The Instigator
Dmetal
Pro (for)
Losing
8 Points
The Contender
flamebreath
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

Morality does not come purley from religion

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/12/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,376 times Debate No: 14373
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (6)

 

Dmetal

Pro

Before the arguments, definitions must be made clear. First, morality is simply right conduct. This could mean any process that deals with right conduct. There are several dictionary definitions from dictionary.com to Kant's definition, but all relate to right conduct. Secondly, religion can mean many things, but lets keep it simple. Religion is any set of beliefs that are practiced through dogma that concern the human condition within the universe. In the US, religion usually means Christianity (70-80% are Christian). Finally, culture will be defined as any tangible object and abstract idea used by a society.
First argument:
Religion is usually sited as the foundation for a society's morals (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). The argument is not that religion does not shape morality; it is that morality does not purely or necessarily come from religion. Our morality is shaped by, at least at minimum, forms of cultural production, of which religious texts are a part of. Cultural productions would include anything that forms culture. However, lets simplify it and say that Cultural productions are essentially media, entertainment, and literature. Media are simply, for this argument, any news source read on a regular basis. entertainment can be any activity for pleasure (sports, video games, movies, etc.). Literature includes really any kind of book from scientific writing to poetry. All these things at a minimum form our reality and our judgment of that reality. Through social interactions with cultural productions, we conceptualize the world. It would be impossible to only utilize one form of cultural production because we are surrounded by these objects and affected by them regardless if we consume them willingly. Our concept of morality, being a judgment of reality, therefore, is based upon forms of cultural production, not religion.
Second Argument:
Because morality is based on forms of cultural production, it is subject to our interpretations of those forms. If I read the Bible, my interpretation will be different than others. That alone, will influence my morality in different ways. One reason why my interpretation might be different is because I consume and am surrounded by different forms of cultural production. Because of that, my morality cannot be formed by one piece of culture; therefore, it cannot be formed by religion alone.
Third Argument:
Place the US Constitution (or any modern constitution) next to the commandments of the Old Testament. The morality within both documents will be different from each other. You will see different values, meanings, assumptions, and judgments. That is because they both come from different times and geographical locations. Because Christians have held many of the same core beliefs, not practices, and morality varies between Christians, morality cannot be formed by religion alone.
flamebreath

Con

Thanks for starting this topic.

I will be arguing that Morality does not come purely from religion but was firmly based on religious beliefs.

Contention one: foundation

When analysing the foundation and history of morals, we must take in consideration of its foundation been religion. know my opponent argues that Morality does not come purely from religion which I agree on however; he failed to realize that the soul purpose of morals is to abide by personal believes which in primarily every case is controlled by some extent of religion. We must also look into the fact that without a unified or scattered religious view, there would be no culture thus creating a chain link that also involves the moral beliefs of people. without this foundation of firm bricks, the unstable cultural production will fall.

"For the believer, what is right and wrong is very simple: whatever God says is right is right, and whatever God says is wrong is wrong. And the scriptures or the prophets can tell you what God says. So, the believer does not steal simply because it is a sin; he does not lie because it is a sin; he does not work on the Sabbath because it is a sin; he does not eat pork because it is a sin, etc. There is no examining why some of these things are bad or wrong, they just are, because someone in authority says so" (http://home.teleport.com...)

Contention two: Human perspective

Just like what was seen during the Medieval period, humans need some sort of higher power in which they could belief and stand by. This higher power is seen as a god that provides them with riches and blessing thus making it a sort o religious figure. We must find that this religious figure plays a huge role on what is right and what is wrong does commanding morals in general. Another issue we must look upon is the fact that the human mind does not work on its own but of the surrounding. The way humans live is mainly based on what there religion says and how there religion tells them to live.

"These are all things which Jews and Christians have debated and have disagreed upon. These are all things which any fair appraisal of the situation would force one to conclude that society has have just as much of an influence on people's thinking as religion. Indeed, religion is inseparable from society, culture, class, race, etc. People like Dennis Prager can claim that moral absolutes come from their religion" (http://atheism.about.com...)

