The Instigator
End
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points
The Contender
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points

Morality comes from religion

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 12 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,682 times Debate No: 10940
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (51)
Votes (12)

 

End

Con

I think it is wrong to say morality comes from religion.

Morality comes from religion = without religion (anyone in particular, or any or all faiths), we would not / could not be moral.

I assert that people who claim that without religion we would have no morals are mistaken.

Firstly, religious books such as the Bible are not exactly articles which contain high standards of morality, or at least not exclusively.

Secondly, religious texts, from the book of Mormons to the Koran to the Bible to Enuma Elish to Hesiod's Theogony are fabrications which contain very little if hardly any metaphysical truths or truths about the origin of our species or cosmos or the world. The fact that the foundations of religion are epistemologically false burdens it greatly, and to say that morality can be based on false teachings is self-refuting.

Thirdly, and keep in mind I am only outlining these arguments, I think the natural argument for the development of morality is good or at least better than the supernatural one. Our species developed culture, and culture, as anthropology tells us, wasn't just a new manifestation of evolution but an actual tool in itself for survival.

I'm being very terse for now, and I await to see my opponent's argument for why morality could only come from religion.
popculturepooka

Pro

I'd like for my opponent to clarify as to what he means by the terms "morality" ad "religion". Is imorality objective or subjective?

So, I propose the following definitions:
Morality: "an ideal code of belief and conduct which would be preferred by the sane 'moral' person, under specified conditions." [1]
Religion: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." [2]

"Morality comes from religion = without religion (anyone in particular, or any or all faiths), we would not / could not be moral."

I'd like to ask my opponent to clarify before I mistakenly attack something he did not mean. Does he mean "morality comes from religion" in a metaphysical sense in that morality depend on religion for it's very ontological existence and if there was no religion there would literally be no morality? Or does he mean "morality comes from religion" in an epistemological sense in that we have knowledge of morality that only comes from religion and if there were no religion we would literally have no knowledge of how to act moral? Or both?

"Firstly, religious books such as the Bible are not exactly articles which contain high standards of morality, or at least not exclusively."

My opponent seems to assert this as an absolute statement - that religious books do not contain "high standards" of morality. My question would be what counts as a "high standard"? And my second point would be this does not support his conclusion that morality does not come from religion. Why? Just because something comes from something else doesn't mean that it would not be found outside that domain. An analogy: just because McDonald's are found not exclusively in America (the birthplace of McDonalds) it does not follow that the McDonald's food chain does not come from America. It is the same way with religion. Just because "high standards" of morality can be found outside or religious books, it does not follow that morality doesn't come from religion.

"Secondly, religious texts, from the book of Mormons to the Koran to the Bible to Enuma Elish to Hesiod's Theogony are fabrications which contain very little if hardly any metaphysical truths or truths about the origin of our species or cosmos or the world. The fact that the foundations of religion are epistemologically false burdens it greatly, and to say that morality can be based on false teachings is self-refuting"

This as it stands is just a completely bare assertion that I ask my opponent to demonstrate. These "facts" and derth of metaphysical truths are not known to me.

"Thirdly, and keep in mind I am only outlining these arguments, I think the natural argument for the development of morality is good or at least better than the supernatural one. Our species developed culture, and culture, as anthropology tells us, wasn't just a new manifestation of evolution but an actual tool in itself for survival."

You provided the exact reason why evolution isn't a good explanation for morality. Evolution "selects" for survival-aimed behaviors, they do not necessarily confer truth or a good "morality detector" or a conscience for lack of better words; if it did evolve one how do you explain the fact there is radically different conclusions to moral questions? There is no reason to assume that there is a necessary connection between survival-aimed behaviors and the truth about morality or what is "good" for example. Either the connection is there or it isn't. Interestingly something like the Euthyphro Dilemna can be made: "is X good because it is loved by our genes, or loved by our genes because it is goodl?" [3] You are left in a pickle explaining "goodness".

