Motion: Religion makes the world a better place.
Debate Rounds (4)
1: Acceptance and preparation
2: Opening statements
4: Secondary rebuttals and conclusion
I believe you should be able to comment if you want to accept, if I did it right. Either way, I'm looking forward to the debate!
I will be arguing that religion does, in fact, make the world a better place and without it, the word "human" in "humanity" will cease to exist. Accept the terms Con has laid down and I wish you the best of luck.
Let's do this.
RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENTS AND THEIR ACTIONS
First and foremost, it is clear that there would be less violence on Earth if there was no form of Religion, even if we look only at the last century. As renowned atheist Richard Dawkins says in his 2013 autobiography, "religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a "they", as opposed to a 'we' can be identified."
Because of Religion, wars are fought with no end, borders are drawn and defended, countries are invaded, and people are put to death. New faiths are met not only with derision, but with violent alternatives. Radicalized Islamic men and women are taught to kill and die for their faith through suicide bombings.
Religious organizations and their teaching are- too often to be affected by more liberal outliers- ultimately conservative in their social doctrine. It is religious conservatism that, among other things, has:
a) fought the advancement of the rights of women and in many cases, actively put women down.
b) oppressed the poor and supported the bourgeoisie, as seen when charities such the Missionaries of Charity (that of the late Mother Theresa), run death houses in order to draw in donations and that money is used for political fights instead of the uses of the charity.
c) contributed actively through outdated teachings to the violence against the LGBT community.
d) Fought the use of contraceptives so strongly that programs in Africa still teach that using condoms increase the incidence of HIV/AIDS.
RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE AND ITS AFFECT ON SOCIETY
Just as religious doctrine affects the world in active ways, it affects its members in more subtle ways as well. The doctrine of most Religious faiths impedes the betterment of the human race through its implacable opposition to scientific advancement. Modern religious organizations still today argue that intelligent design should be taught in schools, and teach young people that the Earth is 6,000 years old. Their members are taught to deny scientific evidence that refutes church teachings.
In the same vein, it is my sincere belief that Religion does not lend itself to the production of critical thought, and it is too often that even those spiritual men and women who truly deserve admiration and praise allow themselves to be swept along with the current. It is this power of the most far-reaching Religions that warps the direction of the most well-intentioned, as mentioned above with poor Mother Theresa.
The teachings of too many Religions are created to shepherd its followers in the direction it wants them to go, and people who question the teaching of most Religions are excommunicated. The indoctrinated are taught to spread the faith, which leads to judgement, oppression, and violence. This system is too widespread to be combated by any more amiable system of spirituality. Religion is not made better by its most admirable followers, it is only made to look better. It is evident that virtually all positive aspects of Religion can be achieved without a doctrine and for these reasons, I believe that the Religion does NOT make the world better.
Let us begin:
1) "there would be less violence on Earth if there was no form of Religion"
I mentioned earlier that I am a Baha'i and as a Baha'i, I have to somewhat agree with you on your statement. But if I were you, I would change the wording of your statement to, "if mankind truly understood the meaning of individual investigation and consultation, then there would be less violence on Earth."
You see, Man chooses what to interpret and what to alter in a Religion, therefore if Man chooses to act contrary to the Principles of the Religion, it is Man who is ultimately responsible for the disagreements generated after an unqualified interpretation becomes accessed by the public. Regardless of the century you choose, the declination of a Religion's uselessness has always begun when Man sullies the true form of the Religion in order to gain a personal benefit from it. This is why Religion is revealed in a progressive manner, so that society is updated on the meaning of what it truly means to be a part of a human family. What I'm trying to say is that Religion, like all things organic, has an expiry date, like an Apple. On the other hand, all forms of artificial creations are specifically designed not to wear out, much like an Oreo. So due to the organic nature of the Religion, the moment the Religion's adherents begin to "go bad", that's when the individual investigation comes into play to solve the mystery of a Religion going bad. So I'll close off this section by saying, man is the cause of war and dissension and not Religion or the Religious teachings, for humanity will truly progress if man chooses the power of love over the love of power.
