The Instigator
Freeman
Con (against)
Losing
172 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
178 Points

Christianity is a force for good in the world.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 14,341 times Debate No: 10604
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (70)
Votes (64)

 

Freeman

Con

On balance, Christianity has done far more harm than good in the modern world. Its human rights record is disgraceful and the negative impacts of its dogmas have reverberated throughout history and even into the present day. As though this wasn't bad enough it also impoverishes the human condition by distracting people from their real happiness with illusory preachments of an afterlife. And despite the good intentions of many decent people it is still one of the prime sources of a considerable amount of hatred, intolerance, and needless suffering.

::The Antitheist's Manifesto::

Contention 1: Religion misrepresents reality.

Magic, religion, and all forms of reality distortion blight humanity by obscuring our pursuit for knowledge. To take just one example, the Bible fundamentally mischaracterizes the origins of both the cosmos and our species with its creation story. [1] In reality, our actual universe is approximately 14 billion years old and has been continually developing throughout this time-span. [2] Similarly, it is a scientific fact that humans and all other animals exist on an evolutionary continuum with the rest of the animal kingdom. [3] The evidence for this is overwhelming and is thus sufficient to indict the Bible as being the likely product of misguided human intelligence.

Furthermore, biblical teachings fundamentally distort humanity's moral purview. God, in his infinite compassion and wisdom, had ample room in the Bible to instruct us on how to kill people, keep slaves [4], and sacrifice a wide consortium of different animals. On numerous occasions he even advocates that we kill people for imaginary crimes like witchcraft. [5] In fact, the Bible, if followed word for word, provides for a system of ethics that would make Mullah Omar of the Taliban look like Lyndon B. Johnson in comparison. Those who doubt this claim need only spend a few hours actually reading the Christian scriptures. Look anywhere you want for the warrant for slavery, for the subjugation of women, for the burning and flogging of homosexuals, for the abuse of animals, for the torture and slaughter of apostates, for ethnic cleansing, and racism: you don't need to look any farther than the Bible.

Contention 2: The dogmas of Christianity are harmful to society.

Christian beliefs may console some, but they ultimately harm humanity by distracting people from actual problems by pacifying them with dubious promises of an afterlife. [6] Whether an afterlife is real or not, notions of an afterlife lead people to devalue this life and to be content with their misery. For instance, in the United States approximately 44 percent of the population actually believes that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the near future and orchestrate the end of the world with his magic powers. [7] These types of delusions are perfectly maladaptive for giving people an incentive to help build a sustainable future for new generations. Consequently, notions of an afterlife and apocalypse only hurt society by causing people to fixate on matters that don't involve earthly concerns.

Moreover, there are good reasons to doubt whether Christian religiosity is beneficial to society. Among other things, religious adherence is positively correlated with many key aspects of societal and psychological dysfunction. [8] Countries with high levels of religious belief are unusually plagued by high levels of crime, low infant mortality rates, disease and social turmoil. There are, of course, other aspects of Christianity specifically that are equally as troublesome. Christianity's role in fomenting sectarian conflict [9], opposing scientific research [10], opposing scientific education [11], and resisting social progress [12] are similarly disgraceful in many aspects. Given these facts, the claim that religion is especially useful to society begins to look ever more doubtful.

As it turns out, some of the most functional, healthy, literate, generous, and advanced societies on Earth are also some of the least religious. Nations with high levels of organic atheism consistently rank among the very best societies by virtually any criteria one chooses to value. [13] According to the United Nations' Human Development Report (2005), countries with high levels of atheism such as Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom rank as world leaders in terms of life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality. [14] [UNHDR 2005 (15)] These data are unequivocal: religious adherence is not essential—and probably detrimental—to the ever-difficult project of maintaining a civil society.

Contention 3: Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression.

Misogyny has been thoroughly championed over the ages and into the present day under the aegis of Christianity. [16] Given the contents of the Bible, this history makes perfect sense. Women, in the Old Testament, are portrayed as the inept bunglers that foiled God's original plan. After all, Eve allegedly ruined paradise for the rest of us by conversing with a rhetorically gifted snake and eating cursed fruit. [17] Consequently, many Christians throughout history have often invoked scripture to justify the mistreatment of women. In other words, Christianity isn't just man made; its also male made.

In addition, homophobia and anti-Semitism are also part and parcel with Christianity, even in its modern variations. In the Bible gays are constantly lumped in with witches, idolaters, and other rabble that are to be despised. [18] Similarly, much of the hatred against Jews can be traced to the scriptures. In the New Testament Jews are blamed as being the murderers of Christ and are said to have ordered that the blood of Christ be on their heads to the remotest generations. [19] The Bible simply accuses them of being collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. As a result, verses from the New Testament were consistently used to whip up anti-Semitism wherever Christianity had spread to. This inevitably led to numerous anti Jewish pogroms that went on for hundreds of years in Europe, Russia, and elsewhere. [20] Needless to say, these events only further demonstrate how Christianity has been a force for evil throughout the ages.

