The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Losing
26 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
45 Points

Rationalists should attempt to destroy religion.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 13 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/12/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,474 times Debate No: 9210
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (13)

 

Freeman

Pro

Most people in the world believe that the creator of the universe wrote or "inspired" one of their books. Unfortunately, there are many books that pretend to divine authorship, and each makes incompatible claims about how we should live. The diversity and profundity of these claims range from banal proclamations on the procedure of rituals to divisive and irreconcilable claims about the pleasures that await martyrs in paradise. Despite the ecumenical efforts of many well-intentioned and loving people our religions are still some of the key factors behind an appalling amount of violence and hatred.

It is, of course, true that religion is not the only form of dogma that plagues our world. Although I think a fairly strong case can be made that its one of the most invidious. National and political dogmas regularly divide us both as individuals and collectively as societies. Racial dogmas and tribalism have certainly done their fare share of destruction. However, religion is, to my knowledge, the only system of belief that makes a transcendental difference between in-group and out groups. Religion posits a difference not merely on the basis of nationality or skin color; it posits a transcendent barrier between people that can mean the difference between an eternity of happiness or suffering. No greater impediment stands in the way of us creating a global civilization then our irreconcilable religious differences. If we are to create a global community where genocide and war are ancient relics then we must first fundamentally transcend our petty and parochial religious superstitions and they hatred they inspire.

One way in which people choose to defend religion is to claim that it provides the only effective means of spreading morality in a society. If we take Christianity as just one example this claim seems highly suspect. The God of the Bible hates sodomy and will kill you for it but he rather enjoys the occasional human sacrifice. On just a cursory glance it would seem clear that God doesn't have his priorities quite straight. It gets worse if you choose to read further. Consider the injunction in the Old Testament to stone women to death that aren't virgins on their wedding nights. At the very least this would be an impractical approach to decreasing infidelity, probably an immoral one. The Bible is a very long book, it contains pages and pages on how to kill people, how to beat slaves, and detailed instructions on how to sacrifice a wide variety of animals. These are distinctly inconvenient facts for anyone that wishes to claim that it represents humanities purest distillation of ethical wisdom.

The fact of the matter is that there is a values vacuum in religion. There is a values vacuum in an organization like the Catholic Church that preaches the sinfulness of condom use in Sub Saharan Africa where millions of people die every year from AIDS. [1] There is a values vacuum in that same institution that shelters its pedophile priests, literally an army of child rapists, by moving them from parish to parish so they can avoid prosecution. There is a values vacuum in a religion like Christianity that, very often, views abortion as a more pertinent societal ill than genocide etc. One only needs to turn on his television set to witness the needless suffering caused by adherence to religious myths. The genital mutilation community is almost entirely religious. Likewise the suicide bombing community is almost entirely theocratic. And the few places on Earth were slavery is still practiced it is done so out of deference to divine warrants.

There is another popular route to defend religion and it usually seeks to outline the utilities or usefulness of religion. I would highly caution anyone from taking this approach. Before you choose to take this view you may wish to muse over the following questions. How useful is it that millions of Muslims believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom? How useful is it that Jewish and Palestinian settlers on the west bank believe that God promised them a piece of land? How useful is it that the Sunni and Shia have such heart felt differences about their religious faith? How useful is it that the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland have been murdering each other for decades on the basis of their differences? How useful is it that the Bible enjoins edicts for the genocide of peoples and entire nations? How useful is it that millions of children are preached to everyday about the hellfire that awaits unbelievers? How useful was religion when it came time to tackle the root cause of infectious disease? One is tempted to respond, in short, (not very).

A future world in which rapture ready Christians are facing off against jihadists is as frightening as it is unconscionable. If this doesn't strike you as sufficiently terrifying imagine that a regime with the mentality of the 911 hijackers acquires nuclear weaponry. The prospect of mutually assured destruction in such an instance would not be a sufficient deterrent if they viewed martyrdom as plausible metaphysics. After all, what good are threats against an enemy that is willing to kill themselves in the process of bringing about your own demise. As a species we must fundamentally transcend the pettiness and stupidity of religion in order to help preserve our own survival.

It may even be ethical, in certain situations, to kill people merely because they hold certain beliefs. This may strike some as an extraordinary claim but it merely enumerates some rather basic and obvious facts about our world. Some people have placed themselves so far beyond every measure of peaceful persuasion that the only way to stop them is to bring about their destruction. Members of Al qaeda would certainly fall under this category. There is, after all, no mode of conversation that will likely get Osama bin Laden to reconsider his worldview.

My methodology of conversation is not apt to produce favorable results in all mediums or different parts of the world. I would be, for instance, palpably reluctant to stand in the town center of Mecca and outline the irrationality of Islam, for reasons better left unspecified. The goal for reasonable people in the future should be to design a method of conversation that is both non-offensive to reason and can also be absorbed by the general public. Further, we must create ways of talking about happiness, eudaimonia, ethics and spiritual experience that never requires us to believe anything on insufficient evidence or to delude ourselves. The approach reasonable people should take to overthrow religion should be bloodless. A war of ideas is not waged with rifles; it's waged through conversation.

When the stakes are high we must choose between conversation and violence booth at the level of individuals and at the level societies. And the only thing that guarantees that our conversation about the world and reality is open-ended is an unfettered willingness for us to have our beliefs updated by conversation. Reason and faith are two ways of looking at the world that both carry consequences. At the dawn of the 21st century we must be receptive to the former and stridently oppose the embodiment of its antithesis, religion. Only then will we stand a reasonable chance of healing some of the deepest fractures that divide our world.

All the best,
Freeman

Sources

[1] http://www.catholic.org...

Definitions

Reason- rational motive for a belief or action

Religion- A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law.

Rationalism- Reliance on reason as the best guide for belief and action.

No semantics please. The rebuttal should be something along the lines of "Religion should not be destroyed by rationalists because…"
RoyLatham

Con

An excellent topic. There is an active debate among atheists as to the likely future of religion, and how that might be achieved. Pro's topic bears directly on that.

Religion should not be destroyed by rationalists because:

1) It is a proven method for social evolution

2) It is better than what is likely to replace it

3) Rationalists should aim to convince, not to destroy

Elaborating:

1) At one time Christians believed that the Bible endorsed slavery, but now they believe it prohibits slavery. Rather than being set in stone as determined by unchanging writ, religion is a social institution that evolves over time. In Christianity, what has happened to the divine right of kings, the harsh prohibitions of Puritanism, and the persecution of infidels? There are still traces in extreme sects, but now those are the exceptions. Many religions used to feature human sacrifice, including the Aztecs and the ancient Hawaiians. Those are gone. There are still religious conflicts, but they are really about culture embodied as religion, rather than derived from religion. There have been no shortage of wars not spawned by religion, and if religion disappeared it's doubtful that there would be any fewer. I'll elaborate on that in (2).

