On Balance, Religion is a Positive Social Force
Rd. 1 Acceptance, Definitions, and Interp.
Rd. 2 Constructives
Rd. 3 Constructives/Rebuttals
Rd. 4 Rebuttals (No new evidence)
Burden of proof is shared. The debate ought to be evaluated as more true than false or vice-versa.
I stand as the PRO to affirm the resolution: "On balance religion is a net positive social force."
The definition of "religion" ought to be flexible, and based on religion as a social phenomena that includes social communities, faith-based institutions, faith-inspired activities, and the personal experiences of believers. Generally religion is, but not exclusively, "(1) a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (2) A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. (3.)
the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
PRO's thesis contends that the human-made social institution of religion is a net positive social force. "Social force" meaning something that affects interactions among human beings; "net positive" meaning more beneficial than harmful. This means you should evalute the debate based on sociological, phemonological, and empircial evidence. Theological rationalizations about the existence, or lack thereof, of the divine and the miraculous are not relevant to the resolution.
I hope the CON will accept. I am open to counter-interpretations, definitions, and resolutional tweaks.
I stand as the CON against the claim that religion has a net positive social force.
The definition of religion is acceptable, however I would like to add an important detail. This is mentioned already as a nonexclusive definition, but I would suggest religions in question must possess attributes of the supernatural, and be faith based. I do this in the hopes of a less convoluted and more manageable debate.
CON's claim is that the institution of religion has not caused a net gain of positive influence upon human society as a whole, and agrees with the definitions and evidential requirements given by PRO.
Thanks again for the opportunity and I look forward to debating with you.
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. May the best argumentation win. Cheers!
DEFINITION OF RELIGION
Though I admit that all religions are “faith based” they do not need to include faith in ‘the supernatural.’ There are many religions, recognized by the World Council of Religions (i), like Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Unitarianism, Unitarian-Universalism, and even some forms of Judaism and Christianity that do not require faith in a supernatural being. They would fall under part 2 & 3 of the definition I provided in rd 1. The key difference between a religion and any club with rules, like a bowling league, is that a religion is imbued with sacred cosmic meaning - a means to strive for absolute Truth(s).
I will illustrate the advantages of religion as a social force. In round 3 I will extend my advantages and forward a defense against common misguided attacks on religion.
ADVANTAGES OF RELIGION
1. Religious Folks Tend to Give More to Charity
According to USA Today, “a study released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation, particularly in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity”(ii)(v). This is supported by further studies that found Muslims in the UK gave more to charity than any other faith/ideological demographic due to adherence to the pillar of Islam known as “zakat,” the Arabic word for charity(iii). A study done by the Pew Research Forum on Religion on Muslims charitable giving throughout the world, due to their adherence to zakat, gives us reason to believe that this trend is not UK specific (iv).
Most religions hold a key moral teaching about helping the poor. Islam has Zakat, Christianity has the teachings of Jesus, Judaism has the teachings of Hillel and “tikkun-olam,” and Hindus have karma, etc. Religious people adhere to these principles because they want to (1) enjoy a pleasant afterlife, (2) please God, (3) feel pleased by following cosmic Truth(s), and or (4) be affirmed by their fellow adherents for being a model disciple (vi).
In contrast, though secular morality is valid, it’s far less pervasive than religious moral teaching, and sometimes convoluted. For example, the ethics posited by Nietzsche and Sartre encourage selfish hedonism, and Marxist ethics devalue the life of whomever doesn’t share your ideology (vii).
(ii) USA TODAY, 2012: http://tinyurl.com...
(iii) NBC NEWS, 2013: http://tinyurl.com...
(iv) PEW RESEARCH, 2012: http://tinyurl.com...
(v) Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2013: http://tinyurl.com...
2. Religious Folks Tend to Be Happier & Healthier
According “to Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College, Religious beliefs ‘give people a sense of meaning. It also gives them a social network. It gives a sense of well being or comfort.” The article continues to say, “It also turns out that people who have religious or spiritual beliefs are happier than those who don’t, no matter what their beliefs”(viii).
According to several studies conducted by the Journal of Social Psychology & Personality Science, Harvard, Duke, London, and Yeshiva University, religious adherents tended to be happier and healthier than atheists and agnostics. In one case:
“In 2012, researchers led by a group at Yeshiva University analyzed the health outcomes of more than 90,000 women over an eight-year period and found that those who frequently attended religious services were 56% more likely than non-attending women to report high rates of optimism, and 27% less likely to report depression. Other studies of the same group found a 20% lower mortality rate.”(ix)
(viii) Washington Post, 2013 http://tinyurl.com...
(ix) Wall Street Journal, 2013: http://tinyurl.com...
3. Religion Provides a Strong Sense of Community
Religion provides people with a strong sense of community, and social cohesion. This leads to happier people, and to a group ethos of a “safe-space” where individuals can share prayers, hopes, dreams, and fears without fear of judgment or social embarrassment. This mutual expectation of positive relations stimulates and environments that encourages the positive development of each person’s moral character (x).
(x) Prof. Graham & Haidt, University of Virginia, 2010: http://tinyurl.com...
4. Faith-Based Institutions
Faith based hospitals and schools, especially those operated by Catholics, serve millions and millions of people worldwide. They operate 26% of health care facilities in the world (xi). The extent of faith based schools and hospitals may be sufficient reason to vote PRO right now. All Catholic hospitals are non-for-profit, and never turn anyone away regardless of color, creed, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or ability to pay. Studies have found that faith-based institutions have been essential in fighting poverty in the developing world (xii). Students that attend Catholic schools tend to score better on standardized tests than student whom attend public schools. And many of these schools are designed to serve low income students (xiii).