Like intolerance, oppression is also a key facet of the Christian faith. Historically, the scriptures have often provided people with an excuse to conduct themselves in the most vulgar of manners. [21] In the modern era, however, this coercion usually manifests itself in the religious desire to regulate people's private affairs. For example, it is simply no accident that people of the Christian faith often want to curtail the private freedom of others with social policies regarding euthanasia, gay marriage, prostitution, and drugs. If God is indeed all knowing and omnipresent then there is no such thing as a private action. [22] Given certain beliefs, even private actions carry with them a kind of social significance. Therefore, it should not be surprising that many Christians in our society often wish to control other people's lives.

::Conclusion::

Christianity is most certainly not good for our developing world. It spreads intolerance, distorts reality, and it impoverishes the human condition with parochial superstitions. These consequences, both great and small, have kept disparate groups of people muddling over nonsensical beliefs while simultaneously encouraging them to despise, oppress, and subjugate others that muddle differently. While it may be tempting to attribute these actions to human nature it is quite clear that many of them draw considerable support from the Bible. In light of this evidence, it is justifiable to dispose of the unwarranted position that Christianity is good for the world.

---Definitions + References---

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RoyLatham

Pro

If Con wishes to include references, he must include them within the 8,000 character limit. However, there is no need to reference things that I accept, like the age of the universe.

a. The debate resolution is "Christianity is a force for good in the world." That means that we are debating Christianity as it is today, not as it was during the Spanish Inquisition or over its history. Con specifies "the modern world."

b. The resolution is also a generalization about Christianity, therefore assertions must be accurate generalities. For example, one could not argue that "Italians are evil" and expect that "the Italian mafia is evil" would prove the generality. Con does not justify his assertions about Christianity as valid generalizations.

c. The contention that "Christianity has done far more harm than good" supposes that we hypothesize a world without Christianity and compare that world with the actual world that has Christianity. It is not reasonable to assume that if Christianity disappeared, that all the Christians would become paradigms of reason and temperance. People seek belief systems, so the present Christians might disperse among other religions, like Islam, and among extreme political ideologies or militant nationalism. Con makes no case that a vacuum of departing Christianity would not be filled by something worse.

d. To compare "good" with "harm" we need a reasonable sense of proportion. Having a false belief is in some sense worse than having a true belief, but the measure ought to be the actual harm to others. About a quarter of the population believes in astrology http://www.foxnews.com..., but there is no particular harm in Capricorns being cautious around Rottweilers because a horoscope says so.

C1. Con contends that "Religion misrepresents reality." Yes, sometimes it does. However Con gives no valid generality about modern Christianity harming others. Only a small fraction of Christians are fundamentalist-style Creationists. The Catholic Church represents over half of all Christianity, and it officially accepts Evolution. Moreover, the minority of Young Earth Creationists does very little harm. They might like to control science education, but in modern times they very rarely succeed. By contrast, the absurd and often delusional dogma of political correctness is systematically incorporated into the nation's textbooks through rigid standards. The book "The New Thought Police" documents the abuse. http://www.amazon.com... So while a few Christians might like to impose their belief upon school children, they do not succeed. The alternative dogma succeeds in doing harm.

Con claims that if Old Testament teachings were followed, they would be worse than Islamic extremism. Perhaps, but they are in fact not followed. Two millennia of social evolution have purged harsh doctrines. Modern Christians are not burning witches -- or anything like it. The Bible was once thought to favor slavery; it is now thought to prohibit it. Con does not offer a single valid generalization about evils in modern Christianity.

C2. "The dogmas of Christianity are harmful to society."

Con asserts "Christian beliefs may console some, but they ultimately harm humanity by distracting people from actual problems by pacifying them with dubious promises of an afterlife." Christians do believe in an afterlife, but there is no evidence that this causes Christians to ignore present problems. To the contrary, Christians are taught they must act benevolently in order to secure heavenly rewards.

Con asserts, "Countries with high levels of religious belief are unusually [?] plagued by high levels of crime, low [?] infant mortality rates, disease and social turmoil." We are discussing Christianity, not religion in general, and in any case the assertion is false. The lowest crime rates are in Buddhist countries, and in general there is no cause-and-effect relationship to Christianity. If Christianity causes crime, disease, and turmoil, then the Vatican City, which is 100% extremely devout Christians, should be the worst place on earth for those things. It isn't.

C3. "Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression."

Islamic sub-Saharan Africa practices female genital mutilation. The major opposition originated with Christian missionaries. http://www.encyclopedia.com...

