you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever 'til the end of time...but he loves you." Let's take a step back, whether you believe Catholics are right or wrong, they without a doubt believe in some really "weird" things that are for sure hard to believe in. Now I'll use your own ignorance argument against you; Most Catholics believe what they do because they never considered it "like everyone else in our society" (quote from you), and I think that the fact that Catholics believe in unusual things that will probably never be proven is definitley a valid argument.

This is exactly why I'm an atheist, because "beliefs are supported by religious and social authorities". This to me is why religion is wrong as a whole. Now I know the debate topic is that Catholics are wrong, but I'm trying to say it from an atheist standpoint. I only chose Catholicism because it's the religion I know most about, and I wouldn't want to argue a Muslim from an atheist standpoint because I honestly don't even know what their beliefs are.

As a response to second part:

*Bill Maher chuckle* I told you to prove that god moves in mysterious ways, but you didn't. Instead, you tell me there is a lot we don't know about god. Cool! I'll tell you the reason I said "prove it". To say that god moves in mysterious ways is ridiculous, because you don't even know that he does, but rather you say that as a response when atheists ask why evil exists. My second argument of the eleven was that every Catholic response is as well questionable. This is a prime example, you say god moves in mysterious ways, I say prove it. And you never could. Now I'll actually take your arguement into my perspective. "The parallel would be an atheist who does not claim to understand everything about the universe, who would accept that such understanding is beyond a mortal"s abilities." The difference between an atheist saying he doesn't know everything about the universe and a Catholic saying he doesn't know anything about God is that at least what the atheist knows about the universe IS BASED ON FACTS. What a Catholic knows about God is actually things not based on facts but based on what their uncredible book states. Here's an example: an atheist knows that there are other planets than earth because they've seen them with their eyes (making it a "fact"), but a Catholic says that god persuaded Abram to leave his polytheistic society and follow him- NOTICE THIS ISN'T A FACT, it actually just came from the Bible. So saying that an atheist not knowing everything about universe is the same as a Catholic not knowing everything about is 100% WRONG. Uh, isn't possible for someone to continue her faith even if parts of the doctrine make no sense to her.

You are right about those things being beliefs (dreams, memories, etc). But those beliefs are on a whole different spectrum than believing in god. The only thing they have in common actually is that they are both beliefs. If those things aren't real, then god isn't real either, and honestly nobody knows what is actually going on. I argue my case assuming that all these things are real, and you should be arguing your case assuming that all these things are real too. Breaking it down, if god doesn't exist, these things still can, but not the other way around. So it cancels itself out and goes back to the initial argument of whether or not god exists period. I don't think it's necessary to take it to this extreme of a level where we question everthing's existence.

As a response to third part:

"It's not far-fetched to suppose that there was a man who preached against religious laws, annoyed the authorities and was executed." These were some things he did that were not far-fetched, I know- but there were things he did that were far-fetched- curing leprosy, walking on water, etc. You can say that it's easier for the writers to exaggerate a story (kind of proves most Catholics wrong) that is somewhat real, the people who wrote it even existed, which there isn't any proof of. The Bible is so questionable and scriptures have been around so long to the point where we don't know how it came to be what it is today.

I don't see how the Jesus/Joseph coincedence is weak, they have nearly identical stories with slightly different content. The argument by the way is that Jesus is based off of Joseph,meaning he didn't exist. You also didn't respond to my other Jesus arguments (see my round 2 post), could you respond to them in round 3?

Thanks again anyways for this debate.


Ha ha I bet you’re loving it at Jesuit school. When I went to Catholic school a hundred years ago, it was all hymn singing with hand actions, miming stations of the cross, liturgical dance – ooh, writing personal reflections in verse…I bet you love all that stuff. :-)

I didn’t mention in previous rounds whether or not I believe in god. I didn’t think it was relevant. I was actually quite taken aback by your last post. Not only did you assume that I’m Catholic, but that assumption has driven your entire rebuttal.

Your resolution is that Catholics are likely wrong. The word “wrong” implies deviation from some ideal or standard. The ideal or standard that you have used is your own understanding of reality.