Some strident atheists, like Hitchens, presume that these invaluable institutions could exist without religion, and that they could all quickly be replaced by atheist administrations; put your money where your mouth is. There is a reason faith-based folks like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr. risked their lives to help others while people like Christopher Hitchens stayed in comfortable settings to and make a living off of smear-campaign journalism. I believe it requires a faith in something beyond this life, not always religion mind you, but most-often religion that compels one to risk one’s life for others (xiv).
(xi) Catholic News Agency, 2010: http://tinyurl.com...
(xii) Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, 2011:
(xiii) Huffington Post, 2013: http://tinyurl.com...
(xiv) US Holocaust Museum, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: http://tinyurl.com...
5. Potential for Social Transformation
Religion has had a transformative impact on society. In many cases it has been liberating when used to unite people against oppression, as was the case with Liberation Theology in Latin America.
Though, Liberation Theology was inspired by a mix of Marxism, and the Christian social gospel - this dialectic between sacred and secular demonstrates the strength of religion. To religion’s critics, religion is rigid, unchanging, and monolithic. Sociologists and scholars of religion know that religion is diverse and constantly evolving. Sociologists and scholars of religion base their understanding on the most up-to-date empirical evidence, and ethnographic studies. Meanwhile, most ideological critics of religion, like Hitchens and Dawkins, rehash purely philosophical dogmatics that have not been updated since Freud.
When Islam was founded, tribal traditions in the Arab world sanctioned post-birth infanticide, constant tribal warfare, and no rights for women. Islam spread so quickly in the 7th-9th centuries because it banned infanticide, preached tolerance for “all people of the book” (Abrahamic faiths), and taught that women could own property and act as equals among men.
The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, transformed a society that valued sexual and military conquest above all into a civilization that encouraged philanthropy, and self-discipline. The spread of Buddhism had a similar effect on the far-East.
Though religion is far from perfect, we must consider what zeitgeist the major world religions replaced, and how much worse the world would be without these religions rather than focus exclusively on their faults.
6. Faith in Metaphysics Needed to Sustain an Ethical Framework
If I hear on the news that a man was killed by a car-bomb in Syria, how will I react to it? It depends on my emotional disposition, some people are more emotional than others. We can all agree that the death happened, but I may not know how to evaluate it ethically. Whether or not a man was killed is purely an empirical question, but answering “is this right” is an ethical question that no scientist can conduct an experiment for. I would say, according to my faith in Human Rights, that the car-bomb was wrong because it took the life of an innocent man who SHOULD have had a right to life, liberty, and happiness. It’s the presence of “should” that turns the conversation into an essentially metaphysical one. Meta or beyond physical reality refers to all concepts that cannot be accounted for in the material world. This includes love, human dignity, and human right. Faith is required to believe in ideas like Human Rights, since no empirical data can be collected for an intangible idea. Faith in Human Rights, is epistemologically co-equal with faith in God. (More on this conversation in rd 3.)
SOURCE: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, Harvard U. Press, 2007.
7. Religion Does not Conflict with Science And Religion's Legacy to Western Civilization
(This is being previewed as a courtesy to my opponent. I will explicate this point in rd. 3.)
Religion has no doubt done good things in the world; I suggest, however, that the shadow of religion will always reach farther than it's deeds.
Casualties of religion:
1. Division in the name of religion.
Religion divides us from one another, and then divides inwardly upon itself.
Religion, by very nature, provides humanity with another layer of division for us to contend with. Religions can no better tolerate each other than they can stop infighting among themselves. To offer support for this claim, I would point out that even among Christianity alone, there are 41,000 denominations. That's 41,000 different interpretations of a single book. These seemingly insignificant differences have led to grave and tragic endings I'll address later. (1)
Another example of religious intolerance would be the persecution of Shia Muslims. Anti-Shi'ism has resulted in imprisonment, torture, and death for centuries, and has continued well into present day. These crimes have only been carried out due to the dogma of religious principles, carried out BY the religious against the religious, and would have been entirely non-existent otherwise.
Hate crimes against Shia have been carried out across much of the world:
Turkish Empire - Thousands have been massacred during the course of the Ottoman Empire. (2)
India - Societies plundered, people slaughtered, and holy sites desecrated over the course of more than 300 years. (3)
China - Sold into slavery by their Muslim brothers. (4)
Egypt - Shia murdered in 2013 by a rioting crowd after being preached into a frenzy. (5)
Malaysia - Shia arrested for practicing their faith in 2013. (6)
2011 Uprising - An estimated 1000 Behrainis had been detained in 2011, hundreds of watchdog groups made claims of torture and abuse as an attempt to "psychologically humiliate the island's Shiite majority into silent submission." (7)
These events continue worldwide, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and on and on. The situation never changes, and responsibility lies squarely within religious context and the disagreements over religious history.
Religion divides us from one another, and when there can be no more outward division, it begins to then divide upon itself. The examples listed above are almost exclusively between the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam. Suffering, terror, and misery administered to practitioners of Shia simply because of what they believe.
2. Atrocities committed in the name of religion:
Human and animal sacrifices have been exclusively religious ceremonies for millennia. Disregarding the staggering amount of human and animal sacrifices made in the past, let's take a look at more recent events:
Bangladesh 2010 - A 26 year old man murdered for the promise of wealth that would be acquired by supernatural means pending the sacrifice. (1)
India 2003, 2006 - Reported sacrifices in western Utta Pradesh, followed by "dozens of sacrifices" in a 6 month period by followers of Kali, the goddess of power. (2)
Africa - The "Money ritual" in Sub-Saharan Africa committed for the singular purpose of procuring wealth.