Con offers no evidence that misogyny characterizes modern Christianity or that present-day Christians are typically anti-Semitic. It is true that Christians get to vote on social issues like everyone else. However, Con is mistaken that Christianity is per se the only opposition to a radical makeover of society according to Con's concept of what is right. San Francisco, perhaps the city in the U.S. with the least Christian influence, voted overwhelmingly in 2008 against the decriminalization of prostitution. http://www.filthylucre.com... Japan, with fewer than 2% Christians, has very strict anti-drug policies. http://www.kansaigaidai.ac.jp... "Utah passed legislation Tuesday banning discrimination against gays with an historic endorsement from the Mormon Church." http://www.cbn.com...-/

The point is that Con has an invalid stereotype of what is Christian. To prove that modern Christians are misogynist or anti-Semitic, he should cite statistics on modern Christian preaching to that effect an then show through polling data that Christians conform to those beliefs. He has not done that. I suspect those generalizations could be proved for, say, modern Islam, but not Christianity.

A1. Christianity provides a reasonable moral compass

Standard Christian teachings like "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "do not steal' are sound. These widely-believed basic principles of moral behavior are far more important than oddities like Young Earth Creationism that have little practical impact upon society. Christians are endlessly discussing what the Bible really means, and the long term result is a socially evolved doctrine. That's the virtue of having passages that are in conflict, indefinite, or allegorical. By trying to divine the "true meaning," Christians have slowly evolved the interpretations based upon the experience of culture.

Where I live, nutcase environmentalists have succeeded in banning the sale of dark-colored cars, and are working to ban large screen televisions. http://bighollywood.breitbart.com... More seriously, they restrict water supplies needed to grow crops and to support workers. They have prevented building dams needed for flood control and water supply. http://www.npr.org... Christians are not making me pray to their God, but the alternative orthodoxy is making me bow to their sacred minnow.

A2. Christianity provides a stable community

I don't believe in supernatural powers. Consequently I think churches are social institutions. As such they provide the benefits of social institutions. Church members gather and support each other, share common traditions, and are psychologically empowered to perform good works that benefit the larger community. Churches feed the needy and care for the poor. The Salvation Army has unfounded religious beliefs, but it is more important that they are dedicated to helping others. http://www.salvationarmy.org... There are over 4000 Catholic charitable organizations.http://www.newadvent.org...

Especially considering the alternatives, Christianity does more good than harm in the modern world.
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Con

Thank you, Roy, for accepting my challenge. It has been a while since we've debated, and I've certainly looked forward to this exchange. With formalities out of the way, lets dive right in. But before I begin, I have one question? What generalizations have I made that you think are invalid? I didn't make really make any generalizations in my last round apart from my commentary on the Bible.

::Case Con: Rebuttals::

Contention 1: Religion misrepresents reality.

"Moreover, the minority of Young Earth Creationists does very little harm. They might like to control science education, but in modern times they very rarely succeed." Oh really…

Creationists may not succeed in promoting pseudoscience in public schools, but they most certainty do succeed in brainwashing their children to reject science. For example, among the developed nations the U.S. ranks 33rd in its acceptance of evolution, just above Turkey. [1] These data are unequivocal: we are building a nation of ignorance. Of course, these results very much have something to do with what parents tell their kids about God, Religion, and science. Creationism is thus not inconsequential, as you would have us believe.

Christians aren't burning witches, but the Catholic Church is inadvertently causing the deaths of millions of people with its position on condom use in Aids ridden Africa. Moreover, Christians are still some of leading proponents of homophobia, among a litany of other prejudices. Far from being purged, many of harsh doctrines have only been tempered. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that they still do more harm than good.

Contention 2: The dogmas of Christianity are harmful to society.

"Christians do believe in an afterlife, but there is no evidence that this causes Christians to ignore present problems." If every Christian in the world spent the time that they spend praying actually trying to learn about science, then there would almost certainly be a cure for cancer and a solution to numerous other worldly problems. Prayer and evangelical missions designed to save people in the afterlife are nothing more than a sinkhole for human time. Consequently, my point remains unscathed.

"If Christianity causes crime, disease, and turmoil, then the Vatican City… should be the worst place on earth for those things." I only bothered to point out correlations between religion and societal dysfunction. Of course, there are bound to be anomalies. At no point did I say that Christianity causes disease or social turmoil.

My main assertion, which you haven't responded to, remains standing. The most advanced nations with the highest levels of life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality are undeniably the some of the most secular. This proves that religion is fundamentally unnecessary, and can therefore be discarded.

Contention 3: Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression.

"Con is mistaken that Christianity is per se the only opposition to a radical makeover of society according to Con's concept of what is right." I never argued that.

Roy, you did a good job in demonstrating that many forms of dogmatism can thrive in a plethora of different settings, but what is it you are attempting to show by doing this? Some form of irrationality or another probably affects every place on Earth. This doesn't prove that dogmatism is good for the world or that the Bible's proclamations on Gays, women, and Jews are desirable in the modern day. It's ironic and silly that you cite the Mormon Church. By many accounts, they were the group most responsible for ensuring that proposition 8 would pass in California. [2]

I'm not arguing that most Christians have misogynistic or homophobic tendencies, although many of them clearly do. My point was to show that the actual scriptures themselves could be used to justify these prejudices. Even if only 10% of Christians hated gay people or sought to restrict other's social freedoms (in all likelihood the real number is considerably higher), we would still be talking about 200,000,000 people! And that is a problem worth discussing.

