The Instigator
Freeman
Con (against)
Losing
117 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Pro (for)
Winning
130 Points

Christianity is a force for good in the world.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+12
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,964 times Debate No: 10609
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (55)
Votes (44)

 

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---

http://www.debate.org...
InquireTruth

Pro

INTRODUCTION:

My opponent no doubt thinks his atheism is a noble belief - but then why such ignoble means and unbridled mockery? Why the prerogative oversimplification of Christianity? What we have here is not someone well versed in the nuances of Christian belief, but rather someone who wields a cursory knowledge of religion with dangerous self-confidence. We have someone who stridently builds a moral case against Christianity with feet firmly planted in midair*!

My opponent has made the claim that Christianity has caused more harm than Good. We are immediately at an enormous hurdle. Though my opponent has defined good, he has given us no objective means by which we may quantify it. In fact, what is "good" becomes a matter of personal preference. It reminds me of Ravi Zacharias' suggested response to the bumbling Bertrand Russell in a debate versus Fredrick Copleston, "Mr. Russell, in some cultures they love their neighbors; in other cultures they eat them. Do you have a personal preference, and if so, what is it? (1)"

Zacharias is highlighting a fundamental problem inherent within any non-transcendent, subjective system of morality. There is no physical or metaphysical difference in value between the two listed cultures, and both cultures view their practices as good. By what objective moral standard do we insist that the former culture is acting morally and the other is acting at the height of depravity?

CHRISTIANITY: WHAT IS IT A FORCE FOR?

A very important distinction to make is that whether or not Christianity has caused great harm or great good is really inconsequential to the resolution - insofar as Christianity is not defined by its results. So what then is Christianity? I will be defining Christianity as it is defended in C.S. Lewis' classic, Mere Christianity. The elan vital of Christianity is Christ. Jesus teaches that we are to be people who love our neighbors (2) and enemies (3). We are to feed the hungry (4), give to the poor (5) and be people known by our good deeds (6). Christian scriptures teach that God is the sole proprietor of what is good and righteous (7).

It is quite clear the Christianity IS a force for good in world. What my opponent intends to argue, is that Christianity is an ineffective force for good (though without any means to judge between two competing ideas of good, this point cannot stand).

RELIGION MISREPRESENTS REALITY

This is a red herring. Religion =/= Christianity. Moreover, one does not need to have an accurate, scientific understanding of the origins of our universe in order to enact good in the world. Furthermore, Christianity is not much concerned with HOW God created (as it is definitely not clear the creation account intends to be taken literally) (8).
In fact, mostly all of this is completely irrelevant. Killing people is something that Christianity neither condones nor can itself commit. Whether or not those things exist in the Old Testament is insignificant, as it is not a moral lesson of Christ or a doctrine of Christianity. Furthermore, my opponent has not given us any reason for believing that the things listed are wrong. Given that there are 700,000 slaves being trafficked across international borders every year, there is a significant portion of the civilized world that sees no moral repugnancy in the possession of slaves (9). National Geographic reported that "there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. (10)" How do we determine which of these preferences are morally superior?

DOGMAS OF CHRISTIANITY ARE HARMFUL:

This point is emotionally constructed on assertion. Who cares whether or not people believe in an afterlife. In fact, scientific research has confirmed that religious individuals are both happier (11) and sexually more satisfied than non-believers (12). So far from individuals being "content" with their "misery," they are actually statistically more likely to be happy if they believe in an afterlife.

There is no evidence that a belief in the afterlife is causing Christian individuals to neglect the future of other generations. There is also no evidence that Christians are trying to immanentize the eschaton.

My opponent presupposes what is good and therefore deems whatever is in friction with his presupposition as bad. If the majority of people disagree with my opponent's assessment of social progress, by what metric do we decipher good from bad? Furthermore, he forgets that according to Sam Harris (the primary source of his argument), Buddhism is a form of atheism, insofar as they have no deity (13). This means that those historically CHRISTIAN nations listed in the Human Development Report (2005) are not actually the top atheistic countries. No, instead it would be Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Vietnam. These nations, on the other hand, rank VERY low on the Human Development Index rank (14).