Another incident in Liberia in 2008 required "finding and killing an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat". (3)
UK - in 2005, a BBC report claimed uncircumcised boys were being smuggled in from Africa to be tortured and murdered for a slew of reasons involving witchcraft, racism, and intolerance. (4)
Chile - In 1960, a 5 year old boy has his arms and legs cut off from him, and he was stuck in the sand at a beach like a stake, to be carried out to sea. This was done by his family at the request of their local shaman. They faced no charges even after admitting to the deed because "they acted without free will, driven by an irresistible force of ancestral tradition." (5)
Mountain Meadow Massacre - Mormons slaughter unarmed civilians in Utah, 1857 with the intention of blaming Native Americans. (6)
Christians targeted in Rome, gruesomely murdered. After which Christian teachings was banned, followed by imprisonment, and eventually execution. (7)
3. Massacres committed in the name of religion:
What stands as most evident today is the idea of Islamist Jihad. This is by far and large the most aggressive, most successful, and most prominent form of destruction fueled by the singular source of religion. (8)
What follows is a list of casualties by Islam from 1915 to 2012:
Turkey 1915 to 1923 - 750,000 Assyrians, 500,000 Greeks, and 1.5 million Armenians killed. (This holocaust was considered the first in the modern era, and actually coined the term "genocide" to describe such actions.) (9)
Israel 1920 to 2012 - 24,500+ killed, 35,000+ injured, and 1,900+ Arab casualties.
Sudan 1953 to 2005 - 3,500,000
Papua New Guinea 1963 to 2012 - 100,000+
Nigeria 1966 to 1970 - 3,000,000
Lebanon 1970 to 2000 - 300,000
Bangladesh 1971 - 3,000,000
Uganda 1971 to 1979 - 300,000
East Timor 1975 to 1999 - 200,000
Iraq 1979 to 2003 - 300,000
(20) (21) (22)
Iran 1979 - 80,000
Iran-Iraq War - 500,000 - 1,500,000
I have listed just a few events, with a total death toll of more than 14 million people. I make no claims that Islam was always the absolute direct cause of each listed, however the evidence that these conflicts were strongly influenced by religion, if not a direct result is very clear. (I would take a moment to emphasize I'm not singling out Islam, it is just the first subject of discussion.)
4. Fear and selfishness in the name of religion:
Every major religion has an unprovable reward for believing and an unprovable threat for not. However, the punishments for refusing to believe here on Earth are very real.
Every major religion has a concept of a supernatural punishment for those who may challenge or resist the faith in question. The idea of unknown consequences, who's only solution is the religion that claims them is the most basic method of psychological control. The application of authority derived out of fear of the unknown. And is used to establish a firm grip on our most basic fear from ignorance.
Unprovable punishments and rewards like "Heaven and Hell", or "Jannah and Jahannam" for those who succeed and fail to blindly follow their respective divine edicts.
This system of control is to ensure that power remains firmly in the hands of those wielding religion.
Aside from hell, however, there are very REAL threats to non-believers. Aside from the staggering amount of slaughtering, rape, pillaging, and destruction I mentioned above. There are many examples of groups acting within the good faith of their respective religions.
Specifically, I'll discuss the Inquisition. Whose only goal was to combat "heresy" which is simply a denial of faith. Men and women were gruesomely tortured and executed at the behest of the Catholic Church on the principle that they didn't believe in the Christian God. These sick organizations lasted well into the 19th century. The final execution happened in 1826, a schoolteacher who was teaching deism. The inquisition demanded he be burned at the stake; however he was mercifully hanged for daring to have different deviating thoughts from Christianity. (1)
Much like our police force in America, the world of Islam has a designated police force to act in defense of violations of sharia law.
These crimes involve unrelated men and women socializing. (2)
Enforce dietary laws, store closing at prayer time, and censorship of media. (3)
They have the legal authority to arrest, flog, and imprison. (4)
I list ALL of these examples before you to suggest that religion has most definitely caused (and continues to cause) near irreversible harm to the world.
I claim that religion by very nature seeks to control our thoughts from fear of reprisal, control our actions from fear of social pressure and physical suffering, and control our lives from fear of torture and death. The various examples I have listed are not ancient incidents from foregone civilizations. These things are happening daily across the world, and will continue as long as religion exists.
In round 3, I will cover the transgressions of religion upon women's rights, homosexuality, contraception and STD's, and finally, science and critical thinking.
For lack of space, I'll post all of my sources in a comment for confirmation. I've coordinated the numbers already for convenience.
Thank you for reading, and I give the floor back to my opponent, Hierocles.
I thank Con for presenting his case. I shall extend my rd 2 advantages, and counter his case. I look forward to his response.
ALL ADVANTAGES OF RELIGION CONCEDED
I thank CON for conceding all of my advantages. Con makes no attempt to refute or rebut a single one of them. Please extend advantages 1-7.
On my advantages, Con can only say, “Religion has no doubt done good things in the world…” Of course Con believes religion’s disadvantages outweigh any advantages, saying “...the shadow of religion will always reach farther than it's deeds.”
In his case, Con points to many dark shadows - but none of them belong to religion.
Religion = Poetry/Music/Art & CON Can't Link Religion to His DAs
(Cross-apply this argument to all of his disadvantages and list of travesties.)
Religion is an element of human existence like art that has permeated every civilization since the birth of language (i), and it will always be with us. Like poetry, music, and art it helps us get through the day by enriching our experience of the world. There is no link between religion and the disadvantages Con cites. Religion, at times, may be associated with certain movements but no more than that same movement is associated with other forms of human expression. Should we blame the 20 million deaths under Mao on “art” because the communist propaganda machine used illustrations to “re-educate” its citizens? Should we blame “music” for a war because many soldiers felt motivated by the beating of drums? Should we blame war on “poetry” because violent conquest is often romanticized in the epic poetry of antiquity? No.
Likewise, we should not try to indict religion through guilt of association since it has no causal link between itself and these dark shadows of humanity like violence and hate. Since these shadows have been with our species before civilization, and have persisted in secular regions across the globe (Russia, China, Eastern Europe) - there is no reason to believe religion casts these shadows since we see these shadows when religion is not present.
