Is religion justified?
In this debate I hope that we can discuss topics such as the validity of religion, the utility of religion and the impacts and causes of religion. Anyone is welcome to participate if you think that religion should not be eradicated.
I'm an atheist but I believe a belief in a higher power is justified and quite easily explanable.
I accept this debate.
I shall not go into great detail into my arguments for this round, but I want to point out the BoP is shared between both Pro and Con. Pro has to provide evidence to show that religion is justified while I, Con, will explain why religion is justified. I shall start by listing the reasons why I think religion is justified, and I hope that I can elaborate on them in future rounds:
1. Religion is not true. I think that religion is unjustified simply because it's not true. There is no evidence for the ontological evidence of a god, which is the main claim made by religion. I'm sure Pro would agree with me on this point, since he has pointed out he is an atheist. Since religion's claims are untrue, I find no reason for anyone to believe in them, making religion unjustified.
2. Religion can lead people to behave irrationally . Religion makes many claims (apart form the existence of a god/gods) that are simply untrue, which can lead people to believe in unjustified things that can potentially be harmful. Seed faith, faith healing and the idea that god has a plan for everyone are just some examples I hope to elaborate in further rounds.
3. Religion restricts ideas and limits our thinking. One of the main ideas of religion is belief based on "faith", by definition, belief without evidence. It leads to a lack of respect for evidence and the scientific method, and a "lazy" method of thinking. The God of the Gaps idea is one such example of a logical fallacy perpetuated by religion. It leads people to stop searching for answers and be content with not knowing.
These are the main arguments I wish to discuss. Pro is welcome to add any other arguments to this debate. The format of the debate is open; Pro is welcome to rebut my points, provide his own arguments or do both in the next round. I look forward to an interesting debate.
I'll start off with a definition of justified, from Oxford Dictionaries.
having, done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason:
As it is a pretty long debate. I'll use this round for opening arguments only.
Contention 1: Happiness
I think we can all agree that a big part of life is being happy. It is a universal goal of everyone's lives. Even stepping infront of a friend to save them from a bullet is done, subconsciously, for happiness. You'd be more happy having saved your friend, then living, knowing your friend died while you could've done something.
Now how does this relate to religion? It's quite simple, religious people are happy being religious. If you ask many of them, they say it gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which in turn makes them happy. It's justifiable for people to seek happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. And if religion provides all that, how can it be called unjustified?
Contention 2: Psychology
A professor of psychology at Ohio State University has created a new theory, which suggests there are a total of 16 reasons why people are attracted to religion. Some of these reasons include idealism, curiosity, a want of interdependence, etc. But the main thing this study found was that every religious person embraces the aspects of religion that express their own psychological needs and personal values. If embracing something that allows you to express your own values is unjustifiable, then the same could be said for music, writing, and art.
Contention 3: Scientific Curiosity
Which many people believe that religion hinders science, that is not always the case. Many years ago, arabic communities were the pinnacle of scientific research. Unlike the rest of the world at the time, you were perimitted to debate ideas as you would, and free to share any of your findings. One example of a famous scientist from an old islamic community was Alhazen. He was born in the year 965 in Egypt. He's considered by many to be the founder of the modern scientific method, and he's contribued a great deal to fields like optics, astronomy, and mathematics. He did all this in a non secular, religious society. This shows that religion doesn't always hinder science. In fact the Quran encourages scientific discoveries.