Furthermore, it is actually the religious United States that has the best 5 year cancer survival rate - 81 percent higher than some European countries and 22.5 percent higher than the Dutch health care system (15). Moreover, it is actually the US that has the best prenatal healthcare system in the world (16). The reason the other countries have less infant mortality is because live births below 3.3 pounds are not registered and consequently do not show up on the statistic (17). Far from "atheistic" nations having overall better health and etc, it is the religious United States that is the victor.

CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES INTOLERANCE AND OPPRESSION

Not only have Christians operated under the mandate of Jesus Christ to heal the sick and feed the hungry since the Crucifixion, but to this day, relief work around the world is dominated by Christians (18). The fact that the name "Red Cross" is synonymous with disaster relief is not exactly a coincidence (19). So the same people you hold responsible for major atrocities are ironically the same people bound to mitigate them.

Also, It was the Bible-believing Christians in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries — not the nonreligious of the day — who tackled the illiteracy problem (20), adult education (21), abolition of slavery (22), prison reform (23), and treatment for alcoholics (24). Also, the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) was formed in 1844, the YWCA a decade later, and the Salvation Army launched its multinational welfare organization based on Christian ethics (25).

The Bible does not BLAME the Jews for Jesus crucifixion (Jesus himself and all his immediate followers were Jews), but rather the Pharisees.

CONCLUSION:

My opponent most prove that:

1. It is the religion that is responsible and not the person of the religion.

2. The net sum of bad must outweighs the net sum of good

3. There is an objective, binding and obligatory metric by which we may decipher good from bad.

4. Christianity is defined by its results.

So far as I can tell. given that religious faiths combined only account for 3.23 percent of humanity's wars (26), and Atheists, per capita, have a much higher probability of incarceration (27), the problem here is not Christianity. That's while you'll find there are no Skeptics' or rationalists' hospitals, charities, or aged-care homes, no atheists' orphanages, welfare agencies, or relief agencies, or any other life-improving institutions such as those founded and funded by Christians who have followed Jesus' teachings. Instead you'll find a statistical proclivity for those operating under a material atheistic argument for the nonexistence of God to destroy religious art and architecture (28) and kill tens of millions of people (29).

Citations and Additions: http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Con

I thank InquireTruth for his willingness to debate with me. Our differences could not possibly be any more pronounced and it is therefore likely that this debate will produce some interesting exchanges. Nevertheless, I find many of my opponent's claims to be rather astounding, and I am eager to respond to them.

But first, a little housekeeping:

If I understand InquireTruth's argument correctly, he doesn't want Christianity to be held responsible for every crazy or destructive thing that a Christian does. This is perfectly understandable. I don't hold Christianity responsible for all social evil; I only hold it responsible for the actions that Christians do only by following the precepts of Christianity.

I realize that you are limited with only 8,000 characters, but I feel that you have not attempted to address the following arguments, which deal with:

Christianity's role in promulgating misogyny

Christianity's role in promulgating homophobia

From my perspective, things can be said to be good or bad depending on their ability to alleviate suffering or to provide for a net increase in the well being of conscious creatures. Unfortunately, I don't have the room to uphold moral realism or consequentialism for the sake of this debate. However, this doesn't matter because my ability or inability to prop up a meta-ethical theory as valid is not contingent to my defeating the resolution. It is you, not I, that needs to demonstrate why Christianity is objectively a force for good in the world. Even if all my arguments against Christianity failed we would still be on neutral grounds.

You've raised some points about health care, atheists being prone for incarnation, and sex that I will have to save my response for (due to lack of time). If there is anything else you think I didn't touch upon let me know.

::Case Con- Rebuttals::

CHRISTIANITY: WHAT IS IT A FORCE FOR?

