The Instigator
Biowza
Pro (for)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
ILoveCheese
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

Religion does more harm than good.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 14,764 times Debate No: 4502
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (22)

 

Biowza

Pro

This is no doubt a touchy subject, but I won't beat around the bush with it. Religion simply does much more harm than it does good. Let me first say that I am referring to all religion, but primarily I refer to the three major monotheistic religions of the world, namely christianity, islam, and judaism. It has been demonstrated time and time again that not only do they do barely any good for the world, but in fact they have a severe adverse effect on humanity as a whole. My argument is centered around religion being a direct cause of a certain event or way of thinking (good or bad) as well as deep seeded emotional goods and bads directly caused by religion.

1)Religion causing harm physically

Indeed, it would be difficult to disagree that religion has done a lot of physical harm to people over the years. The following are just a few examples of this; September 11 attacks on the USA, beheadings in the middle east, the murder of abortion doctors in the USA, continued suicide bombings in the middle east, the bombing of abortion clinics in the USA, and of course everyone's favorite, the crusades.

Now these things might be grouped by some people to be just the work of 'crazy fundamentalists'. However, it is still religion. You have to ask yourself, where would 'extreme' religion be without 'moderate' religion? Surely it wouldn't exist. Ask yourself this, would these atrocities have occurred if these people were not religious? I say no. Why blow yourself up in a school bus if you don't genuinely believe that you are going to be rewarded in an afterlife? Why face the death penalty for killing a doctor in his home if you don't think you are doing "god's" work? I contend that religion is a direct cause of these things.

2)Religion causing harm mentally
All religions require some degree of faith. Most religions require adherence to scripture (certainly the three monotheistic religions do). In my mind, the concept of faith is a childish one. People shouldn't believe anything upon insufficient evidence, the concept of 'believing in x because the bible/quaran/torah says so' is not only irresponsibly ignorant, but downright dangerous. Imagine a world where people are educated with this frame of mind, in faith. Are we to teach our children that the right way to think, is to think without questioning? Are we to decide that the rational mind is dead?

To prove a point, I need only to refer to a map of the world. Think of some countries and think of the religions attributed to those countries, what comes to mind?

Brazil- Christianity (89% of population)
Turkey- Islam (99% of population)
Israel- Judaism (76.4% of population)

(all from CIA world factbook)

The very fact that you can achieve over three quarters of a population to be one religion lends the idea that the children in those states don't exactly have a large choice when it comes to what religion (if any) he or she should believe in. Taking the freedom of thought away from children is always wrong, as is the dangerous dogmatic faith which lends itself to physical religion-inspired violence.

3)Possible goods done by religion
Probably the most prominent thing to look at for this would be to look at groups such as the salvation army. Group that give food to the homeless, that provide shelter for the needy, and give presents to orphans on christmas. Of course I have no problem with what they are doing, I think it is great of them. But you have to ask, is the sole cause of their generosity their religion? As I've done with the physical harm done by religion, you need to ask the same questions. Would these people be drastically different if they weren't religious? I don't think they would be. I don't think a humanitarian worker would stop working if their religion were to disappear. And if they would stop working then you have to question their legitimacy of their actions. Were they just being nice because they were 'forced'? Keeping in mind that not all members of these organisations are religious you have to ask another question. Is there a correlation between religiosity and morality? The answer to that is no.

I thank whoever decides to accept this debate, and I look forward to it. I've never had any experience in debates to excuse me if I miss some things or what have you.
ILoveCheese

Con

If I understand your argument, you point to two areas where religion does harm:

1. Physical harm. Specifically religion is the cause of some wars and terrorism.

2. Mental harm. Specifically the suspension of disbelief and logic.

Point 1:

Governments exist and have been the cause of some wars and terrorism. By itself, this does not prove that either the institution of Government nor the institution of Religion 'Does more harm than good'.