Seeing as I need clarifications I will get into my positive argument for morality from religion in th
Debate Round No. 1
End

Con

I'll accept your definition of religion, and morality doesn't necessarily have to be a 'code' in the sense of a list of laws. Furthermore, let's not beat around the bush; you ask me if its objective or subjective, well clearly this is a subdivision of this very argument. Those who assert morality comes from religion assert morality is absolute, and an atheist who rejects this statement doesn't mean he falls into moral relativism. Your task is to prove the pro for this argument; that without religion, people would no longer be moral. And you seem to have understood exactly what I meant when you wrote: """Just because "high standards" of morality can be found outside or religious books, it does not follow that morality doesn't come from religion.""""

So now that I wasted almost 1000 characters on nothing, let's be serious and continue. I gave the practical implications for what I meant and I will repeat it: if religion were to dissolve instantaneously, people would lose their sense of kindness / dignity / morality and would all behave atrociously.

Now; I am not sure if my opponent has read the Bible, but are you, in a serious debate which is readable to all across the internet actually going to attempt to relativize the barbaric stories of the old testament? Or the atrocious attempt to terrorize in the book of revelation? Genocide is not something to be made relative, and I say that without any divine guidance. And if you are still wondering about how I can say that, keep reading, but don't you put in quotation marks when I write 'high standards'. If you think the bible has anything close to worthy messages of morality, then you simply have not read the man-made manacle.

When it comes to the falsehoods of religious texts, which are unknown to my opponent, it would take some time to list them all. I will say 2 things. One, the fact that my opponent is unaware of something does not make what I said an assertion. This is the argument from ignorance. You do not know about it, so you say I made an empty assertion. Second, the cosmogony of Genesis 1 borrows heavily on other orally transmitted stories from the same time in the surrounding area.

You don't have to take my word on this, but you ought to at the very least know what the world is like in Gen 1: the earth is flat with a dome over it, which seals off the water from above. This is further emphasized right before the flood, as we are told that god opens a window in the firmament (which holds the water above) and thus creates an enormous rainfall. The two great sources of light, the sun and the moon, are again sign that these stories are man-made, since the moon is not a source of light (it reflects sunlight). You might try to make a metaphor out of these, or say that a reflection is still a source, but you would be cringing your teeth, as they thought the earth was flat and the sun moved around it, there is not much evidence that they thought the moon simply reflected light.

"""You provided the exact reason why evolution isn't a good explanation for morality. Evolution "selects" for survival-aimed behaviors, they do not necessarily confer truth or a good "morality detector" ""

This is exactly what one says when they lack understanding in the theory. By survival-aimed behaviours, I assume you mean aggression and such. The truth is, being moral (at least in the sense of within your own tribe) is always going to be selected for. This also explains tribalism and on a larger scale, nationalism. Evolutionary morality does not say we will all be good, but ALL societies have had a similar foundation, contrary to what you think. NO society commits infanticide on a regular basis.

So hopefully you have at least learned something when it comes to the truths of holy texts and evolution, and maybe next round you will actually demonstrate why religion is needed, and how it positively creates and maintains morality / good behavior, etc.
popculturepooka

Pro

Again, just because morality comes from religion it does not necessarily follow that without it there people would lose their moral sense. They would just lack a basis for doing good. Nonetheless, there is good examples of without religion some people would lose their moral sense. See: Stalin's murders.

I said you seem to make an absolute statement about the lack of high standards of morality in religious texts. You even say that are no worthy messages of morality in the Bible. So if I find one example of a high standard moral code or a worthy message of morality then your contention is false. Here is a worthy message found in the Bible - thou shall not steal.

What makes it a bare assertion is that you provided no evidence or proof of your contention, not that I am of unaware of the lack of metaphysical truths. It was not an argument from ignorance.
You claimed that the Bible borrows heavily from other traditions, even if this were true, this does prove it to be a fabrication. This has nothing to do with it's metaphysical truths. You seem to imply that it has a lack of metaphysical truths because Genesis has things that supposedly contradict modern science. If taken as metaphor it doesn't even contradict science and I think you are confusing scientific "truths" with metaphysical truths, anyhow.
And, finally, your claim that if morality is based on religion, which is epistemically false, then that concept is self-refuting is wrong. For example, say murder is wrong. Now say some tribe thinks murder is wrong because if they commit it the victim will come back as a demon and haunt them forever and they get this knowledge from the souls living in rocks. Epistemically false? Sure, but yet they still have a true moral belief - "murder is wrong".

