The Instigator
Sotiras
Con (against)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
The_Harlequin
Pro (for)
Winning
25 Points

Organized Religion

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/23/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,552 times Debate No: 14482
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

Sotiras

Con

My position is that all organized religion is simply a relic of the dark ages. Religion depends on blind faith rather than evidence and reasoning, as godless science does.

I'm not saying you can't have a personal God, but ORGANIZED religion, wherein a rigidly held theistic belief is taught in a systematic way, including the indoctrination of the children of those who believe in their system, without giving them a real chance to choose for themselves, is accepted by a relatively large group of people.

Make any argument you can for organized religion, and any religion, at that. I will show how it is unnecessary or even detrimental to modern society.
The_Harlequin

Pro

Hello! I see you're new to the site, as am I, and I'd like to get my teeth into an intellectual debate to start off with here.

What you seem to have set your position up to be is that faith in a structured, traditionalist sense is on balance, a bad thing. I will oppose your position here on the following grounds:

1. That organized religion offers a comforting presence in the lives of its followers
2. That organized religion has been, and continues to be, a good moral influence on the world as a whole.

I will argue this from a humanist perspective as opposed to a religious one, I will not use any specific religious evidence to back up my arguments, I will simply use real, historical evidence. For the purposes of the debate, I will argue the merits of religion in the present day and we will leave what is in the past in the past.



1. On my first point, religion offers its adherents a sense of well being. In most major world religions, we see a Deity orchestrating the universe. Whatever misfortunes befall a believer are part of God(s)'s plan. The religious inhabit a world where they are loved and cherished by a loving, supernatural being. It is based on a fundamental human need to be loved and to know that good will prevail and everything will be ok. That there is a guiding moral presence in the world and ultimately, the good WILL be rewarded and the evil WILL be punished. Whether or not there is a god is irrelevant, the belief in God affords solace in times of sadness and something to look forward to after life. I anticipate a counter argument that this can be had with a personal deity, and I do not deny this, but the great strength of organized religion is that it is well, organized. You are not alone in your beliefs, you are supported and have a community of faith around you who will celebrate an mourn with you, share festivals with you, share morals with you, ideals and more. The comforting benefits provided by organized religion are not provided by solitary worship.

2. On my second point, religion offers a moral code. This may seem simplistic, or like a rehash of my first point, but allow us to analyze that statement. Morality is subjective, atheists are conflicted on many philosophical issues, but the religious share their idea of morality. They have an objective view of right and wrong and for centuries, millennia even, this has provided the basis for human moral thought. Without the presence of a strict, uncomplicated view of good and bad, we would have no order in the world. Most religious moral codes are congruent, those of the Abrahamic faiths are virtually interchangeable, for example, and the religious moral perspective is responsible for the development of human society. Obviously not everything an organized religion declares to be moral is moral, but an organized religious moral mentality is the cornerstone of the legal system, of philosophy, and of human interaction itself.

Based on these points I argue that a religious mindset is a good thing in today's world. In the following rounds I will chiefly be expanding on these points and of course giving rebuttal. Once again I would like to thank my opponent for offering an intellectual challenge and wish him luck over the course of the debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Sotiras

Con

Thank you so very much for not being a zealot of any specific religion (I was dreading the possibility of some young Earth creationist showing up with their myriad cherry-picked Bible quotes) I really do appreciate that.

Concerning your argument that organized religion more powerfully gives a sense of an all-loving deity than any personal God could, I suppose I should concede to that point, as it is well-made. of course, I have no problem at all with people finding comfort for themselves in the belief that everything happens for a reason. What I have a problem with is the imposition of these beliefs as if they were facts, and the belief that they should be presented as an equally valid position in any scientific medium.

Of course, I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that an organized religion provides a good moral absolute. While the video that I'll include pretty much sums it up, I'll put it into text as well, just in case anyone doesn't have access to that media for whatever reason. Basically, Richard Dawkins is asked about moral absolutes, by someone I presume to be Muslim. Dawkins destroys the argument of religion providing moral absolutes by citing certain aspects of Sharia law that state both apostates and adulterers should be put to death, and that there is an actual punishment for breaking the Sabbath (I suggest you watch the video if you can, as he words it much better than I could) Also, there is of course the completely dogmatically based homophobia of the Mormon church, or the outright scam of Scientology (Although I suppose its unfair to cite Scientology, considering it is a cult, not a religion)

No one organized religious belief is without its faults. In fact, statistics have shown that born-again Christians account for more than 33% of the population of the U.S. penal system, while Atheists make up less than 1% (I believe it was at roughly 0.3%) So obviously, the message of evolved morality [See: AronRa's "Evolution of Morality (1-5) on YouTube, if possible] speaks to Atheists more powerfully than the threat of eternal punishment speaks to Christians.
Now that I know you're not going to try and preach the beliefs of any one religion, I can honestly say that I eagerly await your rebuttal.
The_Harlequin

Pro

I am quite glad we've established on one point a legitimate benefit of organized religion. I also concede that the distortion of established scientific fact is a major failing of religion in the modern world, especially seeing that religion has, as a whole, furthered science more than hindered it in the past.

