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The Contender
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Religion is evidence of man's ignorance

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 788 times Debate No: 67811
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)




The more man learns through science and technology, the less need he has to explain the supernatural. For example, now that we understand the causes of such phenomena like lightning and diseases and earthquakes, we don't have to rely on religious explanations. Ergo, the more we learn about the universe around us, the less important religion becomes and by extension the less relevant the idea of a supreme being seems.

Eventually, all else being the same, the idea of a creator and a religion will just fade away into extinction.


Although science has made many advances toward our understanding of the physical nature of the universe, this doesn't mean that religion will fade away as a result. Religion is not necessarily in opposition to science. Science is a way for us to test the physical world around us using a method that relies on strictly on the tangible nature of the universe. Religion on the other hand has more to do with a spiritual understanding of one's self. A person does not necessarily join a religion in order to understand the universe but more to help guide themselves toward happiness or enlightenment of some sort.

Religion is very abstract and comes in many different forms. It is very similar to art in the sense that it is completely subjective to the individual's taste and does not necessarily rely on the outside world. That being said, religion has many benefits toward a person and their growth. Just about every religion encourages love and caring for others. Following a religion has nothing to do with a person's ignorance. There are many knowledgeable and wise people who follow religions and there are many ignorant people who don't.

In the past, religions tended to be anthropomorphic and the gods were flawed and human like. As we evolved, religion became more abstract and grew as our scientific understanding grew. Most religions today tend to be monotheistic or pantheistic but there are even some atheistic religions out there. As we grow, the religions we know today will fade but new ones will sprout.
Debate Round No. 1


You raise some valid points but I think you are conflating religion with humanism i.e the belief in the basic goodness of man. That said, when you allege that religion is not in opposition to science, it supports my point that the more we know the less we need religion. Religion has always been in opposition to science. I believe a good number of science-minded people have been accused of witchcraft and other assorted crimes in the past and have been subjected to very harsh punishments. One Galileo Galilei comes readily to mind.

The religion of today is certainly not like the religion of a thousand years ago. This is not because religion changed because it wanted to, but rather because it had to in order to stay relevant.

One reason religion morphs so reluctantly is because by nature religion is static, stagnant and terrified of change it can't control or manipulate. Each time there has been a paradigm shift in knowledge, religion has always been the last to acknowledge what even the most elementary science class knows to be true. Case in point, the hullabaloo caused by the pope's recent statement that evolution is real shows just how religion still clings to that which all reasonable men abandoned years ago.

Lastly, let me comment on several points you raise in your last paragraph. The fact that religions change and evolve negates the very idea of constancy (the yesterday, now and foreverness) that is the central theme of mainstream religions. So when you say that as we grow the religions of today will fade away to something totally new it makes me wonder: is that an admission that religions of today are not true? If they were, why would they need to evolve? And by the way, calling atheism a religion really does a great disservice to the whole concept.

I yield the floor.


Although I do consider myself a humanist, I would not call that my religion. A religion is an organization of beliefs and traditions that a group of people take part in to gain spiritual fulfillment. But it changes and varies greatly depending on one's background, culture, and ethics. When people talk about religion, most people think of the monotheistic religions like Christianity. But there are thousands of different belief systems that fit the category of religion. Religion can be atheistic as well. It does not need to have a god, just a system of beliefs and a group of people. In fact, Buddhism can be atheistic. There is nothing that says a Buddhist must believe in a god or creator. It is difficult to discuss religion because it deals with the spiritual aspects of our lives which is not tangible.

Religion deals mostly with a completely different aspect of our lives than science. It is similar to the difference between math and art. Math has definite answers. 2+2 always equals 4. Art is way more abstract and has no definite answers. Is this the color blue beautiful? Yes? No? It is completely dependent on the individual. Science can tell you what you are made of. But it cannot tell you who you are. Christianity may be good for one person, while Buddhism fits another. That is why people follow religions. They are trying to understand themselves and not the universe. They talk about two completely different subjects.