In other words, correlation is not causation. Religion should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty. Con needs to establish the link between religion and these harms. It’s not enough that the perpetrators happened to be religious. Stalin may have had staunchly atheistic motivations when he murdered 20 million people, burned down churches, and killed Eastern Orthodox priests to revolutionize society because he believed in Marxist teachings. But it would be problematic to blame those 20 million deaths on “atheism” or “Marxism.” Mental illness, Stalin’s extreme paranoia, as well as his political motivations to eradicate all civil institutions other than the state are probably more likely culprits. Ergo Con must demonstrate the link between religion and his harms. He must show us religion’s fingerprints on the smoking gun. If he cannot do that, then you should disregard all of his disadvantages.
I could easily post a list of atrocities committed by every secular actor to indict “secularism,” but you should not believe it unless I prove how the secular world belief caused the atrocities in question. In this debate the BOP is shared, and the one making the claim has the burden to prove it. Meaning Pro has the burden of proof in demonstrating my advantages while Con has the burden of proof when claiming his disadvantages.
Con provides a long list of bad events, but he fails to link religion to the vast majority of these events. (I will refute the few links he did provide.) Con needs to demonstrate how religion caused all of these events, if he cannot do that - then you should disregard them.
Given that we see poverty, war, shame, persecution of minorities, and domestic violence in secular areas committed by secual actors, what’s unqiue about religion that gives it this allegedly “dark shadow.” How do we know it’s not just the darker side of human nature casting this shadow, regardless of the agents’ belief-system?
Con contends that the number of denominations is evidence of division, implying that these divisions lead to “grave and tragic endings.” His (1) Pew research evidence does not support his claim about the grave and tragic, it only shows the geographic placement of varying sects/denominations. The number of denominations is no more insidious than the number of extracurricular activities at a high school. Different preferences often manifest into an array of different options. Most of the Christian denominations around today were created in the US post-1776 because of America’s broad religious liberty, not because of religious wars (ii).
Human Greed & Fear: Colonialism, Imperialism, Nationalism, Tribalism, Classism
(Response to Con point 4: Fear & Selfishness)
Much of the fearful persecution against minorities and other religious groups can be traced back to class divisions that were first imposed by European colonizers. Wherever European colonizers went they found it useful to impose laws that enforced religious based, as well as racial, segregation.
Before the colonizers arrived, most people did not notice major religious differences - peacefully coexisting and often intermarrying among different religions. Most non-European pre-colonial wars were fought over tribal differences, not religious ones. The European enforced classes often included an elite class that the colonizers preferred for varying reasons. The Europeans enriched this elite class at the price of the lower classes. In the often violent transition away from colonialism that continues to the present day, the lower classes often resented the elite class for economic/political reasons, and violently attack them in the post-colonial era to revolt against unequal economic relationships. Many of these revolutions took place in the late 20th century, but anti-colonial violence continues where most of the property is still owned by the elite-class, and or by the former colonizer. For example, in the former Belgian colony of Rwanda, most of the property was still owned by Belgian whites until 2013 (iii).
Case in point, in the British takeover of India, the British colonizers forced the very religiously diverse natives into separate classes, the Hindu class and the Muslim class. The British preferred Hindus and enriched them to be the “ruling” class. After the British left in 1947, the country descended into what could be described as a minor civil over war over property and wealth. The battle lines happened to fall on Hindu/Muslim lines because of British imported nationalism, and a century of British enforced religious segregation (iv). Before the British there was no way of telling if you were a Muslim or a Hindu due to a mix of intermarriage, and cross-over ritualistic practices. Under British colonialism, everyone knew from public records, and because each subject was forced to carry an ID that indicated one’s religious identity.
HUMAN GREED / COLONIALISM / IMPERIALISM(Cross apply this response to Con's (4.) Human Selfishness)
Con cannot link religion to these atrocities. Follow the evidence he cites. Each link leads to a website that summarizes the event, but none provide evidence that religion was the key motivation or cause of the atrocity in question. Each item in this section can be better attributed to human greed and its collective form - colonialism.
Turkish Empire - The Turks spread their empire, which had a mostly secular ruling class by the way, over centuries the same way Rome and Persia conquered the same region before them. Empires kill people to claim land, not because they’re inspired by pagan or Islamic teaching.
China- children sold into slavery for economic gain
Egypt: Shia muslims, along with other members of the Muslim brotherhood were slaughtered because of political tensions after the ousting of ex-President Mohamed Morsi by the US funded Egyptian military.
Malaysia - Shia was arrested for her faith, this would be blamed on a corrupt state (not religion).
Bahrain - this goes back to colonially enforced divisions from the colonial era. They’re based on the colonial legacy of economic/political divisions not religious conviction.
The legacy of colonialism and class-based poverty divides us, not religion. The US equivalent of anti-colonial violence was the race-riots of the 1960s & ‘70s. This violence was sparked by a legacy of slavery, which created segregated classes in the United States along racial lines. Despite most blacks and whites sharing the same religion - there was still violence because most violence is caused by highly unequal resources, especially when the lower class is living in abject poverty, not over theology.
2. Blood Sacrifices
Most of these can be better attributed to tribal tradition that pre-dates most world religions or mental illness. In the case of animal sacrifices, most people no longer sacrifice animals for religious purposes. The vast-vast-majority of animal deaths can attributed to the industrialized world’s demand for meat. Again, Con holds the burden of proof when making serious claims against religion. If he cannot prove religion causes these atrocities - then you should disregard the whole list in your decision.
Blaming Islam for every war fought by Muslim majority countries is absurd and orientalist. That would be like blaming Christianity for every every war ever fought by the USA, or like blaming Buddhism for every war fought by Japan and China, or Marxism for the 20 million killed by Stalin. Again, citing links that summarize the event is not enough. Con must demonstrate how Islam was guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of directly causing these events.