First, my opponent just ignored the modified Euthyphro Dilemma.
Second, he portrays his weak understanding of evolutionary theory, actually. To paraphrase Patricia Churchland survival-aimed behaviors are only "concerned" with the 4 F's: Feeding, Fleeing, Fighting, and...Reproduction. [1] By survival-aimed behaviors, I mean any behavior that would contribute to something passing on its' genes. Evolution would not select for truth necessarily because FALSE beliefs are just as adaptive as TRUE beliefs. Example: almost everyone agrees that religion served as an adaptive advantage in our early evolutionary history but, according to End, religion is false. See the disconnect?

Only God and religion can provide an objective source of morality. God's nature by definition (in this context) is all-good. So he can set an objective standard as to what is moral or immoral and religion is just an extension and codification of these morals. All other objective accounts of morality besides God's nature fail. Nietzsche agrees, "Morality has truth only if God is the truth - it stands or falls with faith in God". [2]
So, if morality is not from religion it could only be subjective and lead to moral nihilism, but subjectivism about morals is self-refuting. Therefore, it cannot be from a source other than God and religion.

Now, how it maintains morality and good behavior is simple, first I would argue that most, if not all, humans have at the very least some basic sense of morality. Like stomping on babies for fun is objectively wrong. This coincides with another reason why religion and God is needed to even make sense of morality. Like Kant, I think that if good and bad people both suffer the same fate (annihilation upon death) then it is hard to see how moral behavior even ultimately matters at all. That hardly seems "fair"; it does seem as if morals are real and that they ought to matter ultimately. Now if this true it is rather obvious that good people nor bad people don't always receive their just rewards in this life. It would seem to require that their needs to be an ultimate just judge. This would seem to require religion and God. God to judge; religion to let us know of these morals.
Debate Round No. 2
End

Con

"Again, just because morality comes from religion it does not necessarily follow that without it there people would lose their moral sense. "

That is how I defined it in both the previous rounds. The assertion morality comes from religion means that without religion, we would have none, which you even said in your own words; "Only god and religion can provide an objective source for morality." I stated earlier that rejecting god doesn't mean that the atheist falls into moral relativism.

Now: you tell me to see Stalin's murders. Very interesting. Stalin, like Hitler and like Mussolini effectively attempted to put a totalitarian state. What does Stalin do? Well, he has heresy hunts; searches and sweeps for whoever may be spreading revolutionary or heretical ideas. Now THAT, I'm sorry, you cannot call secular. Anyone who understands twentieth century history understands that Fascism is essentially the Catholic Right. Anyone who understands twentieth century history knows that Japan's ruler, Hirehito, wasn't just a charismatic leader but a god himself. In North Korea, there exists several myths about Kim Il sung and Kim Jong Il. These, although not monotheistic per-se, reflect exactly the same principles as religion always has historically; it attempts to silence opposing views, crush free speech, limit inquiry and skepticism and control education. Don't go fooling yourself by saying that that's not what religion has done wherever it has gained total control.

This is what Orwell meant when he stated that all totalitarian regimes are in essence theocratic.

Now, yes it does say in the OT that you cannot steal. But what about when murder and taking of the livestock of the other tribe is ordered? You see, cherry picking gets you nowhere, and is sign that your source for morality isn't from religion at all.

Yes I did write that there are no worthy moral messages in the Bible. I should have proof read. There are indeed, just as much as there are atrocious ones. You mistype as well : ""You claimed that the Bible borrows heavily from other traditions, even if this were true, >this does prove it to be< a fabrication. ""

""What makes it a bare assertion is that you provided no evidence or proof of your contention, not that I am of unaware of the lack of metaphysical truths. ""

This is much like telling someone that the Canadian flag is red and white, without providing an image of the flag.