(This point is largely irrelevant, but I feel a great responsibility to back it up. When people think religion and science, they think Galileo and the suppression of his findings or some other transgression of the Roman Catholic Church. To this I say look East. Look at the discoveries in the Islamic world in the fields of science, mathematics, economics and politics. Look to the Catholic Church's advancement of mathematics through architecture or art. I simply feel that the good done for science by religion outweighs the bad. However, this debate focuses on the present day, and so, I will remain on topic and in time frame)

I will nonetheless, be scrutinizing the proposition that it is the fault of organized religion.

Henceforth, when speaking on the first point as defined in round one, I will preface it with a "1." Likewise, I shall preface any expansions on my second point with a "2." Should a new point be introduced I shall title it and then number it appropriately.


1. I put it to you that organized religion in its broadest sense does not foster a climate of fundamentalism. I would shift the blame to smaller factions within organized communities of faith promoting literal interpretation of their religious credo and would not qualify such groups that were not sanctioned by the larger body as "organized religious groups". To take an extreme example, look at Al Qaeda. This is not a religious organization. It is a lay group of religious fanatics with a political agenda. The vast majority of Muslims do not wish to be associated with this group and as such they are not a good exemplar of an organized religious group. Their motivations are political, twisted by religion, yes, but they chiefly cite a free Palestine as their ultimate goal.

Likewise, on a smaller scale, there are certain extremist factions in America who would teach Creationism alongside or even above Evolution. I would point anyone reading this to a group like the Tea Party. Such groups, more often than not, have definite political agendas, and are not sanctioned or led by any organized religious group. They simply profess allegiance to a Church. These groups are lay groups, and if you can point me to a large, well supported organized religious group who actively oppose science, I will attempt to argue that point.

First, a brief note on cults. It is interesting to note you distinguish between organized religions and cults, labeling the Church of Scientology the latter. I congratulate you on this distinction. Cults are by definition distorters of the truth, and should be put to one side. These groups are however, both organized and religious. Therefore I feel we must zero in on better populated communities of faith for the purposes of the argument. It confirms the point I have made up to now that a small faction of zealots cannot be taken as a representative branch of a faith. I presume we are willing to label some of the most extreme branches of Calvinism or aforementioned religious groups with political agendas as cults.


2. On morality and moral absolutes.

Now, your point here seems to focus on religious morality in its original context. While I concede, aspects of certain religious moral codes including Sharia law and the laws laid out in the Biblical book of Leviticus are barbaric, for the purposes of the debate we must take the point that Dawkins ridiculed seriously, "we've grown out of it". From your definition I understood the debate to focus on organized religion in the modern day and I will deal with this argument in a modern context. If a comprehensive historical argument must be constructed in order to prove my point to your satisfaction I will make one at your request, as I believe on exists. At present I have not the time though. I also assumed it to be irrelevant. Dawkins' argument is a valid one but it focuses on the development of moral philosophy over time, not the present day.

Organized religion has adapted to survive and moral codes have been altered to be rendered acceptable in the modern world. For example, look at the Roman Catholic Church. Like all other major organized world religions, they do not base their moral philosophy on their single sacred text alone. Rather, their sacred text (in this instance the Bible) colours their philosophical thought on moral subject. Ask yourself, why did the church oppose contraception? The answer is because it removes the capacity of sexual intercourse to create life. However recently, the Pope declared contraception morally acceptable in certain instances where there was a risk of sexually transmitted disease. Why? Because in these circumstances, sexual intercourse has the capacity to take life. It's not black and white, written in the Bible that sex is immoral and condoms can never be used. (to my knowledge) In Christian thinking, sex is a gift from God, and if you conceive a child through sex, it is God's will. There is a great assumption among antitheists that the religious have no logical basis for their moral philosophy, the truth is that moral philosophy is a combination of logic and what the religious view as divine revelation.