Giving to ANY religious organizations is considered charity (even church).
The current statistic of 65% (religious) and 56% (non-religious) people donating must be reconsidered now that we know 73% of all religious donations feed their own congregations.
2. Happier and Healthier
Not according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology after a 4 year global pole. (2)
Also, both of the links you posted suggested that happiness from religion comes from a sense of community. Just like you would defend against my claim by stating that religion isn't the causation, but the correlation of violence, I could say the same for social unity and happiness.
3. Sense of community
A social club can be born from any common interests. While religion may be a banner to unite some, it excludes others just as effortlessly. While a straight man and married woman might feel good in church there's a gay man and prostitute who would be made so uncomfortable or unwelcome they wouldn't attend. I don't contest the point that religion CAN be a social gathering, only that it's both unnecessary and harmful in exclusivity.
There are unfortunate downsides to hospitals that apply improper medical treatment derived from religion. Such a hospital would let a pregnant woman and her child die (3) under the guidance of the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" sooner than following any true medical doctrine. These are a direct result of unsubstantiated religious beliefs that influence decisions that cause harm and suffering to patients. (4)
"All Catholic hospitals are non-for-profit, and never turn anyone away regardless of color, creed, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or ability to pay."
Is this suggesting that non-religious hospitals are discriminatory?
According to a Gallup poll in over 100 countries, there's a direct and negative correlation between the wealth of a country and its religiosity. (5)
Another Gallop poll compares the per-capita income level to percentage of religiosity in the country (6):
$0-2000 (income)- 95% (polled stated religion was important in everyday life)
$2001-5000 - 92%
$5001-12,500 - 82%
$12,501-25,000 - 70%
$25,001+ - 47%
Some of the most successful countries are also the most secular:
Estonia - 16% polled stated religion was important in everyday life
Sweden - 17%
Denmark - 19%
Japan - 24%
Hong Kong - 24%
United Kingdom - 27%
Vietnam - 30%
France - 30%
Russia - 34%
Belarus - 34%
Staying within the confines of the US, you'll notice direct correlations between the states that claim to be "very religious" and the national rank of median household income. (7,8)
Most religious states:
Mississippi 58% (consider themselves very religious)- (50th) (rank of household income)
Utah 56% - (41st)
Alabama 56% - (44th)
Louisiana 53% - (42nd)
Arkansas 52% - (48th)
South Carolina 52% - (40th)
Tennessee 50% - (39th)
North Carolina 50% - (34th)
Georgia 48% - (30th)
Oklahoma 48% - (43rd)
Least religious states:
Vermont 19% - (19th)
New Hampshire 23% - (6th)
Maine 24% - (27th)
Massachusetts 27% - (4th)
Rhode Island 29% - (16th)
Oregon 29% - (23rd)
D.C 30% - (1st)
Nevada 31% - (18th)
Connecticut 31% - (3rd)
Washington 31% - (10th)
You claim that religion is vital to fighting poverty. I say religion thrives in poverty, where a lack of education and a desperate need for control hampers the rationality of unsure people.
Faith Based School:
Catholic schools require paid tuition, (not to mention their tax exemption) making them well funded. Comparing a public school to ANY private (or privately funded) school would lead to the same comparison, excluding the fallacious teachings involved in religion.
These schools can also be selective about posting scores for review, while public schools can't. This brings into question a selective presentation of the evidence. (9)
To claim a school that is better funded, tax exempt, and can be selective about their grade presentation would lead me to agree that they would look better. I claim its incomplete data.
Your source given on the topic:
Describes Buddhism as changing nothing, but consuming old religions and slightly tweaking its own to gather followers. (10)
Christianity was spread even better through the CONQUESTS of Christian rulers. (11)
Islam, in the same light, gathered armies just years after the death of Muhammad to conquer vast swaths of land. Although these areas didn't immediately convert, we can safely guess why they were uniformly Muslim a few centuries later. (12)
We do not need to go outside the natural realm to prove and evaluate morality. It's been proven in animals (13), experiments (14), and can be seen in our brains. (15)
There can be no argument that morality is intangible, and we have very good evidence to support the concept of evolutionary morality, while we have no evidence for objective and universal morality.
You claim we shouldn't blame poetry, music, or art for actions that may be caused from them. But you can blame the poet, musician, and artist who created them, as all are created with an agenda in mind.
In defense of my claims:
I didn't claim that 41,000 denominations fought or killed each other. (The Thirty Years' War (1), for an example of Christian violence) I suggested that religion inherently divides us, not necessarily always by violence, but social barriers too.
The first example of division in the name of religion is exclusively Sunni on Shia violence. These incidents are directly attributed to religion beyond the shadow of any doubt.
The Ottoman Empire - you cite no sources claiming the Turkish Empire was mostly secular, as the stated religion of the entire empire was Sunni Islam. In fact, the primary goal of the state was to "defend and extend the land of the Muslims and to ensure security and harmony within its borders within the overarching context of orthodox Islamic practice and dynastic sovereignty." (2)
China - It was for economic gain, but the men and women who were targeted were based strictly off of religious context, nothing else.
Your defense against Bahrain does not stand against the quote of the captors attempting to "psychologically humiliate the island's Shiite majority into silent submission." This isn't the "the islands poor" or "the islands loyalists or nationalists" this is specific targeting based strictly on the Shiite Muslims, of which you also made no citations to prove your point, I'll repost mine. (3)
Your defense against blood sacrifice "can be better attributed to tribal tradition that pre-dates most world religions or mental illness."
This isn't a defense, however. We aren't discussing current world religion, or the most popular. ANY actions caused by religion are acceptable, especially those committed as recently as 2010, 2006, 2005, and 2003. If PRO cannot explain with sources or reasonability how these actions would have been committed in the absence of religion, than the points stand valid. The burden of proof now falls upon you.