InquireTruth outlines a pretty standard list of Christian ethical precepts, many of which are unobjectionable. But he fails to realize that many of these same precepts are found in other religions and in societies, like Sweden, that hardly have any belief in a personal God.

In addition, my opponent obviously has omitted from the list of Christian teachings some of the more amoral and immoral proclamations. Jesus also 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. [1] 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." [2] He clearly condoned the murder of his enemies, at least some of the time. However, the immoral preachments of Christianity do not end there by any stretch of the imagination. The Old Testament, as barbaric and recommending of genocide as it is, at no point speaks of eternal punishment for the dead. It was not until the delusional carpenter, Jesus, showed up on the scene that the idea of hell came into prominence in Judaism. [3] What then is the point is the point of appealing to Christian scriptures? Christianity provides nothing of value, in ethical terms, that hasn't already been attained through more rational means, and some of its precepts are downright ludicrous.

Jesus clearly expected us to keep slaves. At no point does he ever repudiate the institution of slavery. At numerous spots in the Bible he even uses parables with slaves. Likewise, Paul, also known as Saul, admonishes slaves to serve their masters well and to serve their Christian masters especially well. [4] At best, Christianity simply maintains the status quo with many of its preachments. At worst, 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.

Contention 1: Religion misrepresents reality.

At best, the creation myth in Genesis myth is impoverishing to the intellect and at worst it causes people to want to teach pseudoscience to children. Creation myths are thus not inconsequential, as you would have us believe.

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. [5] 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.

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

Before I launch into my main criticism of your argument some red herrings need to be dealt with. The problem with Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Vietnam is not atheism. Dogmatism can irrationality can arise in a variety of forms that can be devoid of any deity worship. Like you, I would be among the first to decry the political dogmas of communism or the grotesque instances of leader worship that occur in places like North Korea. However, to my knowledge, no society has ever suffered because it had become too reasonable.

Contention 3: Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression.

If you are implying that secular people don't do charitable work then clearly that isn't true. There is an abundance of secular organizations that do great work around the world. Organizations like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and the UN world food program are just a few cases in point. Moreover, they do their work without the secret desire to spread divisive myths about the divine origins of certain books, and the virgin births of certain people.

Likewise, It would be nearly pointless to say that people who believe in God have built almost everything of value in our society. Religious people throughout history have largely been the only people available to do the work.

As I sure you are well aware, there aren't a whole lot of scientifically minded atheists in world. Therefore, It's just meaningless to say that there weren't very many atheists in Britain helping tackle social problems or rationalists in the U.S. helping to build hospitals. It would be equivalent to me pointing out that there aren't very many black people in Montana doing charity work and thus concluding that white people are more generous, loving, and compassionate than black people. As it turns out, there aren't a whole lot of cerebral atheists in the world, and there aren't many black people in Montana. As such, any argument that seeks to prop up Christianity by reference to charity work is bound to be invidious.

::Conclusion::

My opponent accuses me of making generalizations, and yet he accuses people like myself with a scientific mindset to have a propensity for mass murder and destruction. Needless to say, this accusation is both absurd and a bit silly. The most atheistic group in our country has got to the members of the NAS (The National Academy of Sciences), 93% of them don't believe in a personal God. [6] Presumably, they are no more devious than the rest of society. This alone shows why my opponent's claims are unsupported.

--References---

1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?
5. ?
6. ?

I will provide my references for round number 2 in my 3rd round. Sorry, I ran out of time. It's new years, and I'm away with family and away from my computer.
InquireTruth

Pro

I too am pleased to be debating such an important topic with such a capable opponent. I think the readers should carefully consider whether or not Freeman has presented a convincing case for Christianity causing more harm than good. With that said, I will now respond to my opponent's round 2.