Moreover, certain Christian dogmas can be devastating when applied to real world scenarios. Consider for a moment stem cell research. By far, it is one of the most promising lines in biology to generate medical therapies to treat a whole host of different ailments. [3] And yet politicians in Washington (acting out of deference to Christian dogmas no doubt) often try to impede its funding based on the medieval notion that blastocysts, literally undifferentiated clumps of cells, have souls. Its not as if Christian dogmas thrive in a benign way like astrology, they create tangible real world problems that have geo-political consequences.

A1. Christianity provides a reasonable moral compass

Christianity most certainly does not provide a "reasonable moral compass". Consider some of the teachings of Christianity, as though for the first time. Jesus told us that we are to abandon our families and he even suggested that we must hate them in order to follow him more fully. He also says that we should take no succor and give no thought for tomorrow. In (Luke 19:27) Jesus unmistakably says the following, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." [4] What then is the benefit of Christian theology? It is obviously a mixed bag of good advice coupled with life destroying gibberish.

At best, Christianity simply maintains the status quo with many of its preachments. However, the totality of its preachments provides for an irrational and backwards system of morality that is needlessly subversive to the basic project of creating humans beings with lives worth living.

A2. Christianity provides a stable community

Secular people operate charities, and highly secular countries are often times more generous than religious nations like the United States in the aid they give out to foreign nations. Don't be na�ve; if there weren't Christian organizations to feed the poor, other secular organizations like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and the UN world food program would step in to do the work. We know that this is probably true, because extremely secular countries like Sweden and the Netherlands have charities that do the same things as Christian operations.

::Conclusion::

Throughout my opponent's last round he has given no compelling reasons why Christianity can be considered to be a force for good in the world. Among other things, Christianity helps foster a society of ignorance that is eroding our (The United States) prestige in the world and is putting us behind many other nations as a world leader. Globally, it can be seen to produce many of the same results. Moreover, everything of value that Christianity provides to the world can be, and have been, attained through more honest means that do not entail self-deception.

Consider the alternatives to the bigotry and ignorance of faith-based religion. We could have a rational system of morality and social order that doesn't foment hatred against gays or women and that is as unbound by dogmatism as science is. The civilized world is moving towards this direction, as demonstrated by Western Europe. If anything, traditional religions are only an impediment to the realization of this state of affairs. Therefore, Christianity, by impeding human enlightenment, most certainly does more harm than good in the modern world.

---References---

1. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com...
2. http://www.nytimes.com...
3. http://stemcells.nih.gov...
4. http://www.reasonproject.org...
RoyLatham

Pro

Con asks, "What generalizations have I made that you think are invalid?" Those generalizations that Christians are intolerant, opposed to scientific progress, and believe in the ancient brutal interpretations of scripture rather than modern benign interpretations. If you claim that you only meant "some" Christians and not Christians in general, then your case collapses, because "more harm than good" is a generality to be proved. Atheists or Girl Scouts or any other group is equally subject to charges that "some" are bad.

C1:

To support generalization, produce polls or surveys showing harmful belief or behavior. Con must do that for claims of intolerance, hatred, etc. Con must produce extraordinary evidence, because we do not hear Christians calling for killing infidels or abandoning families or any of what is alleged.

Con asks, "What then is the benefit of Christian theology? It is obviously a mixed bag of good advice coupled with life destroying gibberish." I have already answered that, but I will do it again. The benefit of scripture rank with conflicts and contradictions is that it provokes contemplation of important moral issues, and over time in the light of civilization it leads to satisfactory resolutions of them. Not every issue is resolved to Con's liking or to mine, but Christianity does quite well. They oppose slavery, don't burn witches or kill infidels, promote charity, and promote the simple benefits of community. To make his case, Con needs to produce polls or surveys to the contrary.

C2:

Con asks, "...you did a good job in demonstrating that many forms of dogmatism can thrive in a plethora of different settings, but what is it you are attempting to show by doing this?" I am showing that human nature is unchanged and that people demand, and will have, simple principles to live by. Get rid of the Christian God and people will with ease worship the Delta Smelt. Abolish old Satan and they will invent the great demon of Global Warming who demands $40 trillion per year to save us. The Christian God is far more merciful.

The Christian God is more merciful because Christian beliefs have had 2000 years to evolve under the pressure of civilization. Ecology worship will become benign if it lasts for 2000 years, but right now it is in the stage of, metaphorically speaking, advocating slavery and killing infidels. Christianity won't allow killing infidels any more, but the grand new religion will.

There are many attractive irrationalities on the rise. Socialism was very thoroughly tested in the 20th Century, with every variety of democratic and undemocratic socialism tried. Every one produced economic disaster for readily explained reasons. However, it remains as a perfectly viable substitute for religion.

Con claims, "We could have a rational system of morality and social order that doesn't foment hatred against gays or women and that is as unbound by dogmatism as science is." Christianity does not foment hatred against gays or women; he has produced no polls or surveys showing it does. The same technique of false generality can be used against atheism. How are human rights fairing in China, North Korea, and Vietnam, which hold the preponderance of atheists in the world? Does unbounded rationality prevail? It does not.