In conclusion, we must look into the fact that within the human beliefs and morals, there is a simple but significant foundation firmly built solemnly to support it.

Debate Round No. 1
Dmetal

Pro

Sorry, I spelled purely wrong in the title. I would like to thank my opponent for taking this debate; it's a little different than some others on here. Note that I will be using culture interchangeably with forms or areas of cultural production.

First:
religion is a part of culture and its texts are forms of culture; however, morality is not based upon those texts, even in extreme, fundamentalist, and dogmatic cases. Although religious texts can help shape morality,it is the everyday interactions with areas of culture that create and maintain our morality. We are always affected by the culture that surround us (media, literature, art, etc.). For instance, I view the world in a certain way with certain assumptions, values, and judgments that are founded in the culture that I consume (science books, art, media, etc.). During the the Middle ages, there's no doubt that the church had influence on every bit of culture. The church, however, is an institution that exerts power. It was that control over all aspects of culture that formed people's morality, not the religious texts alone. The same could be said of any dictatorship based on any religion.
Second:
Atheists and many unaffiliated people have morality which has very little foundation in religion, and religious texts would certainly not maintain their morality. The morality of unaffiliated people and many Westerners, does not have much foundation in Christianity. While the founders of America were Christian (some where deists), their believes about the right conduct of government, society, and economics came from Rome (much of the non-Christian part) and Greece; the code of Hammurabi; Magna Carta; the scientific findings during the scientific revolution (the Enlightenment). The aspect that should be noted is the Enlightenment. It revolutionized how people viewed the entire universe, especially the human condition within the universe. Much of our morality in the US, is based on the scientific books we read and the technology we use everyday. For instance, animal rights could be seen has having its foundation in science because we learn through science that humans are animals and that all animals can suffer and feel pain much like humans (just an example, not another issue for debate).
Third:
It is easy to point at a couple of commandments that say "Don't kill, don't steal," then say, "See morality comes from that." There are, however, hundreds of other commandments in the Old Testament along with teachings in the New that we ignore or that have been found independently in other cultures who came before or had no contact with Christianity. People do not do things necessarily because an authority says so. They do what they do because it has been formed in them from everyday interactions with culture. For instance, we use money (just paper that looks a certain way) to buy things. Any other paper is not considered money. We believe money has value not because someone says it does but because we use it everyday; it is that everyday interaction that forms the money's value to society.
As a side note, the quote you use, one, has very little significance to the debate and secondly, is taken out of context when one reads the link (click it and read it your self, reader). It also says that "society has have just as much of an influence on people's thinking as religion." That's almost my argument. There's much more behind morality than just religion.
flamebreath

Con

I thank my opponent for the quick response.

Contention three: Religious clash vs. Moral view
My opponent argues that religion is part of culture and its text are forms of culture; however, he filled to realize that this is actually the other way around. culture is based upon religion thus creating a situation in which religion becomes the foundation to all human way of living (culture). Although culture helps shape religion in some aspects, it is the religious believes of the residents that actually create the Morals obeyed by believers. As i mentioned in my previous contention, humans need a higher power in which they could create a base of comprehension of the world and its residents. The people cannot function properly if they do not have some sort of believe and as i also mentioned earlier in my previous speech, these believes been religion helps influence the Morals and culture itself. We must look to a http://www.exampleessays.com... article which stated that "Religion has existed with and for mankind since almost the very beginning of humanity itself. Nothing would last for such an immense stretch of time if it did not serve some valuable purpose. All these years, religion has served as a guide and control of human behavior, dictating right from wrong. The most important aspect of religion however, is it's capability to shape honorable human personality and value". My opponent stated that " are always affected by the culture that surround us (media, literature, art, etc.). For instance, I view the world in a certain way with certain assumptions, values, and judgments that are founded in the culture that I consume (science books, art, media, etc.)"; however, he failed to realize that non- of these play a role in morals and values. if i must, i will define the meaning of morals according to a dictionary.com definition "of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong".

