The Instigator
Browncoat
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
dullurd
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Humanity is meant to worship That Which Is Sacred (God) in many different ways.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/15/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,337 times Debate No: 469
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (5)

 

Browncoat

Pro

Imagine for a moment that God is a mountain. A mountain looks different from its different sides. Different ridges stand out, different peaks appear to be tallest, different zones have different vegetation and animals. Standing on the top of the mountain you can find areas with wide vistas of large regions, or flat areas surrounded by trees where you are unaware of the mountain beneath you. On the sides you will find gentle slopes in some places and impassable cliffs in others. If you place a geologist and a poet side by side on the mountain their descriptions will be totally different, and probably unique. But there IS a mountain.

I argue that we are meant to experience the sacred in different ways, just as we are meant to experience a mountain, and our world, in different ways. The one thing we can agree on is that there are things that are holy or important. The majority of atheists/humanists, the majority of monotheists(Christians/Jews/Muslims), and the majority of Eastern religions (Hindu, Buddhists, etc.) agree in the sanctity of life and love. This is the religious equivalent to agreeing that there is a mountain. I argue that other than this central agreement, it is healthier for human kind to embrace our diversity, and explore our own unique paths to holiness, than to insist on converting each other to one point of view.
dullurd

Con

This topic assumes that there is a greater purpose to humanity- that is, our existence did not spontaneously occur, but that we exist to fulfill a greater purpose. You claim that we are "meant" to accomplish something. This presupposes that a supreme entity exists that "means" for us to accomplish things. I honestly appreciate your efforts to be inclusive to atheists/agnostics/secularists, but in order to take your position, if one accepts that we are "meant" to do certain things, one must accept that there is a divine mandate. There is a big difference between the argument that it's beneficial for all mankind to be tolerant and get along with one another, which I wholeheartedly support, and your claim.

Additionally, I am troubled by the word "worship." Christopher Hitchens is right when he warns of the dangers of abandoning reason for faith. There is a crucial difference between solemnly respecting/cherishing and worshiping. When one chooses to make decisions based on doctrine instead of one's innate morality, there is a risk of veering into fundamentalism. Religion is not innately evil, but I believe that fundamentalism is. Most religious texts contain useful and time-honored moral teachings, but I think it would be an insult to humanity to claim that these moral truths are accessible to us only via religion. This will probably make me lose the debate because it will offend religious voters, but every religion's holy texts were written by people, fallible mortals just like you and me, and there is zero proof that any supernatural entity used them as a conduit. Religious texts contain fundamental pillars of morality because the people who wrote them were moral.

Also, by almost any modern moral standard, they were far from perfectly moral. There are certain parts of the Old and New Testaments, for example, that basically no reasonable Jews or Christians agree with. A good number of them can be found here: http://www.religioustolerance.org... Many Jews and Christians choose to interpret those passages metaphorically/figuratively, and this underscores my point. When they encounter parts of their texts that conflict with their innate morals, they value their innate morals above the text. That is, they do not worship the controversial text, they shy away from it in deference to what they know is right. This illustrates the difference between rationality and fundamentalism. When the typical person reads controversial text, he/she defers to his/her deep moral convictions, but the fundamentalist worships unquestioningly.

If the topic were "It is in humanity's best interest for everyone to be tolerant, respectful and compassionate and to ardently value love and global harmony" I would have nothing to say. That ain't the topic though.
Debate Round No. 1
Browncoat

Pro

"This topic assumes that there is a greater purpose to humanity- that is, our existence did not spontaneously occur, but that we exist to fulfill a greater purpose. I honestly appreciate your efforts to be inclusive to atheists/agnostics/secularists, but in order to take your position, if one accepts that we are "meant" to do certain things, one must accept that there is a divine mandate."

Nope. I can prove humanity did not spontaneously come into existence yesterday. I can prove that the earth is 4.6 billion years old, that dinosaurs existed a couple hundred million years ago (Jurassic to the Cretaceous). And that human skeletons have been discovered up to tens of thousands of years ago. I could go look up all this stuff and show it to you, but I'm pretty sure you can do that yourself, and that this isn't the point.

While I do believe that humanity is meant to fulfill a greater purpose in life that is not what I intended by the word "meant." We do not need a creator God to be meant to act in certain ways.