Ergo, as the world changes, so does religious philosophy. Now I don't feel Richard Dawkins dealt with the point made well enough. The point made was that atheism offers no absolute moral certainty. Dawkins did not dodge this, but he only made half an argument. He negated rather well religious absolute morality but did not provide an adequate proof of absolute atheist morality, nor did he negate the need for absolute morality to my satisfaction.

My proposition, which, in my view, still stands, is that organized religion provides a good template for one to base one's own morality on. Look at the charity work carried out by Christian missions, look at the Islamic practice of Zakat. (Almsgiving) I anticipate an argument that these practices do not quite work, but the point is that they come from a real desire to do good and are motivated by a sense of morality.

Finally, while I would not consider your statistics overstated or unreasonable, I would like to see a source if one could be found, as any statistics could establish a lot for the purposes of the debate.

Thank you once again for remaining reasonable and making use of external sources as well, something I have failed to do, so far.
Debate Round No. 2
Sotiras

Con

I must refute your argument that religion as a whole has furthered more than hindered science. Times like the religious and, much more recent, Muslim Dark Ages, illustrate that science is the bane of religion. When religion gains a significant foothold, it abandons any tolerance for dissent that was forced upon it by compliance with a higher power, and immediately commits to a "Holy War" against science, reason, and even free speech (The latter mostly by Muslims) This can be rather graphically represented by the harsh declines illustrated in the attached image.

http://commonsenseatheism.com...

However I recognize your assertion that small contingents that are religiously based (Your example being Al-Qaeda) do not constitute any intrinsic fault in the religion they claim to represent the interests of. However, when a faction emerges that is significantly different from any "mainstream" or "common" religion, and has a definite political or social agenda, it invariably begins to cause problems by zealously starting to assert their faith and impose it upon others. Two good examples, in my opinion, are Creationists and Mormons. Creationists is usually used to refer to someone who believes the Biblical account of creation (This sets them apart from mainstream Catholicism since the Vatican has admitted to the fallacy of this story [http://www.cephasministry.com...]) and asserts that it should be taught with evolution as an equally valid theory, and some even hope to eliminate evolution.This is obviously a malicious attempt to hinder science for purely dogmatic reasons, and that's why I have a problem with religions gaining too much of a political foothold.

Now Mormons are a whole other story, and I have a somewhat personal vendetta against them. One of the things they are best known for (No, not their magic underwear) is their vehement disapproval of homosexuality. They, in essence, nullified their religiously based tax-exemption by pumping literally millions of dollars into the campaign for Prop. 8 http://en.wikipedia.org... and yet they were not held accountable for it, because they were still a RELIGION. One of the points I'm making is that organized religion is getting special treatment and respect that it doesn't deserve, and never has.

On the morality issue, we should not allow any religion to constitute an absolute morality, because they are all in some way flawed. Like the point Richard Dawkins made in the earlier round's video, a reasoned, debated, and argued morality, completely untouched by religious dogma, would serve as a much better moral absolute than any religious one.

So my stance is that a secular and "evolved" form of a moral absolute would serve society much better than any religious moral base.

Since this is the last round I'll be able to voice an argument, and you'll be getting the last word, I just hope you're aware that it would be futile to voice any of your rebuttals in the form of a question or query, although I'm sure you already knew to do that.

Thank you for all the time you've given to this argument, and I look forward to your final argument with bated breath.
The_Harlequin

Pro

I would first like to say that I'm very grateful this debate was conducted with as much decorum as it was. No childish or primitive arguments on either side.


I would next like to address the point about science. I would say that this point is irrelevant to the debate. I simply made a statement which I knew was controversial, and decided to explain my position, because I know it is an odd position to hold. I will expand on this point now. I am of the view that following the collapse of the Roman Empire, there was a tremendous power vacuum into which the Roman Catholic Church stepped. Society was at risk following the collapse of the Roman Empire and the dark ages was more related in my mind to the sack of Rome than to religious oppression. Religious orders were at the time, the last remaining bodies that promoted learning of any form. The reason was that it encouraged people to read (so they could read the bible, of course. Not necessarily benign but a knock on effect was that the church became a bastion of literacy, especially in Ireland, the "land of saints and scholars". Looking at the Muslim world, we have Ibn Al-Haytham, who wrote the Book of Optics and invented the scientific method. http://en.wikipedia.org... every Galileo, there's an Al-Haytham. There is an argument to be made that religious groups who held learning in high regard provided science with the requisite aegis to make their advances without persecution, but I digress, and have already labeled this irrelevant to the debate, I trust all concerned agree)


The source provided here is biased. From a site called "commonsenseatheism.com" we know what to expect. It's as good as me quoting an article from commonsensejudaism or something of the same sort. The graph shown is speculative. Not unfair, but very much exaggerated for dramatic effect.