Contention 4: Early Humans
This is a pretty simple and short argument. Early humans created religion as an explanation of their surroundings and condition. They used religion to satisfy their curiousity in matters where they couldn't find actual answers. Any belief in a higher power is, in the end, a way to explain where we came from and why we're here. I ask my opponent how early humans were unjustified to want to satiate their curiosity for things they couldn't have possibly understood at the time
Contention 1: Happiness
Pro posits that religion can be useful as it provides people with happiness and fulfillment, making it justified. I, however, must point out this is a fallacy. Belief based on utility is not only impractical, but undesirable. I would like to provide Pro with a though experiment to illustrate my point: A man's wife is tragically killed in a car accident, causing the man to fall into a state of depression. He goes to a psychiatrist and asks for help, and the psychiatrist's solution is, "Simple. Just believe that your wife is still alive and with you, and you won't be sad anymore." The problem is, no matter how hard the man tries, he cannot simply believe that his wife is still with him, because he knows, logically and rationally, that she is in fact dead. The psychiatrist's way of thinking is exactly what Pro is suggesting. Pro suggests that believing in religion is justified as it can make one happy and give one meaning. I think that belief in religion should be based upon evidence and facts. If the evidence and facts go against religion, then there is no way one can believe in religion just to make himself happy, in the same way the man in the thought experiment cannot make himself happy just by believing his wife is still alive. Therefore I would think that belief in religion is unjustified as even if it is useful, it is not true.
Contention 2: Psychology
The above (my reply to Pro's first contention) is applicable to Contention 2 as well. I accept that religion could help one to express one's own values and psychological needs, but once again this way of thinking, belief based on utility, is fallacious. As Carl Sagan put it, "Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable." I acknowledge religion can help one psychologically or socially, but that does not constitute reason to believe in its untruths.
Contention 3: Scientific Curiosity
Pro contends that religion in fact does not hinder science, and provides an example of a religious "founding father" of the scientific method. On the same note, let me introduce Pro to Ted Bundy and The Crusades. Ted Bundy was a Christian psychopath and serial killer who murdered and raped his victims. The Crusades were campaigns in the 11th Century instigated by Christians who killed anyone who was not Christian at that time. The question I would like to ask Pro is this : Can I therefore conclude that Christianity is unjustified as it leads people to commit crime and murder innocent people? I'm sure Con would say no, as would I. The thing is, just because a Christian man, Ted Bundy, murdered and raped many women or Christians killed thousands of innocent people in the 11th Century does not mean that Christianity causes people to become murderers and rapists. Similarly, just because a religious person, Alhazen, or a religious society contributed greatly to science, optics, astronomy and mathematics does not mean that his religion led to him making these contributions. Therefore I think it would be incorrect to say that religion, or specifically Islam in this case, does not hinder science. As I have mentioned in the previous round, religion does indeed hinder science as it not only makes claims differing from those provided by science, but it also encourages thinking by "faith" instead of logic and the scientific method.
Contention 4 : Early Humans
I agree with Pro that religion was probably created to answer unanswerable questions at the time and give early humans an explanation of their natural world. But now that we have the scientific method and so many new scientific discoveries, religion is no longer justified as a way to gain information or to think simply because there are better answers and better ways of thinking now. Do note the motion is "Religion is justified" not "Religion was justified" or the "The creation of religion was justified". I wish to discuss only religion now in the 21st Century.
Also, concerning early humans' creation of religion, I would like to point out that I think it was unjustified, even to "satiate their curiosity for things they couldn't have possibly understood at the time". Let me just provide a quick example, say, the reason why lightning strikes. Early humans couldn't understand why it happened so they attributed it to gods and invented religion to answer these unanswerable questions. But that's not what they should have done. If they did not know the answer, they should have suspended judgement and tried their best to figure out the answer, instead of making false, unjustified assumptions.
I look forward to further discussion and Pro's rebuttals of my points.
I thank my opponent for his timely response. To try to establish an easy-to-follow structure, I will use this round solely to refute his opening arguments that were presented in Round 1.
RC1: Religion is not true
Here my opponent states that a reason that religion is unjustified is because it's not true. He says that it's not true because there's no evidence of a god. While I understand why my opponent thinks this way, he has not shown why no evidence of religious beliefs makes them unjustified. My opponent has only stated this, "since religion's claims are untrue, I find no reason for anyone to believe in them." My opponent, in this contention, has only stated their opinion.
Many religious people do accept that there is no evidence to support their claims, but they state that they hold these beliefs regardless, because of their faith.