CHRISTIANITY'S ROLE IN PROMULGATING MISOGYNY:

It is no historical secret that misogyny predates Christianity by orders of millennia. During the time of Jesus' ministry, women, under the thumb of Greco-Roman leadership, had very few rights. Aristotle taught that women were not fully human and a lower form of life (1). Christianity challenged these norms by systematically enabling women. Jesus not only had female disciples, but it was a group of these female followers that first discovered His empty tomb (2). Moreover, scripture proclaims that in Christ there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Him (3)! Christianity continued to influence progress towards equality, even while the secular philosophers proclaimed there was no such thing:

"Equality is a lie concocted by inferior people...The morality of 'equal rights' is herd morality...{which} leads to the corruption of the human species." - Nietzsche

However, due to the empowerment of George Fox's Quakerism, Christian men and women fought hard for the rights of women. Women's suffrage and the subsequent rights garnered thereafter are almost unilaterally indebted to the Quakers (4). It does not take a degree in history to see that the only nations in which misogyny is still rife, are those that were never historically Christian.

How can Christianity be held responsible for something for which it was not the cause and is in fact bound to eliminate?

CHRISTIANITY'S ROLE IN PROMULGATING HOMOPHOBIA:

Without any relevant statistics or comparisons between historically Christian and non-Christian nations, this assertion stands on nothing. My opponent illegitimately focuses on a fanatic minority and generalizes that to be representative of Christianity. Clearly fanaticism in any ideology is the problem - whether Christianity, atheism or otherwise.

WHENCE COMETH THIS METRIC?

"From my perspective..."

And this is Precisely the problem! My opponent's metric is wholly dependent on his perception and thus is altogether subjective. My perspective is different - whose could possibly be correct when dealing with subjective premises? However, under the Christian framework, morality is objective and thus can be objectively judged. This problem was prophetically anticipated by Dostoyevsky in his letter to N.L. Ozmidov in 1978, " Now assume that there is no God, or immortality of the soul. Now tell me, why should I live righteously and do good deeds, if I am to die entirely on earth?...And If that is so, why shouldn't I (as long as I can rely on my cleverness and agility to avoid being caught by the law) cut another man's throat, rob, and steal?"

The point is that Christianity is a force for its own standards of good and whether it achieves that good is irrelevant to whether or not it is a force for it.

WHAT IS IT A FORCE FOR?

Whether Christian precepts are found elsewhere is irrelevant to whether or not Christianity is a force for good. The precept, "do not murder," is no less good if it is found in other cultures.

To continue in the vein of irrelevancy, my opponent reads his OWN interpretation into the Christian text - applying a narrow and obtuse hermeneutic characteristic of internet critics - and then generalizes this interpretation as if it represents Christian thought.

1. Luke 19:27
These are CLEARLY NOT Jesus' words but the words of the king in His parable. Jesus, to the contrary, taught to love thy enemy and pray for those who persecute you (5). After being mercilessly tortured and irreverently hung on a cross, he cried out, "forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Yes, doesn't THAT sound like the heart of a wicked man?

2. Jesus' hyperbolic words about family were to illustrate that we must be willing to follow truth at all costs. He obviously did not mean that we ought to hate our family as his mother was his follower and his brothers were avid leaders within his ministry (6).

3. Christianity has been at the forefront of the abolishment of slavery, from Jesus to William Wilberforce. Jesus taught that we are all to be slaves to one another (7). He taught that the first will be last and the last first. He himself came not to BE served, but to serve (8). Paul taught that there is neither slave nor free in Christ Jesus (9). He admonished Philemon to treat Onesimus (a slave) as a brother (10). Moreover, it was the Mennonites to first protest Slavery and the Quakers followed shortly thereafter (11).

CONTENTION 1:

This is all based on a presuppositional bias and question-begging. Yes, Christians have a very high view of human value. Christians see a relevant difference between a clump of cells and an organism that is equipped for integrated life. Not only has no stem cell line ever been successful from cloned embryos (even given a decade and some), but it is moot given that Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University found a way to make any cell without the need of a human egg or embryo (12).