Religion changes, but so does science. We still do not have a full understanding of the universe with science alone. We do not know many things and it is doubtful that we will ever fully understand everything. We don't really know what happens when we die, we don't know what is outside the boundaries of the universe, we don't even know what is at the bottom of the ocean. Our model of the universe is bound to change. We still haven't resolved the connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity. It basically shows us that we know nothing and are ignorant regardless of whether religion is involved or not.

When you talk about people being punished due to religion, I believe it has more to do with the people and their politics than with the religion itself. The true beliefs of Christianity talk about love and helping one another. Had the people been perfect followers of their religion, they would not have gone through with holy wars, witch trials, or any other of the horrible things blamed on religion. It is more about the corrupt hearts of the individuals than the fault of the religion. But this in itself could be a completely separate debate so I will leave it at that.

Although mainstream religions do try to have a "constancy" in their beliefs, they have been subject to change throughout history. If we are just talking about the catholic church, look at the council of Trent, Nicea, and the Vatican 2. This is when the church changed some of it's dogmas in order to better fit the people of the time. This does not devalue the religion but rather makes it more credible in that it is willing to change in order to better suit it's people. Science does the same thing. If we look at Copernicus, his model of the universe wasn't perfect. But just because it wasn't perfect didn't mean it should be completely thrown out. I wouldn't call his model ignorant. It helped us get closer to understanding what we know today. Religions do the same thing except instead of the universe, they teach us about ourselves and our spiritual journeys. Although they may have some flaws now, they are evolving and getting worked out.

So it is not so much about whether religion or science are right or wrong. Neither are right as of right now. Both will change, and neither will get rid of the other one.
Debate Round No. 2


I have a problem with your very broad definition of religion. If as you say "a religion is an organization of beliefs and traditions that a group of people take part in to gain spiritual fulfillment" then where do you draw the line between religion and other group-oriented functions that satisfy the same requirements? Like national identity and the subsequent feeling of patriotism that comes with it? The rabid love of a particular celebrity, sport or political party shared by you with thousands of other people? Is the NRA a religion? After all, its members seem to view guns as an object of adoration and they talk about their willingness to die for their cause if need be. Sure, most of these sentiments can be found in a house of worship but I won't categorize any of these people as being in a religion without inviting a considerable amount of derisive denial.

Religion to me, and I suspect to most people, is the organizing around that enduring belief and faith in an unknown, mysterious and unquestionable entity or force that is alleged to have control of the universe. For religion to be religion, it has to have a figurehead of sorts. Something or someone generally acknowledged to be presiding over those who worship it, be it an idol, an animal or an invisible being whose existence is a matter of unquantifiable emotions. All religions MUST as a matter of definition have a godhead. Buddhism is not a religion. It"s a way of life. Atheism is absolutely not a religion. No two ways about that.

You mentioned the abstract nature of religion as opposed to the definite answers that science provides. Let me gently disagree with the second part of your assumption. Science more than any other discipline I know is the most self-correcting of them all. Progress in science occurs when a previous theory is disproved. Science is always trying to prove itself wrong. For example, while the laws of gravity are accepted as they are today based on what we currently know, if tomorrow a different more workable theory was proven to be true, what we know today will be irrelevant except as a matter of history. That is the magic of science.

Do you ever envision a time when religion will gleefully abandon the concept of creationism based on new evidence? Where would Christianity be if its members saw and called out the fraud that is the virgin birth? Religion relies on ignorance, fear and the promise of doom to keep its flocks in line.

Everything good you have so far mentioned about religion, it seems to me, is an innate sense of society that all of us are born with. It does not come from any holy book or organization of like-minded believers. In other words, humans give religion its morality and beliefs. Not the other way around.

Lastly your reluctance to blame religion for its misdeeds is disheartening to say the least. Religion is the only thought process "other than that which resides in mentally disturbed people" that gives "regular" people a justification to be truly cruel. I suspect most if not all that gives us our sense of being, identity, ego etc. will one day be logically explained by neuroscience. Just as we can now explain why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Over to you.