Faith - Definition from Oxford Dictionaries
complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
Religion is almost synonymous with the word faith. Faith describes having complete trust or confidence, but no conclusive evidence supports that trust. Faith, belief without supporting evidence, is commonplace in life. You have faith in your loved ones, and you know they will always support you, and you don't need evidence for this. You keep faith in public servants, such as bus drivers, that they will perform their duties properly and ensure your safety. You don't have any evidence of this, but you believe it regardless.
To sum up. My opponent has not stated why something is unjustified simply because it doesn't have any supporting evidence. There are many instances in life where you won't have supporting evidence, but you will still have faith in the people around you.
RC2: Religion can lead people to behave irrationally
Here my opponent states that religion makes many claims that have been shown to be untrue. He gives examples such as faith healing, seed faith, etc.
There's a pretty simply rebuttal to this. My opponent states that religion can lead people to behave irrationally. This is a possibility, but my opponent hasn't shown that religion has a high risk of leading people to behave irrationally. His cited examples of seed faith and faith healing are ideas that are so uncommon, and have been so thoroughly discredited that they're laughed at in most of the developed word. These "dangerous irrationalities" are no longer prominent in the developed world, religion however, still is. This shows that rational people can still hold beliefs to explain what they don't understand, but that won't lead them to make crazy decisions. Rational people, regardless of their religious beliefs, will always behave rationally when it matters. Irrational people, regardless of their religious beliefs, will do the opposite. Religion has no correlation to how rational a person is.
RC3: Religion restricts idea and limits our thinking
This claim is actually false. The majority of brilliant scientists and thinkers of history have been religious. I gave the example of Alhazen in the previous round, there has also been Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Aristotle, and Giordano Bruno, to mention a few. I'll delve deeper into the example of Giordano Bruno. He was an Italian philosopher who lived in the 16th century. He was the first people to propose that stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and that these planets could even foster life. This went against the heliocentric model that was widely accepted at the time. He was actually deeply religious, and referred to God in many of his writings, he's even been described by some as "god-intoxicated. A few quotes include…
"Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of his kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds."
"Nature is none other than God in things…"
So, my opponent's entire argument here rests on the assumption that religion, particularly belief based on faith, restricts ideas and limits thinking. However Giordano Bruno, a very religious man, was clearly a great thinker, whose ideas and thinking were not limited by accepted theories at the time.
My opponent has stated that religion leads to a lack of respect for evidence and the scientific method. This is false. Alhazen, a religious man, is attributed to having created the scientific method. The very method my opponent is suggesting religion disrespects, was created by a religious man.
Again, I repeat myself. The idea that religion limits our thinking depends entirely on the individual. An individual who is content with not knowing, will be content with not knowing regardless of religion. Some scientists have described the work and research they do as "uncovering the majesty of God's work."
I'll leave it at that for my rebuttals. I've been trying to keep a basic structure going for this debate, so I will assume my opponent will use the next round to provide his defence against my rebuttals, and I will do the same against his.
And with that I'll toss the ball back to my opponent!
1.First of all, Pro has rebutted my point that religion is unjustified as it is untrue, and has pointed out that we have faith in many other aspects of our lives, so why not religion? Pro defined faith as, per the Oxford Dictionaries, "complete trust or confidence in someone or something". For example, I could say I have faith that I can rely on my friends for help. In this case, though, the definition of faith is really just "trust". But that is not what I meant when I initially mentioned faith in my opening arguments. While I admit it is not as reliable a source for definitions as compared to the Oxford Dictionaries, what I mean by faith is summed up by Dictionary.com : "Belief that is not based on proof" or "A strong or unshakable belief in something, esp without proof or something". These definitions are different from faith as in "trust". It basically means believing things without evidence.