Contention Four: Atheists
There is no such thing as atheism when talking about cultural production. Atheistic individuals do not apply to morals simply because they do not belief in any religion thus does not have any culture or morals of there own. The morals acquired by atheists is influenced greatly by other religious groups and although they do not belief in any religion, they are easily influenced by other religious groups and the morals. Morals are found within the preaching of priest, monks or other religious characters as well as text from holy books.
Debate Round No. 2
Dmetal

Pro

For the first part of his argument, he states that religion forms culture. This cannot be because when we look at culture, there are many aspects that have very little to do with religion, especially in American culture. For example, law in the US is, largely although some laws could be debated, completely secular. Copy right laws, for instance deal with a kind of ownership that is not conceptualized in any religion; yet we still conceive that there is a certain aspect of right conduct within it. Religion can be a fundamental part in one's life; however, much of his/her morality is shaped by other forms of culture. When we look at an issue (global warming, immigration, etc.), how we conceive that issue is based on the media (culture) we consume. In short, our reality and our judgments pertaining to right conduct about reality are shaped by the forms of cultural production we consume (science books, history books, art, movies, TV shows etc.).
His second argument is quite ludicrous. There have been plenty of secular philosophers who have produced works in morality and ethics. Socrates is a big name, and many of his teachings require no religious belief. Today, many modern human rights laws are based on utilitarian and humanist philosophies, of which have no foundation in any religion.
Where does America's form of governance come from? Jerusalem? No. Bethlehem? No. Maybe Athens and a place called Rome? Yes, Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic. Governance is not really covered in the Bible, so we need another form of culture to turn to when conceptualizing right conduct within it.
A couple notes: I did not not use too many sources because they are not available for free online. For further reading about cultural studies I recommend Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall.
flamebreath

Con

My opponent reluctantly argues that religion does not shape culture but rather culture shapes religion, this cannot be so simply for the reason of human perspective. When dealing with the human perspective, we also deal with human comprehension which as we all know depends on the exact religious aspect of the individual. My opponent without knowing this actually agreed with me when he defined religion "dogma that concern the human condition within the universe"; we must look at this comprehensively and understand that the human condition within the universe is actually the believes of the individual which shapes there morals. Many might argue that free will does not exist but in my view free will does exist; however this is not the point of this debate, the point is that with free will, the individual is able to choose what type of morals to follow. Whiten the time continuum as to present and past, we find that many people often refer to religion when trying to make good moral decisions.

My opponent uses law as his proof towards this topic however when looking into the law especially the constitution, it is often interpreted by the text of the bible; for instance when looking at the judicial branch, the judge in many situation makes his or her decision by looking at how it harms the citizen as well as the morality or immorality of the crime based on the bibles interpretation.

For these reasons, i urge that you vote for con simply for the reason that i provided a better argument as well having a full comprehension of the subject at hand.

Thank You
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
If I cite a legitimate authority, that is a perfectly valid appeal. If I am arguing about the negative health effects of smoking, and I cite that the Surgeon General says that it is dangerous and may cause cancer... that is a legitimate means of evidence. Is it CONCLUSIVE evidence, no... however, it is valid evidence. It is only a fallacy if I use that as a final evidence for something.
Posted by TorontoGavin 3 years ago
TorontoGavin
Reformed Aresenal: Appeal to authority is a classical fallacy identified by the Greeks over 2000 years ago. It is irrational.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

For it to be rational you need to establish a brand new premise, e.g., that there is a perfect authority on which to base beliefs that would otherwise be arational. That is a new argument, a difficult argument, an argument you brought up, and an argument you can't establish. I anticipated it, but i didn't introduce it.

Appeal to authority is a classical fallacy and has been literally for millenia. Your simple denial that it is irrational is not a sufficient response.