Rationalists should understand that religion is really no more than an expression of culture. If it were really holy writ, it wouldn't change, but it quite obviously does change. Religion provides a set of rules for living in society. Attaching the rules to religion ensures that they change slowly as the formalities of religion are passed down through the generations. That's appropriate, because organizing a society and setting up it's rules is not easy. If we leave it to the whims of social innovation, we wander rather than make progress towards a better society.

Many religions have ceased to exist because they could not evolve. Christianity has evolved through early asceticism, medieval authoritarianism, to what is now a serviceable code of conduct. Islam is not so evolved, both because it is a relatively new religion and because it has been isolated from many social pressures. Buddhism is a very old religion, and is arguably evolved into the most peaceful.

Arguments that religious people still do bad things proves nothing. Pro must prove that if religion did not exist, then people would do fewer bad things. Pro has offered no argument that such would be the case.

2) Life is far too complex for each person to figure out from scratch. The problem of figuring out what to do in society becomes more complex as society has progressed beyond small tribes. There are hundreds of problems regarding how people should interact. Religion provides a starting point. What should you do when someone dies? It doesn't matter a whole lot what exactly is done, but people feel better if they have some tradition for funerals. Most religions have moved past intolerant of differing traditions on things that don't matter. Rules of behavior have certainly not converged, but they are a lot closer today then they were a few hundred years ago. Religion provides people with a time-tested default. It's imperfect, but it provides a necessary starting point for an individual to seek his own path.

When religion is removed, humans still need a strong template for behavior, so they build a pseudo religion around ideology. For writing school books, there is code of 400 items for what can and cannot be said to meet standards of political correctness. Many words and phrases are forbidden in any context. Food need not be Kosher or Halal, but it must be certified organic. Clothing ought to be natural fiber. Straight marriage is a matter of no importance one way or the other; gay marriage is extremely important. You have a moral obligation to recycle, even things like glass bottles that are as inert as rocks. California prohibits new cars from being black, for reasons every bit as religious as prohibitions against eating pork. Smoking tobacco is evil, but marijuana is a divine right. Evil in the world is known to due entirely to America, George Bush, and/or capitalism. Deviltry lurks in every nook and cranny of society in the from of "special interests" and must be hunted down and burned. All-in-all the Puritans had weaker standards of moral purity. They would allow eating Doritos.

I'm not claiming that all modern pseudo-religious rules are wrong, just that it is clearly a religious code immune to rational discussion. There's nothing wrong with the Golden Rule, either, yet it is clearly a religious rule.

There are many examples of pseudo-religions cast as ideologies: communism, fascism, and a host of other 'isms. Get rid of modern housebroken religion, and will be replaced with a virulent pseudo-religion. It is inevitable because people must have shortcuts for decision making. One can dream about an ideal world where everyone is a model of Socratic rationality, but we cannot get there by destroying religion. The best strategy is to evolve into something as close as we can get.

A model is suggested by Japan. Nearly everyone is Shinto or Buddhist, usually both. They honor the religious traditions and try to live by the religious rules. Yet about 70% of the population is atheist. Society evolves not only recognizing tradition, but genuinely valuing it. The resolution supposes that the traditional religions ought to be destroyed. What improvement would that yield?

3) Destroy: "To unbuild; to pull or tear down; to separate virulently into its constituent parts; to break up the structure and organic existence of; to demolish. ... But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. --Ex. xxxiv. 13." http://define.com... Pro's wording of the resolution is classic Biblical wrath. Rationalist should be persuading, not playing God. Religions have excesses, and the goal should be to moderate those excesses. The extreme of Jihadism must be defeated, and so "destroyed" is probably the operative work in that case. But in general, something like Catholic prohibition of birth control can be countered effectively without demolishing the Catholic church. Few Catholics in developed countries obey the prohibition, so it's likely to eventually disappear.

In Africa, Christian missionaries are the primary force opposing the traditional practice of female genital mutilation. Wanting to destroy the churches to support birth control, while failing to appreciate the good works done is irrational. The irrationality derives, I think, from viewing religion as something other than a social institution.

=================

Religion is a stable social institution that has evolved and will continue to evolve. It meets human needs for quick answers to questions about how to live in society. Destroy it, and it will be replaced by a new social creation that is untested and unstable. Rationalists shouldn't destroy, they should help institutions evolve through persuasion.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

It's certainly a pleasure to cross swords with a fellow rationalist on the future of religion. There are undoubtedly some important asymmetries in our views so this will hopefully be entertaining.

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Case Con
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Religion should not be destroyed by rationalists because:

1) It is a proven method for social evolution

2) It is better than what is likely to replace it

3) Rationalists should aim to convince, not to destroy

1. (a) The fact that you can cherry pick verses from the Bible for the cynical purpose of repudiating other parts of the Bible does not render it a morally wise book. It simply renders it irrelevant.

Likewise the fact that religion may have helped kick start civilization by forcing us to collaborate when we were in small groups does not prove that its useful or desirable in the modern world. In fact, a very strong case can be made that it is maladaptive considering how much needless suffering and hatred it inspires.

1. (b)
"There are still religious conflicts, but they are really about culture embodied as religion, rather than derived from religion."

I run into people that think like this all the time. Here is my challenge to you. If you believe that religious conflicts/ terrorism are simply reducible to US foreign policy, cultural grievances or social depravation then you must explain why there aren't any Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers. Tibetan Buddhists have lived under brutal treatment by the Chinese government far more sadistic than anything we have done in the Middle East. [1] Its not that it would be impossible for a Tibetan Buddhist to engage in this behavior, however it is very unlikely given how much emphasis is placed on compassion in Buddhism. There are some Buddhists that have even been tortured in Chinese jails for years and have come out saying things like- I just wished my treatment didn't cause me to hate my captors or to lose my compassion. You find me a Muslim that was tortured for years in an Israeli jail and says something like that after their release then I will eat my boot; I'm serious. If I had 10 pages of space to work with I would outline for you every verse in the Koran that advocates jihad and martyrdom. Jihadism is a, very plausible, logical outcome of adherence to a belief in the divine truth of the Koran.