And believing things without evidence is a huge disrespect for all the information we have gathered throughout the centuries and the scientific method. If one wants to take reality and information by faith, then he is simply deceiving himself and potentially harming himself. As I have pointed out in my thought experiment in my previous argument, you simply cannot believe a claim based on utility. It is illogical and absurd. You could pay me thousands of dollars, which would provide me with happiness and comfort, to believe the sky as pink, but no matter how hard I try I simply cannot believe the sky is pink, even if it would make me happier. And I believe no one else could. You cannot believe in religion based on utility.
People deserve to be educated. If they believe in false claims or faith-based claims, they should be educated and told the truth. There is no excuse for ignorance. If we want societal progress, we have to ensure people understand the truth. It is new ideas and discoveries that allow for society to progress, not ancient dogma just to ensure people are happy. Thus, I would say religion is unjustified as it is untrue.
2. Pro has pointed out I say religion can lead people to behave irrationally, but I have not shown religion has a high risk of leading people to behave irrationally. Well, frankly, I can't show that; I have no research or statistics to show that religion has a high risk of leading people to behave irrationally. But I don't have to. What I'm saying is religion can lead to irrational, potentially dangerous behaviour. And if something can lead people to do that, albeit rarely, should it not be eradicated?
For example, if this were a debate about gun control, Pro could be saying I can't prove guns have a high chance of causing unnecessary deaths. But I don't have to. All I have to do is show that guns can cause some innocent deaths, and "some" is more than necessary. Perhaps Pro could then argue that guns could cause some innocent deaths, but it has its advantages and actually saves many lives sometimes. Well, from my point of view, there is no advantage of religion. There is nothing religion provides to society that society would not already have. So, given that there are no advantages of religion, and that religion can cause people to behave irrationally and dangerously, I would conclude religion is unjustified.
3. Pro has provided examples of some famous religious scientists to prove that religion does not limit thinking. I would first just like to point out that Newton and Einstein were not religious. They were deists, and did not belong to any religious denomination. They believed in a god, but not the usual god that most religious people believe in.
But that's not the point. Pro says "The majority of brilliant scientists and thinkers of history have been religious.", which is true. But guess what? The majority of murderers and rapists of history have been religious as well. But does that mean that religion causes people to murder or rape? I don't think so. The fact that the majority of scientists and philosophers throughout history have been religious does not help religion's stance at all. Most of the people throughout history have been religious. Any given group of people, hawkers, toilet cleaners, businessmen and farmers were mostly religious throughout human history, simple because in the past being religious was commonplace and appeared to be the most rational thing to believe in.
Oh and by the way, Giordano himself was actually a deist as well. He did not believe in, and actually rejected Christian dogma and the church's philosophies, and his work on heliocentrism was actually rejected by the Church as well. In this debate, we are referring to organised religion, not personal beliefs about gods. So it is not true that Giordano, Einstein or Newton were religious in any way, they simply believed in a "First Cause".
Pro actually makes quite a good point :"The idea that religion limits our thinking depends entirely on the individual. An individual who is content with not knowing, will be content with not knowing regardless of religion." And I actually agree with him here. Einstein, Newton and Giordano would have been equally brilliant with or without theistic beliefs. So I think Pro would agree with me that religion can allow for the proliferation of brilliant ideas and philosophies.
Unfortunately, there are times when religion can also restrict and reject brilliant ideas and philosophies. Darwin and Galileo are just two examples. Their work at the time was revolutionary, and many people now considering them to be geniuses and trailblazers in their respective fields of scientific research. But their work was rejected in the past because of the Church's dogmatic beliefs. This time, one cannot deny that it was specifically religious dogma that restricted brilliant ideas. The Church considered Darwin's and Galileo's work to be offensive, and restricted them from being published. All because the research went against its religious dogma. So I think it is more than evident that religion can, sometimes, restrict crucial ideas from proliferating and prevent people from knowing the truth.