CONTENTION 2:

Like I said, fanaticism within any ideology is dangerous - Christian or otherwise. Fanatic Christians, however, are not representative of Christianity. As Alister McGrath puts it:

"All ideals--divine, transcendent, human or invented -- are capable of being abused. That's just the way human nature is. And knowing this, rather than lashing out uncritically at religion, we need to work out what to do about it."

A perfect example of this came during the French Revolution when they abandoned all traditional notions of God. Instead of the notions of God, they transcendentalized human values to the point where no one could question them! Modame Rolande, in 1792, went to the guillotine and before her death she bowed mockingly to the statue of liberty and her words will never be forgotten: "Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name."

CONTENTION 3:

I am implying that it is a verifiable certainty that Christians both give more to, and participate more in charity than atheists by orders of magnitude (13). Moreover, your idea that these organizations help without "the desire to spread divisive myths..." is ignorant. Organizations do not do anything, it is the individuals within them. While the organization itself may not be affiliated with any religion, it is intellectually dishonest to assume that those involved within it are too. As was already shown in my first round, Christians continue to dominate the charity field and show no signs of relenting.

CONCLUSION:

It is true that those without religion are 3.84 times more likely to be incarcerated (13). It's also true that 148 million people died by the hands of 52 atheists, though they were only given 1/20 the opportunity that Christians had to inflict anything similar (14). It is true that those without religion have an average life expectancy 7 years shorter than the average churchgoer (15). It is also true that those without religion are statistically more likely to abuse alcohol, smoke, be obese and depressed (16). But no, since 93% of the members of NAS are not theists, that means that religion is irrelevant to societal health. Well, following this logic to its necessary conclusions, if Christianity is half as bad as my opponent says it is, we should see its systematic negative influences manifest themselves in the most devious ways in The Vatican City, but we don't see that now do we?

Sources:
http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Con

It has been a pleasure to debate with you, InquireTruth. And I look forward to your last round.

::Important Sidenote ::

Accusing atheists, Buddhists, Muslims or any other group of being composed of homicidal, greedy, fat, rabble-rousers does not vindicate Christianity as being a force for good. As such, many of my opponent's claims about atheists, which are both false and fallacious, play no role in this debate. These claims are no more than ill-conceived distractions.

::WHENCE COMETH THIS METRIC?::

"[U]nder the Christian framework, morality is objective and thus can be objectively judged."

Brothers and sisters of DDO, the God of the Bible hates sodomy and will kill you for it, but he rather enjoys the occasional human sacrifice. On just a cursory glance it doesn't seem that God has his priorities quite straight, and neither does my opponent.

Christianity can't provide an objective morality anymore than Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, or other religious teachings can. Religious ethics are all founded upon the unfounded notion that a supernatural realm exists and that this realm, either through a God or impersonal forces, can arbitrate morality. Until these epistemic claims can be vindicated my opponent has nothing to go by, in moral terms, other than the schizophrenic ravings of Iron Age prophets. At the very least, the ethical intuitions I hold and wish to advance are rooted in an open ended, rational, non-dogmatic, and scientifically based dialogue that takes place in the 21st century.

::WHAT IS IT A FORCE FOR?::

1. Luke 19:27 "These are CLEARLY NOT Jesus' words…" My bad, it was from a parable. However, the parable is apparently related to what God/Jesus/The Holy spirit will do with unbelievers. In either case, it's still barbaric.

2. The Bible itself condones slavery in both the Old and New Testaments. [1] I'm leaving my argument at that.

3. Jesus said to two rich men that they should abandon their family and follow him; there is only one reasonable and plausible way to interpret this. Moreover, cult leaders, like Jesus, always set up special privileges for themselves and their family.

::CHRISTIANITY AND CHARITY WORK::

Once again, my opponent's assertion that Christians dominate charity work is based on a fallacy. When one group (Christians) outnumbers another (Rationalists) by 8 to 1 it wouldn't be surprising to see great discrepancies in the work they get accomplished. Secondly, most people in human history that have ever plucked chickens or done charity work have done so while believing in god. This doesn't mean that people need to believe in God to do charity work or to pluck chickens. People will work in charities whether or not they cling to religious myths. The citizens of unreligious countries like Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands demonstrate this perfectly.