You skipped the Indian massacres, the Mountain Meadow Massacre, and the Christians in Rome.
In reference to my sources, I fear you skimmed over the material too quickly.
"Assyrians, Greeks, and other non-Turks and non-Muslims, had either to be assimilated fully or else eliminated in one way or another" (4)
Political prisoners executed for "being infidels" (5)
"Numeiri declared jihad against Christian leader Colonel John Garang de Mabior, then again from Al-Bashir" (6,7)
"Pakistan, translated as 'The Land of the Pure', was intolerant of Bengalis because they were not 'pure' Muslims." (8)
These are a few; I guarantee that the rest of my links have an explanation, derived entirely from religious motives.
Denial of Women's rights:
Buddhism - Limited attainment of enlightenment because of gender. "Women must be obedient to their husbands" and bow to every monk that passes them. (9,10)
Christianity - Women belong to men, and are to be obedient and silent. Women are often treated as property, and the only value placed on women is sexual. If they lose virginity without God's permission, they are to be killed violently. Newborn girls are considered twice as unclean as boys. (11)
Islam - Islam enforces even heavier burdens upon women, teaching them that it's disrespectful to even show their face in public, or be alone with men who aren't family. The singular attitude of Islam can be understood by reading about Malala Yousafzai, a girl who had the audacity to try and receive an education. (12)
Women must struggle for the rights of personal autonomy, rights of which even CORPSES possess. (13)
The Abrahamic religions explicitly forbid homosexuality. Even saying the act is an abomination, and carried the death penalty. (14)
Homosexuals have suffered consequences ranging from social ostracizing to torture and death. Here is a long list within the US alone from 1970 to present, please read some: (19)
Currently there are 77 countries in which homosexuality is outlawed, 7 of which the death penalty applies. (15)
In no secular literature does this idea of such extreme homophobia come forth. No other concept besides religion declares that homosexuals must die in the name of it.
Contraception and STDs:
Unintended pregnancy and STD contraction are linked to Christian resistance to true sexual education and dogmatic clinging to "abstinence only" sex education. (16)
According to the National Survey of Family Growth, teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50% less likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy than those who received abstinence only education. (17)
States previously reported as the most religious also have the highest reported instances of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. (18)
The emphasis placed on the entirely unrealistic method of abstinence is from religion.
Sources in comments.
Thank you for reading!
Thank you - this has been an enjoyable debate. Disclaimer: In round 3 I claimed that Con dropped all of my advantages, 1-7. This was misleading since Con still had opportunity to respond to them in round 3 and 4, my apologies. I will defend my advantages, and refute the sparse defense Con made for his own disadvantages.
“Religiously Affiliated” Includes Tons of Organizations Like the United Way &
Charity Advantage Outweighs Con’s Case
1. First, Con ignores all of the sources I cited in round 2. The study he cites in rd-3 doesn’t refer to my sources. My rd-2 (ii) NBC news collected data from the site http://www.justgiving.com..., which focuses on charities directly targeted at serving the under priveledged- NOT church/temple/mosque upkeep as Con supposes. Furthermore, I cited an article from rd-2 (v) Philanthropy.com that demonstrated not only do religious people tend to give more and more often to charity, but:
“The three most popular charitable causes for all households regardless of religious affiliation were, in descending order: basic social services, “combined purpose” organizations (like United Way), and health care.”
According to Philanthrophy.com and the studies they cite, most give to charities that directly serve those in need, not church upkeep like Con supposes.
Secondly, Con claims (from a mis-reading of his (RD) Religion Dispatches evidence) “73% of all religious donations feed their own congregations.” This is patently false, and Con has no support for it. His RD evidence states the study cited defined “religious giving” as all “religiously-affiliated organizations like Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.” Many organizations from the United Way to the Salvation Army to Feed the Children to Habitat For Humanity to every children’s hospital with the phrase “Sacred Heart” in the name happens to be religiously affiliated. But the number one priority for all of these institutions is to serve those in need, NOT maintain a congregation’s religious space like CON asserts in a mis-reading of his own evidence. Con believed that 73% of donations went to a paritioner’s “congregation.” I’ve proven this false with my Philanthropy, Just-Giving, and Con’s RD evidence. Con’s point has been well refuted, so you should extend all of Pro’s points.
Extend my CHARITY and link it to my INSTITUTION advantage for religion. For example, as stated in rd-2, the Catholic Church provides 26% of healthcare services in the world! As a non-for-profit, the Catholic Church does NOT charge anything for those that cannot afford to pay AND does not discriminate based on creed, color, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. This is enough to VOTE PRO right now. Even if you believe some of Con’s disadvantages (cross-apply this argument to the whole case), this advantage outweighs all of them because the Catholic Church alone provides 26% of the health care for the planet. 26% of the world’s sick would be destitute in a world without the Catholic church. I’ve demonstrated that religious folks give more to charity than non-religious folks, and have a religious motivation to do so. I’ve provided a religion charity LINK in rd-2 that CON did not challenge. Therefore, a secular organization simply hasn’t, can’t, and won’t replace the charitable scope of religiously affiliated charities like Habitat for Humanity and Catholic hospitals.
2. Religious Folks Tend to Be Happier & Healthier
The study Con cites in rd-3 actually supports my claim, reading:
“Religious affiliation appears to boost happiness and well-being in societies that fail to provide adequate food, jobs, healthcare, security and educational opportunities, the researchers found. Religious people in religious societies are more likely to report that they feel respected, receive more social support and experience more positive and less negative feelings than their peers who are not religious.”