In the United States, it is clear that rationality is not rising as Christianity declines. People seek simple dogmatic rules to guide their lives. Worshiping minnows, as is done in California, is every bit as satisfying to people as worshipping the Christian God, and it is a good deal more harmful. Vast areas of once productive farmland are turned into desert in the name of Lord Delta Smelt. We demand separation of traditional religious beliefs, so there would be an uprising if a religion demanded that we only at food bless by a holy man. However, few care if we are require to avoid dark-colored cars in symbolic obedience to an eco-god.

Belief or non-belief in evolution has little impact on our daily lives. What is the proof that the U.S. has trouble recruiting new scientists because of belief in Creationism? The problem we have with growing scientists is that American students don't want to study hard, and that is more due so the secular disintegration of the traditional work ethic. Belief in Creationism so less damaging than beliefs in astrology, New Age mumbo-jumbo, irrational political ideologies, or modern pseudo-science.

Con claims, "The most advanced nations with the highest levels of life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality are undeniably the some of the most secular." This Con asserts that correlation proves causation, a basic error. The classic is that homicide rates correlate well with ice cream sales, both caused by hot weather and not one causing the other. One could list the top totalitarian regimes: North Korea, China, Cuba, Vietnam and then claim that atheism causes loss of human rights. Correlation does not prove it.

Another problem is that atheism does not mean lack of religion. "In a 2003 poll in France, 41 percent described themselves as atheist and 26 percent as having no religion. Eighty-three to eighty-eight percent describe themselves as Catholic - some apparently seeing themselves as both attached to the Catholic Church and as atheists. " Japan has 97% considering themselves Shinto or Buddhist or both, while about 67% are also self-proclaimed atheists. Thus there are countries that are among both "most atheist" and "most religious." That destroys any claimed correlation, and it underscores my claim that religious institutions have dominated by their social aspects, not scripture.

C3:

So why did Mormons support gay rights in Utah and oppose Prop 8 in California? Are they intolerant only in even numbered years? Prop 8 was entirely about use of the word "marriage." Equal rights for gays was previously guaranteed by the state constitution, and any unequal law is declared unconstitutional. Hence the argument is along the lines of "equality of the sexes will not be obtained until the separate pronouns "he" and "she" are abolished by law."

Pro argues that scriptures can be used to rationalize intolerance. This supposes here is some difficult rationalizing intolerance without scripture, and there is no evidence of that. Intolerance derives from the tribalism inherent in human nature. Christianity has it well settled that their scripture demands tolerance, so the social pressure as a whole from Christianity is for the good.

A1:

Con claims, "Jesus told us that we are to abandon our families and he even suggested that we must hate them in order to follow him more fully." Back around the Third Century that was a burning issue of Christianity. In modern times, the issue has been settled in favor of family values. Con simply proclaims without proof that Christianity took the other path and is now dominated by radicals bent upon holy war.

Con says that Christianity does not advance, but I have given ample evidence it does. Con ignores that Christians are not burning witches or supporting slavery. His claim is clearly wrong.

A2:

Con claims that secular charities would arise to replace the thousands of Christian ones. That grants that right now Christianity is an enormous force for good, otherwise it wouldn't need to be replaced.

The large numbers of atheists claiming religious affiliation proves the social aspects of religion are not easily replaced. Beyond charity, there is a code of moral conduct, community events, rituals for marriage and death, and church members looking after each other in many small ways. It would take centuries for replacement institutions to arise.

Con overlooks the manifold good in favor of odd obsessions with Creationism or the use of the word "marriage." His case lacks proportion.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Con

Contrary to what my opponent may believe, I've never claimed that most Christians are generally intolerant, opposed to science, or that they cling to brutal scriptures. All I've argued is that Christianity has played a predominant role in these things, and that the actual scriptures themselves are engines for intolerance. Moreover, I don't hold Christianity responsible for all social problems; I only hold it responsible for the things Christians can justifiably do by following the precepts of the Bible.

Contention 1: Religion misrepresents reality.

Roy has conceded my argument about Christianity distorting science, so I'm going to proceed with this section with that in mind. Creationism is merely one component of a larger problem, which is the willingness to suspend reason.

It is insulting to suggest that humans, of their own abilities and intelligence, would be morally hindered were it not for Iron Age religious teachings. Despite what my opponent may believe, moral progress comes from outside of religion. For the last two thousand years Christianity has had many of its preachments battered and beaten to the point of irrelevancy by secular ethics, rational dialogue, and civil discourse and now my opponent puts this forward as if it put Christianity in a good light. Well, it doesn't. If this history of moral progress is a testament to anything, it is a testament of people's ability to rise above the immoral preachments of ancient holy books and to carve their own rational morality.

