Religion has had a positive effect on society on balance.
Only serious debaters please, not just atheists wanting an argument.
Before I post my arguments I want to let you know that I will be arguing according to the title. I suspect that BoP is shared, and I will include everything that may support my argument.
Good luck Pro
In short, I believe that religion has represented our consciousness and given it substance and clarity. With no religion, there would have been only rulers and the ruled, and resources. Nothing would have changed, in my opinion, because people don't give up power without a fight, and people can believe any world is acceptable. Because religion was there, saying that all men are equal, and that the poor will be first and the rich will be last and all that, it made the gradual shift towards equality happen.
So. What is religion? In the beginning, culture and religion where inseparable, a cultures 'religion' was just its beliefs about the world. In them days (before and just after agriculture) 'religion' was only positive. As it was the system we used to explain life, heal people and understand our environment.
When we started to live in big cities, religion held us together. It offered ceremony, rights of passage, community gatherings and gave people a sense of understanding and unity in the mysterious world they live in. As cities continued to grow and resources got scarce, humans sank into a more animalistic mentality and began to become like we understand them today. Dominant dictators where the norm and poor people where property, and the world was unfair and the iron fist ruled. The strongest ruled. In this world (the last 6000 years) kings ruled. Kings are dictators and we all know what happens to dictators. So the world was ruled be dictators. Religion, or the belief in a god, is the only leach on a dictator. That's why dictators hate religion and are often atheist, because they like to think of themselves as 'god'. (I'm not saying atheists are dictators, I'm saying dictators hate religion because it humbles them). There is nothing to stop the human mind from going extreme with power, religion offered that hold on the kings of the political systems of the world and acted as a regulator. The pope would condemn violence and injustice. Also, religion effects the heart and minds of these people that's why it's so hard to determine its positive effects. For instance, William the Conqueror feared god and repented on his death bed for his atrocities, suggesting that god had been an influence on his mind despite the fact he was a mean character. So without god, how bad would these men have been?
So my arguments are as follows:
Religion has acted as an entity, above kings, that humbles their authority. Battling against the natural instinct to become violent and oppressive that dictators are at risk of becoming.
The church itself, throughout Christendom from about 900AD to 1700, played a key role in the relationships between the nations of Europe. The pope and the Vatican could be loosely likened to the EU, or other such organisation that sought to maintain peaceful relations throughout the world through being a common lord and communication ground. Kings would write to the pope if they felt they where being hard done too by other kings, and the pope would excommunicate kings who where cruel or warmongering. If you where a small, god fearing society, you could get protections from the pope and anybody who attacked you could be excommunicated.
Religion is mankind's institutionalised consciousness. It's the 'good' part of us, documented, displayed and thought out by those considered profits and authors of the books e.t.c. This is absolutely obvious if you just put yourself in the world 250 years ago or before. In the animal kingdom there is no justice or fairness, only the rule of the strongest. Human beings behave like this as well, as psychological studies show. Even with members of our own society (one in which being 'good' is indoctrinated) used as subjects, they would very quickly act brutal if the circumstances allowed (prison study Zimbardo). I mean, look at the slave trade, it was done in a freedom loving country. So in the ancient world, before people where thinking of anything else but survival, what was there to act as a conscious? There was nothing but religion. Religion is the only thing that says to do good in the world, up until the 1700's. Yes, I accept its human followers can at times be mislead or completely wrong, but ultimately they mean well. Without religion, there is nothing to say do the moral thing. Obviously until more recent history, where modern societies (which are inherently Christian in origin) began to become more socially fair. We are only behaving in a way now though, that the bible has encouraged us to be like for centuries.
I await my opponents response
This is perhaps the important point, of which that will include many historical events. Just to name a few:
the Holocaust, Multiple events by Al Qaeda, Witch burnings, Charlemagne beheading 9,000 saxons,
ISIS, etc etc etc. . . Besides Al Qaeda and ISIS, there have been numerous other recent events that can be
seen as unacceptable
->” With no religion, there would have been only rulers and the ruled, and resources”
Well. . .Not exactly. My opponent gives no evidence for his claim, and America’s government was inspired under the Enlightenment, not religious aspects. (9)
->”Because religion was there, saying that all men are equal, and that the poor will be first and the rich will be last”
Our government protects the right of “all men being created equal” not religion. Religion has nothing to do with the government.
->”. It offered ceremony, rights of passage, community gatherings and gave people a sense of understanding and unity in the mysterious world they live in”
I believe my opponent meant “rites”? Please do correct me. But, religion gave us those ceremonies, and who says those are beneficial? My opponent gives no evidence that ceremonies are beneficial. Recall the witch burnings stated earlier? Those are a type of ceremony too.
->”Religion has acted as an entity, above kings, that humbles their authority”
Again, if you are referring to America, it is the government that got rid of kings and queen, and it was thought up during the constitutional convention. (10).
->”Religion is mankind's institutionalised consciousness. It's the 'good' part of us,”
Recall the atrocities I had listed earlier in the name of religion?
“Religion is the only thing that says to do good in the world, up until the 1700's”
Actually. . . The Massacre of Verden occurred 782, and the multiple christian atrocities took place far before the 1700s. I will list the dates in the following round if my opponent wants me to.
Your first argument is that many events have been caused by religion.
Like I have already said, religion is rarely the cause of the action. If it was, then why did the Muslim and Christian empires co-exist for hundreds of years in peace and friendship? Why is one of the main men in the IRA Protestant? Because religion is only the banner of the nation, used to justify whatever they already want. Lets look at your examples and see if this applies to them:
Holocaust: So the holocaust was not religious in the slightest. Germany faced massive debts following WW1, also the people of Germany where struggling, Hitler then united them and we all know what came after. No historian considers religion a cause of the war and the actual causes are known and not really disputed, sorry but this claim is false. Hitlers motives where to further the German race and take land to feed the people. Indeed, Hitler rejected his faith as a boy and was an Atheist. Though the truth behind Hitlers faith is not factual, by going against the main principles of Christianity and warring with Christian nations-we can assume Christ wasn't a huge influence in his life at least. Indeed, Hitler had the same ideas most atheist dictators do-which is to better their race and consider life to be like a breeding program for perfection. So no, the holocaust had nothing to do with religion and indeed suggests religion does encourage peace because the lack of it in Hitler demonstrates a moral vacuum. In which more animalstic, primal moralls take over, these are based around evolution and perfection.
Al-Qaeda: Anybody who truly understands this issue knows that Al-Qaeda are a response to Western invasion. An obvious, world-wide, religious or not, response to a foreign force bombing your country.
Witch Burnings: yes okay, paranoia fuelled by religion. However, this is members of the church, not religion as a world wide entity. Indeed christianity itself says nothing of witches, its folk-law mixed in with religion, they also beleved in faries and goblins back then you know. Also, witches where real back on the day, at least in the mind of the women practicing witchcraft. Silly I know, but true. I know two 'witches' myself, though don't believe in any of it I may say. So though its bad on the surface of it-burning women who where apparently something we now know doesnt exist-but it's more complicated than that. Still bad though, I conceded this point.
Beheading Saxons. This was a war between a society and another society. Both had different religions. This war was about military conquest. Do you really think, in the real world, people car about what someone believes? People want power, safety, food, riches, they don't really care about anything else. Like, it's more noble to say your killing people because they are believers in bad customs and are not followers of your god-than it is to say you want more money and land. Again, Jesse saying turn the other cheek did not encourage beheading. It's was again, just a banner.
So despite the fact that these are examples of military conquest rather than religion persecution, they are limited in their substance for the side of the argument they wish to support. For religion has been benifitial in holding societies together and mediating their social stricture, these things are more subtle and difficult to calculate. It's easy to list a war and a massacre simplistically, and short-sightedly assume a simple causing factor. Indeed history is more complicated than that.
Also, I would like to say that dictators hate religion. So religion obviously is some kind of hold on them-of course it does though, because its somebody better than them, who has their own laws that control even the dictator. Everybody knows the worse a dictator gets the more self-obsessed he becomes and then he becomes the religion of the society. All societies have needed religion, and if they don't have one set in stone by profits and wisemen, then they have one revolving around the dictator. Which is a recipe for disaster if we can learn anything from: Pol-Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mussalini, Than Swe, Kim Jon1, Kim Jon2, Mao-Zedong and the current Chinese government. I'm sure these names alone have conjured up for violence than all your points. Which I remind you are mainy military conquests, or other things loosely related to religon.
Your second argument is that it strips us of our basic rights. My friend, it gives us our rights! Forget the last 100years, not allowed to work one day out of seven? Thank The Lord. Work was so hard that if you where not allowed to be forced to work, then brilliant. Secondly, rights don't exist. There is no law but the law of the strongest. Until 1900, women didn't even have the right to vote, and women could be raped in marriage in my life-time. So my dear, think about the world in the feudal system, the bible gives rights to all men. Such rights, even though they have been present in the bible for a thousand years, only became actual law in the last 100 years! My dear boy, contextualise religion into history, and learn history. I know how religion can seem pointless in your little life, but look deeper. Without religion, there is only dictators. (Obviously not now, as religion has played it's role in entrenching its message of peace and love into the very society).
