The Instigator
kanefoyer
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Mentat
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Do we need religion to be a moral society?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Mentat
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/29/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,039 times Debate No: 23260
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)

 

kanefoyer

Pro

http://www.thegoodatheist.net...
This video has raised even more questions in my head.
I wanted to share and debate not to win or lose but to give myself and other an other chance to raise and ask and answer even more questions.
Enjoy!
Mentat

Con

I accept this debate and would like to thank kanefoyer for the interesting topic.

Since the title is "Do we need religion to be a moral society?" and my opponent has taken the PRO position without further clarification, I will assume he is taking the stance that we do. Taking the CON, I will argue that society does not need religion to be moral.

I ask that no new contentions are added in the last round and I look forward to a good debate.
Debate Round No. 1
kanefoyer

Pro

kanefoyer forfeited this round.
Mentat

Con

Well, we're off to a good start. I'll begin with a few definitions.

Moral(adj): 1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes. [1]

Right(adj): 1. in accordance with what is good, proper, or just: right conduct. [2]

In essence then, a moral society would be one that predominantly acts upon right conduct and one that can accurately judge right from wrong. Do we need religion to establish such a society? I would say no for a few reasons.

C1: Humans are inherently capable of moral thought and judgment.

C2: Religious is revealed.

C3: Religion is often interpretable.

C4: Religions vary in moral principle.

C5: Religion is often contradictry.

C6: No religion is morally exclusive.

Religious texts are often open to interpretation

In the context of the video and argument, I will assume any religion suffices the parameters if it espouses a supernatural being and a set of moral truths.

What is right and what is wrong

C1: Humans are inherently capable of moral thought and judgment.

This whole debate hinges on whether or not humans can independently act morally or decide right from wrong. Those that say that people are inherently incapable of moral thought are discrediting the human race to a great degree. This can be shown from many angles. Even in the video you showed at 4:26 the Muslim woman talks of a moral compass within humanity that allows us to determine right from wrong. She goes on to explain that a human understanding of morality is flawed because we can be influenced by the external. Slavery, of all things, is her example. The Christian bible does not denounce slavery, but states that slaves should obey their earthly masters as they do Christ [3]. Commandments like these are not infrequent or unique to the Christian religion. They run against human intuition and the vast majority of current laws to the contrary. If interpretation is the answer, see C3. If a certain religion is the issue, see C4. Other explanations for why humans are capable of thought include:

A. An evolutionary explanation: an animal's actions that lead to a healthier more moral society promote life, reproduction and psychological health and would be retained in social animals from generation to generation. The moral compass is innate because of evolutionary biology and a deistic origin is unfounded at best.

B. Kantian categorical imperative: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." [4].

C. Utilitarianism: Maximizing overall happiness is paramount to morality[5]. Weighing all consequences of an action can shed light on its moral worth.

More examples exist of valuing moral principles on their intrinsic worth regardless of origin, but I'm satisfied.

C2: Religion is revealed.

All religious morality that presupposes a moral supernatural being was at one time been revealed to the human race. These revealed answers are thought to be truth due to the ubiquitous precondition that the revealer (god) is all knowing and benevolent. Since this morality is facially true and not derived, demonstrable proof is not important, just adherence. No mortal check on the answers provided can accurately disprove canonical truth. The problems on earth are real and if the given answers do not sync with the real problems, the only option is to interpret the answer in a way that makes it fitting to our anthropic conclusion. If the social problem is 1+3 and the answer given is 5, we must interpret 5 in a way that satisfies the problem. For instance, women not being able to teach or have authority over man makes it difficult to address many educational, humanitarian and administrative problems we face as a society [6]. Interpreting that out is our only option and that is a silly way to treat a foundational value system.

C3: Religion is often interpretable.

I say 'often' because there are those that believe in textual literalism: Refer to C5 for that. Interpretation of the bible yields many different moral endpoints. 10:40 of your video brings up that some women wear the hijab and some do not. Qur'anic interpretation is open ended, so how do we use our own to determine which way is moral? Or are they both? Many protestant sects re-interpreted female ministry despite [6]. Are both interpretations moral? From C1, humans could, for example, weigh the consequences and overall happiness a social hijab-wearing requirement provides or diminishes and decide moral worth.

C4: Religions vary in moral principle.

Take any religion and compare it to another religion. They most likely will conflict with one another on a moral basis; hell most denominations do. If then there was a society based on religion A and another on religion B, could they both have different equally moral societies? If morality is just the enumeration of right actions that require obedience, then aren't secular constitutions the same? If only religion A is the proper foundational religion for a moral society, how do we determine that as humans incapable of independent moral thought? If they share certain 'important' principles, how do we differentiate what's socially important and what's not? We can't: If any religion is socially foundational then none of them are for reasons explained above.

C5: Religion is often contradictory.

I don't think I have to cite examples since there are many in many texts, unless pro disagrees, I will not embellish. A contradictory foundational text is not very foundational, unless you use artsy interpretation in order to iron out meaning, you can't use it as a foundation. Even interpretation requires human interference in revealed truth, which kind of defeats the purpose. Also, since most texts have been heavily edited and translated from different languages, despite texts being static, language isn't. Archaic languages that have fallen out of use often require definitions of words and phrases not entirely understood by modern linguists and philosophers. This makes it very difficult to use questionable interpretive meanings in unalterable foundational documents.

C6: No religion is not morally exclusive.

Like the United States Constitution, most religious texts are not sufficiently exclusive. Unlike the Constitution though, it cannot be altered. Unless a religion is one of the special living religions, the values do not change and no new values can be officially enumerated. Again, human interpretation can 'guess' what Jesus, Mohammad or the great JuJu would have decreed in any particular case involving privacy laws, transportation rights or gender issues not touched upon for example. Living religions often pander to overwhelming public opinion like the Mormon church and polygamy or gender equality.

I believe I've shown in C1 that human-based derived moral judgment is far superior to a faith-based revealed judgment for many reason. In my other contentions, I have shown that religion is not a solid foundation for a truly moral society. If we treat morality as a product of logical reasoning, that's a much stronger and static basis than faith-based revelation. Convincing someone of an answer when you've worked it out is always easier than commanding it be so and them to abide. I eagerly await my opponent's argument.

Sources:

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...

[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...

[3] http://bible.cc...

[4] Kant, Immanuel, translated by James W. Ellington [1785] (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals 3rd ed.. Hackett. pp. 30. ISBN 087220166X

[5] http://dictionary.reference.com...

[6] http://bible.cc...

Debate Round No. 2
kanefoyer

Pro

kanefoyer forfeited this round.
Mentat

Con

I extend my arguments. I hope my opponent returns to debate.
Debate Round No. 3
kanefoyer

Pro

kanefoyer forfeited this round.
Mentat

Con

Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 4
kanefoyer

Pro

kanefoyer forfeited this round.
Mentat

Con

My opponent forfeited this debate. Vote CON.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Mentat 4 years ago
Mentat
C6 should be "No religion is morally exclusive." instead of not, as it is written at the top.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
What are the parameters?

"You cannot accept this challenge because you do not match the Instigator's age and/or rank criteria."
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
What are the parameters?
Posted by dan564891 4 years ago
dan564891
Well I'm religious and I consider myself to be a morally good person. I don't need a God to guide me on what is right and wrong.

Any person that needs help with that is surely a worse person than I am.
Posted by Evalasting 4 years ago
Evalasting
What position are you taking?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
kanefoyerMentatTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit...
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
kanefoyerMentatTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF