The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Religion has no essence

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/28/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 425 times Debate No: 94161
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It is my personal belief that "religion" has no essence. I would say there is no such thing as "religion" because the term is used to refer to a set of things which are different in essence and have no defining trait among them. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and "Chinese folk religion" are all very different in nature and have no common set of traits shared among all of them. Nor are any traits one can find in them reason enough to put them into a distinct category. I might analogize this with the idea of "eargreyish", being a mock zoological term applied to both elephants and mice. Elephants and mice are very different animals. To define both based off a small trait they share is silly. If my claim is true, anyone who uses the category of "religion" in an argument is by implication making the noncentral fallacy.
One might say "belief in gods" might define these, and therefore that defines the category of religion. I would say belief in "God", in the sense of a supremely transcendent deity, is not the same as mere polytheism. But this would not apply to, say, therevada buddhism. It is a variety of buddhism which considers the existence of gods to be irrelevant with striving towards enlightenment is the only important thing. It does affirm the existence of some supernatural beings that are adored and sometimes answer petition, whilst prescribes that one ought not worship them because such is a trivial pursuit.
One might say belief in the supernatural defines religion. But one might believe in UFOs, fairies, astrology, or other things as such and those would not constitute a religion. One might say "OK, well, these have to be codified belief systems pertaining to the supernatural". However, many ancient forms of religion are not codified, as there really wasn't set group of deities or myths one needed to believe in to be either a greek polytheist vs an egyptian polytheist or lakota polytheist. Many cultures adopted the gods of other cultures, so it is not codified in that sense.
I would say there are various belief systems that take the place of religion in people's lives. Communism is a great example, since it affected much of the history of the 20th century. It became the state ideology, and defined the politics of, near one third of the world for half a century, in a similar way to fundamentalist shia islam defines the politics of Iran.
I would say people who are communists, and other radical leftists, tend to study a great deal about their politics and their study is a very meaningful activity for them; could be compared to prayer or bible reading for others. Or, alternatively, some people have devoted their entire lives to the spreading of atheism (which I also think is a category error). There are atheist foundations and institutions and talks arguing for atheism and done in hopes that Christians and other believers in God will become atheists. People devote their lives to atheism in the same way clergyman devote their lives to Christianity, while it takes a smaller role in the lives of most adherents to either of these beliefs systems. Other causes devote their lives to, or kill for, also take the place of religion in people's lives. Some devote their lives to the paleo diet, or evolution, or wealth, or likewise die for the pursuit of wealth or some political ideology.
There are belief systems pertaining to gods, ethics, and morals which have not been defined as religions. Neoplatonism or stoicism are categorized as philosophies, but many people in these even went as far as to practice meditations and mental exercises, and prayers to the greco-roman pantheon, which are distinct to these "philosophies".
In conclusion, all ideas or set of ideas categorized as "religion" share no common defining trait among them and therefore there is no such thing as "religion". No definition properly explains the essence of each thing the label of "religion" is ascribed to. If I am shown to be wrong, I will concede my point.


Role: I am Con so I need to connect religion and essence and provide that there is positive evidence of that fact.

Readers/Voters: Normally I would start my arguments now - however I have already detected laziness on behalf of Pro, who has not yet made any substantiated arguments nor outlined their responsibilities in this debate.

My concerns: The dilemma I am faced with is, do I try and educate Pro - is it my responsibility? - do I have the right?

Argument 1: Pro would lose this debate in any high school in the western world simply because of the shallowness of his thinking. Readup on the mean of the word debate Debateto understand the intellectual combat ground, its history and values.
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