In relation to your statement, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, provides us with a Principle that, "Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion. All the holy prophets were as doctors to the soul; they gave prescriptions for the healing of mankind; thus any remedy that causes disease does not come from the great and supreme Physician.
2) "Because of Religion, wars are fought with no end"
Wars are fought because of man's immaturity and ignorance of the writings of that Religion which explicitly commands them not to partake in unjustified killings. James Donohue says, "I see humans, but no humanity"
3) " borders are drawn and defended, countries are invaded, and people are put to death"
It is physically impossible for Religion to draw a physical border, or defend the border, or invade countries, or put people to death.
4) "Radicalized Islamic Men and Women"
Radicalization of people, regardless of the Religion, rests the the explanation I gave above, "unqualified interpretation becomes accessed by the public". Therefore Religion is not the cause of Radicalization, it is Man. Sure, you could argue that if Religion wasn't there, then we wouldn't have anything to be radicalized about. But I would argue that if we follow the instructions of the Religious Texts, then Radicalization is transformed to Devotion.
5) "Religious Conservatism"
I would argue that an individual that practices Religious Conservatism is in fact a disciple of ignorance and a promoter of disunity. I fully agree with the points you have mentioned, and in fact you have saved me some typing haha. Therefore your points were my points, and I would like to add that when the attitude displayed in the name of Religion, goes against the well-being of the Human race, then it is better to defend the Religion from the aggressor than to judge it based on the stupidity of the uneducated.
6) "Religious doctrine and its affect on society"
I will provide you an argument for your entire section under the title, "religious doctrine and its affect on society". I will have to say that your argument has been entirely defaulted to the Pseudo-Christian generalization of the scriptures related to your issue with doctrine. When you say "most Religious faiths", surely you don't mean that you've drawn this conclusion after a devoted individual investigation of all Divinely revealed Religious Faiths?
7) "too many Religions are created to shepherd its followers in the direction it wants them to go"
With a slight alteration of your statement, I would agree with you. Change the word "too many" to "all", then change "created" to "revealed", then change "it" to God". With that done, then I 100% agree with you :) If you would like to know why, then again, individual investigation must take place.
I don't know if you know, but questioning the reason why things are the way they are is a part of human nature, and Religious Texts encourage that. They encourage the investigation of teaching and writings but not authority. There is a difference between questioning authority and investigating as to why that authority exists. It is up to the individual to conclude after a full unbiased devotion to the Writing in question.
In conclusion, Man is the cause of war, death, borders, sects, interpretation, and many more. Religion suppresses our lower nature as humans, so knocking Religion out of the equation, unleashes our lower nature. Therefore we need Religion in order to truly understand our spiritual purpose. I urge you to read the book "Baha'u'llah and the New Era"
Before beginning, I feel it necessary to point out that instead of opening arguments, my opponent went immediately to his rebuttal period. I have no issue with their structure, but I do find it relevant to observe that in doing so, they gave almost no argument that made benign the concept of Religion, instead transferring all the critiques that have been leveled at Religion to man itself. I find it almost dangerous that one can separate man and Religion as completely as my opponent has done, for without man there would be no Religion, and every Religion is shaped not by an omnipotent being but by the hands of the people who worship that deity. I say dangerous because by separating faith and the actions of man that have been caused by man’s devotion to faith, they have created a scheme where no Religion can be criticized for the behavior of its members, and faith-based atrocities can only be attributed to the human who committed them, not the motivation that inspired the atrocity itself. I vehemently disagree with this structure of blame. It is impossible to study the horrors of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, the Buddhist massacre at Mandalay Palace, the violence of Islamic Jihadists, and the many examples of hate-based crime in our world today without studying the motivation of the offenders. None of these barbarities would have occurred without the guidance of Religion, but my opponent has used his entire opening statement to deny its culpability.
