The Instigator
alias_anubis3000
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
Defenestrator
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

Religion is bad

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,479 times Debate No: 2362
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (12)

 

alias_anubis3000

Pro

Any social construct that promotes and exalts willful ignorance puts its members in a reproductive disadvantage to the rest of humanity. Mankind's want for religion should have faded out of our cultures a long time ago with the rise of modern science and the scientific revolution. For most of the religions of the bronze and iron age this was the case. Unfortunately when it comes to established religions the opposite has occurred. In these religions the idea of faith, the act of canceling reason in order to believe in something, has been viewed as a positive attribute to its members and thus the idea has been forced onto them from an early age. This actually stops the process resulting in de-evolution and societal advancement comes to a halt and results in a strict culture based around ideas that can not be proven but are acknowledged as "facts". Why do people believe things that were told to them that have no facts to support it? isn't that the definition of stupidity?

Religions is nothing more than a crude form of oligarchy which imposes social structures and rules around thoughts which trigger emotions. These forays are unfortunate in that they are are based on fictional premises, and therefore are meaningless and incomprehensible in the world of reality.
Defenestrator

Con

First of all, thank you for hosting this debate, I've always wanted to debate this issue from either side.

That being said I am personally agnostic and have a dislike for most organized religions; however, this personal distaste that you and I share for religion does not warrant a blanket statement that religion is bad.

"Any social construct that promotes and exalts willful ignorance puts its members in a reproductive disadvantage to the rest of humanity."

Why is this bad? At the current state of humanity, we are not in danger of going extinct due to a lack of reproduction, following this argument further we can then say that a lack of reproduction is actually good for humanity as it would prevent overcrowding and mis-allocations of resources.

Your next points about whether or not religion should have faded out by now are immaterial to determining the goodness or badness of religion. Just because something may be outdated, doesn't make it bad.

"In these religions the idea of faith, the act of canceling reason in order to believe in something, has been viewed as a positive attribute to its members and thus the idea has been forced onto them from an early age. This actually stops the process resulting in de-evolution and societal advancement comes to a halt and results in a strict culture based around ideas that can not be proven but are acknowledged as 'facts.'"

There are several things wrong with your argument here. First, not all religions force themselves on people whether it be as a child or as an adult. This may be true about Christianity and Islam, the world's biggest missionary religions, but it is not true about Buddhism, Taoism, which focus on enlightening the mind. Furthermore, you assume in your next statement that progress is a good thing. I disagree with your implied assumption. Progress is neither good nor bad as it has both positive and negative effects on everything. With progress comes more advanced killing machinery and the prospect of a weapon that could annihilate everybody. If religion results in a devolution of advancement as you claim, this could be considered good in some aspects. As far as a strict culture based on "facts," there were cultures that do this with or without religion. Look at Soviet Russia, they were clearly an atheist country but went on "facts" that were dictated and wrong. Moreover, the "facts" assumed by most religions are much less strict than the Russians had and generally constitute the framework of the social contract that Locke discussed. Living in a world where free thought is discouraged may seem bad from the outside looking in; however, some people prefer to live a simpler life.

"Religions is nothing more than a crude form of oligarchy which imposes social structures and rules around thoughts which trigger emotions. These forays are unfortunate in that they are are based on fictional premises, and therefore are meaningless and incomprehensible in the world of reality."

You still haven't outright said why they were bad. Meaningless things are not bad. You made a blanket statement in the title of the debate that said "Religion is bad" and you have yet to provide any evidence that it is "bad" in terms of an all encompassing view of "bad." Escape to a world that is not reality is not bad. Many people are in a position where thinking about the prospects of the afterlife is the only comfort that they have. Most religions are against suicide therefore this person will continue to do their part in society until they die of natural causes. Religion keeps them going as a cog in the machinery of society, therefore cannot be considered bad. While this is a very jaded view of life, I feel it is appropriate to take a candid look at religion for the purposes of this debate.

Yes there are things that religion does that to us may seem bad, but to the people who are involved with their religion it is not bad. You have to prove that all aspects of religion are bad since you didn't qualify for what religions are bad for in your opening statement. The most important thing about religion is it gives a lot of people comfort with their lives, and this is something so invaluable to many who don't have much.
Debate Round No. 1
alias_anubis3000

Pro

First of all let me thank you for accepting my debate.

I will first clarify a few of my points and then add new ones.

