The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Morality does not come from religion

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/2/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 864 times Debate No: 43286
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




My position is that humanity's moral framework (i.e., what is right and what is wrong) is not contingent upon any one religion, but has components that are innate. I'm looking for someone to argue against my position. Thank you.


Id first like to thank the pro side for such an interesting topic, one which i'm sure we both shall enjoy. I am arguing against the statement proposed by the instigator which states "Morality does NOT come from religion." Since the pro has not said that first round is for acceptance I will begin in this round.

Every religion has its code of conduct that was set by a person of recognition within the church, or in some cases by a person who lived thousands of years ago that, according to the churches, reached a point of enlightenment by interaction with God himself or by their own experiences. This is a fact that i'm sure both sides can agree on as it has little effect on the outcome of this case, for now.

Now before i continue my case i would like to state that the question was "morality does not come from religion" Not, morality does not come from any ONE religion. Pro stated in his/her case that "humanity's moral framework (i.e., what is right and what is wrong) is not contingent upon any one religion, but has components that are innate." he did not answer to the question he proposed, he changed the context of the argument from the original statement. because of that i am going to focus on the original topic which includes religion as a whole, not specific religions targeted as a singular unit.

I will leave the rest of my argument to future rounds as It would be wise to take this topic slowly because its volatile nature and high sensitivity. I await my opponents statement now.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, thank you to debate339 for accepting the challenge laid down. I will state that I am new to this site but am eager to gain experience in debating, so I welcome any advice from members and look forward to debating a topic I am passionate about. As the con side has put forward already, I will also attempt to focus on religion as a whole instead of nitpicking any single religion.

My first objective is to expand on my definition of morality, by broadening the definition to increase its accuracy by stating that morality is made up of beliefs about what is right and wrong behavior. With this definition in mind, I think science has a great deal to contribute to the idea that a sense of morality, or a set of beliefs about what is right and what is wrong, is innate and not an entirely man-made structure. I will now try to expand upon the ideas I have laid out in the comments section of this debate. Throughout human evolution, language has been used to ensure our species survival from generation to generation by passing on collective knowledge to the next generation. An example of this would be that on presumably multiple occasions throughout human history, people have walked off of cliffs or fallen great distances to their deaths, so it would make sense to pass this knowledge on to future generations so we are not reinventing the wheel every generation when ignorance leads someone off the edge of a cliff. Thus, for this knowledge to be passed on to future generations, natural selection would need to construct children's brains in such a way that would lead them to believe what their parents and elders are telling and teaching them. This trusting obedience, while useful for survival, can result in slave-like obedience even in the face of some bad evidence, as is the case for the moral teachings of religion en masse. However, I will admit that children can construct a rudimentary framework for right and wrong thanks to authority figures in their lives, with an example being teaching children that it is wrong to hit others because that hurts them and we wouldn't like it if they hit us (we do not solve problems by punching them away).

With natural selection shaping the structure of our brains, it would then seem to be a logical step that since religions are headed by authority figures (priests, rabbis, imams, etc.) that the moral teachings they offer to their followers would be accepted because they have more life experience than us and must have a pretty firm grasp on morality. We would be led by natural selection to blindly follow. However, contemporary religions and their followers show that this is not the case. With the divisiveness promoted by organized religion (in-group harmony towards those who follow my respective religion compared to out-group hostility towards those who follow other religions or no religion at all), we would expect each religion's moral framework to be passed on to anyone unfortunate enough to be raised in that particular religion, but the fact that atheists, agnostics, as well as those who don't accept particular moral principles of their respective religion exist in our world point to people having some sense about when they are receiving bad information.

To those who posit that without religion there would be no moral code and thus no action would be considered truly immoral, if you mean to say that without god or your religious leaders keeping constant surveillance on your behavior that you would commit burglary, rape, and murder, then are you truly acting morally by not committing these acts or are you just restraining yourself because god is watching? If this same person would admit that they could and would be a good person without their respective religion and god(s) then the claim that we cannot know what behavior is truly right or wrong without religion is undermined. Again, the fact that people choose to disregard religious moral teaching means that we have some means for comparison - we are comparing the doctrines of our religions or various religions to some standard. My opinion is that this standard is in some way innate and that objective human suffering does factor in to our decisions about what is moral and what is immoral, and that numerous textual (texts of various religions) examples can be brought forward clearly showing that religion does not support this standard.