Point 2:

It is impossible for any human to have contemplated all potential scenarios one may experience. Therefore it is impossible for any human to have a formalized conclusion as to what is the correct behavior in all circumstances.

What I mean by this, is that for most people, they go through life and 'just do it'. They may be able to give you a well thought out reason 'after the fact' if you ask them, but by in large, they have absorbed social mores through experience. They do not act based on a formalized philosophy derived from great introspection and thought.

You later point to a 'correlation' between morality and religion. It is a defining characteristic of religions to espouse a code of morality. It is their greatest and most enduring feature. Where as the 'leaders' of the faith, some doctrine, influence on societies may ebb and flow, a constant is their primary function of 'preaching' a belief system.

Let us consider one of you main arguments described as point one above. If we take the two institutions, religion and the state, and compare lives I would argue that religion wins hands down.

Where as both have been the source or a significant contributing factor to wars, only religion is associated with life. Those of faith have higher total fertility rates than those who do not. In fact it is only in the 'rational developed' world of radical secularlism, where nihilism reigns, that you find a belief system so devoid of logic, that it destroys its membership with each generation.

When all belief systems are equal, none are. The belief of moral relativism is a sham perpetuated to its believers ruin.

And like the 'state', religions provide a function. So long as there is demand for that function, religions will exist. You point to the Abrahamic faiths. No state has ever survived over two thousand years. Even when significant differences occurred, it was not the end of faith but a branching out to meet the needs of specific populations.

If I were a betting person, I would bet a form of Abrahamic faith will far outlive any of the states that currently exist.
Debate Round No. 1
Biowza

Pro

First off, thanks for taking the debate.

Now let me say that it would be foolish of me to argue that government aren't to blame for certain acts of terrorism and wars (see; ongoing palestinian/israeli conflict). However like I've said, only religion can be cited as a direct cause of certain things. Suicide bombings for one. If there were no religion, the simple fact is people would not blow themselves up. I have not yet heard of one example of one example of someone blowing themselves up in the name of secularism and the rational mind. Another example which I touched on before, the bombing of abortion clinics. People wouldn't jeopardise their lives on this earth if they did not genuinely believe their own rhetoric.

Going onto morality in religion, what seems to me to be clear is that the supposed 'morality' from religion is expunged from a mountain of what seems in our time to be incredible immoral behaviour. Some quotes following

"O Prophet! Make war against the unbelievers [all non-Muslims] and the hypocrites and be merciless against them. Their home is hell, an evil refuge indeed." (Koran, 9:73)

"Remember Allah inspired the angels: I am with you. Give firmness to the believers. I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: you smite them above their necks and smite all their fingertips off of them." (Koran, 8:12)

"When we decide to destroy a population, we send a definite order to them who have the good things in life and yet sin. So that Allah's word is proven true against them, then we destroy them utterly." (Koran, 17:16-17)

GE 38:9 "... whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked ..., so the Lord put him to death."

LE 26:22 "I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children."

DT 20:16 "In the cities of the nations the Lord is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes."

Now these are just three quotes from the bible and three quotes from the Quaran. There are many more out there that show these texts aren't things of morality. This has nothing to do with interpretation as of yet, interpretation is done by 'moderates' and 'extremists'. Simply looking at the texts, looking at quotes, and getting a general feel of the book, it is difficult to say that these books provide a solid moral compass. If anything, the perceived 'morality' of these texts are given by the interpretation of the humans reading it. Not the other way around.

You make a comparison between religion and the state, however this is not my intention at all. Atheism, 'lack of faith' isn't connected at all with the state. Governments causing wars, should not be connected with 'atheism' starting wars because:

A) I can't think of any heads of state that are openly atheist
B) Much like religion causing some forms of terrorism, atheism is not a cause of inter-governmental wars.