Ok. I certainly approve of the general condemnation for religious extremists, which I frequently see in media. I note this is not a position sustained by principle, but by pragmatic necessity. Not meritorious. The true challenge exists in becoming aware that extremists exist only as the direct result of moderates providing them a cultural shelter. After watching many videos and reading many articles, I've discovered a pattern of cognitive dissonance in many religious moderates: on one hand they distance themselves from the often violent means employed by extremists, but on the other hand, they actively maintain a taboo against challenging faith-based dogma, when faith-based dogma is the single causal root for the very same extremists' actions they disapprove of. Example: it is expected of moderates to condemn the murder of homosexuals at the hands of extremist Christians, but at the same time, moderates hold sacred and defend the holy book that unambiguously states homosexuals must die, from any kind of condemnation. It is important to clear a common misconception: extremists do not typically practice a deviant or factually incorrect version of their religion, but all the opposite: they are often the best versed. It is the moderates who follow religious teachings half-heartedly. The teachings themselves are often extremist. Example: if christians truly believed an eternal lake of fire awaited the millions of non-christians in the world, wouldn't tolerance constitute a form of cruelty? Wouldn't coercion and pain in this life, be preferable to eternal torture in the after life? Extremists agree of course, and will go to any lengths to save peoples' eternal souls. But its the moderates who protect the root beliefs of heaven and hell that give rise to this zealotry. This must be no more. Religious moderates must not go unchallenged in the public discourse. Intellectual challenge stirs humanity's natural love of knowledge, which is religion's worst enemy.
Religions do have some good qualities but more harmful than good. All religions are bad. No argument against religion will prevail exclusively by pointing out examples of bad religions. Likewise, no argument against religion will prevail exclusively by pointing out examples of bad people who are religious, nor bad deeds done in the name of religion. Declaring some religions are bad implicitly acknowledges some religions would be good. Mentioning bad people or bad deeds, simply shifts the focus of judgment away from the overall concept, and over to a narrower window of either individuals or periods of time, neither of which is mutually inclusive with the idea of religion itself. Instead, focus must be kept in the one common thread that is always present at the core of all religions, regardless of time, ethnicity, or particular adherents, and the single cause why all of them without exception are in various degrees harmful to humankind: Faith in religion.
People often ask how one can find happiness without faith in a religion, and who or what should humans put their belief in, instead, for salvation? let us first define Faith. Not faithfulness, nor hope, but Faith: the ability to bypass natural skepticism in order to elevate unsubstantiated premises into the category of belief. Faith allows belief in God without proof of a God. Faith allows belief in immortal souls that will be punished or rewarded after death, when conveniently no one ever returns from death with confirmation. Faith allows belief in divine beings who influence and then judge humans, yet remain suspiciously invisible. Faith allows belief in codes and regulations that permit and in some cases encourage violent intolerance towards people of different faiths, overriding mankind's natural altruism. Faith creates zeal out of nothingness. Faith must be installed during childhood, for that is the only time when evolution deemed it advantageous for humans to believe premises without testing them. Imagine you grew up to adulthood, and never once heard of the Bible, nor of anyone else who knew about it. Imagine you find the Bible one day in a book store, and you read it. Would you immediately reorganize your entire moral scale around it, thinking this must be the ultimate truth? Or would your natural skepticism raise alarms over thousand-year old concepts you found intuitively immoral, such gender inequality, slavery, or genocide? Adults ask these questions when considering a book. Children do not, when listening to their parents. Can you imagine yourself having been happy up until that moment?
Sharing thoughts and beliefs is indeed the foundation of a free society, but please notice that true freedom of choice can only exist in the presence of informed choices. A choice between premises that offer no evidence, no testing of hypothesis, no logical foundation whatsoever, is no choice at all, thus antithetical to freedom. Faith is not entirely alien to human nature, as it is indeed advantageous from an evolutionary point of view for human children to believe all of their parents' statements without having to test them. Indeed, not having to test the veracity of statements such as: "do not run near the cliff", or: "do not approach wild animals", for example, does allow human children to survive long enough to develop their own critical mind in adulthood. Unfortunately, by then it is often too late to reverse other childhood statements such as: "God watches you invisibly all the time, and will bring you reward or punishment depending on his approval or disapproval of your actions". Because of its long-term effects of enabling faith-related claims to bypass all rational verification checkpoints and install themselves directly as belief, religion is a form of child abuse. This amazing attribute never escapes notice from oligarchy, and has historically been used as enabler for many forms of slavery, as it continues to do so today.
Along with oligarchy, Theocracy has been the worst form of government. If there is a god and a real religion then this is supposedly the best form of government, according to Christianity, Islam and Judaism. No other form of government is more intolerant and oppressive than Theocratic oligarchy which religions support. The Christian inquisition was the worst act of religious violence in human history. Worse than the holocaust!
Today most of the wars are caused by religion. Religion makes people follow other people blindly in fear. Most of the time following people they have never met! For example the prophets in the bible. Science and innovation is looked at as evil or immoral.
Religion oppresses people and make people live very small pious lives while living in fear of torture if they become happy by indulging in their desires, hopes and dreams.
Defenestrator

Con

First off, you give a long rant about extremism by giving specific examples of religious extremism, and then you go on in your next paragraph and say that examples are meaningless in this type of debate; therefore your first paragraph is moot.