In this Argument i will target all of the points brought up by my opponent, child raising, religion and morals, and the superior being.

First is the child raising. My opponent admitted that the upbringing has some effect in the process of developing a moral code, or what is right or wrong. While the statement is true it is not the whole story as the parents religious beliefs is the parents guidelines into how they go about the upbringing process. I will use four of the worlds top religions as an example for my argument, Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, And Christianity.

Hindu: Parents who are hindu believe in the acceptance of all things and that to achieve the ultimate enlightenment level the must go about a process called karma, in simple terms, what goes around comes around, they believe that if you do good things in the life you were given by the Gods then you will be rewarded with a higher since of enlightenment. This process continues until the immortal form. Parents will pass this on to their children and the children although imperfect will have a Hindu Moral code.

Islam: I do not have as much info on Islam as i would prefer but the message is the same as above with of course some MAJOR cultural diversities. Parents pass it on and the child is brought up an Islam with the religions moral code stamped in their head.

Buddhism: In this religion the people believe in the prophet Buddha who went from becoming a prince and a warlord to becoming a poor man with many problems. This man gave it up all willingly in order to achieve enlightenment and the Gods blessed him and gave him the know-how to create a religion. The Parents of the child in question are Buddhist so therefor the child will be brought up along the guidelines of the Four Nobel Truths, a moral code created by religion.

Christianity: While there are multiple denominations in the church, guideline code is very similar between the different churches. The Ten Commandments given to Moses at mount sinai are the basic guidelines to what is right and wrong. In the child's case, the parents will bring him/her up in this manner saying, "do not steal" or "do not kill" because that is what their religion tells them to do.

Religion and morals: my opponent stated that Atheists and Agnostics are at a higher moral level then those following a religion because there views are more broadened. While the two groups do claim this they also claim that they do so because it is part of their own religion. Therefor this argument is invalid and only helps the con side.

Superior being: In Hindu and Christianity the two groups were given there guidelines by the God or Gods that they worship, my opponent however claims that one does not need a god to tell us what is right and wrong. Whether it was an actual deity that gave these codes to the religions or a man with a good idea, its that godly picture that inspires the people of the religion to obey the codes of conduct in hopes of being rewarded either with the christian Heaven or the Hindu enlightenment stage, it is the religions that keep the humans in check by giving them a moral code.

These are my main arguments, while i have others there is no solid proof to them as it is only the views of my own faith and not solid fact. i thank you for this match as it was fun i'm assuming that the closing statements are next so i will give my source to this info.

( i found it to be very reliable as it seemed to be unbiased and fair.
Debate Round No. 2


In the words of the writer Sam Harris, like sports, not all religions are created equal. You can have a sport like badminton and a sport like kickboxing. A similar comparison is that you can have a religions like Jainism and Islam. A core belief of Jainism is non-injury to all living things. A Jain extremist does not give us much cause for concern because they would be obsessed with respecting and not hurting all living things. It is apparent that Islam does not hold these same moral values of non-injury in very high regard. The first pillar of Islam is the profession of faith that there is not God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. This profession of faith seems and is quite harmless on its own, but the penalty for a Muslim who renounces their faith is not. The Quran spells out that the penalty for apostasy is death, plain and simple. This moral teaching that murder is the appropriate way to deal with an apostate, I would imagine and hope simultaneously, is repugnant to most, which is especially apparent among those who choose to leave Islam. What kind of moral teaching is this that, for those who were born into this religion as a function of their culture through no fault of their own and accepted their parents' and teachers' word with the influencing culprit being natural selection and the format of their brain, those who leave the faith by exercising logic and reason should be put to death? What chance does any child born under the unfortunate circumstances of being raised in the Islamic faith have to leave their former-faith behind on peaceful terms? If Allah had His way, it would be none. Furthermore, membership in the suicide bombing club requires religious faith. Who do so many Muslims end their own lives to kill complete strangers? The reason is that Allah commands this and gives graphic instructions on how to go about doing it, such as the instructions in Quran 5:33 and Quran 8:12. Furthermore, the punishment for those who do not fight for Allah is also clearly spelled out in Quran 4:95. The fact that we have Muslims who lead peaceful and productive lives shows that they see the barbarism in their own faith and that they choose not to follow Allah's teachings. The unfortunate thing is that there are those who happily do the work of Allah in spreading the "faith" and using the sword to cut down those who choose not to believe. This is why we regularly hear of Muslims blowing themselves up wearing vests containing ball bearings and nails, both of which serve to maximize the destruction brought about as the result of their cowardly act. Again, the fact that there are Muslims who stand up and pronounce Islam to be a religion of peace only points to the innate elements of an objective moral compass present in these individuals.

