The Instigator
Zerosmelt
Con (against)
Winning
44 Points
The Contender
Inquisitor
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points

People are idiots if they argue against Religion.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/7/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,342 times Debate No: 4934
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (15)

 

Zerosmelt

Con

"People that point fingers at religions for being bad (not the FOLLOWERS of the religions, but the religions themselves) are idiots." - PublicForumG-d

This rather offensive comment made by PublicForumG-d is a notion I disagree with.

My resolution in this debate is that if someone argues against religion that fact does not make them an idiot.

A difference should be made between religion and religious followers.

--- as an irrelevent side note --- I personally believe that religious followers, even terrorists, are not evil themselves but made that way by their religion.---- BUT TO BE CLEAR THAT IS NOT THE TOPIC OF THIS DEBATE.

id�i�ot http://dictionary.reference.com...

1. A foolish or stupid person.
2. A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

for my opponents sake we can ignore the second definition.

I win this debate if i can prove that at least one person who has argued against religion is not an idiot.

I provide.
Richard Dawkins:

- an evolutionary biologist
- was awarded a Doctor of Science by the University of Oxford in 1989.
- He holds honorary doctorates in science from the University of Westminster, Durham University and the University of Hull
- and honorary doctorates from the Open University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
-He holds honorary doctorates of letters from the University of St Andrews and the Australian National University, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and the Royal Society in 2001.
- holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University
- is a professorial fellow of New College, Oxford.
- he made a widely cited contribution to evolutionary biology with the theory, presented in his book The Extended Phenotype, that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment, including the bodies of other organisms.
- he received;
- a Royal Society of Literature award
- a Los Angeles Times Literary Prize for his book, The Blind Watchmaker.
- a Sci. Tech Prize for Best Television Documentary Science Programme of the Year, for the BBC Horizon episode entitled The Blind Watchmaker.
- the Zoological Society of London Silver Medal (1989)
- the Michael Faraday Award (1990)
- the Nakayama Prize (1994)
- the Humanist of the Year Award (1996)
- the fifth International Cosmos Prize (1997)
- the Kistler Prize (2001)
- the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (2001)
- and the Bicentennial Kelvin Medal of The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow.

- Now this one is important > HE WAS RANKED NUMBER 1 on PROSPECT MAGAZINE"S 2004 LIST OF THE TOP 100 PUBLIC BRITISH INTELLECTUALS, as decided by the readers, receiving twice as many votes as the runner-up.

- the Hamburg-based Alfred Toepfer Foundation awarded him its Shakespeare Prize in recognition of his "concise and accessible presentation of scientific knowledge".
- He won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 2006
- the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award for 2007.

- Another important one > he was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007.

- awarded the Deschner Award.

- He has become so prestigious that He actually has an award named after him called the Richard Dawkins Award.

Clearly with all of these accomplishments we cannot assume that Richard Dawkins is an Idiot. Yet Richard Dawkins is most noted for arguing against relgion.
I have provided an example of someone who argues against religion and is not an idiot. Therefore my resolution is proven.

over to you.
Inquisitor

Pro

First, I would like to thank Zerosmelt for the opportunity to engage him in debate on this topic.

The claim that "People are idiots if they argue against Religion" most likely uses the term "idiot" figuratively, not intending to diagnose literally every person who speaks against religion as clinically retarded. Nevertheless, my opponent has chosen to take the statement in its strongest form, and for the sake of good sport I feel compelled to allow it. Furthermore, my opponent has correctly concluded that he wins this debate if he can show that at least one person who argues against religion is not an idiot.

In my opening argument I do not wish to accomplish much for my own position. Rather, I believe that the terms used in this debate are too vague. Therefore, I will offer a simple rebuttal, followed by a request for clarification.

My opponent intends to prove that Mr. Richard Dawkins is not an idiot. He provides a long list of credentials, and I cringe at the thought of having to rebut each one. Fortunately, I do not have to because my opponent has been kind enough to label one as the most important, and it is this one that I will focus on.

"Now this one is important > HE WAS RANKED NUMBER 1 on PROSPECT MAGAZINE"S 2004 LIST OF THE TOP 100 PUBLIC BRITISH INTELLECTUALS, as decided by the readers, receiving twice as many votes as the runner-up."