In fact I cannot think of one example of atheism being a direct cause of any atrocities whatsoever. I remind you that it must be caused by atheism, ie the Khmer Rouge destroying religion was not caused by atheism, rather, it was a side effect to Pol Pot's plan to take control of Cambodia. Same thing with Stalin destroying churches in Soviet Russia, it was not caused by his secularism but rather, it was caused by his intent of ruling his people with a new religion of Stalinism. It just seems to be that by definition, someone cannot commit an immoral or violent act in the name of disbelief.

This idea of 'radical secularism, where nihilism reigns' is a strange one, you seem to be suggesting that somehow a lack of belief can be radicalised so that it is devoid of logic. As I've said before, I struggle to find one example of a state that is openly atheist, or even, one state that currently has the majority of the population that is atheist. From my research I think the biggest percentage of atheists in the world is about 19% in France (correct me if I'm wrong, this was done quickly).
ILoveCheese

Con

Suicide bombings do occur outside of religions as evidenced by the Bushido code and the Spartans stand at Thermopoly. It would be a poor General that was unwilling to sacrifice men for tactical or strategic advantage. Selflessly dieing for the benefit of many is consistently (I mean in nearly every group of people except for perhaps liberals), valued and considered by that group to be 'honorable'.

Many of these areas that you are entering are not new, nor are they the sole purvew of religion. The tactical decisions you describe are a subset of Asymmetrical Warfare.

"If anything, the perceived 'morality' of these texts are given by the interpretation of the humans reading it. Not the other way around."

I don't see how this in any way proves that religions do more harm than good. I agree completely. In fact, doctrine does change over time to better meet their 'clients' needs. I don't see how this makes religions more harmful. In fact, I see this as a reason to think the exact opposite.

The reason for me bringing up states is because they are competitors in the area of morality, the principal product of Religions. Here you have two institutions and both provide a similar good. In some areas of the world, religions provide more social services than their governments. But it is not these areas that I am focusing on, though they are relevant.

The area of morality was the issue that I focused on above with:

"Those of faith have higher total fertility rates than those who do not. In fact it is only in the 'rational developed' world of radical secularlism, where nihilism reigns, that you find a belief system so devoid of logic, that it destroys its membership with each generation."

In many countries, including 'the West', the state and religions are seperate. This has the potential for different values to clash. In this case, by design, there is a seperation of Church and State for the purpose of allowing religious freedoms. This 'tolerance' was by design to 'enable' religions and their morality to exist without interference from the state.

Fast forward.

Currently, this 'tolerance' has morphed into moral relativism. Instead of creating a framework from which people can practice a morality and be given equal treatment under the law, we now have a philosophy in the public sphere where all philosophies are equal. Because all philosophies are equal, none is superior so therefore it matters not one bit whether or not you act according any specific moral code whether that be a religious code or any other philosophy.

There is no 'meaning'. Any attempt to make a judgement is replied with, "who are you to judge? Are we not all equal?". Tolerance has become a handcuff to moral behavior.

The not so funny joke is that this modern day version of tolerance is in fact a philosophy, and not a new one at that, called Nihilism.

Nihilism:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position which argues that existence is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following:

* Objective morality does not exist; therefore no action is logically preferable to any other in regards to the moral value of one action over another.
* In the absence of morality, existence has no intrinsic higher meaning or goal.
* There is no reasonable proof or argument for the existence of a higher ruler or creator.
* Even if a higher ruler or creator exists, mankind has no moral obligation to worship them.

The term nihilism is sometimes used synonymously with anomie to denote a general mood of despair at the pointlessness of existence.[1]"

So what you have are no longer classical liberalism in the public sphere. What you have is nihilism running around as modern day liberalism. The result of a valueless society is ultimately failure. You can see it now the negative growth rates of the 'west'. The low birth rates is the result of not believing in anything (and in particular the emphasis on family that one finds in relgions). Regrettably, those proponents of this neo-nihilism are too focused on how tolerant they are, they fail to see the ground crumbling beneath them.

