The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

One does not need to believe in "God" to be moral.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,976 times Debate No: 20093
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




I've set everything to the maximum (rounds, voting period, etc) as I am very interested in everyone's opinion. I have not specified an opponent, so anyone may join in. Now on to my argument.

I am an atheist (as my profile will confirm). This argument (personally) stems from a similar one I had with my ex-girlfriend. Is a belief in "God" a prerequisite for morality? While I do admit that many moral values stem from religious beliefs held by many, I disagree with the statement that morality is only in those that are religious.

For the purpose of this debate, we'll use the following definitions.

God: The christian deity, believed responsible for the creation of everything in existence.

Religion: Christianity (because it is the most prevalent religion in the USA)

Atheism: The dis-belief in God

Moral: principals or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct [1]

As I stated earlier, I believe that religion is not a prerequisite for morality. However, I do believe that everyone has varied morals, and they are not all wrong. While society in general agrees on some moral values (i.e. murder is wrong), there are some touchy moral issues that cannot be resolved specifically because people do not agree on these values.

Round 1: Acceptance and Opening Statements

Round 2: Religion and Morals

Round 3: Debate

Round 4: Rebuttal

Round 5: Closing Comments

I am eager to hear everyone's opinions on this matter. I look forward to this debate.



As is my job as the Con "speaker," I do oppose this resolution and argue that without a belief in God one cannot be moral. My argument does not simply rest on the Bible, although I may reference it in future rounds. My argument will rest primarily on the definitions which my opponent has provided.

I agree with all my opponents definitions, particularly the definition of religion as "Christianity" and God as "the Christian Deity," for it is my position that any religion outside the Christian religion is a false religion and any deity aside from the Christian Deity is a false god. I would like to, however, emphasize his definition of moral:

"principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct"

It is upon this definition that I will base the entirety of my argument.

So, with definitions out of the way, I will proceed with my argument as follows:
a) To demonstrate that there must be a standard for morality
b) To prove that God is the standard for morality
c) To prove that no man can lead a moral life


Contention #1: There must be a standard for morality

To repeat, my opponent defined moral as "principals or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct." Within this contention, I plan to focus on the last little bit, "right or wrong conduct." As my opponent stated, "everyone has varied morals." If morals are simply personal principles or habits, then we have no way through which to determine if one is moral or not. You may say that murder is wrong, I may say it is right. By what right do you say that I have an immoral viewpoint? Why is my conduct wrong and yours right? If you say it is because my viewpoint harms other people, then I must ask, why is harming other people bad?

Of course, the above scenario is a little ridiculous–we both agree that murder is wrong. But why do we judge murder to be wrong and something like giving to the poor to be right? How can we make such a judgement, if there is no standard of morality? We must–nay, we do–have an intrinsic standard. There must be an objective standard for morality if we are to judge right from wrong.

Contention #2: God is the standard for morality

Only through believing in God can we call evil "evil." Our standard for morality cannot be derived from nature because moral behavior is not seen amongst our fellow creatures. Unless there is force that commands us to live moral lives, then we have no reason to live morally. Why would I not kill a man so I could take his food, unless there is a deity which has given me the knowledge that murder is wrong? Animals certainly kill each other all the time. Please address this in the next round. I will be happy to elaborate on anything you question.

Contention #3: No mankind can live a "good" life.

Because we have not agreed that God gives us the standard of morality, I will base my arguments in this contention not upon the Ten Commandments, which are the only perfect laws to govern man, but upon general beliefs of right and wrong (which of course, come from God :p )

Let's say your morals are simply your beliefs and practices about right and wrong. I must assert that your actions reflect your beliefs. If you believe rape is wrong, you will not rape.

I'm sure you would agree that lying is wrong, and thus I can assume that lying is against your morals. Have you ever lied? I'm sure you have (no offense!) If so, then you're not living in accordance with your morals, and thus you are immoral.