Consider for a moment the biographies of the 911 hijackers. All of them had college degrees and some of them even had PhDs. I don't know how many more architects and engineers have to fly planes into our buildings at 400 miles an hour before people like you realize that our conflicts with religion are not merely a product of culture or poverty. You and I both know what the last three words of the 19 hijackers were.

1 (c)
"Arguments that religious people still do bad things proves nothing. Pro must prove that if religion did not exist, then people would do fewer bad things. Pro has offered no argument that such would be the case."

I am not indicting religion for every bad thing a religious person has done throughout history. That would simply be a ridiculous thing to attempt to do. I am indicting religion for every evil or wicked thing a believer is likely to do only on the basis of their religious faith. These wicked actions can range from suicide bombings to preaching to children about hell. You and I are not likely to do either of these things because we don't believe in martyrdom or hell, presumably. There is a reason we never read about atheist suicide bombers in the news.

Here is what I believe. Imagine the Koran was the exact same book but it contained one extra line that read, "If you meet a red headed woman on your doorstep at sunrise cut her head off." Just imagine a verse like this being passed down through the ages. If this verse existed we would be left with a world where red headed women were regularly found murdered in the Muslim world. But we would also be left in a world where apologists for Islam would say things like –this has nothing to do with Islam; Islam is a peaceful religion. Red headed women would be maligned as being culpably acquiescent in their murder for insulting the deeply held religious convictions of Muslims by wandering around at sunrise. Bags of heads would be uncovered in dumpsters and some people would examine this behavior and say things like ‘There was a Mormon man down the street that killed his wife and she was a redhead so lets not blame this solely on Islam". And others would say things like "some of the girls weren't actually redheads one of them looked like a strawberry blond". Other girls would be found shot and Muslims would say that this had nothing to do with Islam because decapitation is the only thing sanctioned in the Koran. Still others would say things along the lines of, "This verse is meant to be interpreted metaphorically therefore anyone that murders redheads is clearly not living by the lights of Islam".

2. Your assertion that if religion disappeared it would be replaced by something worse is unsubstantiated and fallacious. This type of reasoning would be analogous to me saying. "Women should not leave their abusive husbands because their life with them will be better than whatever is likely to replace it. After all they will probably just seek out another abusive relationship that may even be worse." The fallacy in this line of thought is obvious. Moreover, its not like it would be impossible to destroy religion. Many countries in the world have already largely accomplished this. [2]

3. (a) You seem to be playing with words just a little bit. When I say that religion should be destroyed this does not mean that I'm advocating that we systematically murder members of the clergy or bomb their churches. I tried to clarify this when I wrote, "A war of ideas is not waged with rifles; it's waged through conversation." Indeed, religion will be "destroyed" when people no longer take it seriously.

3 (b)
The approach you seem to be advocating is that we should work towards moderating religion rather than destroying it outright. My opponent would do well to reflect on the state of our world 1000 years ago. One thousand years ago a belief in witchcraft was almost universal. What might someone like my challenger have said back then? It would have probably been along the lines of- what really is at fault here is fundamentalist witchcraft. There are bad witches but there are also good witches that use medicinal herbs and practice white healing spells. Lets not throw out the baby with the bathwater here, witchcraft is a social institution and it has always been with us. What we really need is moderate witchcraft. We just need to convince enough people to stop burning witches alive so that witchcraft and civil society can coexist peacefully.

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Case pro
======

Rationalist should destroy religion because:

1.There is a deep-rooted link between religion and violence.
2.Our irreconcilable religious differences are inspiring an appalling amount of conflict.
3.Religion balkanizes humans into separate and incompatible moral communities.
4.Religion, very often, degrades ones ability to think coherently and thus make rational choices about the world.
5.Religious moderates give cover to religious fundamentalists by their insistence of having faith- belief without evidence- respected.
6.Religion stands in the way of medical research and social progress.
7.The truth claims of religion are false.

As my character limit approaches I must cut myself a bit short. Even though I have touched on some of these things already I will create a much more thorough argument for them in the next round.

Best,
Freeman

Sources

[1] http://www.msnbc.msn.com...

[2] http://dailyatheist.blogspot.com...
RoyLatham

Con

1. (a) Pro argues, "The fact that you can cherry pick verses from the Bible for the cynical purpose of repudiating other parts of the Bible does not render it a morally wise book. It simply renders it irrelevant." Interesting, as I did not pick any verses from the Bible nor did I claim it to be morally wise. My claim is that some parts are wise and other parts are not wise, and as time goes on, the wise parts tend to be identified and emphasized, and the unwise parts dropped. That is somewhat along the lines of agreeing that it is irrelevant. I'm saying that religion is a social institution that evolves. Pro did not contradict my claim. Pro did not assert that Christianity strictly follows the Bible exactly as it did 300, 500, and 1000 years ago. That's unsupportable. It has evolved.

(b) Pro challenges, "If you believe that religious conflicts/ terrorism are simply reducible to US foreign policy, cultural grievances or social [deprivation] then you must explain why there[ aren't any Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers." I never asserted any of the things Pro imagines. I'm pointing out that, for example, the Civil War, WWI, WW2, the Cold War and an endless list of conflicts have very little if anything to do with religion. If religion were somehow eliminated, the conflicts would arise in a different cloak. The reason that there are not any Buddhist suicide bombers is that Buddhism is a well-evolved religion that embodies a largely non-violent culture. That is precisely my argument for not destroying religion. Pro must argue why, if "There is a deep-rooted link between religion and violence." the Buddhists are not violent.

(c) Pro says, "I am indicting religion for every evil or wicked thing a believer is likely to do only on the basis of their religious faith. " Your error is in claiming that if religion were destroyed, it would certainly be replaced by peace and reason. That is unsupported. One of Pro's two references is to how religion has been successfully destroyed in China, where they have suppressed Buddhism. So it is true that peace and reason have since prevailed in China, providing an improvement over Buddhism? Quite the opposite is true. Chinese communism is unvolved pseudo-religion.

2. Pro says, "Your assertion that if religion disappeared it would be replaced by something worse is unsubstantiated and fallacious." I substantiated it with an example. Where I live, no one forces me to pray or prohibits me from eating pork or forces me to wear a religious costume. However, I am not allowed to smoke a cigar in a cigar bar (even though the air is filtered cleaner than outdoors), I cannot buy a black car, schools must obey government standards of political correctness, and I must pay higher taxes to pay for irrational requirements. The prevalent pseudo-religion makes far more onerous demands on me than any traditional religion ever has. Pro gave the example of China, where religion was destroyed, yet rationality has not prevailed. I cited all the 'isms that abound. Pro ignored all the substantiation and claimed I gave none.