Once again, we observe that sometimes religion does nothing to restrict brilliant ideas, as evidenced by the many religious scientists and philosophers throughout history. We also observe that religion does not make one more prone to having brilliant ideas, as the fact that majority of scientists and philosophers throughout history being religious does not mean religion caused them to be brilliant. Finally, we observe that religion can sometimes lead to the restriction of brilliant ideas, such as in the case of Galileo and Darwin. So, given that religion sometimes does nothing to restrict brilliant ideas, and sometimes does restrict brilliant ideas, and that it does not contribute to more brilliant ideas, it is unjustified. It provides no advantages and occasionally proves to be disadvantageous. Does that not constitute it being unjustified? If you had a computer that does nothing 95% of the time and causes electrical shortages 5% of the time, should it not be removed from your house? That's why I would say religion is unjustified and deserves to be eradicated.
I look forward to Pro's rebuttals of my points.
I'll use this round to defend my contentions. This is a direct response to Con's R3 entry.
Con's main response to this is their example of the car accident. However I'll point out that this doesn't really address my argument about happiness, because there are some pretty big differences. Con mentions that the psychiatrist's solution to the problem doesn't work because "no matter how hard the man tries, he cannot simply believe that is wife is still with him, because he knows, logically and rationally, that she is in fact dead." I will point out that there is much more certainty that this man's wife is dead, than there is that God doesn't exist. The difference here is Con's example talks about a man who's asked to believe something he knows is not true. Nobody on the face of the Earth can say that they know religion is untrue. Religion is used by many to address the types of issues that don't have a clear cut answer, such as the origin of conscience, the universe, death, etc. It's totally justifiable for people to come up with their own beliefs to explain all of these things, because there is no accurate alternative. In the end, religion is simply an idea. It's an idea created by people to explain what they can't explain. For example, I probably won't live to see humanity leave this solar system. However I can still hold my belief that there is life out there. Many people have this belief based on their own reasoning, even though there is absolutely no evidence to support this.
To sum up, religion is simply an idea someone has. It's not in our place to tell people that their ideas are wrong and unjustifiable when we ourselves literally have no other alternative.
My opponent states that they used the same reply for this contention as they did for the first one. So my rebuttal is a response to this as well. One thing I would like to point out is that my opponent keeps describing religion with words along the line of "untruth.'
Untruth - Definition from Oxford Dictionaries
a lie or false statement
Lie - Definition from Oxford Dictionaries
to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
The overwhelming majority of religious people on Earth do not talk about their beliefs with the intent to deceive. Religion doesn't qualify as untruth, because, since it's used to explain things that have no "true" explanation at the moment, it's simply another idea.
DC3: Scientific Curiosity
My opponent never refuted my example of Alhazen. He simply pointed out some Christians who have committed atrocious acts. My opponent must surely concede that some religious texts, who do encourage scientific research, have done nothing but encourage the people who conduct that research.
This entire argument serves to show one thing to my opponent and the viewers, religious beliefs themselves cannot hold back a society. My opponent tries to refute my argument saying that religion does, in fact, hinder science. His reasoning to this is that it makes claims that differ from those provided by science, and encourages thinking by faith instead of logic and the scientific method.
The differing claims are only there because these texts were written thousands of years ago. And the fact that almost everyone nowadays has let go of these facts shows that religion doesn't handicap a person's ability to think logically. While science continues its search for the truth, people can continue to debate many "bigger picture" questions [origin of conscience for example], and the many philosophies found in religion only make for a more spirited debate, with more ideas put on the table.
To sum up, my opponent cannot say that religion hinders science, when science has progressed so well for thousands of years in deeply religious societies. Religion, while some of its claims may or may not continue to be discredited by science, still serves to entertain humanity's curiosity for more philosophical questions.
DC4: Early Humans
My opponent concedes that religion was probably created to give early humans an explanation. My opponent states that they only wish to discuss religion in the 21st century. But unfortunately, they did not specify this, or the resolution, at the beginning of the debate, which opens both up to interpretation by the challenger [me].