I'm sure you would agree that hatred is wrong, and thus I can assume that hating people is against your morals. Have you ever been so mad at someone that you can punch them in the face? (I'm so guilty of this one) Then you are (or you have) living (or lived) in a way inconsistent with your morals, and thus you are immoral. See the pattern?

This does not simply apply to you because you are an atheist. I am demonstrating that no mankind can truly live a moral life because mankind is flawed. We are not perfect, but to be moral, we must be in perfect conformity to our morals.

Nobody can live a moral life, let alone without God. But God is our standard for morality.

I look forward to your rebuttal :)
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate, DebateIsTheEssenceOfLife. Now on to my rebuttal and arguments.

Contention 1: There must be a standard for morality.

I agree with this statement. There must be, and there is, a standard for morality.

Contention 2: God is the standard for morality.

But I disagree that a belief in God is the standard. Looking back on history, before Christianity was the "dominant" religion (it is not today, but for the purpose of this argument, I'll only focus on it), society existed and functioned well. If we look at pre-Christianity empires, such as the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, etc. we can see that these empire functioned so well that they were able to expand their influence across much of their respective regions. This was all done without a belief in God, but belief in societal morals that were enforced by their respective religions.

We can also look farther back, before organized religion, to the first humans on the planet. They may have lived immoral lives by today's standards, but eventually they gathered around similar moral guidelines set by their culture. These morals came in to being without the influence of Christianity and God.

Therefore, the standards of morality were not and are not set by God, but by the society in which one lives.

As for your point at the end of Contention 2, morality can only exist in sentient beings. The concept of morality is a very complex thing. It goes far beyond instinct, which many animals live by. In order to be moral, a being must have the intelligence to communicate thoroughly with others and, as one of the requirements for sentience, must be self-aware. If we look at a wolf, for instance, we can see a great amount of intelligence. Wolves effectively hunt as a pack, communicate well with each other, and have a well-established hierarchy. But they are not sentient. They still rely on instinct (though to a lesser extent than a frog, for example). A wolf will sooner turn on its own kind for survival than it will stop to think "I shouldn't kill my kinsmen."

The very fact that humans are sentient and capable of that split second thought, "Is this right?" sets us apart from animals and thus we cannot be compared to wild animals when searching for the standards of morality.

Contention 3:No mankind can live a "good" life

I will agree with your statement that one's action reflects one's morals. We can both agree that lying is wrong, but as such, lying may not always be immoral. Allow me to present a hypothetical situation. You are held hostage by a terrorist organization. They are interrogating you for the location of some nuclear weapons. You know where these weapons are located, but you also know that, upon gaining position of said weapons, these terrorists will use them against your fellow countrymen. Is it moral to tell the truth and allow citizens to die, or is it moral to lie and prevent the deaths of many?

While this example is extreme, I believe it shows that, although lying may be "wrong," it is not always immoral. Mankind is indeed flawed, but these flaws are what make us human. "To err is human..." No single person on this planet can claim perfection and outright morality. But this is not because mankind is inherently immoral without God, this is because, as I stated in round one, morals vary from person to person. What I see as moral on one issue, you may not. Therefore from your perspective, I am immoral. Mankind is inherently immoral because mankind does not have a set of morals that unify every individual.


Mankind is only immoral because mankind cannot agree on morals. But, in an attempt to unify everyone, society has set forth general morals that everyone living in said society agrees upon.


Overall, I like your rebuttal; your perspective is interesting and your argument is philosophical. But there are a couple issues I take with your case (because it disagrees with mine ;) )


Contention 1: There must be a standard for morality.

Since we both agree, then there is no purpose in arguing here. I'd just like to point out that it logically follows from this argument that there is a single standard for morality. Some acts are inherently wrong, and such acts are not evil because they have violated nature's laws, but because they violate God's laws. As agreed by both sides, murder, rape, etc is wrong. This leads me straight into your rebuttal to my second point.

Contention 2: God is the standard for morality.