I will respond to your rubbutals:
You say there is no evidence for the claim that without religion there would only be the ruled and the rulers. How could they be evidence? There has always been religon. However, what we know about human nature and societies suggests that without religon, there would only be rulers and the ruled, as political discourse has no platform without the religious institution. In ancient days there was the ruling class, the rest of us, and the religion. The religion had a body though, it wasn't just an idea or a book, it had 'priests' 'churches' or equivalent. The Druids religious leaders where said to be able to walk onto a battlefield and stop the battle (because they where an entity separate from the peasants, and the rulers, that where common amid all nations of the religion). Religion, or the church,was neither ruled or a ruler. And so without the church, there would in fact only be the ruled and rulers.
You may say, well what about social revolution? Social revolutions began in, and with, religion. There is no social mobility in medieval society's, apart from the church. Like I say, you where born either a peasant, or a nobleman and neither could or would alone have changed that. Obviously there is no proof, there couldn't be, but I think the fact that only 100 years ago things where blatantly unequal even in the UK, demonstrates how hard its been for the powerful to give up power. Even now arguably its more unequal!
So for three reasons, what you say is wrong about rulers and the ruled:
1. The church offered a platform for opinions to be made, philosophy to be explored, and resistance and communication to be made with the ruling class. Peasants had no chance of putting an idea to their lords. So the church actually facilitated the social conditions that allowed for the world we see today, that doesn't just have the ruled and the rulers.
2. There was actually only three main institutions in the medieval world-peasants, church and state. So without the church, there would only be rulers and ruled. Remember, the church answer to the religion, not the state. So they are neither rulers or ruled. They can question authority.
3. You give America as an example. America is a recent state whose founders where religious and where seeking a world without religious domination. The circumstances make this an exception because its origins where not that of a 'naturally forming' society. These where people already influenced by society. Humanity itself, and its journey of social development, is a different question to the origins of America.
Your second rebuttal is that the American government protects rights without religion. I will list why this point has little weight.
1. As I have said, the American society is a recent society that was formed by religious men already influenced by society. It's therefore not an accurate model for representing the social psychology of mankind, in how our social values develop.
2. It's only one society, the rest of mankind has very slowly developed their social value and this I argue is facilitated by religion.
3. America was actually formed by members of a society indoctrinated with Christian values.
4. The rights of this, man made, system didn't even extend to women or other races. Slavery was allowed. Jesus, 2000 years before said 'turn the other cheek' and all men are equal. So the followers of Christianity where arguably more socially evolved than the Founding Fathers, 2000 years before the American constitution.
Your next rebuttal states that, in response to my saying religion acts as an entity above kings, that America doesn't have a king.
Yes, again like I have said. The very notion of not having a king was unheard of in the medieval world, without religion constantly challenging the authority of the king, no peasants would do so, nor could they have the unity and strength to make any social change. Those pioneers would never have existed without religion. This is a discussion about mankind, not America, which is an exception in many cases and has no long history.
Your other rebuttals seem to argue that because certain bad things, that you think are religious in origin, have been done; that my explanation that religion is the organised consciousness and the thing that says 'do good' in world, is false.
No, just because religion is saying 'do good', doesn't mean people will actually 'do good', or what they believe to be good.
"Your first argument is that many events have been caused by religion."
->How is that in any beneficial towards your argument? Yes, these things have been caused by religion therefore, they are not beneficial towards the society.
"Like I have already said, religion is rarely the cause of the action. "
My opponent's first paragraph gives NO evidence whatsoever. He makes a blind assumption that I have clearly proven otherwise. (Just look at the link for more info based on christian based atrocities alone. Note that this is NOT supposed to offend anyone!)
"So the holocaust was not religious in the slightest"
->"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
-Mien Kampf, page 65 (1)
"No historian considers religion a cause of the war and the actual causes are known and not really disputed, sorry but this claim is false."
Yet my opponent's claim is coming from?. . .If you look at Mien Kampf page 65, upon investigation it appears to be the sole reason for hitlers atrocities of the jewish people was inspired from the "almighty creator"
"Hitler rejected his faith as a boy and was an Atheist."