Let's make it a little less personal. Polar Bears are meant to live in the Arctic, on a permanent ice sheet over the Arctic Ocean. They are meant to eat seal cubs. They have evolved over hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years to live in this niche environment and eat the foods available to them there. Once that environment ceases to exist (5-20 years?) they will cease to exist outside of zoos and children's storybooks. This is a scientific fact. It is not dependent on the belief in a creator God.

A human is meant to live in a certain temperature range, eat some foods and not others, and breathe air with a certain mix of Nitrogen and Oxygen, preferably without anything poisonous added. If we stop doing those things we stop being human. I am arguing that we are also meant to worship the sacred in life.

I am trying to be inclusive of the atheist/secular community here. And I'm also trying to encourage members of that community to not let the Christians/Monotheists steal all the good words. I do appreciate you bringing up this point, because I hadn't realized "meant" would be so God-centeric to other folks. Although I was expecting issues with worship and sacred, which we'll get into further on.

"There is a big difference between the argument that it's beneficial for all mankind to be tolerant and get along with one another, which I wholeheartedly support, and your claim."

I believe those are very different statements, also. There are plenty of people who would state that they think it is beneficial for everyone to be tolerant and loving, BUT... BUT, you are going to hell if you don't worship God the same way I do... BUT, you are stupid and lazy if you believe in an afterlife... BUT, I will be afraid of you if you read a Qu'ran. If we can agree that we are meant to experience and worship that which is sacred and holy in different ways, our "tolerance" of each other can become something deeper like acceptance, acknowledgment, and even love.

"Additionally, I am troubled by the word "worship." Christopher Hitchens is right when he warns of the dangers of abandoning reason for faith. There is a crucial difference between solemnly respecting/cherishing and worshiping. When one chooses to make decisions based on doctrine instead of one's innate morality, there is a risk of veering into fundamentalism. Religion is not innately evil, but I believe that fundamentalism is."

So it would be ok if people just respected their doctrines above their respect for reason and compassion? I think solemnly respecting and cherishing IS worshiping, and there is no difference between these phrases. I agree completely that worshiping doctrine (being fundamentalist) leads to tragedy and evil. But this is not pertinent to the central thesis of the debate. It would be sad if in our attempt to avoid worshiping doctrine we became too scared to ever worship anything. It's a bit of a fad in my faith community of choice, Unitarian Universalism (www.uua.org), to talk about the fact that the word worship comes from the old Anglo-Saxon for "shaping matters of worth", or "to place worth in". So recognizing and expressing reverence for the things that matter in our life is worship of the sacred. I am arguing that humans are meant to recognize and express reverence for the things that matter in our lives in many different ways. I chose to state this in a more compact way by saying worship.

"Most religious texts contain useful and time-honored moral teachings, but I think it would be an insult to humanity to claim that these moral truths are accessible to us only via religion. This will probably make me lose the debate because it will offend religious voters, but every religion's holy texts were written by people, fallible mortals just like you and me, and there is zero proof that any supernatural entity used them as a conduit. Religious texts contain fundamental pillars of morality because the people who wrote them were moral.

Also, by almost any modern moral standard, they were far from perfectly moral. There are certain parts of the Old and New Testaments, for example, that basically no reasonable Jews or Christians agree with. A good number of them can be found here: http://www.religioustolerance.org...... Many Jews and Christians choose to interpret those passages metaphorically/figuratively, and this underscores my point. When they encounter parts of their texts that conflict with their innate morals, they value their innate morals above the text. That is, they do not worship the controversial text, they shy away from it in deference to what they know is right. This illustrates the difference between rationality and fundamentalism. When the typical person reads controversial text, he/she defers to his/her deep moral convictions, but the fundamentalist worships unquestioningly."

I agree with this section, as it matches my own personal experiences. I would argue that a liberal Christian/Jew by valuing their innate morals above their worship of a particular religious text, they are also worshiping (placing worth in) their innate moral compass above the value they place in a particular religious text. So let me restate again, I am arguing that humankind is meant to express our value of That Which Is Sacred in many different ways.

"If the topic were "It is in humanity's best interest for everyone to be tolerant, respectful and compassionate and to ardently value love and global harmony" I would have nothing to say. That ain't the topic though."