If my definition of religion seems broad, it's because religion is a very broad concept. I find your definition of it to be quite narrow since you require it to have a figurehead or creator of some sort. That is simply not true. The NRA is an organization formed around an opinion about guns. Patriotism has to do with how you feel about your nation and government. In my definition of religion that you quoted above I did mention religion is organized "to gain spiritual fulfillment". Religion helps us understand our personal spiritual journeys. It attempts to answer questions such as "do we have souls?", "what happens when I die?", "Is there good and evil?", etc. These are "spiritual" questions. Buddhism is definitely a religion. It is in fact one of the major ones by definition. Science is not a religion but atheism definitely is. You can be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, atheist, or agnostic.

You can be a part of any religion and still believe in science. Although some religions do conflict with science on some topics, they are still are separate aspects of life. I cannot stress this enough.

You tend to focus this debate on the western perspective of religion. However you overlook many major religions that don't rely on a deity. Taoism, Confucianism, and even New Age to name a few.

You are correct in that science is constantly changing. It is a very useful tool and helps us solve lots of problems and make many discoveries. But science can only deal with the physical. No matter how much we discover with science, it will never tell us who we are or what the purpose of life is. That is why people turn to religion. To give life a purpose. There is inherently a desire in every person to answer their spiritual questions. No one knows the answer and there is no way to prove these answers. Even if we mapped out the entire universe and understood the flow of everything, that would not answer the question about our spiritual selves. In order to answer those questions, the individual needs to look within and not without. Religion acts as a guide for that and is very helpful to many people. It is not for everyone, but it shouldn't be discredited and called fruitless just because it doesn't jive with one world view.

Not all religions justify cruelty. Just because someone believes in something more than the random, calculated, machine-like universe does not make them "mentally disturbed". We have made some discoveries with science but we are still very blind and ignorant to what is going on. Humans arent just fleshy machines made up of cells that will be fully understood. We are much more than that.

People today are arrogant in their understanding of things when the reality is that we really don't know anything and aren't even close. We have no idea what life is. We have no idea where we came from (just in terms of where life first spawned). We don't know at what point we really die. We don't even know what bacteria is in our own belly buttons. ( To insinuate that we know anything and that science has more answers than religion is presumptuous to say the least.

In science we are just as ignorant as we are in religion. Religion is not going anywhere anytime soon because people need it. They will continue to create new and more evolved religions until the end of our species. Our best hope is that one day our understanding of science will merge with aspects of religion one day for the better of all humanity.
Debate Round No. 3


Your argument, from what I can deduce so far, is that in the absence of evidence or a clear understanding of the world around us religion is the best filler. In other words, what you are saying is that nature abhors a vacuum and religion is that bridge between ignorance and fact.

So far you have not presented any convincing evidence that religion does not thrive on ignorance. Granted, you have praised religion for the good it does and acknowledged that religion is not perfect. And you have, admirably I have to admit, pointed out the fact that there are no clear answers when it comes to the issue of our spiritual selves.

How do you define ignorance? Would you agree that it has a lot to do with not knowing "stuff"? Would you agree that ignorance is bliss and that is precisely the role that religion provides? Religion, and here of course am arguing as a westerner as you pointed out, does not seek to to answer any of life's deeper questions, am sorry to say. What religion does is provide a stopping point for any debate. In the three Abrahamic religions ( I can't comment much on the others) , the very thought of questioning or showing any intellectual curiosity that goes beyond God as the first and the last point of reference may get you excommunicated and ostracized.

Religion hates dissent. Religion hates mavericks. Religion prefers blind acceptance. That is an indisputable fact. Religion demands that you hold on to your beliefs, contradictory evidence be damned. Ultimately religion is an opinion.

Previously you mentioned that most religions preach love. That is true but only partly. Most religions preach unconditional love but only for those who share your beliefs. Most religions as currently practiced encourage love outside the "tribe" only as a means to proselytize.

I am not saying that religion is all bad or all good and I'm sure we can agree on that. All am saying is religion is backward looking, uncompromising, it despises evidence, and encourages conformity. Lastly, I do agree that we are more than a collection of cells. However, religion should be the last place to look if we want to know who we really are because if you asked religion to give you that answer, you will hear something like this: God works in mysterious ways. I for one refuse to accept that answer.