Moreover, 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. Therefore, Christianity causes quite a bit of harm when it spreads itself through charity work and other missions.

Contention 1: Religion misrepresents reality.

The negative effects of Christian myths can be seen everywhere. 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.

Likewise, the fact remains that stem cell research is one of the most promising lines in Biology. Being opposed to it is tantamount to being in favor of diabetes, stroke, blindness, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and full body burns. And we've already lost over a decade of valuable research time because of irrational Christian dogmas. This alone demonstrates the potential hazards of even seemingly benign superstitions.

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

My opponent decries fanaticism, but he fails to realize that there are no biblical constraints that can reasonably prevent a person from being a fanatic. The Bible itself is an engine for fanaticism and intolerance. In fact, the God of the Bible is the greatest fanatic in all of Christianity. The God of the Bible is a self contradictory, genocidal, priggish, and brutish megalomaniac.

Secondly, the fact remains that the most advanced countries, by virtually every criteria, have largely left behind their prior religious influence. [2]

Contention 3: Christianity promotes intolerance and supports oppression.

"Christianity… [has been] systematically enabling women."

My opponent has got to be joking. The fact of the matter is that hardly any other religion or institution has been more oppressive or had to make more concessions of a bad conscience when it comes to women's rights. For starters, InquireTruth's entire religion is patriarchical. God is portrayed as a father. Women, in the Bible, were said to have been created from men to serve men. They are taught to be silent in church and submissive to the authority of men. Women are forbidden to teach men etc. These are all Biblical teachings. To put it mildly, Christianity is a filthy women-hating religion, and no amount of casuistry or tap dancing is going to change that.

In addition, 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, with over a billion followers, officially views homosexuality as a mortal sin, and the current Pope has called it a "moral evil". [3] This belief logically leads to intolerance and playground bullying. Moreover, The Catholic Church, and Protestants alike, have also used verses from the Bible to stir up anti-Semitism. [4] 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.

::Conclusion::

Lets take a quick look one last time at Christianity as it exists today. Christianity, in general, plays a huge role in blocking life saving medical research and in resisting social progress that would improve the well being of millions of people. 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. These occurrences are both sad and unnecessary. All humans need in this world is love, compassion, reason, curiosity, and each other. Superstitions, like Christianity, that sanctify ignorance, credulity, intolerance, hatred, and tribalism play no role in the betterment of humanity and they are most certainly not a force for good in the world.

---References---

http://www.debate.org...
InquireTruth

Pro

I'm glad that Freeman and I had the opportunity to debate this issue and I would like to thank him for his willingness to express and defend his position (no matter how loony it is)!

INTRODUCTION

Here at the end of this debate I am really at a loss. I have presented conclusive and debilitating blows to my opponent's already weak and wanting arguments, yet, with blatant and willful indifference, here at the end his last round, he unilaterally relies upon supercilious sophistry. His slur of irreverent adjectives and adverbs is a fruitless attempt to defend the tattered remains of his resolution. So what more can I do? I will use this last round to reaffirm some important points and let the readers discern the worth my opponent's words.

RE: IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE

The relevancy of the arguments in question is so readily apparent that I am deeply perplexed as to how it apparently eludes my opponent. Only the most bias and credulous, I am assured, would agree with my opponent on this point. If the alternatives to Christianity are verifiably shown to lead to a higher risk of incarceration, a proclivity to abuse intoxicants, a tendency towards gluttony and overall poor health and a penchant for pocketing funds and allocating very little (if any at all) to the needy and downtrodden, how can we be so obtuse as to deny that Christianity is the BETTER alternative?

WHENCE COMETH THIS METRIC?