I provided the link to this advantage in rd-2, link my rd-2 definitional supplement to advantage as well. Religion goes hand-in-hand with a community the same way Vitamin-C goes hand in hand with drinking orange-juice. Religious people form organizations with sacred guiding principles, and these sacred guiding principles best support a community building because everyone is expected to love and help one another. (This usually isn’t the case in a bowling or science club).
3. Religion Provides a Sense of Community
See my argument in the paragraph above. Faith-based communities are the MOST INCLUSIVE and make religious folks happier because sacred guiding principles trump social norms that would typically exclude classes of people like the elderly and handicapped from a social-gathering you would host at your house. Sacred guiding principles demand people in faith-based communities love and support each other in ways not demanded in a bowling club.
All people regardless of sexual orientation are welcome in Buddhist temples, Unitarian, Jewish synagogues, and most mainline Christian churches in the US. Where they’re discriminated against it’s tragic and can be better attributed to a heteronormative bias, which thrives most in poverty, that pre-dates the major world religions.
4. Faith-Based Institutions
The “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" are NOT binding, most hospitals don’t follow them, and Con misunderstands them anyway. Con demonstrates this with the article describing how a Catholic church ALLOWED an abortion at their hospital.
Catholic based hospitals are non-for-profit and never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay for the needed procedures. Many secular hospitals discriminate against the poor, by turning away patients that cannot afford treatment.
There’s no link between poverty and religiosity. 1st, even if it was, I already established that religious people give more to charity than the secular. 2nd, the data is problematic. The vast majority of humans have been religious for the vast majority of human history. Atheism has only emerged as a minority in Western countries that teach enlightenment based science. This education requires the country to be wealthy. (Most religious folks in the Western world believe in science fyi.) The data about religion and wealth is not-unique. 3rd, none of Con’s data links to my Institution advantage. Regardless of private wealth in varying states, faith-based institutions operate just as prevalently in wealthy states like New York and Massachusetts as they do in states with the greatest needs. Furthermore, we can tell the alleged link is not consistent since citizens in US and Western Europe tend to be wealthier and more religious than citizens in China and Russia.
5. Social Transformation
Buddhism gave equality to the lowest caste of Hindus by treating all people equally.
Christianity and Islam transformed pagan cultures of hedonism into cultures of philanthropy and self-discipline. Wars waged by kings/tribe-leader were waged to advance the territory of kings/tribe-leaders. Con cannot demonstrate any link between the commoners’ religion and actions of the state.
6. Metaphysics & Ethics
Refer to Hume and the is / ought error I demonstrated in my rd-2 hypothetical. You can always describe what “is” but that shouldn’t be conflated with what ‘ought’ to be. I can describe a war in Syria, from reports on the news, but only an ethical judgment based on faith in human-rights or love will inform what OUGHT to be done. All of the studies Con cites only can explain natural empathy felt toward those near them, especially those in our own family. None of those studies can explain why we should care about human beings on the other side of the world.
Poetry & Religion
CON: “But you can blame the poet, musician, and artist who created them, as all are created with an agenda in mind.” Extend Con’s argument to refute Con’s entire case. Don’t blame religion. Blame the bad pastor or warmonger that flew a religious banner in bad-faith. Meanwhile acknowledge religion writ-large does more good than harm by enriching people’s worlds and encouraging collective altruism in varying ways.
I’ve refuted all of Con’s attacks on my advantages. Ergo all of my advantages stands. Extend all of my advantages! Even if you believe some of Con’s disadvantages they are outweighed by my advantages, 1-6.
Con’s Claims: NO LINKS BETWEEN RELIGION and Con’s Disadvantages
Many of Con’s claims overlap or are repetitive. They can be distilled into the following points.
(1) “Religious” Wars
Con cannot demonstrate a link, despite numerous opportunities. States will always wage war to advance the interests of the state. It’s absurd to blame the religion of the commoners’ for the actions of the kings.
(2) Religion and Rights
Con cannot cite any link between the actions and the religion in question. Much of the horror typically attributed to religion can be better attributed to factors that predate religion like tribal traditions and mental illness. Islam actually bettered the lives of people when it first began by giving women the right to own property, the right to abortion in some cases, and the right to move about freely.
Ironically, only recently have LGBT peoples been fully accepted in parts of the US and Western Europe in Christian majority countries.
(3) Religion & Institutions
Con doesn’t understand how religious institutions (like hospitals and schools) operate. They follow the same laws as secular institutions and do not force their religious beliefs onto the people they benefit. All religious schools are non-for-profit and most (not all) provide free schooling to people, especially to those in the developing world.
Most of Con’s advantages have no link, and the few that do refer to fringe groups that are clearly outweighed by Pro’s huge charity/institution advantage, ie Catholic hospitals provide 26% of the health care on Earth.
I hold to the claim that a large percentage of PRO's claims of philanthropy funnel back into the church. And not the boon to charities as PRO would suggest. Let our respective evidences be the deciding factor.
"As a non-for-profit, the Catholic Church does NOT charge anything for those that cannot afford to pay AND does not discriminate based on creed, color, gender, sex, or sexual orientation."
I indirectly countered this claim in round 3, allow me to expand upon the Mercy Health Partners story I referred to earlier, as PRO is gravely misrepresenting the details:
Tamesha Means was turned away 3 times from the Catholic hospital, (despite being in labor, intense pain, and fever from infection) after the hospital found out it could not continue to hold the patient AND operate under "The Ethical and Religious Directives". Her chances of dying during childbirth were "close to 100%" and so the hospital simply refused to treat her under the directives of the Church, as abortions are not optional. Margaret McBride, a board member who approved the abortion, was auto-excommunicated and the Church even severed ties with the hospital after they couldn't obtain a promise that "no abortions would be performed in the future".
This should be clearly recognized as nothing else other than a religious organization refusing to budge in the face of medical science and the advancement of women's rights out of nothing but sheer religious dogma.