As far as Buddhism being a religion, a cursory Google search confirms my earlier assertion that indeed it is NOT in as much as it does not recognize any deities.


The argument I'm making is not about religion filling a void. I am saying that religion does provide answers to questions, but not the same questions as science. Ignorance is a constant. We will never know everything because it is impossible. We are ignorant regardless of science or religion. But both provide answers to certain questions. Religion isn't the opposite of science. When science grows, religion doesn't shrink. Religion gives an understanding of yourself but It is different for each person. What is true for you may not be true for me.

Just because a man has lots of scientific knowledge, it does not make him less ignorant than a man with spiritual knowledge. But spirit is intangible. It can't be analyzed under a microscope. No one can give you those answers but a religion can give you a path. Who is to say that it is wrong?

You mention all of the exclusive attributes of religion But not all Christians are preaching that you are going to Hell. In fact many Christians believe that you don't necessarily have to believe what they do to go to heaven. Instead they are out in the world feeding the homeless and helping others to find their way. They invite people to follow their path because it works for them and makes them happy. That is the evidence that there is something there. They understand way more about the world than someone gathering data from constellations because they live it daily. Their spirit is filled and there is no void.

When you ask a priest who you are, he knows he can't give you an answer. But the priest might know himself and he will attempt to give you the same wisdom he found on his path. If you listen or don't, that is up to you. Same goes for any good religious person with real knowledge of the spiritual.

I still stick to my analogy of art in the sense that no one can tell you what good art is but you. You choose to see what you want in a painting. Art can be destructive and hateful. Art can be exclusive. Do we make art to fill a void? Maybe some do. But art is abstract. It evolves and changes and some forms become popular while others fade. Some people think they know what perfect art is. Are they ignorant? But art is here to stay. Someone who calls themself an artist will tell you they have learned a lot through exploring their art. All of this applies to religion as well.

And as for the Buddhist thing, if you Google top 5 religions, Buddhism pops up every time. In fact I can't find a site that doesn't acknowledge Buddhism as a religion.
Debate Round No. 4


First, let me thank you for engaging me in what I think was a very stimulating discussion. I especially appreciate your level of civility during the whole thing.

This is my closing statement:

I don't contest the fact that millions of people find solace in the arms of religion. Religion is necessary and it will remain so as along as we don't fully understand the world around us and as long as we continue punting the desire to question our deepest beliefs.

One of the things that encourages me is knowing that research in the field of neuroscience is slowly unlocking the mysteries of what goes on in our minds. I am willing to bet that one day we will have in our hands the secrets to mysteries like why we believe what we believe. That I dare say is the day religion will become irrelevant.

I started this debate by trying to link ignorance with religion. Whether I succeeded in doing that is of course unknowable. I still maintain this: the more knowledgeable we get, the wackier religion seems. A thousand years ago, for example, science as we know it was still in its infancy. Those were times of terrifying superstitions, human sacrifices and the assignment of supernatural explanations to almost everything.

Now, we can explain earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes and other natural disasters without consulting ancient texts and tales that were woven in fear and ignorance.

You speak of the answers and comfort that religion offers. Most of what you say is indisputable. How would we cope, for example, if we didn't have religion to fall back on in our moments of grief and hopelessness? A calming as that thought might sound, it still does not change the fact that religion has a visceral impact on the human psyche for the simple reason that it is the wall we hit when we don't have other explanations.

I for one believe that there is something on the other side of that wall. We just have to climb over that barrier.

And now I bid you leave, my friend. I am looking forward to your closing words. I hope we will get to debate again. It was a very illuminating experience.


I would also like to thank you for such a well thought out debate. This was one of the more civil yet challenging debates I have taken a part in. This is a perfect example of why I enjoy debating in the first place.

As for my closing statement, I do agree that science will progress and continue to expand our understanding of the universe. However, I believe religion will do the same. I believe as a species we are in our infancy and haven't matured enough to fully comprehend what this existence really means. Once we have matured, we will come to realize the importance of not only knowledge in the mind, but also wisdom of the spirit.