As I hoped my comparison to sports illustrated, the moral code taught by religions like Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism are on another plane in comparison to Islam and Christianity. I also do not recall stating that atheists and agnostics are on a higher moral level, simply that they exercise logic and reason to judge the morality of a teaching or moral code and take issues like the suffering of other human beings into consideration. I hope that my examples of more moderate and peaceful Muslims not following the letter of Islamic law shows that even the religious utilize logic and reason and have moral principles grounded outside of their faith.

When looking objectively at the Christian faith, as I will now do since this faith has been used in my opponents argument and will serve to further support my key points that not all religions are equal and that we do have a sense of morality outside of our holy books and religions. My opponent is correct about the Ten Commandments of the Christian religion being God's guidelines about what is right and what is wrong. However, I will support the claim that even the Ten Commandments are not objectively moral.

The first commandment of the Christian faith is that we shall have no other gods before the Lord our God. Do you know what punishment was inflicted on those waiting at the foot of Mount Sinai and who were foolish enough to disobey God's commandment while Moses was up talking with God on top of the mountain? Richard Dawkins' paraphrases the wrath poured out by God beautifully in The God Delusion by noting that Moses reacted by melting down the golden calf (false god) of the people, burning it, turning it into powder, mixing it with water and forcing the people to swallow it. There, the God of Moses wins by making the people drink their own false god. Problem solved right? Wrong. Members of the tribe of Levi were then instructed to take up arms and kill as many people as possible. Then God finished pouring out his wrath by sending a plague among the survivors. To me, the first commandment is evidently less about accepting the God of the Old Testament because He was our creator and wants to have a personal relationship with us, and more about following the first commandment because literal hell-on-Earth will be unleashed if you disobey. The next three commandments also spell out how to not anger the Lord thy God by not having graven images, not taking the Lord's name in vain, and remembering the Sabbath day He created. We (myself included since I at one time accepted this faith and have since rejected it) do not follow God's commandments because they are morally good (granted, the last five are good ideas, but do we really need the Bible and God to instruct us that these teachings are morally good? Are we really just impressionable blank slates at birth that need to be taken by the hand and shown what is moral and what is immoral?), we follow them to appease God and save our skin (fear the Lord your God). Furthermore, Christians (I'm making an assumption here - about my fellow debater as well) do not execute homosexuals as the Bible instructs (Leviticus 18:22) and we do not stone women who are not virgins on their wedding night, even though the Bible again instructs us to do this (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). The fact that there are Muslims and Christians who lead peaceful lives along Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus shows that we can think for ourselves about what to believe is good and bad and use some innate guides to morality like logic and reason (e.g., maximizing the suffering of my fellow human beings is clearly wrong), instead of having religion guide us by the hand. Thank you to all who have followed this debate and thank you to debate339 for participating.


My closing statement will be short and sweet as i believe i can summarize the whole speech planned into 2-3 paragraphs. I would like to thank my opponent for such an interesting topic as this one, and i do hope that the general public viewing this debate learns something new from both sides as that is the true point of debating, to show the world your opinion that they may learn and at the same time taking in your opponents opinion that you may learn from them. I will begin my closing statement now.

Pro used the punishment for changing religion for Islamic peoples as an example for his case, he also said that their are ex-muslims living after forsaking their teachings quite happily and because of that it proves that religion was not the source of that change.

I can prove that statement wrong with a simple definition. Religion, as defined by the Apple Dictionary is, "a theory or attitude held by a person or organization that acts as a guiding principle for behavior." this same definition is found in the Apple Thesaurus as philosophy. when these people that the pro side mentioned changed their beliefs they did not forsake religion, they created a new one, a new philosophy on how to live their lives to the betterment of themselves and of others. It is impossible to say "i don't practice a religion because i found a better way to live then under religion" and then act on it. By saying that and practicing it, you are not deserting religion your making a personal religion. Along with your own religion or philosophy comes your own moral guidelines, a set that you yourself created, and because of that eternal tie to personal beliefs my case is made. It is impossible for a moral code to be devised without a philosophy or religion because even if you create one out of the blue you are instantly creating a religion along with that code. For my final sentence, Morality and the codes which define go hand in hand with religion and it is impossible to prove otherwise.