Religions are institutions made by men. As such there will be many instances of 'bad things'. It is inevitable. But, one episode or even many does not make the institution have a net negative value. I argue on the basis of family formation and reproduction alone, that religions have a net positive impact on humanity.
Debate Round No. 2
Biowza

Pro

Once again, I have no doubts nor do I question the idea that suicide bombings occur outside of a religious context. Human sacrifice is done outside the realm of a religious context consistently on the battlefield. However once again I feel I need to remind you that none of these are CAUSED by a lack of religion. Acts of human nature such as honour, generosity, and violence are unavoidable and I wouldn't be arguing for a second that a world without religion would not have violence. However only religion explicitly causes violent acts in people who would otherwise be harmless. I've been through the examples several times but to make a point let me remind you that the 19 hijackers on September 11 would not have sacrificed their lives, nor would they have willingly and knowingly killed nearly three thousand people if they weren't religious. The idea of Asymmetrical warfare being linked to secular ideas frankly doesn't make much sense in terms of the fact that no secular idea has ever CAUSED a war. No war has ever been fought in the name of atheism.

The point that the 'morality' from religion is made by the priest/rabbi/imam is infact a point for religion not really being the cause of the morality. As demonstrated through extracts of the Bible and the Quaran, if read objectively, these texts are far from pillars of moral and ethical behaviour. The 'ethics' extracted by the priest/rabbi/imam are nothing but bastardised versions of the true texts (of which the so called 'extremists' take literally). You seem to be somehow suggesting that this morality can only come from religion, however the contrary is true.
We see time and time again that one does not need religion to be moral, starting off simply in nature, it is easy to see animals such as koalas sharing some food, or monkey mothers defending their young, these basic moral acts aren't those of religion (to the best of my knowledge, animals aren't religious). Not only in nature but in real life, as I've said there is no correlation whatsoever between being religious and moral behaviour. No such empirically tested study exists which demonstrates that atheists are on average less moral than those who follow a religion.

Infact the opposite might be true, especially in the USA where atheists make up 14% of the population and yet only 0.209% of the prison population (according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons http://www.holysmoke.org...) conversely, this means that 99.791% of inmates who answered the poll were religious. Now, I am aware that this alone doesn't prove that atheists are more moral than people who are religious however that is not what this debate is about and that is not what I am trying to show. I'm simply demonstrating that the idea that atheists are somehow less moral than people of religion is short sighted at best. Once again I do have to question your comparison of states and religion because that is not what I'm talking about at all, irreligion/atheism is in no way tied into the role of government/state.

Well first off, the separation of chruch and state is not intended for the promotion of free religion. If I am correct in assuming that you are reffering to the USA, this right is granted by your Bill of rights and the clause of free practice of religion and speech. This specifies that no religion is superior to another but also, no religion is inferior to another one. This allows anyone to practice morality in anyway they want to, as long as within the realm of the law. Your idea of social nihilism being spawned through the modern interpretation of the separation of church and state seems to be based around your opinion and nothing else. If you are indeed referring to the current climate of the USA (Where I presume you are from), let me remind you of a few quotes from your current commander-in-chief.

"Americans do not presume to equate God's purposes with any purpose of our own...."[Prayer] teaches us to trust, to accept that God's plan unfolds in his time, not our own." Washington Post, May 7, 2004

"...Freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."Speech in Pennsylvania, October 22, 2004

You talk of separation of church and state, however it seems your current president is having a bit of difficulty himself in maintaining this.

Going onto talking about fertility rates, I've got a few problems with this.

A) You've provided no empirical sources for the information that 'fertility is higher amongst religious people'.

B) Problems arise yet again from the 'morality' of roman catholicism spreading AIDS throughout Africa with their refusal to endorse the use of condoms. Africa being one of the most religious regions on earth, relies heavily on the teachings and advice of their religious leaders. When someone like the Pope forbids the use of contraception, this does nothing but spread the sexually transmitted disease to become one of the biggest epidemics since the black plaque.