The main difference in our debate is probably our perception of the limits of knowledge. While you believe the universe has a threshold for knowledge to cross, I do not believe we will ever reach that point. We will forever continue to grow in intellectual knowledge as well as spiritual knowledge. There will never be a point where we will fully understand ourselves and the universe because it is forever changing and growing.

Religion will continue to mature with humanity and there will be less quarrel and more unity. Although fear and hatred seem to drive the motives of religion, this is a perversion and a mask for the true intention behind it: love. Our spirits yearn for not only the growth of knowledge of what is outside of us, but for the connection to it. With love at its core, religion will prosper and drive us all toward a greater understanding not just of how the universe works, but our place within it.

"Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life." - Siddhartha Gautama

Thanks for the amazing debate. I would definitely love to debate you again.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by dsjpk5 2 years ago
None of those are doctrines; they're disciplines. You may want to be more careful when you make such claims. A doctrine is what we believe. A discipline is HOW we practice our faith.
Posted by acolevfx 2 years ago
Actually I offered several sources. The council of Nicaea, Vatican 1, and Vatican 2 made lots of changes. Those were examples for you to research. I can't explain all of the details because it is a very in depth part of catholic history. But here are some changes that the catholic church has made to adapt to recent times.

Sitting in the light of stained glass windows is no longer a form of prayer. The mass is said in English instead of Latin so people can understand it. People used to be able to pay money in order for reparation for sins but this is no longer held as true (indulgences). Women are allowed to take certain roles in the church that they couldn't before such as altar serving. The church no longer tortures and executes heretics. Confession of sins is no longer done in public. Most if not all of these examples were decreed to be doctrines by popes at a certain point in time. That is how they enforced them.

These are just a few changes that did not take long to find. Of course the church will never admit to changing any doctrines, but if you change your "interpretation" of a doctrine then that counts as a change in the church if you ask me. The church is a very different place than it was in the dark ages. It's pretty obvious if you look at history.
Posted by dsjpk5 2 years ago
I challenge you to show me one change in Catholic doctrine since it's inception some 2,000 years ago. You made vague allusions, but offered no actual evidence.
Posted by vi_spex 2 years ago
science is religion
Posted by acolevfx 2 years ago
My apoligies. I didn't mean to use the word "dogma". However I do argue that "doctrines" do change. The catholic church is very careful about their wording on this due to the scrutiny it would face if it says it changes anything but instead they say they "change their interpretation" of a doctrine. The council of Nicaea, and Vaticans 1 and 2 are examples. But you have to dig to find what the changes are. Cardinal Marx admits that the church can change doctrines and that the church develops with its people over time.
Posted by dsjpk5 2 years ago
No Catholic dogma has ever been changed. To say otherwise shows a lack of historical knowledge.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by warren42 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Incredible debate. I literally went back and forth every single argument on who to vote for. Each of you presented very strong cases, and I'm very glad I chose to read this debate, as it was very thought provoking and intellectually stimulating. I was also very impressed with both sides with the level of civility. This is probably one of the most civil debates I've ever seen on DDO, so great job! Arguments go Con due to one reason. Pro had limited knowledge of Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc. This led to Con's point about these religions offering spiritual enlightenment without belief in a deity being more or less undisputed. Had Pro known more about these religions and refuted this argument, I'm not sure who I'd vote for. Again, incredible debate, extremely civil. Great job to you both.
Vote Placed by NoMagic 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: My grammar point has nothing to do with grammar. Conduct was fantastic by both parties. My take on this debate. I think Pro could've proved his position but the debate seemed to bounce around to much. If Pro had stayed focused on proving religion is foundationally born from ignorance I think the debate was his. The beginning argument was strong, but was left behind instead of built upon. For that reason I must give one point to Con. I have a book with 2000 gods in it. Many are purely to explain things. Gods born from ignorance. I think Pro should've pounded this point. He would've won. Nice read though. Hate to even call a winner.
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: ... huh. I really don't think I can go one way or the other one this one. I expected Pro to hammer home the god of the gaps, tie down creationism and the like, which was put on the table. Con was able to I think mount a fair defense so as to show that the resolution as is cannot stand, but but I don't feel as though con really founded anything to rely on eaither. So... I gotta go tie. Sorry, gents.