The above paragraphs outline the main issue with my opponent's argument. Here are some more itemized responses.
1) “...Man chooses what to interpret and what to alter in a Religion, therefore if Man chooses to act contrary to the Principles of the Religion, it is Man who is ultimately responsible…” This statement is designed to do exactly what I outlined above. My opponent has given no argument in their belief in any doctrine, only the Baha’i way, which is more Unitarian than Religious. They have not claimed support for any form of Divine Inspiration. Yet, they seek to separate man from Religion in a way that exonerates Religion itself from the crimes of man.
2) My opponent has so thoroughly disconnected Religion from man that one argument even consists of them denying the physicality of Religion itself, as though rebutting a claim that “Religion” kills people.
3) I object to the term, “unqualified interpretation”. The Crusades were commanded by the Pope and the Inquisition was begun by Spanish Cardinals. The Buddhist Massacre at Mandalay was ordered by the palace monks. Islamic Jihadists are commanded by Imams. Every one of these atrocities have been commanded by a leader of the faith in question. If these leaders are not chosen by a deity, what is the point of anyone at all believing that their faith is a) believable as the truth, and b) followable.
4) My opponent claims that questioning teachings is encouraged but questioning authority is not. I have a difficult time following this logic so I have to ask these questions.
a) How is one to question teachings without questioning the teacher?
b) Are the answers to these questions given to the one asking by the teacher? How not, without questioning authority?
c) Whoever gives the answers, are those answers considered “qualified” or “unqualified” interpretations?
d) What is the difference between a conclusion after a “full unbiased devotion of the Writing” and an “unqualified interpretation”? Who decides whether a devotion of the Writing has been full and unbiased?
5) I think I have, through multiple examples, shown that Religion does NOT suppress our lower nature.
6) You made absolutely no mention of “spiritual purpose” until the penultimate sentence of your statement. In the spirit of fairness, I will bring it up here so that you can respond to it in your rebuttal.
Thank you, and I look forward to further debate!
From reading your arguments, it seems that you have a problem with Religion because it is apparently the cause of the world's conflicts, and I will answer it in hopes of touching on the other sub-issues you brought up.
But I have a question for you, "Are you Atheist because Religion supposedly causes war?". It seems that every Atheist I have ever talked to, has their mind set on this unsupported and highly uneducated notion that religion causes war and destruction, therefore society is better off without it. Does that mean society would be better off without nuclear mathematics because it caused the deaths of thousands in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, etc? Or, wars are fought over the dominance of natural resources, so if we got rid of natural resources, would there be no more war? Or the Buddhists are supposedly vandalizing homes in the south of Louisiana, so to cure the disease of vandalism, should we get rid of the Buddhists? (Im not prejudice at all btw haha) Simple answer is no. We contort science in ways to give us the recipe to make bombs or medicine, similarly we contort religion in ways to give us the recipe to make wars or everlasting society that rests on the foundation of Progressive Religious Laws. So in the end, it's up to us, to define what is beneficial for the advancement of humankind. Just for food for thought. :)
So "religion causes war" utterly false and historically inaccurate. Why? Because the Encyclopedia of Wars states that of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them were classified as having been fought over religious differences. That's just under 7 percent. More specifically, if we look at the most modern wars we learn about in school, such as the American Revolution, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, Chinese civil war, World War I and II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria; None of these wars were fought for religious reasons. In fact, the casualty count of World War II is estimated to be somewhere between 50 and 70 million, making it the deadliest conflict sparked for nonreligious reasons, in all of human history.
The Buddhist Massacre that you mentioned, was because of a forced transition of power from the ruling father to his son and heir, and power-hungry politicians saw the massacre as a necessity to keep the kingdom stable and free from revolts, so again it has nothing to do with religion.
The Spanish Inquisition occurred because it was meant to discover and punish converted Jews and Muslims who were insincere to the kingdom's state religion, so again this is political because of the Monarchy's vision of maintaining a devout nation to the King belief's.