"Therefore, a secular organization simply hasn't, can't, and won't replace the charitable scope of religiously affiliated charities like Habitat for Humanity and Catholic hospitals."
It's worth noting that you claim secular society is the minority when needed to defend against wealth and success, however expect the same minority to compete on a global scale with the "vast majority of humans (that) have been religious for the vast majority of human history."
2. Happier and Healthier
"The study Con cites in rd-3 actually supports my claim"
This is another case of selective evidence, in complete context:
"In religious societies and in difficult circumstances, religious people are happier than nonreligious people. But in nonreligious societies or more benign societies where many people's needs are met, religious people aren't happier...Religious people in secular countries report more negative feelings than the nonreligious do, however."
"Religion goes hand-in-hand with a community the same way Vitamin-C goes hand in hand with drinking orange-juice."
As has been demonstrated, religion goes hand in hand with both poverty and ignorance, according to the data cited in round 3. This point has little to do with charity, and the consequences of faith based institutions upon the masses are evident in my claims of STD's, birth control, false teachings, and bigotry in religiously dominated societies.
"This usually isn't the case in a bowling or science club"
This is the 3rd time that you've referenced a bowling club. I make no claims that a recreational club for fun is going to build strong community bonds, (although it will undoubtedly help). In respect to you, and this debate I will refrain from introducing new evidence you can't counter, however I'll simply suggest that there are many secular organizations that are specifically for helping those in need. These are created with the intent of helping those in need and applying humanistic morality to the community or world. No religion required. (On another note, you've got me wanting to go bowling. If that was you're plan, you've succeeded.)
3. Sense of Community
"Faith-based communities are the MOST INCLUSIVE and make religious folks happier because sacred guiding principles trump social norms that would typically exclude classes of people like the elderly and handicapped from a social-gathering you would host at your house."
This is overtly incorrect, and the evidence even lies within the sentence itself. You mention religion being most inclusive, while in the same breath state that it makes religious folks happier. Religion makes you happier as long as YOU are of that religion. However in the case of the dominant religion in the US who has been demonstrated to look down on women, homosexuals, prostitutes, and a myriad of other people belonging to different groups, this is most obviously false. While a party at my house may not be wheelchair accessible or safe for someone with severe autism, I would never place societal pressure or physical punishment upon someone for being the way they are as religion as demonstrably done in the past, present, and foreseeable future.
"Where they're (homosexuals) discriminated against it's tragic and can be better attributed to a heteronormative bias, which thrives most in poverty, that pre-dates the major world religions."
Suggesting that hate for a homosexual predates religion, and is most prominent in poverty is incorrect.
Some of the wealthiest and most successful countries in the world are responsible for laws and hate towards homosexuals. Interestingly, as posted previously, we can see a trend between a country's success and their secularism, as well as their secularism and their tolerance of people that the world's religions are typically against.
In reference to it predating religion, this would imply that religion simply adopts the non-religious standards around them and has no effect on the well-being of people. Like the disrespect for homosexuals and poor treatment of women. If religion is simply the avatar of what a culture or society already believes, than we have no need for religion.
4. Faith Based Institutions
As previously mentioned, hospitals are very much expected to follow the binding terms of the "Ethical and Religious Directives" at the risk of the Church severing ties with them completely and auto-excommunication for their staff (and eternal souls). This is a hard blow to more than 25% of the world's population that can only be served by religious churches.
5. Social Transformation
As repeatedly demonstrated, the religious have acted out of self-righteousness to justify horrific actions that have killed millions, and used some of your sources on this point to support that claim.
6. Metaphysics and Ethics
I claim our natural understanding of empathy that derives from morality guides us just as much in our decision making for every human. There are many who care little about someone on the other side of the world. However, if they were placed in the middle of the madness, they would be overwhelmed with empathy. This further supports the idea of a relative morality based on circumstances rather than an objective and "baseline" code of ethics that religion implies, of which we have no proof, and has caused substantial death and misery under the premise of acting under the false pretenses of "moral superiority".
"Don't blame religion. Blame the bad pastor or warmonger that flew a religious banner in bad-faith."
Unless you accept the idea that religion is and always was "bad faith" by its very nature. It is another tool of creativity to influence control. When the foundation is faulty everything built on top of it will be faulty as well.
PRO offers no counter claims to support his reasoning that all of the conflicts I listed were done in direct result of religious intolerance. I've gone to the trouble of directly quoting the sources for you, dear reader, in an effort to defend PRO's claims that I was lacking evidence.
PRO made no attempts to counter my claims of the long withstanding tradition of the religious and denial of rights, or the consequences of those who dare to challenge this status quo.
Using Islam in defense is unacceptable, as it is cited being one of the most modern and most grossly violating of women's rights.
There are 14,000,000 deaths PRO didn't counter.
Brutal sect violence occurring to this day.
Deplorable human rights violations occurring regularly, openly, and worldwide such as sacrifices, torture, honor killings, and murder.
The torture and murder of homosexuals in the US, Europe, and Russia.
Organizations that existed at the behest of the Church that torture and execute people for not believing.
Ignorance of sex education responsible for the spread of both STD's and unintended pregnancies.
Denial of scientific advancement both in the educational and medical realm that reinforces false knowledge supported with pseudo-science that allows ALL previous claims to occur.
The denial of women's rights that secures a male dominated world where girls are shot in the face for daring to receive an education, imprisoned or beaten for showing their faces, and denied rights that even corpses possess.
These points are unchallenged, unacceptable, and born from religion or ignorance thereof.
These support my claim the religion does more harm than good.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read both of our arguments, and regardless of your original stance, I challenge you to consider the opposing viewpoint.
Most importantly I'd like to thank Hierocles for the opportunity to debate with him, and to demonstrate that both parties can debate such a sensitive topic without it coming to name calling or blows.
Thanks again, and may the best argument win.
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