Moreover, I explained why it was inevitable: people cannot possibly examine each decision in life from scratch. They must have a strong set of default principles, and they will have them. Pro did not rebut that argument, although he denied it. Does Pro claim that people are in fact capable of resolving every issue from scratch using nothing but facts and logic, and that without religion they will do so? The advantage of religion in such matters is not at all that it is religion, it is that it is an evolved social institution.

3. Pro asserts, "Indeed, religion will be "destroyed" when people no longer take it seriously." I didn't claim Pro had advocated bombing churches. My argument is that attempting to tear down religion as a focus of activity misses the point entirely. The Chinese tore down Buddhism and replaced it with something far worse. What rationalists should do is actively promote rational thinking. I gave Japan as an example. Pro's sources claim that 96% of the population claims they are Shinto, Buddhist, or both, yet Pro claims that religion has been successfully destroyed because only 25% say that religion plays a role in their lives on a daily basis. I claim that this reflects the transformation of religion into a cultural institution. That this is a good resolution, and that it doesn't reflect "destroying religion" as the resolution proposes.

(b) Pro offers: "My opponent would do well to reflect on the state of our world 1000 years ago. One thousand years ago a belief in witchcraft was almost universal. What might someone like my challenger have said back then?" I'd say, "Be reasonable." Pro's assertion that witchcraft was universal then is not true. As far as I know, Buddhists, Daoists, and Confucians were not chasing witches. I think Pro's question is, "If religious irrationality prevails, wouldn't you try to oppose it?" Sure, and where it still prevails, as in radical Islam, it ought to be opposed as vigorously as ever. However, a thousand years ago there were plenty of other tyrannies and blatant irrationalities of a non-religious nature as well. Trying to destroy Buddhism while ignoring Ghengis Khan would be inappropriate, because GK posed the greater threat. In the modern world we have a variety of religious and pseudo-religious irrationality to worry about, and in many places the pseudo-religious is the greater threat.

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Pro's Case
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I don't have a good word for ideological substitutes for religion like communism, fascism, nationalism, tribalism, racism, and other modern extreme ideological beliefs. I call them pseudo-religions because they have all the traditional attributes of religion except supernatural belief. The pseudo-religions resolve questions of good and evil according simple rules, they provide tribal bonding that can be translated into the "moral us" versus the "immoral them," and they provide detail codes of social conduct. So, in Pro's list of seven reasons for destroying religion, one may replace the word "religion" with "pseudo-religion" and the list is equally true. This means that rationalists would err in focusing on destroying religion. They should attempt to destroy irrationality. In the United States right now, there is more irrationality in pseudo-religions than religions, but I advocate attempting to eliminate it wherever it occurs.

Pro's error, I believe, is in supposing that religion is something special. It isn't. It is merely one manifestation of the unavoidable human need for rules and principles for making decisions and for guiding daily life. If also satisfies the tendency for humans to want to bond into tribes that distinguish themselves from other tribes, and to justify tribe action in terms of moral superiority over others. Religion has the advantage of being generally more benign as a consequence of generations of revisions in which the less tenable notions of society have been discarded. Yes, there are plenty of religious nuts left on earth, but if you took away their religion they would quickly find a new home in some radical ideology that gives them all same comforts.

Pro should take on my basic arguments. Do people have the needs and tendencies I have supposed? Has religion evolved to more benign forms? Isn't it true that as I have described that pseudo-religion is more imposing on my life than religion? Are time-tested social rules a better starting point than new ideologies? If religion is destroyed, does peace and reason naturally prevail?

Pro should also provide evidence that religion is inherently linked to violence as claimed, explaining the inherent link manifest in Buddhism, Jainism, and the Quaker religion. Pro gives examples of bad religion and then claims a generality. How is that claim different from citing bad atheists and then claiming a generality?

Don't ignore my case.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Well, it looks like things are beginning to get interesting.

At no point have I ever claimed that all religions are equally bad or that they all lead to violence. What I've tried to argue is that there is a very logical path from religious faith- faith in Martyrdom, hellfire, and the divine origin of certain books- that leads to violence. I've even attempted to briefly distinguish Buddhism and Islam and yet you're throwing this accusation in my face like I've never mentioned it. It would be phantasmagorically stupid to say that Quakerism is just as bad as Salafi Islam. Clearly there is a continuum of bad ideas in religion and dreadful consequences based on those ideas.

======
Case pro
======

Rationalists should destroy religion because:

1.There is a deep-rooted link between religion and violence.

1) Religion leads to faith and thus beliefs in certain propositions.
2) Faith provides a perfect vacuum to insulate these beliefs from rational thought guaranteeing they will thrive despite their untruth.
3) Some of these propositions are dangerous and destructive e.g. (martyrdom, hell).
4) Insofar as a person actually believes something is true he is likely to act on those beliefs.
5) Acting on some of these beliefs e.g. martyrdom necessitates that people will be killed.

So, there you go. I've outlined the steps and demonstrated the link between someone accepting religion and then committing acts of violence. You're absolutely right in pointing out that my argument leaves religions like Jainism unscathed at surface value, but since this isn't my only contention I'm more than willing to concede this point. Even when religion isn't directly implicated in violence its responsible for breaking humans up into rival groups.

2.Our irreconcilable religious differences are inspiring an appalling amount of conflict. Even if religion doesn't contribute directly to violence it creates divisive in groups and out groups that fuel the flames of sectarianism. Consider the recent conflict in Palestine. Surely it isn't perpetuated solely over religion but religious lunatics on both sides are making matters far worse.

Quoted from The End of Faith- page 26 hardcover [1]

"Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews v. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians v. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians v. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants v. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslim v. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims v. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslim v. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims v. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists v. Tamil Hindus) Indonesia (Muslims v. Timorese Christians) and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis v. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. In these places religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last ten years. These events should strike us like psychological experiments rum amok, for that is what they are. Give people divergent, irreconcilable, and untestable notions about what happens after death, and then oblige them to live together with limited resources. The result is just what we see: an unending cycle of murder and cease-fire. If history reveals any categorical truth, it is that insufficient taste for evidence regularly brings out the worst in us. Add weapons of mass destruction to this diabolical clockwork, and you have found a recipe for the fall of civilization."