->Hitler himself was reluctant of public attacks on the Church for political reasons, despite the urgings of Nazis like Bormann. Although he was skeptical of religion, he did not present himself to the public as an atheist, and spoke of belief in an "almighty creator" (2)
" This was a war between a society and another society. Both had different religions. This war was about military conquest. Do you really think, in the real world, people car about what someone believes"
-> I would highly encourage my opponent to provide evidence to his claims. Apparently, in the real world, other people did "car" what other peopled believed. During the Saxon Wars, the Saxons rebelled against Charlemagne's invasion and subsequent attempts to christianize them from their native Germanic paganism. (3)
In regards to my opponent's dictator argument, I highly encourage him to go deeper into the specific events, rather than make a blind generalization based an an assumption.
"Work was so hard that if you where not allowed to be forced to work, then brilliant"
->I enjoy my opponent's informal way of writing as it is quite enjoyable to read towards. Rather than a serious formal argument, I favor his "laid back" language that stimulates a more realistic conversation. Moving on, it states in the Bible to be put to death if you work on sundays! Is that not stripping our right to work?
"Secondly, rights don't exist."
->I thought my opponent just stated "My friend, it gives us our rights", I believe that that implies rights do exist? Please correct me.
"Such rights, even though they have been present in the bible for a thousand years, only became actual law in the last 100 years"
->Please do state such law? How was it beneficial towards the society?
"You say there is no evidence for the claim that without religion there would only be the ruled and the rulers. How could they be evidence?"
->Pro has misunderstood me. I meant that please cite the information, showing evidence.
Pro then talks about political discourse has no platform without religious institution? Recall that religion has nothing to do with our founding of government, and was found upon the enlightenment ideas. (Source listed on previous round)
"Social revolutions began in, and with, religion. There is no social mobility in medieval society's, apart from the church."
->If revolution begins with religion, how is that beneficial towards society? When did revolution begin with religion? Perhaps we will hear it in the following rounds.
R 1-"The church offered a platform for opinions to be made, philosophy to be explored, and resistance and communication to be made with the ruling class. Peasants had no chance of putting an idea to their lords. So the church actually facilitated the social conditions that allowed for the world we see today, that doesn't just have the ruled and the rulers."
->Well, the age of enlightenment was is the era from the 1650s or earlier to 1776 in which cultural and intellectual forces in Western Europe emphasized reason, analysis and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It was promoted by "philosophes" and local thinkers in urban coffeehouses, salons and masonic lodges. It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the Catholic Church; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism. It was not a religious movement, and it shared philosophical and scientific ideas. (4)
R 2. "There was actually only three main institutions in the medieval world-peasants, church and state. So without the church, there would only be rulers and ruled. Remember, the church answer to the religion, not the state. So they are neither rulers or ruled. They can question authority.
->The church is not a place where ideas can be interacted between different powers. It is a place to be forced to pray. I believe you are referring of a salon-held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation (5)
R 3. (Paragraph too long to quote, Therefore I will only perform rebuttal)
->America's founders were religious, and America has no religious domination? Yes, so I believe that means that religion is not beneficial towards the American society.
American government rebuttals:
R 1. "As I have said, the American society is a recent society that was formed by religious men already influenced by society. It's therefore not an accurate model for representing the social psychology of mankind, in how our social values develop."
->Just because it was founded by religious men, and our society is progressing without religion does not mean the secular progression is the cause of religion.
R 2. "It's only one society, the rest of mankind has very slowly developed their social value and this I argue is facilitated by religion."
->Please do correct me, but are you implying that only America was founded under people who were religious? Also, the founders being religious or not are irrelevant to this debate.
R 3. "America was actually formed by members of a society indoctrinated with Christian values."
->Actually, it was found under the influences of the age of enlightenment, a SECULAR movement.
R 4. "he rights of this, man made, system didn't even extend to women or other races. Slavery was allowed. Jesus, 2000 years before said 'turn the other cheek' and all men are equal. So the followers of Christianity where arguably more socially evolved than the Founding Fathers, 2000 years before the American constitution."
->I encourage my opponent to cite the evidence when Jesus said that all men were created equal. Even if he did, that is not a religious statement, and Jesus' theological aspect have no relevance if that statement was religious or not. Also, it is arguable that all certain humans rights came to play due to the sole cause of Jesus.
I'm sorry, I'm going to find it tricky to respond to all your points in an orderly fashion. For many of them are statements that you have taken out of context, or misunderstood. Or I find you address an argument that I have made, that is often complex, and shoot it down with a small phrase and little or no explanation.