My argument was that, as a socially constructed system, your perception of reality is not an objective standard against which to judge others’ beliefs. To which you seem to have taken affront. You accused me of hypocrisy. But even if I were a Christian, surely I should be allowed to comment that we all derive our knowledge and beliefs from our social environment? You say not. I think that you would have reacted differently to the argument had you believed me to be an atheist. But who I am and what I believe shouldn’t matter. The argument should stand by itself. To place so much importance on which “belief team” you think I play for is just prejudice.

Bertrand Russell, a famous atheist, wrote the following advice which I have always liked. He said, when you come across an intelligent person who believes something ridiculous, of course you should argue with it, but your first task is to find out what leads them to believe the ridiculous thing. Criticism should not precede understanding.

When people start accusing others of being crazy, idiots, or brainwashed, it’s a sign of criticizing without understanding. It always seems pointless to me, and sometimes dangerous. Your arguments in this debate have something of this shallow quality.

“Catholics believe in unusual things that will probably never be proven,” you complain, and then a bit later provide an example of your own beliefs as a contrast. “An atheist knows that there are other planets than earth because they’ve seen them with their eyes (making it “a fact”).”

Yes, it’s possible to see Venus and Mars with the naked eye from Earth. But how do we know these tiny spots of light are planets? Because we’ve been told so by authorities we respect (making it “a fact”). I can’t decide if it’s adorable or disturbing that your faith in these authorities is so great that you actually define the word “fact” as what they tell you to believe.

Joe, there are more than one billion Catholics in the world. You claim that they are “likely wrong”. It’s a big call to say you know better than a billion people. Such a claim really does warrant extraordinary evidence. Instead, you’ve done little more than throw adjectives at it. I have no doubt that you really do find Catholic doctrine absurd, questionable, unusual, extraordinary, unrealistic and all the rest of it. But you’ve failed to prove that your viewpoint is more objective or in any way superior to those one billion Catholics. So why should anyone believe you?

God moves in mysterious ways

Actually, you’re right about this. I shouldn’t have written it. It was a flippant, careless answer. I didn’t mean that there’s an actual god who is moving about in a mysterious manner. I meant it as a saying, meaning that it’s normal not to understand everything.

Historical jesus

You know what? There are too many topics in this debate! You could probably have put each one of your eleven points as a separate debate. It might have been better. There was recently a good debate on this very topic.

The Jesus-Joseph hypothesis and the other Jesus arguments

Of course Jesus’ time is not one of the most well-documented periods in history! There was no printing press! It might be one of the most written about periods in history, but there’s no way it would be the richest period in terms of primary documents.

Nobody, Catholic or atheist, is pretending that Jesus was born on the 25th of December, are they? I was always told at school that nobody knew the actual date of his birthday but it was put in December to coincide with the pagan winter solstice celebrations.

Yes, I know that a lot of the themes were unoriginal including dying and rising from the dead. My understanding is that in the years before Jesus was born, a lot of people were actively expecting the Messiah. The prophecies pointed to it and a lot of false Messiahs were recognized and then rejected. Then Jesus turned up. You can interpret this in two ways. A. All the Messiah expectations lead people to see a Messiah where there was none, or B. The prophecies foretold the coming of Jesus. You’re the one with the resolution that Catholics are wrong. You say which one to pick.

Honestly, Joe, I really think that Jesus-Joseph parallel is unconvincing. But I’ve written a lot tonight and I think my husband would rather I got off the computer. You should start it as a separate debate.

It’s been a joy and a privilege. Thank you for the debate!

Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by bergeneric63 5 years ago
Wow I love how she just did in the first round and said that you are doing two debates like it I like the digging lol
Posted by CriticalThinkingMachine 5 years ago
It is no surprise that Pro is a newbie. Just look at his introduction.
Posted by dlu2012 5 years ago
I would bring up Noah's Ark and prove the story wrong. Then I would say that this proves the whole Bible wrong because the Bible states that it is "non-lying". Just some strategy.
Posted by dlu2012 5 years ago
I would take this debate if I was arguing that God does not exist because I don't believe in God either. This is a very touchy subject and I would proceed with caution with what you say and what you make your title (hint, hint), it might offend some people. But overall, this is a extremely easy debate for Pro to win.
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