"You seem to imply that it has a lack of metaphysical truths because Genesis has things that supposedly contradict modern science. "

No, not supposedly. At the time, like the Babylonian view of the universe, the earth was flat, with celestial bodies of light and a dome-like solid sky. Today, Jews of Christians discard its explanatory part and keep any figurative meaning from the story. You can do the same with any creation myth, but don't you go and say that it 'supposedly' contradicts modern science.

Now your example about murder-reincarnation-demon is clever and it had me stumped for a second, but there is a key difference between your analogy and religion/god. Namely; as you even repeat in your closing paragraph, god provides a source of objective morality. This is what it means to say morality comes from religion/god.

And here is where the problem becomes apparent; to say morality comes from religion is to assert that god / religion or one god / one religion is actually correct. Because by your own statements, it would be self-refuting to say religion and god are man-made, but god gives us objective morals. You indeed assert that god has a nature, and it is good, and that he alone can give us an objective code. For your position to be correct, god would have to exist, and not be merely a human construct.

And this is why by showing that god is man made that one effectively destroys the proposition that morality comes from religion.
popculturepooka

Pro

I agree, an atheist does not necessarily have to believe moral subjectivism if they reject religion and God, but they will have no basis for pretending to have objective morals without either one is what I contend in this debate.

Like I said, there are good examples of when an atheist rejects religion and God leads to they lose their morality such as Stalin.

Now, is my opponent really trying to say that Stalin exhibited characteristics in his rule of akin to when the religious persecute? Maybe, superficially, however Stalin was secular to the core. There is nothing MORE secular and couldn't be farther from religion than communism. Some communistic regimes, such as Stalin's, were even explicitly atheistic. Stalin was ideology was based on Marxism-Leninism [1] and everybody knows Marx's famous quote, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." [2] The ideology is rooted firmly in eliminating religious beliefs. "Stalin persecuted religion in the Soviet Union, and by the 1930s the Russian Orthodox Church was near-extinction: by 1939, active church parishes numbered in the low hundreds (down from 54,000 in 1917), many churches had were destroyed, and tens of thousands of priests, monks and nuns were persecuted and killed. Over 100,000 were shot during the purges of 1937–1938." [3] It strains credulity to it's breaking point to suggest that this had nothing to do with his atheism and lack of morals.

"You see, cherry picking gets you nowhere, and is sign that your source for morality isn't from religion at all."

HOW, End?! How does this signal that I get my morality from something other than religion or God?! It says "thou shall not steal", and you conveniently provided no examples of where stealing was approved of by God.

I am not cherry-picking at all, End. I was merely providing a counter-point to your claim that the Bible has no worthy moral messages nor does not have morals of a high enough standard.

As I pointed out earlier you confuse metaphysical truths with scientific "truths" - they are not the same thing. You contended that religion has little to no METAPHYSICAL truths. Metaphysical truths are statements that I could not avoid believing to be true, "at least implicitly, if I were to believe or exist at all; or, alternatively, they are the statements which would necessarily apply though any of my experiences, even my merely conceivable experiences, provided only that such an experience was sufficiently reflected on." [4] A scientific truth like how moon is not the source of it's own light is not a metaphysical truth.

I'd also contend that my opponent makes it sounds as if it is some new ad-hoc rationalization to not take Genesis literally. It is not. Many early church-fathers didn't take Genesis literally. [5]

I'm puzzled - Con never pointed out any flaw in my demon analogy about how beliefs could be epistemically false yet lead to true moral beliefs but yet he claims there is a significant difference somewhere.

Yes, Con, is quite correct in saying that my argument would only work if God actually existed and he is also quite correct when saying that it would be self-refuting if God and religion are man-made. But, notice what he did here; he begged the question. Con automatically assumes that God is a human construct and then goes on arguing from that point that since there is no God and morality exists then morality MUST not come from religion and/or God. It's a rather circular argument. He provided no reason to believe that God does not exist. While I, at least, provided a sketch of an argument that could be used to justify a belief in a God and a belief for the contention that without religion there would be no morality.