For instance. You dispute all of the causes of WW2, war that are accepted by historians; such as; the treaty of Versailles, which lead many polititions to actually understand, and see as justifiable, what Hitler did (1); the failure of the League of Nations (1); Hitlers society and exposure to anti-Semitism; the positions of Jews in German society, Hitlers experience of Jews, and the social conditions of the German people; not to mention the Atheist insipred idea of ugenics that was rife at the time. You dispute all this complexity and mearly quote one line on Mein Kampf, and leave it there. Not considering the fact that its said "Hitler is an keen propagandist, making it difficult to draw definate conclusions from what he says" (1). This is not proper debate standards, I think your style is quite laid-back also in this regard. I may add as well, that Hitlers faith was in Nationalism, Racial superiority and Himself. It's absurd to think he was motivated by Christ, a Jew, who preached peace and tolerance above all, and equality between men. The three things Hitler openly disagreed with.
Also, spending so much time on such facts as Hitlers faith, is exactly what I didn't want in this debate. This is petty and meaningless, not least because even if he was a Christian, the war had nothing to do with it, but because its not going to help us get closer to the answer. I want an intelligent debate that considers the grand story of mankind, and religions place in it. And then try to decipher, from what we know about society, psychology and nations, how mankind would of developed had religion not existed. Then see which world is better. All my opponent is doing is spouting 'events' that he does not fully understand, and trying to blame religion for them. We could do that all day my friend, and the winner would be the one who could find the most examples. However this is boring and not a true test of skill, nor indeed a legitimate way to decipher the argument. I want you to try and understand my main point and dispute it, not just quote lines out of context and disagree with them based on inaccurate assumptions of their meaning! It's so wearisome going through each one and correcting it. I was to discuss the true role of the religious institution in society and mankind as a whole, I don't think you have enough knowledge of history to do this, am I correct? This is what I contented in the beginning, but you reassured me otherwise.
Here is another example, where I feel you take something out of context: You quote me saying "religion is rarely the cause of the action" and respond by saying: "My opponent's first paragraph gives NO evidence whatsoever. He makes a blind assumption that I have clearly proven ". This is bad conduct in my opinion, as I clearly stated two examples in that very paragraph, not to mention some theory. That paragraph was also the prelude to four lengthy points regarding the very issue. My opponents use of language implies that didn't give evidence, misleading the voters.
This style of debate makes up a lot of your last arguments content, and I fear you have not fully understood my main point as I don't feel it's been addressed sufficiently. I don't want to get caught up in specific events for three main reasons: one, its never clear how much influence religion had on those events, and two: human history is so full of 'events' that its impossible to accurately weigh up the 'bad' and 'good' because there is so much that's happened around the world in the last 5000 years that trying to do a 'body count' or score list would be impossible. And three: All of these 'events' have been actions of men(/women), the bible (for instance) tells that men are sinful and there are wolves in the church, So Its not the religion itself then doing bad, its somebody actually who pretends to holy, but is in fact not. In regards to point two, because I wish to elaborate, there are examples of religious violance, such as the crusades and violence in the Middle-East, but there are also thousands of religiously based charities and aid organisations around the world. Not to mention the political role the pope, and most religious leaders play and/or have played in bringing nations together. So what I'm trying to say is, although I dispute that your examples are indeed entirely religious in origin, there are hundreds of examples of people of faith healing and helping people as well. Did you know the church, in medieval England was also an orphanage, school and hospital? These are examples of people of faith doing good. They are just not as interesting as be-headings and wars, so we forget about it. So getting bogged down in specific events, in which people did stuff that may or may not have be inspired by religion, and too use it to try and weigh up the amount of suffering caused by religion is actually vain. So I don't wish to start looking up loads of stats, only to have them ignored and responded with loads of other stats from yourself.
To decide wether religion, which is basically a non-scientific belief that every human culture originates with and makes their world view part of, is detrimental to humanity, or positive to humanity, we have to talk theory and historical context. Not throw figures around. Your point about the enlightenment era made me worry about your historical understanding. This is what it was:
I pointed out that throughout the Middle Ages, the church was the only thing that was allowed to do anything besides work as a peasant, or rule as a nobleman. Because of this, I argued, the church was the only 'go-between' between the nobles and everyone else, and therefore the only platform by which society could have a chance at developing. In response to this, you said that the enlightenment era was largely scientific. My friend, the enlightenment era was after the middle-ages and without the social conditions that existed previous, the enlightenment would have been impossible. If conditions didn't improve during the Middle Ages, then the enlightenment era would have been impossible. This is an example of you taking a historical event out of context, like you have done so on several occasions during this debate. You don't see the positive role of religion, because religions role is so enormous and yet so subtle, it goes unnoticed by most. Also, most people are merely aware of the sensational news of beheading and violence, not charities and aid.