Again, I agree wholeheartedly. I just think that we can get there faster by acknowledging that we are meant (have evolved to a point where it is far simpler) to get there by different paths.
dullurd

Con

I think you may have been confused by what I meant by "spontaneous". My point was that I and most secular folk believe the emergence of life on Earth was a remarkable event, but occurred spontaneously, i.e. something like: some primordial goo was struck by lightning, forming the most simple microorganism, and from then on it was natural selection, punctuated equilibria and so on that accounted for the increasingly complex and intelligent creatures that came into being. If one subscribes to this account of the emergence of life, then we are not "meant" to do anything because our existence is due solely to chance. In order to claim we are truly meant to accomplish things, there needs to be a supernatural element. If you remove the supernatural element from the debate topic, it could be something like "People naturally like things humanity has deemed good/important, and it makes sense that there's variation." It seems to me that removing the religious overtones from the statement makes it tautological and boring. It was already kind of circular to begin with because "that which is sacred" could easily be defined as "that which has been deemed worthy of worship."

The etymology of "worship" is definitely interesting, but I think what is far more relevant to this debate is how it is used today. It's a very religiously charged word. To me, and many others I suspect, it means to have unquestioning faith in, love for and deference to something, and I'd hope the religious folks reading this would agree. While I am very devoted to certain moral principles, I don't worship them, and I think that's normal.

To clarify, I don't think it's bad or offensive that you used religious language in the debate topic, but I think it makes it much harder to defend because in addition to the underlying moral concepts of tolerance and love that I agree with, you also need to defend that a deity of some sort exists, and that we are meant to worship it.

"There are plenty of people who would state that they think it is beneficial for everyone to be tolerant and loving, BUT... BUT, you are going to hell if you don't worship God the same way I do... BUT, you are stupid and lazy if you believe in an afterlife... BUT, I will be afraid of you if you read a Qu'ran."

Then they're hypocrites, aren't they? Similarly, if someone states that they agree with your thesis then says those things, they're a hypocrite as well.

"So it would be ok if people just respected their doctrines above their respect for reason and compassion? I think solemnly respecting and cherishing IS worshiping, and there is no difference between these phrases. I agree completely that worshiping doctrine (being fundamentalist) leads to tragedy and evil. But this is not pertinent to the central thesis of the debate. It would be sad if in our attempt to avoid worshiping doctrine we became too scared to ever worship anything. I am arguing that humans are meant to recognize and express reverence for the things that matter in our lives in many different ways. I chose to state this in a more compact way by saying worship."

As said above, the important distinction I want to make is to me, nothing is above doubt or scrutiny, and doubt and scrutiny are antithetical to worship.

ps: unitarians are cool
Debate Round No. 2
Browncoat

Pro

Browncoat forfeited this round.
dullurd

Con

alright, so I don't have anything to respond to. I'd just like to ask voters to actually read what we wrote, and not just vote for their personal preference. I think I made a good case that in order to believe that we are "meant to worship" requires proof of the existence of some sort of deity, a tall order indeed. Religious folk have faith in God's existence. Faith, not proof, and in debate, proof is what counts. Browncoat understandably chose to shy away from the religiously charged language in her topic, but I don't think it's fair to claim that "worship" is a nonreligious concept, and the same goes for us being meant to do certain things. There's an important difference between worship and respect, being meant to do things and evolving to do things.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Browncoat 9 years ago
Browncoat
Hi folks,
Rob, it depends on what you mean by the mountain. I'm not looking to debate whether a personified creator "God" exists. I could see debating the existence of a central sanctity to life. But what I'm really hoping for is to refute the idea that there is one correct way of viewing holiness/heaven/God, etc.

albachteng, Thanks! What a great welcome to debate.org, I post something and get told I'm awesome and cool. :)
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
So are you here to debate whether the mountain exists, or to debate whether that mountain, assuming it exists, ought to be worshiped in many different ways? 'Cause I could see good arguments against either proposition (the fact that people have different beliefs regarding a certain topic doesn't provide evidence that a certain entity in that topic exists in reality; and the fact that something can be viewed from different perspectives doesn't make every perspective equally right or true--just as someone could, in fact, be wrong about the mountain, so too could someone be wrong about God), but the former would be much easier and I'm not sure that's what you're here to focus on. I'll let someone who disagrees with religious pluralism take you on.
Posted by albachteng 9 years ago
albachteng
wow, you are an awesome person. even as an atheist, i would have to say that I agree, (although I personally doubt in the definition of "the mountain" as something sacred. rather I look at it as human morality).

problem is, you just posted something so agreeable, that there's no way I can bring myself to argue against it. you get full points for being cool, though.

way to go.
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Vote Placed by NextLevelSwag 6 years ago
NextLevelSwag
BrowncoatdullurdTied
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BrowncoatdullurdTied
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riclanda
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