By my opponent's standards, I'm probably setting the bar rather low for hatred, intolerance, homophobia etc. In my estimation, Christians engage in these things when they bully or make fun of gay people, restrict social freedoms through law, preach about the hellfire that awaits unbelievers etc. The evidence for these things occurring is overwhelming and you and I certainly don't need to look at any poling to know this. Nevertheless, these are still terrible results of Christianity and my opponent has said almost nothing in response.

Contention 2: The dogmas of Christianity are harmful to society.

Roy's entire argument in this section could be summed up as follows: "Freeman, people are just so hopelessly stupid and encumbered by all sorts of irrational tendencies that Christianity, as harmful as it might be, is really one of the better outlets for these impulses." Along with being extremely condescending, these notions are profoundly detached from the reality of the world around us.

Once again, I've never made any arguments that attempt to show a causal link between religion and societal dysfunction. However, I have shown that religion doesn't cause social health. If it did, or if it correlated with social health, we would see evidence of this in the UN human development report. Unsurprisingly, we don't see this evidence; the evidence is very much to the contrary. Moreover, I've also pointed out that nations, like Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark have advanced healthy societies where very few people are clinging to spurious religious doctrines or other forms of contemptible irrationality. In doing so I've obliterated your argument that people somehow need religion because they need dogmatic simple rules to live by. And you've had nothing to say in response. These people are living just fine without God or nature worship.

Contention 3: Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression.

You would have to be delusional not to notice that Christianity leads to homophobia, in both mild and harsh forms. For example, the Catholic Church officially views homosexuality as a mortal sin, and this belief logically leads to intolerance and playground bullying. Ironically, this is also the same racket that has institutionalized and covered up the rape of children in the very orphanages and charities, which you have written to brag about. Moreover, you would have to be completely secluded from reality not to notice that the tens of millions of people who have fought to block stem cell research are doing so as a result of their Christian beliefs about the soul. My point is, of course, that Christians do their wicked deeds out of deference to the scriptures.

A1:

My opponent has claimed that Christianity provides a "reasonable moral compass". Throughout the course of this debate I have shown why this isn't true by using scripture from both the Old and New Testaments. And yet my opponent denies the significance of these wicked scriptures by dogmatically asserting that moral progress comes out of them. Needless to say, this claim can be dismissed out of hand for both its absurdity and for the lack of evidence, which supports it.

The Bible says that witches, adulterers, homosexuals, and disobedient children should be put to death. These are not metaphors or references to some kind of inward spiritual struggle. These are explicit directives to kill people for theological offences. Moreover, they are directives that have been made untenable by the hammer blows of RATIONAL thought, SECULAR politics, and SCIENTIFIC advancements, none of which have anything in principal to do with Christianity or religion in general. These advancements do not come from inside religion itself. Therefore, Christianity is simply irrelevant when it comes to ethical advancements.

A2:

If everyone in the Christian charities suddenly woke up and found that they didn't believe in God they would still do the relief work. That is what I mean when I say secular institutions would replace Christian ones. How do I know this you ask? Well, Sweden, which used to be dominated by Christians, has lost its faith in God and they are still the world leaders in education, life expectancy, and foreign aid.

Secondly, I do not for a minute buy the argument that Christianity is a force for good because it operates charities. Let me explain why.

Christian charities have the rather bad habit of spreading divisive myths in the areas they work in, which harms society as a result. For example, Christians believe, and preach to others, that Jesus is the Son of God; Muslims believe that whoever believes these things will spend an eternity in hell. That leaves about as much room for compromise as a coin toss. And when societies get stressed they often break down along religious lines. We've seen this happen in the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia and the Caucasus etc.

::Conclusion::

Roy says my case lacks proportion, but how could this be? I've given proportion ad nauseum. With the risk of boring you, let me run through some of the facts one last time. The Catholic Church condemns millions to die of aids in Africa with its position on condoms. It has covered up the rape and abuse of countless children, and it considers homosexuality to be a mortal sin. Christianity, in general, plays a huge role in blocking life saving medical research and in resisting social progress. Moreover, the Bible itself is bursting at the seams with celebrations of cruelty and edicts to kill people and to be intolerant. On top of this, Christianity balkanizes people into incompatible moral communities that necessarily pit humans against each other. Need I say more? My opponent has written at length to outline sophomoric generalizations about environmentalists, socialists, and other boogeymen of the Republican Party, but he has given no convincing reasons to think that Christianity is a force for good in the world. Simply put, Christianity adds nothing of value to the world that has not been superceded by rational alternatives, and it continues to produce negative results across a wide set of different areas. If Pro were half as right as he thinks he is, western Europe should be in shambles. It isn't.
RoyLatham

Pro

Con says, "...I've never claimed that most Christians are generally intolerant, opposed to science, or that they cling to brutal scriptures. All I've argued is that Christianity has played a predominant role in these things, and that the actual scriptures themselves are engines for intolerance." The resolution is about the present world, not the Middle Ages or any other time. Con grants my claim that Christians are now generally tolerant, accepting of science, and have adopted benign interpretations of scripture. Cons argument that Christianity "has played a role in intolerance, ..." tells us that social evolution exists and works, but the past is not relevant to the resolution.