I will also take the opportunity to point out as well that my opponent completely dropped his contention about morality having a basis in evolution.

I'd like to thank my opponent for an interesting and speedy debate! Good luck in all your future debates, End!
Debate Round No. 3
51 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DutchPointer 7 years ago
DutchPointer
The thesis "morality comes from religion" is ridiculous.
First, the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are authoritarian concepts of thinking, all commanding to kill or suppress dissident thinkers. See: Deuteronomy 20 or Acts 3:23 or Quran 9:234. There are lots of commands in the so-called "holy" books to kill other people and I don't suppose that to be a morality of good quality.
Morality comes from the human, or better the humanistic sense of order, respecting each others and tolerating all but what is against tolerance.
Once upon a time, long before any religion, as we know it by now, came in existence, humanity created the golden rule: I will not harm what is not harming me.
Apes like the bonobo, looks like a somewhat smaller kind of chimpanzee, practice that very same rule in the wild of the African rain-forest.
That's why the laws of civilized countries belonging to the so-called Western Culture are based on Roman-Humanistic principles of justice. This is the only way of living in peaceful co-existence and that's essential in morality.
So, the biblical law of war is against morality and instead we have the agreements of Geneva, laws of war that are fiercely against the biblical law. You are bound to obey that as you are bound to obey the constitution and the law of the land.
While humanistic knowledge indicates that there doesn't exist any god, the god's law is a human fantasy that is being used to exercise power over others.
The mainstream of two of the three monotheistic religions have sieved the moral lumps out of their religions according to the more rational principles of Enlightenment instead. Since the 12th century Islam has halted to do so.
Now you can say the morality of Islamic fundamentalism comes from its religion and that's why that kind of Islamic morality has such a low quality, lower than the morality of some apes. Exactly the same you an say about Christian fundamentalism and Judaic fundamentalism, not ma
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
Yeah....what Puck said.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Japan isn't 'Bushido'. Bushi was a behavioural code of a very particular social hereditary class, one that is now largely defunct. At best Japan has now its own form of a K'ung-tzu based social order where hierarchy determines action.
Posted by mrnemo 7 years ago
mrnemo
I agree with athesitman, Japan has a honor code without religion its called Bushido.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
Why can't you just read? I addressed those points in the debate.
Posted by atheistman 7 years ago
atheistman
Why can't you just use common sense? Is religion really the only thing keeping you from running around murdering and stealing? Are atheists running around on murderous rampages because they have no religion to tell them otherwise?
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
What point? His point doesn't follow from his premise that since Stalin was an atheist and Hitler was some kind of religious person that morality doesn't come from religion.

Any philosophy can be used to justify anything basically I don't see what that has to do with what that philosophy actually teaches.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
atheistman's statement was proven wrong, but his point still stands. Christianity was a negative influence that helped Hitler promote atrocities.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
"These are just two of the many quotes proving Hitler's Christian beliefs." -- atheistman

"Hitler was a Christian" -- atheistman

You were proven wrong.
Posted by atheistman 7 years ago
atheistman
and obviously Paganism is still a religion.
12 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by mercedzdanz 7 years ago
mercedzdanz
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by Koopin 7 years ago
Koopin
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Vote Placed by PsyPhiGuy 7 years ago
PsyPhiGuy
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 
Vote Placed by Marader 7 years ago
Marader
EndpopculturepookaTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 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 Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by dankeyes11 7 years ago
dankeyes11
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Vote Placed by atheistman 7 years ago
atheistman
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 The_Anarchist_Opposition 7 years ago
The_Anarchist_Opposition
EndpopculturepookaTied
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 Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:01 
Vote Placed by Grape 7 years ago
Grape
EndpopculturepookaTied
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:32 
Vote Placed by Floid 7 years ago
Floid
EndpopculturepookaTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 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