Thank you for this debate, I enjoyed it very much.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by EricPT223 3 years ago
Ya, I'm kind of bummed that no one is voting, especially since the debate has been viewed 253 times. Please vote people! Thanks!
Posted by debate339 3 years ago
dont you think its funny that no one is voting (the one vote is from my friend just trolling to tie us up) and i thought it was a very interesting debate =/
Posted by EricPT223 3 years ago
Haha sounds good
Posted by debate339 3 years ago
Ive read the round two argument and i'm WAY to tired to think so ill resume this debate in the morning around 8 or nine central
Posted by EricPT223 3 years ago
With these examples in mind, it is clear that a sense of morality about when we should help others appears to be innate and we will go to great lengths to help others even when incurring heavy costs. Now, I want to focus specifically on Christianity because this is the religion I am most familiar with and the one I used to follow. With slavery being abolished in the United States, even though antebellum slave owners were in line with the Bible's teaching of keeping slaves, we can see that their are moral rules in the Bible that we know are objectively wrong because it maximizes the suffering of entire races of people. Another example of a moral teaching of the Bible that Americans are finally starting to come to grips with is gay marriage and the rights of homosexuals. Now, the Bible clearly prescribes marriage as being between a man and a woman and that the punishment for homosexuality is death (Leviticus 18:22). Thankfully, as a country we no longer abide by this practice and are finally giving equal rights to homosexuals that they have long deserved. Another example is the sexism present in the Bible and the choice of modern societies influenced by Christianity to not follow the letter of the moral law is the stoning of brides who are not virgins on their wedding night, which the Bible and its writers clearly favored (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21). Finally, we also do not execute those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior and king, which Jesus himself called for in Luke 19:27. We CHOOSE to not follow these teachings because we can all reason that they are morally bankrupt and objectively bad ideas because they invite punishment, suffering, and death on fellow human beings. Now, not all religions are on par with the likes of Christianity and Islam in terms of their barbarism, but the fact that we choose to not follow the teachings of a religion and savior we believe in means that we have some common sense, logic, and reason to guide our actions.
Posted by EricPT223 3 years ago
First off, thank you all for posting! I'm glad to see this topic is generating some input from other members...I really appreciate it! Since I have no one to debate yet, I will include some of my reasoning for why I think morality could be considered innate and that religious frameworks throughout time have not offered much in the way of improving our morality. A few concepts in social psychology that make sense as to why we behave altruistically (help others even at the expense of incurring costs) and morally are kin selection and the norm of reciprocity. Kin selection is the idea that we are genetically programmed to help those who share similar genes to us, such as our siblings, cousins, etc. By helping to ensure their survival even at the expense of incurring a cost ourselves (such as our life), we are in effect ensuring that our genes will be passed on to future generations. Seems to make sense. The norm of reciprocity is the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" idea. By helping someone now in their time of need, we expect them to reciprocate and help us in our time of need. This also makes sense and can be seen in everyday situations. What doesn't seem to make sense is why someone would risk their life for another if they weren't sure that they were a genetic relative or would return the favor later, as can be seen in the example of one man making a split-second decision to jump down off of a subway platform to try and rescue a man suffering from a seizure while a train sped towards them ( Even when taking into account social exchange theory, which is the belief that we will help others when the benefits of helping outweigh the costs, but I think in any situation any possible benefit would be trumped by the cost of losing your life by being run over by a train.
Posted by Surrealism 3 years ago
I would argue that morality only seems innate because ancient cultures would impose arbitrary customs on their people, but only the customs that weren't detrimental to their people would allow the culture to live on. Things like not murdering, not stealing, helping others, etc. only seem innately moral because they're beneficial to society as a whole.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Chicken or egg... It is really hard to separate, since moral is defined by people influenced by religion.
Posted by Capitalism194 3 years ago
Posted by Besunnylime 3 years ago
But the bigger question is, is anything objectively right or wrong to begin with? :O
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by DJ-R3mix 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:22 
Reasons for voting decision: It ws a hard choice for these. Each man is out competing each other.