So for the sake of argument, I will respond to some of these points you have made. But I implore you to focus on what comes after, as I will try to reinstate my main argument to try and bring things back to base. Rather than focusing on all this.
You ask me to correct you on this: The 'rights don't exist' quote means that they don't exist in a physical form, nor a definite form. And I argue that what we understand as our 'rights', come from religion ultimately. What I am saying is, the concept that everybody has rights is not obvious. Even social revolutionaries in democratic Greece believed people where born slaves. You don't seem to understand society, history or psychology very well. The world you live in now was not inevitable, nor the only right way. People didn't always know what they do now either. Rights for all men, is not obvious, and only came from religion, until very recently. Even recently, rights haven't come from nowhere. They have come from only the societies that have been religious at their heart for centuries. And have the values of Christianity indoctrinated into them, even if they as individuals reject the faith! That's why atheists can't get their head around the fact that they are good, and yet don't believe in god. They are very proud to have not needed God to be 'good'. When indeed, the society they are in is the reason they are 'good', and the reason why they have values such as equality. And indeed, without religion preaching equality for thousands of years, its quite possible that you would not have had it indoctrinated into your society (and thus you might not know it).
I don't have many characters left so I will re-instate my argument as clear as I can.
Although hardly any 'religious conflicts' have come too violence solely because of the religious disputes, I accept the following facts:
Two nations having different religions can make communication, friendship and integration more difficult than if there was no religious differences. However, cultural differences also account for this. But more importantly, on the grand scale, we know that humans struggle when it comes to authority: Here are the systems we have come up with:
Democratic societies (Greece, Rome, United States). These are prone to corruption, and by no means inherently fair, for in all three of the examples democracy was limited to males of a certain racial group.
Kings - with religion. Dictators, with a check on their authority in light of morality. (Majority of old world)
Kings (or equivalent) - no religion. Dictators, they where the religion, these are the worst people of all. (Few who rejected religon as they became more tyrannical). These people had too much power, and we all know what comes next.
No space left.
No systems are perfect.
I do agree that we are going a bit out of context on the entire Hitler thing. I am not going to perform any rebuttals in regards to Hitler for that sole reason. However, before we do move on I would like to state why I presented the Hitler argument in the first place. The reason was, it stated in the Mein Kampf, which explained some of the hatred for the Jews. This is not a reason for WW2 however it does present us some evidence that religion was not beneficial for society.
" I want an intelligent debate that considers the grand story of mankind, "
->This implies that this debate is not intelligent. This is quite absurd and insulting from my point of view. My opponent is more than welcome to drop this debate if he/she feels this lacks intelligence. However, if my opponent wants the "Grand story" so to say, I believe he/she would like to extend my argument. I would like my opponent to clarify that, and I shall drift away from most my opponent's points regarding the context of this debate going off topic.
" All my opponent is doing is spouting 'events' that he does not fully understand, and trying to blame religion for them."
So apparently, my opponent's intention was to compare an unpredictable imaginary world without religion, to a world with religion. He/she had not stated that in the resolution at all, and expects me to know his/her intention. This is very illogical. However, what I am doing is taking negative events that involve religion, and show how religion was not beneficial for society.
The rest of my rebuttals are going to be in a form where I presented my argument.
I. A few "good" churches does not mean religious people are morally superior
I will present in the following paragraphs where I go more in depth of the events of religion. However, it is likely to come across churches that do good for their society. However, this is not a strong point. For it is not religion that the sole cause of people to do good. In fact, if you look at the American prison statistics only 0.07% of America"s prisoners are Atheists. (1) The rest are religious. This does not mean that religion is what causes people to cause crime. But this does not mean you being religious means you are good.
II. Religion and violence
In Nigeria from 1990 to 2007, 20,000 have been killed specifically in the name of religion (2)
Ladies and gentlemen, 20k slaughtered in the name of religion. What does this mean? Religion does not
cause a beneficial outcome on society. My opponent wanted to know a world without religion. Well for
starters, it would mean 20k would still be alive.