The subject of Islamic Jihadists is currently the hit topic right now, and if you view them as representatives of the Religion of Islam, then from one brother to another I truly feel sorry for you. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of today and a few thousand radicals should be viewed as a quivering mouse in the shadow of the entire devout Muslim population, and the reason why we view this "mouse" as the dominating force, is because the media and governments make it out to be. The situation in the Middle East can be summed up into 4 words; black magical liquid stuff. I'll let you figure out what that means.
So religion being the cause of war has no foundation in history because the end result of every conflict perceived as a religious war, has had personal benefits for the politicians in power. I don't care if they were Cardinals, Bishops, Bus drivers, Mullahs, Senators, Shepards, Janitors, Viceroys, Rabbis.....They were not "chosen" by any deity and they all have money in their pockets at the end of every conflict masked with religion. So again, Religion doesn't cause war, Man does.
I will now answer your questions:
1)How is one to question teachings without questioning the teacher?
I would argue that the answer of this rests in individual investigation. But it all goes back to motive and quality of your questioning. Why are you questioning religion on some particular issue or doctrine or direction? If it is simply because you're are trying to stall your obedience to a set of Divine Laws, then you should probably stop; if it is coming from a prideful heart that says, I know better than these Laws, then why are you looking for an answer in the first place? If, however, you're asking because you desperately want to know the answer, or because you desperately want guidance in your life, then I believe it is appropriate to question God and His progressive teachings to Mankind. I think there is a huge difference between questioning what brings wisdom and a fuller understanding of the Laws, compared to the kind of questioning that simply seeks to validate man and man's ways, whatever they may be. Relating to Atheism, you can't question the theory of Evolution without questioning Darwin himself, because either way it falls back to Darwin, sincere or not.
2)Are the answers to these questions given to the one asking by the teacher? How not, without questioning authority?
Read above paragraph. If you're truly seeking then you MUST question validity of authority, but a thorough investigation must be a prerequisite before a conclusion is drawn.
3)Whoever gives the answers, are those answers considered "qualified" or "unqualified" interpretations?
I'd ask you the same thing. How do you decide the authority of the teacher at question?. Because it doesn't matter what I say, I can't make the criteria of validation for you. I'd be wasting my time telling you my criteria because mine has no connection to yours. For example, when your sick, you show up to a doctors office. You can't tell me to trust the medical advice of a doctor that I have not read about or investigated. So what makes you believe the things they have to say?; is it the paper on the wall of the white coat that makes you say his advice is valid? So it boils down to a thorough individual investigation.
4)Who decides whether a devotion of the Writing has been full and unbiased?
5) Spiritual Purpose
As a Baha'i, my answer is filtered through the Baha'i Scriptures, but in this case I will provide a general outlook on spiritual purpose and hopefully you can related to it too.
There are multiple purposes of each existence rather than a single purpose, however there is also an ultimate purpose of a things existence. For instance from one perspective, the purpose of a single red blood cell is to survive, from a greater perspective its purpose is to fulfill its own small task, from an even greater perspective, it is meant to sustain the life of a living being.
Similarly in the life of man, there are countless lesser purposes when looked at from varying perspectives, for example from the lowest perspective the purpose of man is to survive, at a greater perspective his purpose is to care for and nurture the happiness of his offspring, from an even greater perspective his purpose is to find his talents and contribute to the welfare of his society, and at an even greater perspective (which for Baha'is it is the ultimate object of man's creation), his purpose is to attain the honor and joy of finding and loving his Creator, and in being able to reflect his Lords divine qualities such as love, kindness, Wisdom, Bounty, Forbearance, Benevolence, and Mercy. This is my purpose. Note: the minor purposes we as humans generally work through, although limited in their effects, they are not without value but shouldn't be the focus of our lives.
Thanks for this great debate, and I'm learning a lot :)
BetteMidler forfeited this round.
Thank you for this debate and good luck on your future debates, my friend
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