Next my opponent states that early humans were unjustified in their creation of religion. He states that they shouldn't have done what they did and instead tried to suspend their judgement to try to figure out the answer. I'll refer everyone back to the definition of justified. The early humans were looking for explanations to things that were impossible for them to explain at the time. They couldn't have done what my opponent suggests, it was impossible for them to figure out the answer. So instead, their curiosity led them to think and spread their own ideas to explain these phenomena. These ideas became religion. While my opponent is free to argue whether or not religion is justifiable today, he cannot deny that the creation of religion by the early humans was completely reasonable.
And that marks the end of my defence. I will use the next round to attempt to discredit my opponent's defence of their own arguments, and conclude this debate.
I now give it over to my opponent to commence the final round of this debate.
My car accident thought experiment, as Pro has pointed out, cannot apply directly to religion. That's a given. But Pro is missing the point of it. The "moral of the story" is that belief based on utility is irrational and unnecessary. What matters most about religion is not its utility, but its truth. If it is untrue, then there is no reason to believe in it.
To quote from the late Bertrand Russell, when asked whether there is a practical reason for believing in religion, "Well, there can't be a practical reason for believing what isn't true... either the thing is true, or it isn't. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn't, you shouldn't. And if you can't find out whether it is true or not you should suspend judgement... it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it's useful and not because you think it's true."
To quote from Pro now, "It's totally justifiable for people to come up with their own beliefs to explain all these things, because there is no accurate alternative." It simply is not. It is absurd to suggest that people can come up with their own beliefs to answer unsolvable questions. If you do not know the answer to a question, you should suspend judgement until you get an answer. To insert an arbitrary, albeit logical to you, answer is completely unjustified. It goes against the scientific method. For example, I don't know how life started. Is it therefore justifiable for me to assume that it was a purple flying hippo that created life? It is absurd for me to come to my own conclusions without supporting evidence. The most logical thing to do would be to suspend judgement and solve the answer through experimentation and finding evidence. You do not simply come up with your own answer. Even if the answer appears to be the most logical and intuitive thing, which a god usually is, you still cannot immediately assume the most logical answer is the correct one.
Pro concludes by saying, "To sum up, religion is simply an idea someone has. It's not in our place to tell people that their ideas are wrong and unjustifiable when we ourselves literally have no other alternative." I have to say I utterly disagree with this. It should be our place to tell people that their ideas are wrong if we care at all about the truth and critical thinking. We don't need to know the right answer to identify a wrong one. For example, you and I don't know exactly what created life, but if a person thinks it was a purple flying hippo, we can question his belief and tell him he is incorrect to assume it is a purple flying hippo just because we don't know. As I have said, if everyone just believes whatever they want without experimentation and evidence, there will be people who believe incorrect things. It is our job to discover the answers, not make guesses and assumptions without evidence.
2. Religion is an untruth because its claims are false. In this case I mean "untruth" literally as "not true". It has no evidence to support its claims. If things have no true explanation at the moment, it is fine for religion to come up with hypotheses. But religion does not do just that. It claims that its answers are correct. And, as I have said previously, you don't need to know the correct answer to identify a wrong one. If religion's claims are unjustifiable and lack supporting evidence, they should not be able to believe in or spread their beliefs. If something has no "true" explanation at the moment, then judgement should be suspended until we find out the answer. Religion should not come up with its own ideas and pass them off as fact, which it does. It's "another idea" as Pro puts it, but it's an unjustified idea, so it deserves to be criticised and corrected.
3. As I have explained in my arguments in my previous round (please do read them again so you'll understand what I'm talking about here; else it might some like gibberish), religion sometimes does not hold back societies and philosophers, such as in the case of Alhazen, and any other great scientists and philosophers. I willingly concede that to Pro. He is absolutely right that religion doesn't always hold back ideas and societal progress. But, unfortunately, sometimes it does, such as in the case of Galileo and Darwin. People were prevented from understanding the truth and society was held back intellectually because the church insisted their works were offensive and incorrect because it went against bible scripture. So what we know is that sometimes religion doesn't hold back ideas, such as in the case of Alhazen, but sometimes it also does, such as in the case of Galileo and Darwin. So what now? Well, my conclusion is that this shows that religion is unjustified. Most of the time, religion neither aids nor harms brilliant ideas. Sometimes, though it does harm them. So it's like an electrical appliance that does nothing 95% of the time, but causes power shortages 5% of the time. Would you not remove such an electrical appliance since it only, albeit occasionally, is disadvantageous to you? I would. That's why I think religion is unjustified.