2. "In early 2007 Mrs [Ranjita] Basumatary was driven from her original village after her neighbours accused her of being a dain - a witch. Around 100 villagers surrounded her home and beat her with sticks, leaving her badly bloodied and bruised. After receiving death threats, she fled with her husband and three children. [...] Local jealousy seems to have prompted the accusations of witchcraft. Her family had prospered, leasing livestock to other villagers. It led to resentment. When children in the village fell sick, the ojha accused Mrs Basumatary of casting spells - his own charms and potions having failed. Her case is not an isolated one. At least 17 people were killed in witch-hunts in the area last year." (2)
If religion was not there, it would mean 17 people alive and and other people that have common sense, like not to kill someone just because they are casting so called "spells"
3. Crusades (3)
Some historians see the Crusades as part of a purely defensive war against Islamic conquest; some see them as part of long-running conflict at the frontiers of Europe; and others see them as confident, aggressive, papal-led expansion attempts by Western Christendom. Whatever the reason, the crusades were almost completely religious.
4. List of religious atrocities.
III. Religion and intelligence
Imprisonment is linked to both poverty and lower intelligence. These are also linked to religiosity; and in the case of intelligence, low intelligence is a known cause of adherence to a religion. As crime is also linked to inner city populations, and this is also, again, where religion is found to be strongest, it seems that the religious have always been bound to find themselves over-represented amongst prison populations, such as Muslims and Catholics. The liberal thinker Barbara Smoker remarked on in a (UK) Government discussion group that Catholics have a greater chance of being found in prison than many other social groups. (2)
This is an image to show religion and IQ level.
You say: 20,000 people killed in Nigeria, purely religious.
I have looked at your source for this point, and you do quote exactly what's said so you annot be blamed for your misunderstanding. However, using such a bias website is only a fault of your own. There was no specific conflicts that caused these deaths over this period. Indeed there is nothing in Nigerian history that corresponds to these dates, its as if they have been plucked out of the air by this website. What has been going on is political unrest and a string of military dictators and revolutions. For instance, Sani Abacha was the dictator from 1993 to 1998, he seized power from a democratic leader who had only ruled for 3 months. Nigeria had been ruled by military leaders since Muhammadu Buhari seized power from Shehu Shagari in a 1983 coup, since then these military dictators ruled. Where these leaders motivated by religion or personal gain? Lets see... Sani Abacha stole 5 billion of the countries wealth during his 5 year dictatorship-this doesn't sound like a man devoted to Islam, this man goes against all that Islam stands for. Therefore we can conclude he was not a religious warrior by any standards, indeed his religious beliefs where probably the only thing telling him otherwise (like what happened to William the Conqueror). Also, Umara Musa Yar'Adua was of the same faith, and yet he "was one of few serving governors with a spotless record, devoid of any suspicions or charges of corruption". So to blame religion is incredibly short sighted and false. For not only is personal gain the ONLY motive, but religion actually has a counter-effect on such selfish pursuits. Don't listen to those bias websites.
I like this argument you make, because it demonstrated to me how unaware you are of my argument. You say they called her a witch, but that they where really jealous of her. So are you not seeing a reoccurring theme here? Don't you think jealousy was their motive? I mean I don't know, but presumably this was about jealousy. Also, witches aren't strictly religious, they are superstitions. Superstitions are not religious, indeed they often come in place of religion-Jesus didn't say good will come to those who don't break mirrors!
Where the crusades because of religion? No. But I can understand why many laypersons think so. If the crusades where a response to the rise of Islam, then they would of happened in the 7th century. Indeed Christians lived happily in Islamic empires, so did Jews, and pilgrimages by Christians to the 'Islamic owned' Jerusalem where good for the Islamic economy. However the Turks sacked the city of Jerusalem and ruled tyrannically, killing pilgrims, and then threatend Byzantium. Byzantium, being Christian, asked the Pope for help, and the Pope wanted to unite Europe to maintain his personal political strength, so he agreed to help. He put it too the countries of Europe as a holy war in order to sell it to them, not because it really had anything to do with religious conviction. So even the most famous 'religious conflict' of all time, is not clearly religious.