As to your third paragraph, I can make no sense of it. I was trying to make a simple distinction between the resolution (the proposition being debated) and all other possible propositions. The resolution MUST be supported by pro and opposed by con for a debate. However, the burden of proving any other proposition lies with the one raising it.

And that is why I said you made a generalization argument. It is not all propositions pro must prove, and it is not NO propositions con must prove. That's true of the resolution, not of all possible propositions.

"You are the one who introduced that God does not exist in your statement that religion uses an appeal to a false authority, "

No, I did NOT say that; I did NOT argue that; I was adamant that I DID NOT and DO NOT HAVE TO. You inferred that, because such an argument would be very favorable to you. ALL appeals to authority are irrational. It is a category of claim that is by definition irrational. I did not and do not make any comment about a particular authority.

YOU raised a new proposition, about a perfect authority that renders the irrational rational. I did NOT deny the existence of God, nor is it necessary for me to do so. It is YOU that must prove your proposition, not I who must prove a proposition
Posted by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
An appeal to authority is not irrational unless that authority is illegitimate. If God exists, he is a legitimate authority. That logic is sound.

I did not assert that God does exist (I believe he does... but to try to argue that in a formal debate is debate suicide), simply that if he does exist... appealing to his authority is not an irrational appeal. In essence, all evidence is an appeal to authority... either the authority of the evidence... or the authority of the one who generated the evidence. It is only when that authority is false authority that it is a fallacy.

You in fact brought into OUR discussion that

If I want to make an argument about a matter of fact of the American Revolution, and I cite an Expert on the American Revolution, that is not an appeal to authority fallacy. However, if I cite an authority on the Civil War about the American Revolution... that is.

You are the one who introduced that God does not exist in your statement that religion uses an appeal to a false authority, and by contrasting it with Atheist ethics imply that God indeed does not exist. You made the Resolution... and therefore have the burden of proof. I simply pointed out that if you are going to assert that it is an appeal to a false authority you have the burden of proof to show that the authority is false.
Posted by TorontoGavin 3 years ago
TorontoGavin
ReformedArsenal: Exactly. It was you who took the position that there was a perfect authority whose
existence wouuld render the irrational rational. That's for you to prove, not me.

I did not set out to prove that god does not exist, nor that religion cannot create morality, only that the connection is not exclusive.

You are raising a strawman. It wasn't the job of Pro in this argument to prove there is no God (indeed foolish, as you say) and I personally did not raise the argument that there is no god, only that by definition an appeal to authority is irrational argument. You are asserting an argument that is neither made nor necessary and then showing why that argument is wrong. Classic strawman.

"If Pro does not assert that God does not exist, and Con does, then in a sense... Con has become Pro for a different resolution"

Exactly. It's strange that your assessment can be exactly correct but that you don't realize it applies. That's exactly what you did - you asserted a new proposition that justified appeals to authority on the basis that your authority was perfect and therefore the appeal was not irrational. That's a brand new argument for you, and requires you to prove the perfect authority of your personal God. I don't think we should get into that argument here, it's not appropriate.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
I did not commit the fallacy of generalization. If Con does not wish to have to prove anything, then Con should not assert propositions. Con can win the debate simply by disproving Pro... no positive proof is necessary. In this case, if Pro asserts that God does not exist, he must prove that (a foolish thing to do... because you cannot disprove the existence of something). If Pro does not assert that God does not exist, and Con does, then in a sense... Con has become Pro for a different resolution and takes on the responsibilities of proving that resolution (usually asserting that if the sub-resolution is true, then the primary resolution must also be drue).
Posted by TorontoGavin 3 years ago
TorontoGavin
ReformedArsenal "In formal debate, Con does not need to PROVE anything. Their goal is to DISPROVE the resolution."

Right and wrong. If you look at that sentence you will see that you fell victim to a classic generalization fallacy.

You are CORRECT that it is the objective of the pro is to establish the proposition, and the con to defeat it. If the pro fails to establish, they lose; the opp can fail to establish and still win.