C) Contrary to what you say, the fertility rate among Americans has climbed to its highest level since 1971. (http://www.usatoday.com...)

If this wasn't enough, the UK has hit its highest fertility rate since 1980. (http://www.guardian.co.uk...)

If you desire one more, then Australia's birth rate is the highest it has been in 36 years. (http://www.theage.com.au...)

All this seems to put a gaping hole in your argument that the 'nihilist nature of society' is somehow promoting 'low birth rates'. If you somehow attribute this clear rise in birth to religious reasons then I ask you to provide clear evidence of this, and retract your statement about nihilism being spawned through the lack of religion. Because it seems clear from this that the west is producing more babies than ever.

To sum up my arguements, I've put forward that 'religion does more harm than good'. What I have demonstrated is that:

Physically, religion is a direct cause of harm, evident in the innumerable events of religious wars, and acts of terrorism and murder which would not have happened if there were not religion.

Mentally, the concept of faith is very dangerous and is always wrong to teach a child to believe in something without sufficent evidence. I've also demonstrated that those who lack religion are not more likely to commit crime or are nor in any way less moral than those with religion.

The good done by religious groups are not directly caused by their faith in the way that terrorist acts are. It is very likely that the people working for groups such as the Salvation Army would not be immoral if they were not religious (and indeed, there are many secular humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International).

I thank you for the debate.
ILoveCheese

Con

None of the three points made in the last posts' conclusion proves religions do more harm than good.

The first point: It has not been proven that, like states, religion uses force in a net negative fashion. While religion is used as a justification, it does not mean it is net negative or even negative at all. Replace 'religion' with 'freedom' and you come to the same point.

I attempted to prove above that people do act on 'faith' all the time. No one contemplates every action they make. They take a leap of 'faith' in most of their actions. It was never argued that people who ascribe to a different philosophy is 'less moral'.

In the last point, it was never argued non religious organizations do positive things. What was argued was that religions promote succesful family formation and reproduction. I will spend the rest of my post to display some of the mountain of evidence proving this final point.

http://www.washingtonpost.com...
"Fertility correlates strongly with religious conviction. In the United States, fully 47 percent of people who attend church weekly say that their ideal family size is three or more children. By contrast, only 27 percent of those who seldom attend church want that many kids."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
"It turns out that the European countries have generally lower fertility than could be expected from their socioeconomic standing. In the Arab countries, culture and religion tend to have strong positive effects on fertility. Across cultures, Catholicism has a fertility-increasing effect but it--like the effect of all religions except Islam--is diminishing over time. In contrast, the effect of culture (as measured by a regional variable) on the level of national fertility has been increasing at the expense of socioeconomic effects."

http://papers.ssrn.com...
"Since the onset of democracy in 1975, both total fertility and Mass attendance rates in Spain
have dropped dramatically."

"Even if rates of church participation have decreased dramatically,religiosity has acquired a more relevant meaning than before in terms of its implications for
demographic behavior. Second, individuals in small denominations such as Muslims and
Conservative protestants within an, otherwise, homogeneous religious landscape are likely
committed to their pronatalist affiliation and have more children on average."

http://www.oeaw.ac.at...

"Secularisation was a necessary condition for the rise in individualisation as it
brought about a release of the norms and restrictions that originated in rules and
rites set by the churches. As secularisation continues the Christian churches are
less and less capable of influencing people's behaviour (van de Kaa 1999: 42) and
religion can, as a consequence, be disregarded."
During the recent decades secularisation has been a topic of debate among
researchers of sociology of religion. Where Europe is concerned, the decline in
the influence of the churches is rarely disputed, unlike the decline in religiosity
not bound to an institution"
We found that in most of the countries affiliated people have higher fertility
ideals, higher odds of intending to have another child and a higher number of
expected children than non-affiliated persons."