3.Religion balkanizes humans into separate and incompatible moral communities. This has gone uncontested so I'm assuming you agree.

4.Religion, very often, degrades ones ability to think coherently and thus make rational choices about the world. - I'm tempted to say that this is manifestly true but if you want me to elaborate I will.

5.Religious moderates give cover to religious fundamentalists by their insistence of having faith- belief without evidence- respected. Religious moderates seek to preserve faith and thus tacitly support the irreconcilable religious divisions in our world.

6.Religion stands in the way of medical research and social progress. Stem cell research has been blocked on solely religious grounds and gay couples still cant get married in California out of deference to grotesque books like Leviticus. [2]

7.Its come to my attention that my previous #7 claim is a bit absolutist. So, allow me to readjust it to read as follows: The unsupported supernatural claims of religion are patently absurd- e.g. virgin births, resurrections, flying hoarses, miracle stories, creation myths etc.

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Case Con
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"Do people have the needs and tendencies I have supposed? Maybe, but it doesn't logically follow that religion is the optimal outlet for these tendencies and it doesn't prove that these tendencies cant be reigned in.

"Has religion evolved to more benign forms?" Sure. Given the bloody history of religion this isn't saying very much and it even borders on obscurantism. Religion does not evolve fast enough by my lights and in the meantime millions of people are dying over these ridiculous beliefs that shouldn't survive an elementary school education.

"Isn't it true that as I have described that pseudo-religion is more imposing on my life than religion?" Maybe, but I don't see what this has to do with jihadism, which is what I focus on.

"Are time-tested social rules a better starting point than new ideologies?" NO! They often amount to little more than irrational appeals to tradition. I think you would agree.

"If religion is destroyed, does peace and reason naturally prevail?" Not necessarily, reason and peace must be encouraged and demanded by society the same way they are in every area of modern life except religion. Religion is one of very few modes of conversation humans engage in where people seem to think intellectual honesty and evidence are not required.

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"Where I live, no one forces me to pray or prohibits me from eating pork or forces me to wear a religious costume."

My opponent doesn't know what its like to be a girl living in Saudi Arabia. He doesn't know what its like to be hunted down by the Islamic Janjaweed in Darfur. He doesn't know what its like to be gay in a country like Iran. Indeed, his seclusion in a country that separates church and state has blinkered him to the needless suffering caused by religion.

=====================
"Moreover, I explained why it was inevitable: people cannot possibly examine each decision in life from scratch. They must have a strong set of default principles, and they will have them."

Your entire position rests on little more than shameless defeatism. You seem to think that religion or pseudo religion will always exist no matter how much emphasis we as a society place on reason or science. You would do well to notice how easily children can be argued out of their belief in Santa clause. This was a cherished hobby of mine when I was 6. They all enter school as believers and they all leave as perfect skeptics. Just because no civilization has ever been built solely upon the rigors of reason and intellectual honesty this does not mean that such a project would be impossible. It also doesn't show that attempting such a project would be folly.

Sources

[1] The End of Faith: Religion Terror and The Future of Reason- pg 26- (Sam Harris)

[2] http://www.usatoday.com...

http://www.alarabiya.net...

http://www.guardian.co.uk...

http://www.nytimes.com...

http://atheism.about.com...

http://www.speroforum.com...

Best,
Freeman
RoyLatham

Con

Pro has the burden of proof to show that "Rationalists should attempt to destroy religion." My alternative is that rationalists should oppose whatever irrational beliefs are most harmful. The goal of "destroying religion" is all encompassing. It doesn't say "destroy religion, except maybe we can leave certain Buddhists and Quakers alone, and focus mainly on jihadists and others that are really obnoxious." There is something wrong with the all-encompassing "destroy religion," and Pro admits it when he carves exceptions. What he is admitting is that it is irrational to set "destroy religion" as the goal when what one really means is "destroy irrational beliefs that pose a threat."

Some irrational beliefs are harmless. For example, modern astrology is irrational but mostly harmless. Horoscopes say things like "Capricorns: Today is a bad day to annoy a rottweiler." While the astrological reasoning is unsound, the advice is harmless. Therefore, "rationalists should destroy astrology" presents the same wrong emphasis of what the problem is. The problem is not irrationality in general, it is harmful irrationality. If Pro meant to resolve, "Rationalists should attempt to destroy harmful religious extremism," then he should have asserted that resolution, and we wouldn't be having this debate. But that is not the resolution he asserted. He asserted that rationalists should attempt to destroy not only jihadist Islam, but Buddhists, Quakers, Jainists, and the Salvation Army.

Pro restated his list of reasons for destroying religion. I have granted that harmful irrationality, including harmful irrationality cloaked as religion, ought to be opposed (or "destroyed" as Pro likes to say.) Pro should have used the space to respond to my argument that if one replaced "religion" with "pseudo-religion" (meaning "irrational secular ideology.") then Pro's reasons would be just as valid.

I challenged, "Pro gives examples of bad religion and then claims a generality. How is that claim different from citing bad atheists and then claiming a generality?" Pro did not respond. Do the examples of Stalin and Mao therefore affirm, "Religious people should attempt to destroy atheism." I claim it does not, because examples do not prove the inherent nature of atheism. Nor do examples prove the inherent nature of religious belief.

Pro has the burden of proof in this debate. Pro must show that if religion is destroyed, including all those Buddhists and Salvation Army people, that the world will be a better place. Clearly there is something about human nature that seeks ideological answers. It is a void that has to be filled, but the trend over time is that there are fewer religious wars and more secular wars.

1. Con: "Do people have the needs and tendencies I have supposed?
Pro: "Maybe, but it doesn't logically follow that religion is the optimal outlet for these tendencies and it doesn't prove that these tendencies cant be reigned in."

Why just "maybe"? Can people figure out every important moral and social question in the context of each situation from scratch, without a set of overarching principles? For example, Pro's resolution for this debate is a simple overarching principle; it says if x is a religion, then x should be destroyed. An overarching principle is a simple rule or guideline, like the Golden Rule. How exactly does one "reign in" the necessity of not analyzing every situation from scratch.

If a person had no simple rules, he would be paralyzed, turning every situation into a mammoth episode of introspection and research. Suppose someone says something ambiguous, should I take offense? One simple rule to resolve that is, "Give people the benefit of the doubt." Another simple rule is, "People are usually out to get you." It isn't practical to think, "To figure this out, I will first need to analyze the semantics, then I'll need to understand the speaker's background, recall the nature of our previous interactions, ..." and so on, trying not to take any shortcuts. What a rational person ought to do is to be willing to do the deep analysis when the situation demands it, but no one can operate without principles that expedite decision making.