1. And so, the debate returns to my first argument. We now examine large extremist factions and their effect on the world today. I believe we share the opinion that Science and Religion should have nothing to do with each other. Scientists don't actively interfere in religious affairs and yet we can observe the opposite happening right now. I do not agree with this position. I would however say that creationists have very little sway over things outside of certain small pockets of religious areas. (E.g. the American South) It is a fair argument that these anti-scientific cavemen should not be afforded power, but I put it to you that they cannot possibly gain such foothold.

What grounds do I base this on? These extremists are ridiculed by the media. They are a large minority, but a minority nonetheless. They have incited the hatred of all those outside their group and are unelectable.

Mormonism, however, is harder to argue around. I will confront this head on, the mormon church does not know where the line between politics and religion lies. What I will say is that they are a single case and organized religion cannot and should not be judged by them. I will nonetheless address the issue of special treatment for religions.

Religions receive special treatment because the advocates of religion take it very seriously, and because organized religions are a special class of organizations that need special laws to deal with them. With regards to the tax exemption, the reason for this is that these organizations exist outside of politics and have no actively malicious intentions with their funding. Mormons do, Scientologists do, but not all religions do. The point here is that organized religions operating within the established legal parameters deserve tax exemption because they will be using their funds for good ends such as charity. They also need to pay for the upkeep of the church, and there is no reason to tax that. I would whole heartedly agree though, that when a religion steps into politics, it ceases to be an organized religion as much as a political party. The point I have made is that these organizations are a minority and their influence over stated.


2. The moral issue here is an important one. I had meant this to be a personal morality. "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you" is as good a credo as any to live one's life by. My argument here has been misconstrued. I had argued that a strong moral compass is a benefit of religious commitment. That religion allows one the framework by which to live one's life. My argument seems to have been interpreted that religious morality should be applied to everyone or should used for our legal system. My argument, which I believe still stands, is that religion can give it's adherents a sense of moral certainty on confusing issues. I firmly believe that this should be tempered with firm logic. I will refer you back to the example I made in round 2 of the Catholic stance on contraception and the circumstances in which it should be allowed. (Not to be used because life is sacred, acceptable if STD's are a possibility)

The religious stance on abortion is not based on the idea that if God decides you are going to have a baby that you must, but rather once you have conceived, you are already a parent, and that all living things, born or unborn, have the right to life.

Religious morality is and has always been taken seriously when and only when common sense is applied. Thomas Aquinas doctrines for example are his interpretation of the bible plus common sense. My point was not that morality cannot exist without religion, but that religion is capable of constructing a working morality. It is capable of providing comfort, fellowship, and love to its followers, it is capable of great intellectual feats, from Anselm's Ontological Argument to the Jesuits schools, and of great brutality. I have made the case that the good organized religion does and has done on balance, has outweighed the bad. I would like to thank my opponent and everyone who gave their time to this debate, and beg them to vote Pro.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by USRugbyfan 5 years ago
USRugbyfan
Reformed Arsenal, with regard to your last point, I couldn't agree more!
Posted by ReformedArsenal 5 years ago
ReformedArsenal
Con lost conduct points when he bashed on people not even present in the debate (Young Earth Creationists who "Cherry Pick" bible verses).

Beyond that, Con's argument basically boils down to "No it doesn't" in response to Pro's two contentions.

Con cites that 33% of the Penal System Population is Christian, while less than 1% of the population is Athiest... this is an example of making statistics say what you want them to say.

87% of the population identifies as Christian, while roughly 14% identify as Athiests... it makes sense that a much higher percentage of the population as a whole would be represented in the penal population. What you would need to look at to make the argument you're TRYING to make is what percentage of Christians are in prison versus what percentage of Athiests are in prison. Beyond that, I'm extremely skeptical of that 1% mark...

Beyond that, there is a difference between someone who says they are a Christian and someone who is actually a practicing professing Christian. I think that someone who commits a crime and ends up in prison is most likely a nominal Christian who states that they believe the teachings of Jesus Christ, but does not follow them (making them not actually a Christian).
Posted by USRugbyfan 5 years ago
USRugbyfan
Given that I am a Christian yet against Organized Religion, I must say I am impressed by the Pro.
Posted by Sotiras 5 years ago
Sotiras
Oops, I just realized that chart I posted that referenced the "Muslim Dark Ages" was just a projection... my bad. Refer only to the Christian Dark Ages, in that chart, although in theory Islam would do this if it got the chance. I'm trying to keep it factual, sorry about that.
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