This, and every other award on Mr. Dawkins' resume, I refute thus: Awards do not guarantee anything about a person. War hawks have won Nobel Peace Prizes, poor articles are published in acclaimed journals, and so on. Can we expect the readership of a magazine to tell us who is intelligent and who isn't? Can they vote reality into place? Who says that a person who accumulates acclaim and recognition deserves to be known as intelligent?

Ah, vagueness. Instead of basing intelligence on something arbitrary and manipulable let us define it as something concrete - let us determine exactly what it means to not be an idiot. I propose two criteria: knowledge, and understanding. If my opponent finds this agreeable, I will let him set a reasonable limit. How much knowledge and how much understanding separates an idiot from normal people?

This appears to me to be a more reasonable definition. It follows from the dictionary definition of "foolish or senseless". Senseless implies "lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension." So, let's discuss the intelligence of a person based on what it actually means, rather than counting how many awards a man has gotten.
Debate Round No. 1
Zerosmelt

Con

Thanks goes to you Inquisitor, for accepting. With a name like that i know this will be a good debate.

My opponent claims that the dictionary definition is too vague. He has provided two criteria: knowledge, and understanding to designate someone as being an idiot.

I must reject these criteria on two bases:

1. They are just as vague as the dictionary definition.
2. I can see through your callow attempts. You are trying to trick me into to saying that an idiot is someone who lacks "Understanding." And that Richard Dawkins is an idiot because he lacks "Understanding" for people's religious beliefs. If such a criterion were upheld it could be said that I am an idiot b/c I lack understanding for the beliefs of Nazism.

If my opponent wishes to have a more specific definition of "idiot" I will propose that an idiot Is someone who falls into at least one of the following 2 categories.
- someone who lacks a substantial amount of knowledge about what society at large considers factual. Not necessarily including "pop culture" facts.
- someone who lacks a rudimentary understanding of the tenets of basic logic, as described by this website.
http://philosophy.hku.hk...

------------------------------------
>>"This, and every other award on [D]r. Dawkins' resume, I refute thus: Awards do not guarantee anything about a person. War hawks have won Nobel Peace Prizes, poor articles are published in acclaimed journals, and so on."

Yes these things are not Guarantees. Just I have no guarantee that I am not the only being that exists. There is no way for me to prove that everyone or everything else is anything more than a figment of my imagination.

But … I can still expect that other people exist!
The sheer vastness of all his awards would entail us to expect that he is not an idiot.

"Can we expect the readership of a magazine to tell us who is intelligent and who isn't?" Yes… we can, if it is an accredited magazine. Prospect is accredited. Magazines may make mistakes from time to time but the sheer vastness of all these awards points us to one conclusion… That Richard Dawkins cannot be an idiot.

The editors of the magazine are not who decided to put Dawkins on the top of the list it was Society at large. An idiot is someone who lacks substantial knowledge about what society at large considers factual. Society at large agrees that Dawkins is intelligent enough to be labeled the MOST intellectual. If Dawkins wasn't aware of what they considered factual why would they consider him to be aware?

----------------------------------------
I will now gladly point out that my opponent has only addressed the Awards and not the fact that Richard Dawkins has 8 Doctorates.
Inquisitor

Pro

I accept the definitions that my opponent provides for this debate. The first criterion:

- someone who lacks a substantial amount of knowledge about what society at large considers factual. Not necessarily including "pop culture" facts.

By this measure, I will prove that Richard Dawkins is an idiot. Not only does he lack a substantial amount of knowledge about what "society at large" considers factual, he does not know much of anything at all.

First, it is evident that the category "what society at large considers factual" is a non-empty set. This is why, for example, an education system even exists. Clearly, society as a whole believes that there are facts which may be passed down from generation to generation. "George Washington was the first president of the United States" is an example of such a fact. Second, I must prove that Richard Dawkins has no knowledge about these facts. He does not know for sure whether any of them are true.

There are two ways by which knowledge may be gained. One is through sense perception, and the other is through reason. But to gain knowledge through reason, the object of that knowledge must first be reached by sense perception. In other words, even if someone is familiar with axioms of logic, they can tell him nothing about the actual universe if he first does not gain accurate knowledge of the universe through sense perception.

But sense perception does not yield trustworthy knowledge.

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

"An optical illusion (also called a visual illusion) is characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality."

Most knowledge in the world is gained through vision, most notably through observation. If the visual sense may be tricked, then it cannot be a sure criterion of knowledge. In order for a criterion to guarantee true knowledge, that is, knowledge that is certain to reflect the objective universe, then it cannot yield false results when applied.