Because I have a lot to say here, I will, for clarity's sake, organize my argument into three sub–contentions.

a) We are debating the individual.

The topic at hand is if "one" can be moral whilst disbelieving in God (defined as the Christian God). We are not debating whether or not nonchristian societies can be moral. This is not central to my case, but I thought it warranted mention.

b) Societies mentioned are not moral.

I do not mean to sound condescending and I apologize if I do, but there is no connection between a society conquering and a society being moral. The fact that the Roman Empire ruled almost the entirety of the known world whilst disbelieving in God does not prove that the society was moral; it simply proves that the society was powerful. Hitler conquered Poland, most of Czechoslovakia, and assisted Mussolini in his conquests. This does not make him moral; it makes powerful. Further, the Greek citizens lived incredibly immoral lives. Pedophilia ran rampant in Greek society. I'm sure we can both agree that such behavior is not moral.

c) Moral standards are not derived from nature.

If there is no God; then all that exists is material (would you not agree?) As we agree, morality violates basic killer instincts. The idea that when I want food I can't kill someone for it is not an idea that comes from nature; it has a supernatural source. How, if there is no God, has man inherited a sense of "right and wrong?"

3. No mankind can live a "good" life.

a) Morals are absolute

We agreed under contention 1 that there must be a standard for morality, and thus one cannot determine ones morals for oneself. Mankind is not immoral because morals vary, but he is immoral because of his nature.

b) Man lives in a state of depravity

Since we both agree that one's behaviors expose one's beliefs, I'd like to address this part with the presupposition that in order to be moral, one must live in conformity with the moral standard. I would agree with you that lying is justified under some conditions, but that wasn't my point. I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear enough (that's a sincere apology, even though it doesn't sound like it :p)

To make this clear, let's look at another vice: adultery. Most people would agree that cheating on one's spouse or girlfriend is wrong (God calls it "sin"). You may, if you have a girlfriend, believe that it would be wrong of you to cheat on her. If you look at a girl and think, "I totally want to hit that," then you have effectively cheated on your girlfriend. In doing so, you have violated your morals. Similarly, if one believes that gossip is wrong, and one participates in gossip, that person has violated their morals. Those who participate in this behavior (which would be just about everyone in the world) are immoral.

Christians, even, participate in sinful behavior. My point, to summarize in one sentence, is: violated morality just once makes you immoral, and everyone violates morality.

c) Only God can enable one to live morally.

This is a new argument, and one that would require a whole new debate (with far more than five rounds) to truly do justice to. Since it has not been brought up in previous rounds, I think it would be most fair if I warned you I will bring it up in the next round so you can prepare yourself :p


Mankind is immoral because mankind is mankind.
Debate Round No. 2


NStillings forfeited this round.


I'll assume that you did not forfeit this round because you give up, but rather because life after Christmas break got really hectic and was not a priority (and rightly so!) Thus, instead of posting further argument, I will merely allow this round to pass and continue to await your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 3


NStillings forfeited this round.


It seems the debate has ended. Shame, it had a lot of potential. All good things must end
Debate Round No. 4


NStillings forfeited this round.


DebateIsTheEssenceOfLife forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by NStillings 6 years ago
@ iTzDanneh I'll change that. What I meant is it is the most prevalent in the United States.
Posted by MasterKage 6 years ago
Whoops. XP.

I didn't even see the definitions at first. Ignore my last post.
Posted by MasterKage 6 years ago
This needs definitions on God and moral.
Posted by iTzDanneh 6 years ago
Christianity isnt the most populous religion...
Posted by Mr.Infidel 6 years ago
Sounds interesting. Tracked!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wiploc 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited, so Con gets the points. It's interesting, though. The resolution is that you don't need god to be moral, and Con argued that you can't be moral regardless. It's as if Con was trying to lose. If Con is right that you can't be moral regardless of whether you believe in god, then it follows that you don't need god to be moral, right? But Pro still forfeited.