Con claims that scriptures are "engines of intolerance." But Con agrees the dominant state of Christianity is currently to promote tolerance, and that current interpretations of scriptures is positive. No doubt scriptures can be used to rationalize intolerance, but there is no evidence that intolerance would die for lack of rationalization. The rationalization of intolerance is that those people," whoever they are, are self-evidently no good. Con uses the abandoned interpretations of scripture to rationalize his intolerance of Christians.

C1:

Con states, "Despite what my opponent may believe, moral progress comes from outside of religion." Con is not following my argument. I claim that religion has two roles: a social role and a dogmatic role. I agree that moral progress does not come from unchanging dogma. Con seems to be fixated on the unchanging harsh pronouncements of the Old Testament. But Con also agrees that few Christians believe or practice those harsh dictates. They don't burn witches or support slavery. The fact that beliefs have changed significantly proves that social evolution works within the mechanism of religion.

What dogma provides is the continuity upon which social evolution operates. New religions and virulent ideologies are full of bad ideas codified as dogma. If the new dogma is unable to be modified, then the new movement ultimately dies, but it does a lot of damage until then. The new pseudo-religious ideologies of the 20th century are prime examples. Socialism, tried and failed in almost all of the emerging nations of Africa, have done far more damage to the people there than all of the religions combined.

Much of Christian dogma has always been a force for good. There has ever been anything wrong with "love thy neighbor" or "do unto others ..." The social mechanism in religion has been to purge the malevolent dogma. Moreover, those in Christian communities were always inspired to care for each other. Con seems to suppose that religion embodied only evil and that all the good came from outside. That's not true.

C2:

Con says, "Roy's entire argument in this section could be summed up as follows: 'Freeman, people are just so hopelessly stupid and encumbered by all sorts of irrational tendencies that Christianity, as harmful as it might be, is really one of the better outlets for these impulses.'" No, what I said is that humans have a nature. They are inherently tribal and they inherently seek simply rules for day-to-day living. Con claims I am implying that means "hopelessly stupid." An instinct for community is not "stupid," it is the way people are, and they prosper as a result. (Ducks are not "stupid" for flying south. It is a survival instinct that works well.) Moreover, living by simple rules is a necessity. No matter how intelligent and well-educated a person is, there are too many complexities to parse. For example, intelligent well-informed people have bad marriages and all sorts of "irrational" emotional problems. What social evolution accomplishes is getting a better set of simple rules.

Con points to Scandinavia as being idyllic, rational societies allegedly coming as a consequence of casting off religion. H He does not address my counterexamples of North Korea, China, and Vietnam. None of those countries that despise human rights has been "spoiled" by Christianity. There are far more people in the repressive societies than in the claimed idyllic ones. The Scandinavian countries formed much of their social fabric under Christianity.

All that Con is saying is that theism is not *necessary* for a good society, to which I agree. I think we are moving towards non-theistic religion, with Japan and France being good examples. But that's not the subject of debate. The debate is whether Christianity is currently a force for good the world. Christianity promotes tolerance, moral behavior, and charity. That's to the good.

C3:

Con's slim case that Christianity is intolerant rests almost entirely upon Catholic pronouncement of homosexuality as a mortal sin, and similar pronouncements from fundamentalist faiths. I agree that such pronouncements are intolerant and wrong. I don't agree that it has much effect. There are also official pronouncements against birth control, which Catholics pretty much ignore. Nor has Catholic pronouncements against condoms had any significant effect in Africa. Con doesn't provide any evidence to support claims that there are significant, he just demands that they are.

The argument that Catholic priests are child molesters certainly is not an argument against Christianity, anymore than teachers being child molesters is an argument against public schools.

Con claims people opposed stem cell research are "wicked." I think opposition is wrong, but it had little effect. Stem cell research continued with existing lines, with states stepping up funding. Modern ideological zealots continually propose far worse things, and they have a great deal more success.

So I agree that Christians do not always do as I would like. That's their right. They do far less damage than ecology nutcases who are currently the potent irrational force in society. Imagine if Christians passes laws that turned farms into desert and towns into ghost towns. The outrage to separation of church and state would not be tolerated. But the modern irrationality is applauded. Intolerance against Christians, smokers, conservatives, miners, lumbermen, hunters, rich people, and dozens of other groups is encouraged, because those groups exist contrary to modern dogma. George Bush substitutes for the Devil as the origin of all evil. Supplanting Christianity has not brought tolerance or rationality.

A1:

Con says, "... my opponent denies the significance of these wicked scriptures by dogmatically asserting that moral progress comes out of them. Needless to say, this claim can be dismissed out of hand for both its absurdity and for the lack of evidence, which supports it." If it is so absurd, why did Con grant that modern Christianity has adopted benign interpretations of scripture? The evidence I cited supporting the claim was that Christians are not burning witches or supporting slavery. The Catholic Church has accepted Evolution. The Mormon Church supported gay rights legislation in Utah.

