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Humans Should Stop Using Beliefs NEW

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/8/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 515 times Debate No: 24627
Debate Rounds (4)
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Sorry to repost this, something happened with the website. I couldn't log in and when I requested my password it would send a blank email. Would you please repost your reply and we can get on to round 2?

Beliefs are a major impediment to the advancement of our species. They keep us locked in unworkable patterns of behavior and destructive conflicts. The challenge is for us to first learn to be flexible with our beliefs and then seek to abandon them altogether. Holding on to belief keeps us from finding possibly superior alternatives or what some people call "truth." We lose our motivation to progress simply because we believe we are already correct. Why search if you already "know." Therefore, uncertainty can certainly be considered a virtue. Beliefs are dangerous.


I am looking forward to this debate, and I thank my opponent for provoking thought.

For clarification I provide the following definitions:

Belief n.-

An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

My first area of analysis will be the fact that in order to even establish his point, my opponent must use his beliefs. He actually believes that human beings should not use beliefs because they "keep us locked in unworkable patterns of behavior and destructive conflicts". This is a contradiction.

Beliefs are natural, it is impossible to find a human being who does not believe in something, and asking a human being to refrain from using their beliefs would lead to overall failure in society. My opponent claims that by abandoning beliefs society could potentially find superior alternatives, this is highly unlikely. What superior alternative needs to be sought out? The only beliefs that lead to "conflict" are those that are controversial such as:
  • Homosexuality
  • Abortion
  • Religion

Just to name a few. But when analyzing these issues, one must ask themselves if any of these issues have a negative impact on society as a whole. For example, if a police officer was an atheist, his belief that there is no God would have NO impact on how he does his job. His beliefs are not holding him back from completing his job more efficiently, he will never have to use them, they are simply just there.

In all honesty, my opponent is making no sense to me at all. Beliefs are not detrimental, and abandoning them would not help anyone. If anything it would impede our development. A superior alternative to having beliefs is non-existent. In order to establish a fact, one must establish a hypothesis and then proceed to test their hypothesis. All facts in today's society are the result of a hypothesis, and that hypothesis was the product of something that someone believed to be true/false. Therefore beliefs a bit more important than you think.

While uncertainty may be a virtue, it is not to be left alone. Uncertainty has potential to lead to downfall. For example, while we are searching for the cure for cancer, we must use our beliefs based on what we already know in order to create a hypothesis in order to attempt to create a cure for cancer, if we abandon our beliefs, the problem will not be fixed.

I would like my opponent to do the following:

  • Explain why/how beliefs are dangerous (including which belief is dangerous)
  • Provide an alternative to having beliefs
  • Justify the need for uncertainty
  • Refute my arguments
Debate Round No. 1


vanmaxon forfeited this round.


Feel free to post your argument..
Debate Round No. 2


vanmaxon forfeited this round.


jd325494523 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


First of all, I'd like to apologize for my lack of response. I've never used the site before and also had some technical issues. Sorry about that.

You asked me to respond to four things

1) Explain why/how beliefs are dangerous (including which belief is dangerous).
I think beliefs are dangerous because, when they aren't based in reality (very common), they drive humans to destroy each other and the planet. How does this happen? A belief keeps the one that has it from seeing other possibilities. For example, if I'm a Buddhist living in Thailand all the events in my life are the result of karma. Therefore, if I wreck my motorbike it's because of something I did in a past life and couldn't be avoided. If I don't wreck my motorbike it's also because of karma. So there are actually lots of young people that drive their motorbikes at insane speeds, weaving in and out of moving cars because of their belief in karma. Also, if someone wrecks, the Buddhist people actually blame it on the person's past. My point is that this just keeps going on and on without most of the Buddhist people questioning this belief. And it's certainly dangerous. Thousands of people are maimed and die each year because of it.
There are a plethora of beliefs that are dangerous. They come from all aspects of human culture. There are dangerous beliefs that come from religion (Our God told us to kill you), economics (The free market can police itself), politics (My country right or wrong), healthcare (The doctor always knows best), etc. I could cite more examples but I think I've made the point. Destructive beliefs are all around us.

2) Provide an alternative to having beliefs.

The alternative is to hold provisional opinions that might be valid while keeping them open to further review and scrutiny. This seems like the foundation of science to me. My suggestion is that we approach our beliefs as if they are theories we need to validate. A belief, on the other hand, requires no evidence or reason or questioning, only conviction. It's too easy. I think that's why it's so popular.

3) Justify the need for uncertainty.