Furthermore, almost all senses may be tricked. For example, spend a few hours in a blizzard and then come back into the room. The room feels warmer than before you went out, even though the temperature probably hasn't changed.

Thus it has been demonstrated that neither reason nor sense perception can be a criterion of knowledge. Thus, regardless of how many awards or doctorates Richard Dawkins achieves, he still has no sure knowledge about anything. Hence, by my opponent's definition, he is an idiot.
Debate Round No. 2
Zerosmelt

Con

Now the debate has become interesting…
My opponent may be surprised to find out that I don't have a problem with his argument.

However there are two fatal flaws in using this argument.

1 - It doesn't address my resolution.
2 – It collapses under its own weight and negates itself.

1.– My resolution, restated. (capitalized for skimmers, not to be offensive)

"MY RESOLUTION IN THIS DEBATE IS THAT IF SOMEONE ARGUES AGAINST RELIGION THAT FACT DOES NOT MAKE THEM AN IDIOT."

Even if my opponent's conclusion was valid, that Dawkins is an idiot, it doesn't address my resolution. In order to disprove my resolution my opponent must show not just that Richard Dawkins is an idiot, but that he is an idiot BECAUSE he argues against religion.
The act of arguing against religion must make Richard Dawkins an idiot.

2. – The argument collapses under its own weight. The conclusion of my opponent's argument is negated by the argument itself. Lets examine my opponents argument.

> There are two ways by which knowledge may be gained. One is through sense perception, and the other is through reason.
> To gain knowledge through reason, the object of that knowledge must first be reached by sense perception.
> Sense perception does not yield trustworthy knowledge.
> Ergo neither reason nor sense perception can be a criterion of knowledge.
Conclusion:
> Thus, regardless of how many awards or doctorates Richard Dawkins achieves, he still has no sure knowledge about anything.

The conclusion that Richard Dawkins has no sure knowledge oversteps the argument. My opponent cannot conclude this. All that my opponent can conclude is that he has no sure knowledge. My opponent cannot know what anyone else knows b/c my opponent has demonstrated that he has no sure knowledge about anything.

We can go one step farther>
My opponent just proved that he has no sure knowledge about anything.
Therefore we should not take anything he has to say to be true.
I extend my arguments.

Don't listen to my opponent. Vote CON

Thanks Inquisitor, Good debate.
Inquisitor

Pro

This is going to be the most philosophically complex round, so I ask the readers to bear with me.

Since my argument (Pro, Round 2) has been accepted, all that remains to be discussed are the implications of that argument. If the audience will recall, the conclusion has been reached that there is no criteria of knowledge. Therefore no one can have any knowledge and thus, by my opponent's definition, every person is an idiot.

Objection 1: Con's position is: the fact that someone argues against religion does not make that person an idiot. By proving that everyone is an idiot, has this resolution been addressed?

Objection 2: Having proven that no one has knowledge, is it impossible for me to claim that a specific person (Mr. Dawkins) does not have knowledge?

=Answer to Objection 2=

Objection 2 has greater scope than Objection 1, and so I will discuss it first. The reason is simple: If my opponent's objection is correct, then NEITHER HE NOR I CAN WIN. The argument that I presented in Pro Round 2 is the position of skepticism. This argument has been accepted by my opponent. Now, if my opponent's objection is upheld, and consequently I am no longer allowed to make any claims due to my skepticism, then, having accepted my argument, NEITHER IS HE. Thus, this debate would be concluded as a draw, because both sides have conceded that they have no knowledge, and without knowledge there can be no conclusions.

However, my opponent's objection is not correct. My argument, was that there can be no knowledge about the world from experience or reason. But our debate, about whether people who argue against religion are idiots, is not a discussion about particulars. It is merely a DEFINITIONAL issue.

For example, even if we know nothing about the world for sure, we know that all triangles have 3 sides because they have been defined that way. Given this, do we know anything about particular triangles? My opponent says no, but he is mistaken. We cannot know the existence of a particular triangle, we cannot know its particular accidental features, we cannot know its size, etc. We CAN know that a particular triangle must have 3 sides - this follows from the definition.

I have shown that there are NO CRITERIA for knowledge, and my opponent has agreed. That means that we are agreed that no one can have knowledge. This is not a claim about particulars, but is a universal definition. All it says is that since we have no knowledge, it is nonsensical to speak of anyone having knowledge. Now, from my opponent's definition of "idiot", everyone is an idiot because no noe has knowledge. This is like saying all triangles have 3 sides - even a skeptic can conclude this, because it is not a point of knowledge but rather a definition.