What we should seek for society is the general adoption of reasonable principles, and the objection of principles that harm society. We should not care about irrationality that poses no harm.

2. Pro grants that religion is a mechanism for social evolution, as I have claimed. He argues that it does not work fast enough. So what is the track record for the modern pseudo-religions: communism, fascism, and socialism? How about nationalism and racism? There is no way to count the numbers that makes the modern better.

3. Pro says that "maybe" pseudo-religion is more imposing on my life than religion, but he argues, "I don't see what this has to do with jihadism, which is what I focus on." The relevance is that Pro's resolution says I should attempt to destroy religion, not that I should attempt to destroy jihadism. It's comparable to posing "Atheism should be destroyed," then saying that one wants to focus on Stalinism, and that anything else is irrelevant to the resolution.

4. "Are time-tested social rules a better starting point than new ideologies?" Pro: "NO! They often amount to little more than irrational appeals to tradition. I think you would agree." I absolutely do not agree. Modern Judeo-Christian society is far more rational than the preposterous rules of political correctness, nature worship, and supposed devils that have been ginned up by nuvo-fanatics. The modern alternative is fueled on hatred and intolerance. The traditional alternative was not designed to be rational, is evolved to be reasonable as a consequence of many irrationalities having been proved unsuited to society. Surely Pro can appreciate the principle of evolution; the eyeball is not a product of intelligent design, it is a product of nature selecting what works best. Evolution has certainly not perfected human design, and social evolution has certainly not perfected society. However, the idea that a conceited elite can redesign society to make it better is implausible.

5. "Religion is one of very few modes of conversation humans engage in where people seem to think intellectual honesty and evidence are not required." Have you ever tried to debate global warming with a true believer? Global warming true believers are more dogmatic than Christian fundamentalists. Their vision is extremely harmful, especially to the poorest people of the world. They seethe with hatred and intolerance. It isn't an intellectual discussion, it has every bad aspect of an extremist religious discussion. Here in California, a dam is needed to prevent the city of Sacramento from being destroyed in a flood worse than New Orleans. It cannot be built because the hard-headed minnow might be inconvenienced, not destroyed, just inconvenienced. I won't divert into the long list of such nonsense, but the list of unquestionable and unchallengeable beliefs is vast.

Pro claims of me, "Indeed, his seclusion in a country that separates church and state has blinkered him to the needless suffering caused by religion." Pro used China as a sterling example of how it was possible to destroy religion. Pro sees only religious extremism and ignores non-religious extremism, and he urges me to be equally blind. I'm not in either China or Saudi Arabia, but where I am, my freedom and well-being is threatened by secular ideology. The resolution supposes I should ignore the non-religious threat and instead go after Catholics or the Salvation Army or whatever religion is around. That's irrational.

Pro accuses me of defeatism. That's ridiculous. I think society is much better off today than it was a hundred years ago, and that what rationalists should do to advance society is to oppose irrational extremism in any form. It'll work.
Debate Round No. 3
Freeman

Pro

Let me begin by thanking my opponent for debating with me on this issue at such length. I'd like to start off where you and I both agree.

We both agree that irrationality should be opposed in all of its various forms. This would indict religion, pseudo religion, astrology, alternative medicine, witchcraft, liberal dogmas, conservative dogmas, conspiracy theories, Sarah Palin etc. However, right now I'm focusing on religion. The ad hoc assertion that there may exist more harmful pseudo religions than some traditional religions is not a logical reason that religion should be preserved or that pseudo religion will always prevail upon religions demise or that both can't be simultaneously eroded. We shall worry about pseudo religions in another debate.

We both believe that bad ideas in religion, and elsewhere, exist on a continuum. Not all religions will be directly implicated in violent behavior. Indeed, there are many forms of seemingly benign irrationality. You pin this down with remarkable precision when you cite astrology as an example. People don't generally turn themselves into bombs or send their children to clear minefields on the basis of their astrological beliefs. [1]

=======
Case Con
=======
"There is something wrong with the all-encompassing "destroy religion," and Pro admits it when he carves exceptions." I contend that religious faith is harmful enough by its very nature that it's worthy of destruction even if it doesn't lead to violence. It stultifies the minds of children and is generally correlated with all sorts of societal ills. [2] Although I do concede that some religions deserve to be destroyed sooner than others. Faith is as much the mother of hatred as reason is the guardian of love.
===

"However, the idea that a conceited elite can redesign society to make it better is implausible." Didn't you ever read about the scientific revolution or the enlightenment? Perhaps you would do well to pick up where you left off. [3] What it Socrates and other Greek philosophers took your very shoddy advice about the importance of new ideas or individuals?
===

"Pro grants that religion is a mechanism for social evolution, as I have claimed. He argues that it does not work fast enough. So what is the track record for the modern pseudo-religions: communism, fascism, and socialism?"

If I understand your position correctly then you've created a false dichotomy. Society can either adopt religion or pseudo religions in your view. I hope it doesn't seem ad hominen when I say that I think your views on these matters are intellectually lazy- but they are lazy in the extreme.
===

Atheism can't be held responsible for evil actions that atheists commit because it isn't a worldview any more than atoothfairyism is. For this reason it can't be chastised for anything bad that atheists do. You're not comparing like with like. Atheists are only a group in the same way non-astrologers are a group.

======
Case Pro
======
I acknowledge that not all religions are directly implicated in acts of violence and still maintain that my position is strong enough to absorb this concession.

Insofar as you don't attempt to alter the word religion to include humanism or other non-faith based ideologies I maintain that all religion should be destroyed. Christianity without miracles, faith or a God isn't really Christianity. Moreover, it isn't really religion. Religion, in the sense I'm using the word, implies faith in various propositions e.g. God, miracles, reincarnation, vicarious redemption, the divine origin of certain books etc.

Rationalists should destroy religion because:

1.There is a deep-rooted link between religion and violence. This has gone unrefuted, insofar as you agree with me that it doesn't directly indict certain religions like Jainism. The core tenets of Islam however, can be held responsible for the acts of 911 and other acts of suicidal terrorism insofar as these acts are perpetrated out of deference to faith. The Koran is littered with directives to kill, convert, or subjugate infidels and these directives are still being acted upon.