"Faith allows belief in divine beings who influence and then judge humans, yet remain suspiciously invisible. Faith allows belief in codes and regulations that permit and in some cases encourage violent intolerance towards people of different faiths, overriding mankind's natural altruism."

Altruism...really? People are naturally altruistic? You make this unsubstantiated claim about the being of mankind and open yourself up to the philosophical debate of "Is there ever a truly unselfish act?" In my opinion the answer is no, and I'd be willing to debate this later.

"Faith must be installed during childhood."

Also not true, faith can be found at any point in time. You are assuming that everybody is naturally skeptical of things they read. If that were the case then why would Phishing emails work so often? People in general are easily convinced and assuaged and that is what religion does for those people. Religion may not be right for everybody, but most moderate sects of religion (the great majority of religion) tend to be good for people as they provide comfort. Not everybody has the same reasoning skills as you or I and would be much happier with their lives being controlled by a doctrine. Just because something is illogical does not mean it is bad. Illogical things are illogical, nothing more, nothing less. The goodness or badness of something is measured in its effects, and as you give examples of the few extremists that exist, you cannot let a small percentage of people ruin a large concept.

Religion in its simplest form instills a code of morals that is generally beneficial to society. You then say: "Faith is not entirely alien to human nature, as it is indeed advantageous from an evolutionary point of view for human children to believe all of their parents' statements without having to test them." You gave an example of the beneficial nature of religion in your own argument and it does not only stop there. You then claim that religion is a form of child abuse...really? How is it abuse to teach your children what you believe is true. Religious people have a different mindset than non-religious people. People get comfort out of religion that lets them continue with their lives! Why should we look down upon religious people who are clearly content with themselves because of religion. In many communities religious centers are the only support that people can get, it helps people.

"The Christian inquisition was the worst act of religious violence in human history. Worse than the holocaust!"

Remember earlier in your argument when you specifically said "No argument against religion will prevail exclusively by pointing out examples of bad religions."? This is clearly an example and I could point out atrocities that were not religiously inclined but as you said, examples should be moot. You cannot have it both ways, either examples are moot or they are not moot.

"Today most of the wars are caused by religion"

...really? Today there is one war partially caused by religion...Afghanistan. The Jihadists started the war based on their religion. Again this is a minute percentage of the religious population. WWI was caused by complex political issues, WWII was caused by an atheist regime invading another country. Vietnam was caused by the threat of communism...should I go on? Iraq was caused by a personal vendetta that G.W.Bush had against Saddam Hussein and wasn't even justified with religion, it was justified with threats of WMDs in the hands of an unstable dictator. That claim you made is totally unsubstantiated as you try to substantiate it with prophets from the bible. FYI the bible didn't happen "today" by any stretch of the imagination (I assumed Today meant modern times like the last 100 years-ish).

Your entire argument is a re-hashing of your first round statements in more detail. You say at some point that "all religions are bad" and then you generalize with the western religions. You didn't even address any of my arguments about comfort, and about other religions like Buddhism, and Taoism. Why are they bad? If you claim that all religions are bad you have to prove why they are bad. Buddhism is both a religion and a life choice. People who become Buddhists want to live peacefully and simply. Why is this bad?

Again you don't address the issue of science and innovation. You assume that it is a good thing; however, progress isn't always good and I am not conceding that point to you. In order for impeding science and innovation to be bad, science and innovation have to be proven to be good. While science can save lives, it can also take lives away; therefore I conclude that science and progress is a neutral fact and therefore impeding it is neither good nor bad.
Debate Round No. 2
alias_anubis3000

Pro

alias_anubis3000 forfeited this round.
Defenestrator

Con

It is disappointing that my opponent didn't post a reply nor did he engage any of my points as I tried to engage all of his points.

The fact still stands that his main point about Religion being bad because it impedes progress is nullified unless he can prove that progress is a good thing good and therefore the impediment of said progress is bad, which he didn't do.

The burden of proof was on my opponent and all he did was supply claims without any backing, therefore he did not meet his burden of proof and regardless of your personal opinion on the matter, you should vote for me.

I thank my opponent for hosting this debate, I enjoyed myself and hope that he did too.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Armageddon23 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by kato0291 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Kals 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by PreacherFred 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by mrqwerty 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by bwie25 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by mikelwallace 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Ineffablesquirrel 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by massvideogamer 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by ScrewSociety62 9 years ago
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