My opponent has been - conveniently as he would have it - missing my point this entire time - and he can hardly blame me for obscurantism. First, my opponent never objectively defined good nor offered any serious criticism of Christianity's definition of good. According to what metric of good are we to measure the effects of Christianity? Moreover, and more to my point, the results of Christianity DO NOT DEFINE its force. Christianity is working for good and is thus a force for it. Whether or not it is fruitful in its endeavor is irrelevant to whether or not it is a force for said endeavor.

WHAT IS IT A FORCE FOR?

1. My opponent has no idea what he is talking about. This is typical mischaracterization of text. I will allow those curious minds to actually read the text in question. Of course, it's all irrelevant as Christian's don't do this.

2. My opponent's unqualified assumptions about Christian belief and ill found assumptions about what the Bible supports is not relevant. Even if the bible supported slavery it would not matter because Christians do not support slavery and, as I have so clearly shown, they have been the leading force in its abolishment.

3. Irrelevant. Christians do not teach the abandonment of family and, in fact, Catholics and evangelicals have the lowest divorce rates(1) and devote the most resources to family unity and values.

CHRISTIANITY AND CHARITY WORK

My opponent is so desperately grasping and straws to the point where he is actually claiming fallacy where rebuttal lacks. Christians, PER CAPITA (yes, that per capita thing means that my opponent falsely claimed fallacy) give more than those who are not religious (almost 4 times more annually)(2). Christians not only give more, but their participation more than doubles secularists (12 to 5.8 times per year) (3).

My opponent also completely oversimplifies the situation in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. All of these nations are historically Christian and, moreover, the majority of the populations in all these areas STILL identify with a particular church or religion (4). More to the point, my opponent has NEVER ONCE SHOWN how these areas demonstrate remarkable charity work.

Christianity has ended tribal conflict in many areas (5), and claiming that it has brought more harm than it has relieved is by empty assertion rested firmly on air and ignorance.

CONTENTION 1

My opponent has NOT shown any harmful effects of people believing that God created human beings as they are. Furthermore, he completely ignores the most relevant and important point regarding embryonic stem cell research, namely that WE DO NOT NEED A HUMAN EMBRYO TO MAKE ANY CELL WE WANT. How can embryonic stem cell research be promising if (1) we do not need it to produce the same results and (2) it has not produced anything thus far (over a decade)?

CONTENTION 2

My opponent has nothing but words, a string of empty and wholly irrelevant words. Calling the Bible an engine for intolerance does little to support his point. People have been more prone to fanaticism WITHOUT the influence of the Bible. Those seeking to create a religious free utopia have done so at the cost of killing MILLIONS of people (mostly their own citizens). Those irreligious are among the first to support the killing of millions of babies each year (6). They rally to support the right for a woman to crush the head of her baby so long as it remains, at least partially, inside of her (7). What a inhuman act of evil that masquerades as a step towards ending suffering. The prominent atheist, Peter Singer, maintains that a pig is worth more than a deformed child (8). It was the atheist, Nietzsche, who promulgated that idea that there is no such thing as equality.

To say that the Bible is an engine for intolerance does nothing to actually prove that this is the case. The people he blames for intolerance are the same people who work to mitigate it.

CONTENTION 3

God, in the Bible, is ALSO portrayed as mother. My opponent does not even address my points. He continues bantering about things he is willfully ignorant about. Women would have FLED to Israel because of how well they treated women. Just a cursory look at other ancient Near East cuneiform legislation would show that the God of the Old Testament was more loving and merciful. This shows that God's work has always been progressive in working with people with the ultimate goal of changing hearts. Women were given more rights and empowerments in the New Testament than they had in ANY OTHER known area of that time. Furthermore, as already shown, the most misogynistic nations known today are those that were never historically Christian (In India, female fetuses are aborted 10 to 1 - what a sacred rite abortion has turned out to be). Even still, it was Christian men and women who fought for women's rights (as was already shown in my last round)!