This is the role religion has played in society:
The religion in a society represents its morality. Its our attempt at institutionalising our conscious. Now morality can be misguided but non-the-less, without it there is only those who rule and those ruled. Religion is the only thing with power who's agenda is not exclusively self interest and ownership. Yes the church owned land, but it wasn't driven by the wayward nature of human dominance, but rather a higher moral code. Without religion, inequality would just be normality because there was nobody to question authority. So therefore the leaders would never have been challenged. Even with the church, things where awfully unequal. If one studies history, they will notice that rulers seldom give up power if ever. The religious institution was the law above the law, and that law was the bible or Quran. Everybody can also accept that the bibles message is peace and love (despite the odd line that suggests something else). This message of peace and love (ten commandments etc) is revolutionary in the medieval world and its place cannot be ignored
Its hard to fathom what religion has done for us that's positive, because its all around us and in the very nature of our culture. Those who view religion as a source of conflict are ignoring the big picture. Also, conflicts are always far more complicated, to narrow the causes to one is again to loose sight of the big picture.
My opponent has recited events that he doesn't fully understand, I'm sorry if this is offensive, but its true. It's the reason you cannot see the real role of religion, because you don't have an understanding of history. You don't know how society has developed over the years, nor do you recognise the importance of self-ambition, power and greed in the deeds of people and nations. To blame religion is dismissive and reductionist, also it legitimises our actions and makes them seem more honourable than a purely greedy motive. The same can be seen today in the spreading of 'democracy' rather than Christianity. People just want to put their culture on everybody else, if you studied history you would have seen this and realised that religion is not specific in this phenomenon, its innately human. That is indeed why religion is there in the fist place! To say 'all men are equal' and lessen this natural human instinct to be racist and tribal.
Just like the police, they get it wrong sometimes. But the overwhelming majority of the time they are a force for peace, and we cannot quite fathom how chaotic it would be without them, for there good goes largely un-praised. Religion is like this. It does get it wrong and can make situations worse, but the benifits to humanity are overwhelmingly positive.
Thank you for a good debate.
Thanks for your reply pro. This certainly has been an interesting debate and I wish you best of luck
I am going to change my rebuttal style a bit. However, regarding pro's bashing on my source, In the 1980s, serious outbreaks between Christians and Muslims occurred in Kafachan in southern Kaduna State in a border area between the two religions, propagated by extreme leaders who were able to rally a young, educated group of individuals who were feared that the nation would not be able to protect their religious group. Furthermore, the site gives the sources in this case it came from "The economist".
This part of my opponent's argument in regards to the Witch incident is actually quite surprising. Yes, jealously was partially driven as well but certainly not entirely. The villager's justification to beat the lady was because she was a Witch. Ladies and Gentlemen, that's a JUSTIFICATION. Honestly, there is something wrong if people believe that after killing someone their justification is not their jealousy, however it is the fact that she was a witch.
Now, the crusades argument from my opponent is simply absurd. The crusades did not occur to the rise of Islam, simply because the the Turkish Muslims took control of the holy land. Therefore, it is irrelevant if the Christians and Muslims lived peacefully. Prior to this, the Arabs had been in control of the land. However, the Arabs had allowed Christians to pilgrimage and visit the city of Jerusalem. In 1070, when the Turks took control, they began to refuse Christian pilgrims into the area. The crusades began when Byzantium,asked the Pope for help to stop the Turkish for taking over the Holy Land, the Arabs had control of the holy land before however the Turkish would let Christian pilgrimage in the holy Land. (1)
The following part of my opponent’s argument is quite interesting. My opponent’s main points are that religion is what causes ideas to spread and where morality developed. This is not exactly the case.
“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads”
“Do not allow a sorceress to live.”
“If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness. “
(It appears that many teenagers shall be put to death)
“Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.
(It is morally justified that all other non religious shall die)
“ They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”
-2 Chronicles 15:12-13
(I am an Atheist. Please do not kill me, even if it is justified in your religious text)
Deuteronomy 13:13-19 mentions to kill the entire town if one person is a nonbeliever.
(Please do not kill the entire city of San Francisco, even if it is morally justified by religion.)
You see, it even states in the religious texts that many immoral things are justified. Clearly, religion is indeed immoral.
Many parts of my opponent’s argument misunderstood religion to eras such as the Enlightenment or paces such as the Salon. Churches are a time to pray, while salons and the enlightenment era spread ideas. The crusades was due to the the Islamic Turks capturing the Holy land, preventing christian pilgrims to spread their religion. This shows how religion actually may PREVENT ideas to spread. Pro had insulted me numerous times throughout the debate resulting in poor conduct. Furthermore, it is debatable on a whole other subject how morality existed before religion, therefore religion is not the cause of human morality. Pro failed to rebut such claims of the modern religious immoralities and religious drama. (E.g mother kicking 13 year old out of home).
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