2.Our irreconcilable religious differences are inspiring an appalling amount of conflict. This has also gone unrefuted apart from some vague platitudes that you gave.

3.Religion balkanizes humans into separate and incompatible moral communities. I haven't heard you raise any contentions with this so it still stands.

4.Religion, very often, degrades ones ability to think coherently and thus make rational choices about the world.

5.Religious moderates give cover to religious fundamentalists by their insistence of having faith- belief without evidence- respected. This has gone completely unchallenged so allow me to expand upon it.

Religious moderates like members of the Church of England or the Quakers give cover, and thus tacit support, to religious extremists that perpetrate acts of violence and are thus implicated in the violence. They accomplish this by their insistence on having their unsupported and unsupportable beliefs defended without respect to evidence or reason. If you can defend the doctrine of the trinity on mere "faith" what's to prevent someone from defending the metaphysics of martyrdom on "faith"? By not calling into question the very project of believing in things on faith all religions, even Jainism, shares a burden in religious violence. What are the odds people would fly planes into our buildings if they grew up in a culture that was built upon reason and did not respect faith? It would be no more likely than Muhammad's flying to heaven on a winged hoarse. [4]

6.Religion stands in the way of medical research and social progress. I've given several examples about this and you've said pretty much nothing in response.

7. The unsupported supernatural claims of religion are patently absurd.

None of what I have written so far should be perceived as a denial of the importance of ethics in our lives. We can teach our children things like the golden rule as an utterly wise distillation of our ethical impulses without ever having to lie to them about God and his magic books. Nothing needs to be believed on insufficient evidence in order to obtain a collection of overarching principles. The notion that we need certain levels of mythology in our culture to have cogent moral principles or to do charitable work is simply untrue. Nothing in the destruction of religion would entail us being reduced to stupefied ignoramuses that have to examine all of our decisions about the world from scratch.

========
Conclusion
========

Millions of people suffer and die for no good reason whatsoever. That so much of this suffering can be attributed to religious hatred, religious divisions, religious wars, and religious diversions of scarce resources makes it all the more obscene. Our situation is so bizarre. Millions of people are being murdered and jailed over what is little more than ancient literature. We should marshal the same emotional response to this situation we would evoke if we woke up one morning and found that millions of people were dying over rival interpretations of the plays of Shakespeare. The collusion of religious moderates in this diabolical enterprise makes them acquiescent and thus implicated in the religious violence that plagues our world. When religion isn't motivating people to murder each other it's stultifying the minds of children, blocking medical research, impeding social progress and creating divisive in groups and out groups. For these reasons and many more I affirm the resolution that religion should be destroyed at the hands of rationalists.

Best,
Freeman

Sources

[1] http://www.globalsecurity.org...

[2] http://moses.creighton.edu...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[4] http://www.allaboutturkey.com...
RoyLatham

Con

The resolution proposes an intellectual jihad to "attempt to destroy religion." The resolution assumes that the only important characteristic of religion is dangerous mystical belief. That's a wrong assumption. Religion carries forward the evolving traditions of society. People need rules to live by: don't lie, cheat, steal, or harm others, respect reasonable customs of society, work hard, and work with your community. Many mystical beliefs, while wrong, are harmless. Jefferson's Deism or the Dahlia Lama's Buddhism harm no one. We should not attempt to destroy religion. We should appreciate it's stabilizing influence and let it evolve as a social institution. Over time, the mystical beliefs will fade in importance.

Pro argues, "The ad hoc assertion that there may exist more harmful pseudo religions than some traditional religions is not a logical reason that religion should be preserved or that pseudo religion will always prevail upon religions demise or that both can't be simultaneously eroded." That pseudo-religions exist and are harmful is not an "ad hoc assertion." It's born out by the history of the last 150 years. Religious violence certainly still exists, but it's the minority of the violent conflicts of modern times. Pro's prime example of religion being destroyed is China, where the communist pseudo-religion has been much worse.

The potential for harm is the same in religions and pseudo-religions because they both harness irrationality in the name of community. While the potential is equal, pseudo-religions are likely to be worse than the traditional religions they displace. It is because pseudo-religions as social institutions they are unevolved. Fresh ideologies are more effective at promoting all the things that Pro claims to characterize religion: balkanization of society, violence, and the waste and misdirection that comes from irrational behavior. Simply compare Chinese Communism to Tibetan Buddhism.

If all existing religions were instantly abolished, we would soon get a voracious new set of religions and pseudo-religions. People are inherently tribal, they need simple rules, and they have all the instincts that fuel religion. The question is how those needs will be met. The virtue of traditional region is that as social institution time has purged most of the consequential unreasonableness out of it. Jihad and religious wars are not the norm for 99% of the world's believers. The pseudo-religions are not so tame.

Rationalists should not attempt to destroy religion because traditional religion is a proven method of social evolution, it is better than what is likely to replace it, and rationalists should not adopt a goal of destruction. Rational people should not set out to destroy the truth in religion along with the mysticism. Pro has the burden of proof to establish that if traditional religious values are destroyed, that what will replace it will be better. He has not met that burden.

Pro argues, "I contend that religious faith is harmful enough by its very nature that it's worthy of destruction even if it doesn't lead to violence. It stultifies the minds of children and is generally correlated with all sorts of societal ills." Pro's reference considers only two social ills: rejection of the theory of evolution and homicide rates. The reference points out that the least religious country, Japan, was most advanced in both categories. How is it that Japan was rated the least religious country, when another of Pro's references accurately shows that 96% of the population is Buddhist or Shinto? It is because Japan has the largest percentage of atheists. The Buddha himself was an atheist, advising that the question of the existence of God was not one to profitably pursue. Moreover, Japan's low homicide rate is surely due to the Buddhist cultural tradition. What the reference misunderstands, and Pro wrongly argues, is that religion is not mainly about Gods and mystical beliefs, it is about community and cultural tradition.

There is also the idea that lack of belief in evolution is an important social ill. Faith-based opposition to evolution is wrong, but less harmful than, for example, the belief that cities ought to be sacrificed to avoid inconveniencing minnows. Ten percent of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth. It is pathetic, but it's also harmless. No one is killed or injured, and the cost to the public is small. Classifying lack of belief in evolution as a social ill shows an irrational obsession with wrong beliefs attributable to religion, as opposed to more widespread and harmful beliefs that are not religious. It's wrong for rational people to be so especially emotional about religous beliefs that err.