My first inclination is to ask you to do the same. Justify the need for certainty. Why do we need to act as if we know it all? We don't. The more we learn about life and the universe, the more it's mysterious and beyond our grasp. One point that helped me loosen up my grip on beliefs was the idea that if something is true, it remains true whether I personally "believe" in it or not. It also remains true if no one believes in it. The problem is that belief usually stops us from looking for alternative ideas. If we let go a little bit, other perspectives become interesting and plausible.
To answer your point, uncertainty doesn't mean we can't lean in certain directions. It's not just throwing up our hands and giving up. For me, uncertainty means that I have to do more research and more thinking. I have to explore other possibilities. I have to assume that I'm going to be wrong about some things, maybe a lot of things. I have to stay flexible. Certainty is a rejection of other possibilities. It is ending the effort required to search and building a home. The problem is that it gets too comfortable and keeps us from exploring.

4) Refute my arguments.

Your point that I "must use [my] beliefs" to "establish [my] point" is entirely true. I wasn't careful enough in writing my original post. I do think it's possible to argue a position without using belief though. Instead I could have written: It seems to me that humans could be better off if they reduced their exposure to belief. Backing away from my belief allows me to be more clear about what it is I'm trying to say. Thanks for pointing that out
I also agree that every human does "believe in something." I guess it's just a matter of degree. For example, I personally am an agnostic when it comes to religion. Some people believe that God exists and claim to know how "He" wants to be worshiped. Others claim that God doesn't exist and act as if everyone that thinks It does is an idiot. I take the position of uncertainty because I don't have enough evidence either way despite years of looking into the matter. I "believe" in the need for evidence so I stop myself from further belief until there's more of it. To further clarify my point, maybe you're right. Maybe humans cannot stop using belief altogether. But maybe we can get so used to challenging our beliefs that our use of them is minimal.
You wrote: "Asking a human being to refrain from using their beliefs would lead to overall failure in society." I disagree with this. I think beliefs are driving us to destroy the planet. We're locked into our patterns of dysfunction because of our inherited and concocted assumptions (beliefs). Something interesting to think about is the fact that people in India have vastly different beliefs from people in Canada. Lack of having the SAME beliefs does not lead to failure in society. Please provide an example that backs up your assertion that a lack of belief leads to failure. Which beliefs specifically are required for stability?
You asked: "What superior alternative needs to be sought out?" The only thing that's keeping us enslaved is our fixed beliefs about the way the world is and what's possible. If we loosen up on the beliefs, a whole world of possibility opens for our species.
You wrote: "The only beliefs that lead to "conflict" are those that are controversial." I disagree with this. Imagine a soldier that is getting ready to go off to war. He likely believes that he's "protecting the country." He likely believes that it is his "duty." He likely believes that he is "an American" or a "Brit" or "Muslim" or whatever, instead of just a human being. He likely believes that "violence is justified to resolve the matter." He likely trusts or believes what his political masters are telling him. Sometimes, he might even think that God is behind the whole thing. There's a whole smattering of questionable beliefs that drive war and conflict. Not all of them are "controversial" in the sense you implied.
You wrote: "Beliefs are not detrimental" "abandoning them would not help anyone" "Superior alternative to having beliefs [are] non-existent." These are global assertions that I have demonstrated might be unfounded. I encourage you to explore this possibility in your response.
You wrote: "Uncertainty has potential to lead to downfall." I think this is totally true. I advocate keeping a strict watch for evidence and a willingness to abandon uncertainty when it can be demonstrated that another position is in complete harmony with reality.
You wrote: "For example, while we are searching for the cure for cancer, we must use our beliefs based on what we already know in order to create a hypothesis in order to attempt to create a cure for cancer, if we abandon our beliefs, the problem will not be fixed." Or we could just say "maybe this will work." I don't think we necessarily have to use belief to get it done. Actually it seems that belief may be getting in the way. Western medicine does not recognize the toxic theory of disease. Therefore, all the "treatments" are focused on medicine, radiation, etc. Also, cancer treatment is big business and curing it would destroy an industry with vested interests. In other words, there's a financial incentive not to fix this problem. I think it's highly possible that a cure already exists and it's been suppressed. Challenging the belief that money is more important than human lives could be beneficial in this area.

In conclusion, I think I've shown that beliefs can be dangerous and the need for an alternative, specifically provisional uncertainty. I realize that we lost some rounds due to my inept lack of response. I am very curious how you will respond to what I've written. Do you still think belief is necessary? If so, why?


jd325494523 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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