You are INCORRECT to say that the Con does not need to prove ANYTHING. The thing they do not need to prove is the proposition. It is not open to the con to simply assert any fact or theory, no matter how preposterous, and claim that they do not need to prove it because they are con.

You are incorrectly generalizing your correct statement about the resolution to all possible claims raised in a debate.

Here, my argument for the resolution is that all religion is an irrational appeal to authority, and therefore poor morality.

Your response was that it is not irrational IF the authority is a perfect authority.

Unless you also establish that there is a perfect authority on which to rely, your IF proposition is NOT a fulsome reply to my argument. This is a very extreme claim you have raised (e.g. that we should accept, in this debate only, an argument that would normally be irrational, based on the proposition that there MIGHT be a perfect authority).

I even anticipated this irrational argument by noting that 'even if' there was one POSSIBLE perfect authority - which is not admitted because it is claimed but not established by you - that authority must belong to a particular religion, and not religion generally. Attempting to establish such a premise (NOT the resolution) requires not that there MAY be but that there IS one, which *if accepted* disproves the authoritative appeals of every other religion.

That kind of argument is therefore not only irrational but self-defeating for Con.
Posted by TorontoGavin 3 years ago
TorontoGavin
PS - People should avoid negative propositions - "morality does NOT come purely from religion".
Posted by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
TorontoGavin,

I did not say that it is he Atheist's burden to prove that God does not exist.I said that it is the person who makes a positive statement that has the burden of proof in a Debate. In formal debate, Pro has the burden of proof of the statement. Since Pro in this argument is arguing that "Morality does not come purely from religion" they have the burden of proof. In this context, Con could easily argue God (universal concept of God, not necessarily one religions instantiation) is the ultimate source of morality, and therefore Religion is a proxy source through that. Con would have the burden of proof to show that this God does not exist. This is the nature of formal debate.

If the resolution was reversed and was "Morality comes purely from Religion" then Pro would have the burden of proof to prove that God DOES exist (at least beyond a reasonable doubt).

In formal debate, Con does not need to PROVE anything. Their goal is to DISPROVE the resolution.
Posted by TorontoGavin 3 years ago
TorontoGavin
@ReformedArsenal

"An appeal to Authority is only bad logic if the authority is illegitimate. If God does exist, there is no higher authority, and in order for Pro to argue against that appeal to authority he would have the burden of proof that God does not exist (as he is pro for this argument and the instigator)."

No, this is a classic and also irrational move by theists. It is only one particular god and one particular moral prescription that can be correct. There is no universal perception of God or his authority. It is therefore not rationally open to a theist to take the position you take. They cannot argue that "God" is the authority and "Religion" is right, because there are many gods and many religions and as they are largely contradictory, even if one is right *most* must be wrong.

Let me say that again clearly: it is NOT the burden of the atheist to prove there is no God. It is the theist that asserts, as a proposition in their argument, that their authority is infallible. That is a proposition that must be proved. Not that any God *might* be infallible, but that their God is. I do not have to prove the absence of God, I can simply say that there are many Gods with many moralities, and so the theory that all of them are infallible is impossible and rejected.

"Beyond that, what morality have you seen from atheists that comes from pure reason?"

A cheap rhetorical question. Study philosophy. One must study epistemology, so one knows how to tell the difference between truth and falsehood. Then metaphysics, so they can understand how the world works. These days, science does a perfectly good job of those two things without God. We can then make RATIONAL, not faith-based, decisions about good conduct. Done.

Morality based on God elevates the unseen next life above the seen present life an is therefore intrinsically irrational. You have to argue that your particular faith is superior to reason, and your God's revelations more trustworthy than
Posted by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
TorontoGavin,

An appeal to Authority is only bad logic if the authority is illegitimate. If God does exist, there is no higher authority, and in order for Pro to argue against that appeal to authority he would have the burden of proof that God does not exist (as he is pro for this argument and the instigator).

Beyond that, what morality have you seen from atheists that comes from pure reason?
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