1. "There is a deep-rooted link between religion and violence." The link lies in tribalism as a cause of both religion and violence. Pro admits that there are peaceful religions, so clearly it isn't inherent in religion. Getting rid of religion will leave tribalism to express itself in ways untempered by tradition.

2. "Our irreconcilable religious differences are inspiring an appalling amount of conflict." Quite true, but the question is whether the situation would be improved if religion were destroyed. Would now-peaceful Buddhists be more peaceful if raised under one of the new political ideologies offering rules for living? Pro must prove they would, and has not.

3. "Religion balkanizes humans into separate and incompatible moral communities." Religion is a response to innate desires for community, tribalism, and for simple rules for living. Eliminating religion does not change human nature, so humans will naturally find a different expression of those needs. We should upset harmless traditions, only the dysfunctional ones. Jihadists must go, Jains, Buddhists, and even Presbyterians should be left alone insofar as their beliefs are harmless.

4. "Religion, very often, degrades ones ability to think coherently and thus make rational choices about the world." It degrades thought on topics that are dealt with by the religion, but I don't accept that it carries outside the religion. People are remarkable compartmentalized. That Jefferson believed in a Day of Judgment did not impair his thinking about government, and I think that holds widely. Many atheists hold wildly irrational beliefs on subjects other than religion. Some believe that government is, for all practical purposes, omnipotent, omniscient, and good --a ridiculous idea. Religious beliefs have generally been relegated to matters that do not affect the here-and-now. They worry about thinks that cannot be proved or disproved, and which are thus harmless.

5. "By not calling into question the very project [province?] of believing in things on faith all religions, even Jainism, shares a burden in religious violence." The theory is that failing to attack harmless belief supports harmful belief. If so then failure by others to attack astrology (harmless belief) makes them complicit in fascism (harmful belief). Insofar as that's true, it doesn't indict religion any more than others. I think there is an obligation to generally oppose irrational thinking, but the much greater obligation is oppose harmful ideologies.

Suppose I wanted to support the resolution "Fire should be abolished." How would I go about that? I would make a long list of the horrors of house fires, hotel fires, and forest fires, and fires in planes, trains, boats, and automobiles. I would claim my opponent had never countered that any of these were not very bad. I would then claim that fire must be banned do to the overwhelming evidence. All that argument lacks is perspective. The same is true of Pro's arguments against religion.

Religion is a response to human needs, not the driver. Rational people should oppose harmful irrationality. Sometimes that is religion, more often these days it is not. If we do that, society will progress.
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by gamemaster 7 years ago
gamemaster
Freeman, you totally won..doesn't matter what the vote says. Truth is not determined by vote.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
sienkinm, I have no objection to challenging the intellectual basis of religion. I'm an atheist and do it all the time. My concern is that many atheists are way too focused on religion as being a unique, or at least special, source of irrational beliefs. If one is in a Muslim theocracy or some other place dominated by religious extremism, that's appropriate. In the US there are much greater treats from ideological politics. For example, we can import unlimited amounts of foreign carbon, but it is deemed sinful to use our own carbon. This is wildly irrational and hurts the US severely, and the origins of the belief defy all but a quasi-religious explanation. Yet people who claim to put rationality at the top of their agenda do not worry about or discuss it, preferring instead to worry abut young earth creationism. I am arguing that modern Christianity is much less harmful that quasi-religious ideology.
Posted by sienkinm 7 years ago
sienkinm
Roy you can argue that harm is caused by religions just as much as other "isms" or lack thereof. In any case, the evolution of religion is important to our society. By intellecutally challenging the belief system's can only be a good thing overall rather than mindlessly following a religion without any personal investment or understanding on why someone believes what they do in the first place. Religions will never dissapear nor should they. We are all striving to understand our existence and what we aught to do with our lives in a meaningful manner. The answer and avenues to that understanding are vast and diverse. Who's to say which avenue is better than the other? I think the answer to life is that we all strive to find that meaning and whichever avenue we choose is the choice of the individual and meaningful. There is no one right way to do that.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
sienkinm, You very wrongly assume that if religion were to disappear that reason would prevail. Religion is only one of many short-cut methods for decision making. There are all the "isms" of modern society ready to take its place. the advantage of traditional religion is that it has evolved to get rid of most of the bad stuff. In case you haven't noticed, Christians are not keeping slaves or stoing people to death these day. The virulent replacements are in fact causing much harm.
Posted by sienkinm 7 years ago
sienkinm
I definitely agree with Pro about the unfortunate negative affects religion has had on our species. I'm not sure the word destroy should be used but perhaps replaced with attempt to objectively rationalize beliefs. I would suggest that continually debating religion is itself the means to a better understanding although most would say it's a dead horse.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "God doesn't kill people"

Flood? Sodom? Gomorrah?

>> "the stoning of women was prohibited by Jesus"

... 2000 years AFTER God told people to do just that to homosexuals.

>> "Christianity sees Human sacrifice as a pagan ritual and condemns it"

Do the temple priests raping virgins count? What about God "testing" Abraham by commanding the sacrifice of his son?

>> "I wonder where you even learn anything about religion?"

I wonder the exact same thing... obviously not the Bible...
Posted by IrvingC 8 years ago
IrvingC
"The God of the Bible hates sodomy and will kill you for it but he rather enjoys the occasional human sacrifice."

God doesn't kill people, and the stoning of women was prohibited by Jesus when he said 'he without sin cast the first stone'. Furthermore Christianity sees Human sacrifice as a pagan ritual and condemns it, I wonder where you even learn anything about religion? Finally, I know this was directed to rationalists, but you can't destroy religion even if you wanted to, if you've noticed Islam is growin at a scary rate, and you won't be able to even speak of religion in a couple of 100 of years due to the political influence of Islamic religion.
Posted by dogparktom 8 years ago
dogparktom
I just posted this message in a philosophy forum. It should be of interest to the debaters and commentators. http://forum.philosophynow.org...
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Freeman, I think it will go the way of Japan, in which religion exists as a cultural institution, but the mystical beliefs are fading away. In the US, this is probably most evident among the Jewish people who are really atheists, but observe many of the Jewish religious traditions and think of themselves as Jews. In Japan, Shinto has a wild assortment of local gods and spirits for all occasions and purposes. I don't think it is much of an overstatement to say that no one really believes those gods and spirits exist, but people still honor many of the traditions and the religious festivals. I think that's the likely future for all of religion.
Posted by Freeman 8 years ago
Freeman
RoyLatham, where do you see all of this ending? In other words where do see religion heading in the next 50 100 200 years?
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