What I have said is that Christian scripture is full of contradictions, ambiguities, and allegories. That's a good thing, because it allows the interpretation to change in the light of civilization. That has happened, with the result that Christianity is a net force for good in the world.

A2:

Con grants that Christians are doing very substantial charity work. That is a force for good in the world. Saying that other institutions might evolve to collect the donations and organize the work is no argument against it's being a current force for good.

And what of the community? Would the ACLU start organizing church suppers, marriages, and funerals? I think in a long enough time that substitutes would arise, but for now Christianity is positive force for good.

We are not in the Middle Ages. Today, Christianity is a force for good.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 3
70 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by x2MuzioPlayer 3 years ago
x2MuzioPlayer
(For clarification, 21 points, or three 7-point votes)
Posted by x2MuzioPlayer 3 years ago
x2MuzioPlayer
@Ragnar- Your wish is my command. I decided only to count up the 7-point VBs since most votes don't have RFDs. As of right now, there are 21 votes unaccounted for that should be awarded to RoyLatham.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Would someone mind doing a VB measurement?
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Remember, the debate is about what Christianity is now, not what it was in the Middle Ages. A point of the debate is that Christianity as a institution has evolved considerably.
Posted by giraffelover 3 years ago
giraffelover
This isn't simply an open-and-shut case. You have to weigh EVERYTHING done in the name of Christianity. The Crusade, the Salem Witch Trials, Galileo, and Copernicus are all negative things done in the name of Christianity. On the other hand, the YMCA, someone holding the door for someone, Goodwill, the Salvation army, and Michaelangelo's Chapel are all good things contributed by Christianity. Personally, I think yes.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
What potentially kills is ideology. Ideology is any belief that cannot be overcome by reason. communism and fantastical religious fundamentalism are examples of dangerous ideologies. Atheism isn't ideological dogma, it's a simple lack o belief, but anti-Christianity certainly can be. If someone is bound to hate Christians no matter what, that's dangerous. We've seen where antisemitism leads, for example.

some should explain the doctrine of inherited guilt. Why are present day Christians responsible for the Inquisition? Why are present day atheists responsible for Stalin's purges? Both notions are nonsensical. Christians who now believe in inquisitions should be condemned, as should atheist communists who believe in purges. I don't see either of those types as now typical.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
Thanks for the oxymoron Voltar143!
Dogma that has a basis in a lack of belief = atheist dogma
Is that like non-stamp collecting dogma?
Posted by Shtookah 6 years ago
Shtookah
hahahahaha
Posted by Voltar143 6 years ago
Voltar143
There are native indians convert to christianity when they met, but in the beginning there are a lot of dead christian homesteaders, the reason ehy thosr lndians convert is because they encounter a pacifist community that is non existent in their culture.
Posted by yayawhatever 6 years ago
yayawhatever
Ask native americans about christian love
64 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by RomanCatholic 1 year ago
RomanCatholic
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Reasons for voting decision: Fantastic Debate, but pro won
Vote Placed by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
UchihaMadara
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Reasons for voting decision: seriously empiren? changing the winner of the debate 4 years after it's ended? anyways, this debate was won by pro because, as pro pointed out, con made quite a few unjust generalizations, associating modern christianity as a whole with the acts of some more extremist christians, and that does not fulfill pro's burden of proof, which specifically states that *on balance,* christianity *in general* causes more harm than good in the modern world.
Vote Placed by Empiren 2 years ago
Empiren
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Reasons for voting decision: Unfortunately Roy's points aren't exactly founded on Christianity itself, but rather the Christians. Hence Christian charities are really just charities with the majority religion slapped onto it. Most of the points Roy conceeds are due to this same misunderstanding. Taking Christians* instead of Christianity for most if not all of his rebuttals. Edit: Using "christians" in a general sense implies you are somehow coming up with a stereotype for the biggest world religion. Pro you simply can't argue that and say it's "good" or "bad." Stick to Christianity, not the people in it.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 3 years ago
donald.keller
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Reasons for voting decision: Spelling and Grammar is even. Conduct was good by both sides. Sources were even. I felt Con held on too much to older versions of religion that aren't relevant today. He also tried too hard to prove a vast generalization of a quarter Earth's population (which is just about impossible to do.)
Vote Placed by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
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Reasons for voting decision: It's even now
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
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Reasons for voting decision: CVBing, 7 points more needed for pro to make the spread even (at least concerning actual votebombs).
Vote Placed by x2MuzioPlayer 3 years ago
x2MuzioPlayer
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Reasons for voting decision: After counting all the vote-bombs, I've found there are three 7-point votes that should be countered in favor of Pro. With my vote, that leaves 14 points to balance everything out.
Vote Placed by Pennington 3 years ago
Pennington
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Vote Placed by Raymond123 3 years ago
Raymond123
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Reasons for voting decision: Look at the past.
Vote Placed by morgan2252 3 years ago
morgan2252
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter Votebombs. Why are there so many?? There are much more in con's favor than in pro's.