By saying that Richard Dawkins is an idiot, I'm not claiming to know about Mr. Dawkins or even that he exists. I'm saying that if Mr. Dawkins does exist, and he is a person, then by (my opponent's) definition he is an idiot. This does not contradict the argument from skepticism.

=Answer to Objection 1=

In the first round, my opponent already set the terms of engagement.

My opponent correctly observed: "I win this debate if i can prove that at least one person who has argued against religion is not an idiot."

The first thing to note is that *he has not done so*. He already admits that no one can have knowledge, so he cannot prove anything about particular people using their individual accomplishments. Therefore, by his own standard, it is impossible for him to have won this debate.

Now, I have shown that everyone is, by definition, an idiot. That means that everyone who argues against religion is an idiot. So consider a person, x, who argues against religion. By the fact that x is a person who argues against religion, we can know that x is an idiot. Thus, it is impossible for my opponent to prove that "at least one person who has argued against religion is not an idiot". In fact, the exact opposite has been shown.

=Conclusion=
My opponent accepted that there can be no sure knowledge about the world. Thus, by his definition, everyone is an idiot.

The readers of this debate cannot in good conscience vote Con because he has already implied that he cannot win. If his Objection 2 is valid, then neither of us can possibly win because we cannot prove what we set out to prove. If it is not, then he still cannot win because he has not met his objective of proving that "at least one person who has argued against religion is not an idiot".

The topic of the debate is whether people are idiots if they argue against religion. That is, "If x argues against religion, x is an idiot". What I have shown is that the statement "x is an idiot" is true regardless of the antecedent. Logically, if the consequent is always true, then the statement of implication is true.

Now, I am aware that this is victory by technicality. I don't actually believe that everyone is really an idiot, and nor would I necessarily call every atheist an idiot. My opponent took something he read off of a forum, which was clearly meant to be a figurative statement rather than a literally categorical one, and took it in the strongest way possible. The resulting position is rather absurd, and only fit to be an intellectual exercise rather than a serious debate.

Thank you, Zerosmelt.
Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
not quite inquisitor... i accepted taht you cannot know anything.

the fact that you believe that notion applies to everyone relies on your faculty of reason. Which you yourself proved to be unreliable.

you have used reasoning to conclude that other people operate the same way you do. For all you know we may all be perfect superbeings who have been putting on a show to make it seem like you are equal to the rest of us.
Posted by Inquisitor 8 years ago
Inquisitor
What you are saying is that you believe Con's Objection 2 to be true. If that's so, and he's accepted my argument of skepticism, then the same applies to him. I'm sorry that you are unable to grasp this :)
Posted by mjoveny 8 years ago
mjoveny
I have to agree with Zerosemt, inquisitor only proved that he doesn't know anything. He doesn't kno whether other people konw anything. And he cant argue against zero's arguments b/c he doesn't know anything... hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
sorry that should have read...

you haven't shown that everyone is an idiot, just that you are...

(no offense)

my arguments extend because you can't show that you know there is anything wrong with them.
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
you haven't known that everyone is an idiot just that you are...

(no offense)
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
"Therefore no one can have any knowledge and thus, by my opponent's definition, every person is an idiot."

this is false inquisitor

you cannot know if anyone else does. You do not know if anyone else actually operates like you do. You may be the only being that has imperfect senses. You cannot experience other peoples senses so you just do not know.
Posted by Cg09 8 years ago
Cg09
Wow i personally think this topic is very childish for one and blatantly ignorant secondly. Many of the reasons that stem from individuals not believing or trusting in religion is all the hipocrasy with the leaders in the major religious sects. Saying they're idiots because they make a simple observation is extremely false.
Posted by Who 8 years ago
Who
Jason: a dictionary definition does not mean something is being overly technical. To debate this issue, there obviously has to be a consensus on what an idiot is, and the dictionary is the best place to find an agreeable definition (since, ya know, that's the point of a dictionary).
Posted by Inquisitor 8 years ago
Inquisitor
"A foolish or stupid person" isn't incredibly technical even if it is a dictionary definition. Definitely isn't technical enough to have a debate over.
Posted by jason_hendirx 8 years ago
jason_hendirx
I like how the rebuttal is even more fraught with technicalities than the instigating post, which uses a dictionary definition.
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