4. The name of this debate is "Is religion justified?". "Is", which is in the present tense, should indicate that this debate is about religion now, in the present. It's about whether religion "is" justified or not, not whether the creation of religion was justified. Regardless, I think it does not affect my arguments, and I hope it does not affect Pro's too much. We shall continue discussing early humans and their creation of religion for now.
My opponent states that "The early humans were looking for explanations to things that were impossible for them to explain at the time." I cannot disagree with this statement. Early humans could not understand nor find answers to natural phenomenon. But that doesn't justify them coming up with incorrect answers. I understand that religion was the most intuitive and logical answer, but at the same time they should have come up with evidence to back up their claim. Without everything, the "god theory" was just a hypothesis that was unsubstantiated and unjustified. I cannot blame early humans for coming up with ideas to answer unanswerable questions, but they should have ensured their answers were right. If they could not do that, then they should have suspended judgement. If it is impossible to figure out the answer, don't appeal to intuition or "common sense" to find the answer. Just admit you can't find out the answer.
That was 2000 years ago. Now that we can actually test some hypotheses and come up with answers for these questions, religion is all the more unjustified. It is unjustified to believe in things that aren't true when there are easy explanations for most of the things we see and answers for most of what were previously unanswerable questions. As such, I believe religion "is" unjustified.
To conclude my arguments for this debate, I think religion is unjustified for many reasons. First of all, it is untrue, and there is no reason to believe in something that is not true, especially when there are better answers. Even if there isn't an answer, one should suspend judgement until he finds the answer instead of making unjustified claims. Religion also occasionally leads to the suppression of free thought and brilliant ideas, such as in the case of Galileo and Darwin where their ideas were suppressed in favour of religious scripture and their works were deemed offensive towards religion. I contend that the creation of religion was also unjustified as early humans should not have made intuitive assumptions about reality without evidence. Even if there was no answer in the past, they should have withheld judgement until they could come up with a justifiable answer. This is the scientific method and the only reliable method of gathering information. Without respect for evidence and the scientific method that religion consistently demonstrates, society may not be able to progress with the proliferation of logical, evidence-based ideas and theories. Thus, I urge you to vote Con that religion is unjustified and unnecessary. Thank you.
I look forward to Pro's rebuttal of my points and a conclusion to this fine debate. I thank Pro for all the effort he has put in for this debate and the ideas he has put forth. I wish him the best of luck in the final round.
This round is in response to Con's entry in R4. I will use this round to defend my contentions from his rebuttals in R4. Nothing my opponent said in R5 will be addressed, as he will not have a chance to respond.
RDC 1: Here my opponent simply changed thedefinition of faith to fit their own arguments. They cannot change the definition of a word more than halfway through the debate. But I would like to point out that the definitions that my opponent provided, "belief that is not based on proof," are in fact not completely different from "trust," which is what he says. Trust is belief without proof. You have no proof that anyone you ever trust will uphold that trust, you simply keep faith in them. This point still stands, as my opponent has failed to properly refute it, and has only tried to play with definitions, which has not worked.
In the next paragraph my opponent brings up another comparison to religion which, like their previous examples, actually isn't the same as religion at all. My opponent gives his example of being paid a thousand dollars to believe the sky is pink, and states that no one will be able to do it, even though it will make them happy. This example isn't anything like religion. You can see the sky, you can see that it's blue. You cannot see God, by believing in a higher power, you are not denying any solid facts, because there are no solid facts to replace your own ideas of religion and God. My opponent seems to think that religious people are deceiving themselves, and ignoring facts. However throughout this entire debate they have not given a single alternative to religion. It would be unjustified if religious people were denying clear evidence, but they're not. They have ideas, just like everyone else, to answer tough philosophical questions such as "where did our conscience come from." Religion is just another idea proposed to answer this question, and until an answer that is more credible than the rest comes up, ALL ideas are just as justified as every other idea.