http://www.demographic-research.org...
"This substantially positive effect of religious
beliefs on fertility must have something to do with the role of religion in guiding human
behavior in terms of the issues of sexuality, cohabitation, marriage, and the function of
family. In general, a number of religious doctrines are linked to delayed sexual debut
and entry into cohabitation, and more positive attitudes toward entering marital unions
and having children (Bearman and Bruckner 2001; Lehrer 2004; Marchena and Waite
2001). As stated earlier in this article, Catholicism encourages large family size and is
strongly against abortion. The Mormon theology emphasizes the central role of the
family in the religious community. Both Protestants and Mormons have incentives to
marry early and are oriented to home-based activities. As a result, deeming such
religious beliefs important in daily life makes people more likely to internalize their
church teachings and thus to favor a large family size. This perhaps explains why
religiosity is influential in terms of both male and female fertility.

In sum, religion is a very important institution spreading behavioral norms and
providing social support for people. My analyses reveal that the fertility gap among
religious groups is decreasing, whereas religiosity, especially religious beliefs,
demonstrates a significantly positive effect on fertility. Women do not exhibit a
substantially greater likelihood of being influenced by either religious denomination or
by religiosity than men. Thus, religion does not seem to be a factor that differentiates
male and female fertility among the U.S. religious population."

http://www.amazon.com...
"Although most parts of Europe and North America saw a substantial decline in fertility from the later nineteenth century, the extent and pace of decline varied between and within countries. Many observers have seen religion as a major reason for these differences, but the link between religion and levels of fertility has often been explained in a crude and over-generalised way. This collection of case-studies reveals a much more complex and varied picture. Religion was indeed a key factor, but it did not operate in any neatly predictable way."

etc.etc. etc.

Total Fertility Rates
http://en.wikipedia.org...

US 2.1 (basically replacement. Note white Americans is 1.83. Most of the growth is with Hispanics.)

Australia 1.81

UK 1.85

I don't see much reason to cheer these numbers.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by gateroadmusic 7 years ago
gateroadmusic
I wholeheartedly agree that RELIGION always does more bad than good. In the Bible religion is what causes people to die lost without Jesus. It is ALWAYS accompanied by humanistic pride. This pride of man, religious or secular, has always been the downfall of mankind. Get a relationship with Jesus instead of religion!
Posted by Biowza 8 years ago
Biowza
I don't think you actually read the debate snicker, I cannot be bothered repeating myself so read it and get back to me.
Posted by snicker_911 8 years ago
snicker_911
Religion did not kill abortion doctors. Religion did not sacrifice anyone. Religion did not get us to where we are today. We did it. Us people are doing this. War, suicide, murder, rape. Why blame it on a book just because it's the Bible and the Bible influences people? To kill someone, it is YOUR choice. The Bible doesn't force us to do anything and neither does God. Haven't you ever heard of "You Shall Not Kill"...? Yeah, THATS what's in the Bible. Not some sacrificial lessons. Just a bunch of holy stories that happened thousands of years ago [if you are religious].

Why do some people wait til marriage to have sex? Why do some people refuse violance? Risk their lives for others? Yes, religion has brought out the worst of some people, but also the best of many people too. Is war influenced by religion? No. Is rape influenced by religion? No. Is breaking into houses/bank robbing influenced by religion? No. Is murdering either? No! The people are doing this! Whether they feel it is their right as a religious group, nowhere in the Bible or any scripture does it say it is ok to kill people. I don't know why some people believe they are stopping "evil" by murdering abortion doctors, but it is something THEY did. Not something a holy Book did.
Posted by Xera 8 years ago
Xera
Con did not supply enough rebuttal on the issues presented to show that 1) religion does not in itself cause substantial harm and 2) religion can and does have positive effects.
Posted by Maya9 8 years ago
Maya9
While pro's arguments are rather mediocre, I have to vote pro due to the fact that while religion causing harm seems to be agreed upon here, no one seems to have any proof of it doing good. Therefore, more harm than good.
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Vote Placed by Battlecry 8 years ago
Battlecry
BiowzaILoveCheeseTied
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