Under any democratic system of morality and within any evolutionary view of morality, the behavior of homosexuality is wrong. My opponent appeals to an unspecified, unfounded and nonobjective moral metric in order to support his contention. Since he has given no sources, polls or related articles that show the evil ramifications of believing that homosexual behavior is wrong, this point is really inconsequential anyway.

CONCLUSION

Since my opponent has presented nothing of substance in his last round, I will end by listing the key points that my opponent left without response.

1. Christians have a greater life expectancy than those without religion (9).
2. Christians are less likely to abuse alcohol and other intoxicants (10).
3. Christians are less likely to be obese and depressed (11).
4. Christians are generally happier (12).
5. Christians are less likely to be incarcerated (13).
6. Christians give almost 4 times more to charity (14).
6. Christians participate 2 times more in charities than nonreligious (15).
7. Christians are sexually more satisfied (16).
8. Evangelical Christians are less likely to get divorced (17).
If Christians are generally more healthy, peaceful and charitable, according to what standard of good does my opponent appeal to when making his claims?

SOURCES:
http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 3
55 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SoSilly 5 years ago
SoSilly
I agree because I think 'our' morality has more value than 'God's' morality. I believe this because I think basing morality on other beings will only lead to contradicting our own, which seems by definition 'right'.

Oh and nearly all the 'Christianity' citations seem pretty bias and quite a few of the 'anti-Christianity' seem pretty bias, just sayin'.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
Guys, I don't feel comfortable being votebomed to victory. If you really think that I should absolutely be winning this, then give some sort of detailed defense of that position.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
Apparently Hitler found your arguments to be quite compelling, InquireTruth. ;)
Posted by SexyLatina 6 years ago
SexyLatina
I would like to see, in the comments section, a more contextual analysis. As in, what does it mean that even though Christianity has been a more harmful force that it has survived and perhaps even prospered? Would, under similar conditions, a similar system of beliefs (speaking of the values and not the myths of the thing) have sprung up?
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
"Sure. So long as the burden is fair."

If you want to help me, could you provide me with a reasonable definition for God? And could you come up with a reasonable resolution. Preferably something slightly more creative than, "God exists."

I always seem to have trouble coming up with either of those.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
Sure. So long as the burden is fair.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
InquireTruth, in about two weeks or so, would you be interested in debating the existence of God with me?
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
I'm certain that's not true. EVERYONE has done SOMETHING that could use some forgiving.

Obviously, I am referring my work in writing this debate and am not speaking about my life in general. I view blasphemy as a victimless crime and am therefore not sure why anyone would want to forgive me for it.
Posted by Puck 6 years ago
Puck
On treating others 'ethically': "act out of concern for their happiness and suffering. It is, as Kant observed, to treat them as ends in themselves rather than as a means to some further end."
Posted by Puck 6 years ago
Puck
"I'm clueless on you think of Harris as some kind of neo-kantian. From what he has written and the speeches he has given I can't how you can draw that conclusion. "

[perception]..."perceptions are "structured, edited, or amplified by the nervous system" to the point that "[n]o human being has ever experienced an objective world, or even a world at all."

It's a Kantian view of perception related to (non) reality.
44 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by wolfman4711 3 years ago
wolfman4711
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: It turned into just what religion u are so I will do the same.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: There's no question of who won this debate. Con failed to support his claims with anything other then more claims. (P.S. conduct and S/G are countervotbombs. If Freeman hadn't been so heavily votebombed, I would have made conduct and S/G a tie.)
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Both have shown good conduct and grammar, along with fairly good sources. But for the most part, CON proved that Christianity in it's truest form is a harm to society.
Vote Placed by Cobo 5 years ago
Cobo
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by zerogear5 5 years ago
zerogear5
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by DeafAtheist14 6 years ago
DeafAtheist14
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by EllieP 6 years ago
EllieP
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Atheism 6 years ago
Atheism
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Doctor_Murray 6 years ago
Doctor_Murray
FreemanInquireTruthTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50