And then my opponent says that people deserve to be educated. They say that religion consists of "false claims" and people "should be educated and told the truth." Throughout this entire debate my opponent has not told us what "the truth" is. My opponent has continued to repeat himself, saying that religious people are denying the truth, and that they're denying the facts, however he has failed to show which facts they're denying. As I said before, religion is an idea to explain the unknown, it's an idea. My opponent even says "it's ideas and discoveries that allow for society to progress." Religion is an idea. It stands shoulder to shoulder with every other unproved answer to tough philosophical questions. Until an actual, credible solution, backed up with evidence, shows up to answer all these questions, any idea is as justified as any other.
RDC 2: My opponent admits that they can't show that religion leads people to behave irrationally. He then tries to cover ground by saying he doesn't have to. This is wrong, and unacceptable in a debate. My opponent cannot prove their statement with stats, therefore it doesn't stand, simple as that.
My opponent then states that there's no advantage to religion. However as I've stated before, religion provides people with peace of mind and happiness. As I've stated before in my opening arguments, the main goal in everyone's life is to seek happiness. My opponent never tried to refute this point. Therefore I reiterate, if something makes one person happy, and it doesn't harm anyone else, it's beneficial to the first person, and has no bad effects on anyone else. The very fact that religion makes people happy is an advantage, my opponent on the other hand has failed to show any disadvantages.
RDC 3: My opponent tries to discredit my examples of scientists by saying that they were deists. I would like to point out that deism does fall into the category of religion. My opponent never defined religion as being "the usual god that most religious people believe in." Since no definition was provided at the beginning, I can interpret religion as the literal definition. Which is a "belief in a higher power."
What's important to note when Con says "the majority of murderers and rapists of history have been religious as well," is that Con has not given any examples of any of these rapists and murderers directly appealing to God as an inspiration for their actions. I have done that for Giordano, I gave many quotes of him referencing to God. It was the same case with Alhazen, an example my opponent has dropped.
My opponent next tries to discredit Giordano's example by stating he was a deist. I will prove once and for all that deism does fall into the category of religion.
Definitions from Oxford Dictionaries
belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe.
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods:
My opponent seems to think that just because someone is a deist they aren't religious. This is false, as you can see through the definitions above, deism is a form of religion. So my opponents claim that Giordano, Einstein, and Newton "weren't religious in any way" is false. Anyone who believes in a supreme being is religious.
I will refute my opponents examples of Galileo and Darwin. These two were restricted by the church, which was, as this all took place before the separation of church and state, a governing body. The whole concept of governing bodies silencing their scientists isn't something that's related to religion. Nazi Germany silenced ideas that they disproved of, and did not use any religious justification. The same took place during the Soviet revolution, and that whole affair had nothing to do with religion. My opponent states that religion can restrict crucial ideas, but this isn't really a good argument, because oppressive governments [which in Galileo's case was the Church] can restrict ideas they disprove of regardless of whether or not they have religious justification.
To sum up, religion isn't directly responsible for the restriction of science and ideas, as this is done by the oppressive governments who use tools such as religion. These governments can use things besides religion as well, as has been observed with Nazi Germany and the USSR, to restrict ideas as they please. Since eradicating religion wouldn't really take power away from oppressive authorities, who are the actual ones censoring science. They would continue to censor science using other means. Religion has however inspired many deeply religious scientists, such as Alhazen. It inspired many scientists, who cite their work as "uncovering God's creation." There is no reason that something that drove the curiosity of many people in the past is unjustified.
That concludes the defence of my rebuttals, and the final round of this debate. I thank my opponent for their time, and wish them good luck in their time on DDO.
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