The Instigator
rwebberc
Pro (for)
Winning
70 Points
The Contender
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

Religion is not necessary for morality to exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,291 times Debate No: 1221
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (25)

 

rwebberc

Pro

People have long equated religion with morality. However, moral codes have existed long before religion, such as the Code of Hammurabi. Modern day monotheism has simply taken generally accepted principles of morality and compelled its followers to abide by them. Christians often equate the Bible with morality when the Bible in fact has many passages condoning acts which are immoral. The morality legislated by the Bible and other religious texts comes from human compassion, not divine mandate.
SperoAmicus

Con

According to Dictionary.com,

Morality:
n. pl. mo�ral�i�ties
1) The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
2) A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.
3) Virtuous conduct.
4) A rule or lesson in moral conduct.

Religion:
–noun
1) A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2) A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3) The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

According to definition, religion creates a standard by which to live, which in turn, is the definition of morality.

In order, then, for Pro to his case, he must provide an alternative source of morality which does not equate into religion.

For this he offers:

>However, moral codes have existed long before religion, such as the Code of Hammurabi.

First, Hammurabi's Code is positive law, not moral law. Nobody disputes that a legal system may arrise without religion, only that this legal system will be ordered not by a moral code, but merely for the ruler's criterion for social stability.

Second, Hammurabi most certainly did not pre-date religion.

My opponent then concludes:

>Modern day monotheism has simply taken generally accepted principles of morality and compelled its followers to abide by them. Christians often equate the Bible with morality when the Bible in fact has many passages condoning acts which are immoral. The morality legislated by the Bible and other religious texts comes from human compassion, not divine mandate.

But despite any apparent conflicts within the Bible, Christianity has consistently upheld a moral tradition which distinguishes itself in many ways from the rest of the world. Moreover, that Christianity has a moral code is almost universally agreed upon.

Moreover, my opponent is assuming that a standard of morality should be internally consistent. That in it iself is a moral premise.

But regardless as to whether any of this is true, it does not suffice in showing the existence of a non-religious source for a standard of Morality.
Debate Round No. 1
rwebberc

Pro

First, I must say that I disagree with the definition of religion you have used. Religion comes from the Latin religio, meaning "reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety, the res divinae" (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu...). This translates very closely to the first definition you have provided. Your use of the second definition circumvents the entire meaning of this debate. By your definition, our nations strict adherence to the Constitution would amount to a religion. This definition is too broad and includes many groups which have no relevance to this debate. I apologize for failing to provide any such definition of my own, but I feel that for the purpose of this debate, the first definition gets at the heart of the matter the best.

The question I am asking is: Is something moral because a religion tells people so, or do religions tell people to do things that are already moral? I argue the latter. My argument is that morality comes from humans, not from God. Is something moral only because a religion says so? I think everyone would agree that it is not. Religions mandate moral codes which are already universally accepted. Because of this, that means that morality must exist independent of religion. This proves the Pro position.

If a religion were to say that it were acceptable to molest children, rape, and murder, no one would follow it. People accept moral codes because of a morality already instilled in their nature. One does not need to accept Christ as his savior, Muhammad as the one true prophet, or even acknowledge that anything exists outside of the world as we see it to accept morality.

It is burden of the Con to prove that morality does not exist independent of religion.
SperoAmicus

Con

To put my argument simply,

Morality, if it exists, is by definition preternatural. It is a series of rules imposed upon and sometimes even against the natural inclinations of mankind.

Therefore, it is in the prerogative of religion. It cannot, has not, and will never be, proven to exist, let alone proven to be "universally" accepted.

My opponent asserts that the burden is upon the Con to prove that morality cannot be proven. If morality is preternatural, then I have now done so. If morality is not preternatural, it remains upon my opponent to prove that a "universally accepted morality" may be derived without a preternatural appeal.

But that anything is "universally accepted morality" is on his part only asserted, and not proven. Human Sacrifice, Infanticide, Murder of the Elderly, Female Oppression, Huberis, Rape, Slavery, Honor Killings, and Female Castration, have all been, and in many cases continue to be, commonly accepted moral principles of some society or another.

But instead of addressing this, my opponent only argues that my definition of morality may be applied to the Constitution. Actually, this is correct. Most sociological perspectives, from Durkheim to Freud to Beuer, define religion not as an appeal to the Gods, but as a system of traditions and values developed from a symbol.

Any symbol.

Hence, it remains upon the duty of my opponent to demonstrate why morality is to be universally accepted from purely naturalistic reasons.

Morality is itself preternatural. Any other attempt to present a moral code becomes arbitrary to the part of individuals or society.
Debate Round No. 2
rwebberc

Pro

My opponent insists upon twisting the definition of a religion, despite having provided one in the first round which is in the spirit of this argument. My intention in this debate was to show that it is not necessary for a person or group of people to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Mormon, or have any type of faith in order to follow commonly accepted moral principles. Religions merely take from the accepted morals of their times.

As I have stated earlier, something is not simply moral or virtuous because a religion deems it to be, religions deem things to be moral because these acts contain principles which are intrinsically good. These are the only two options. If my opponent denies the latter, then he must be implying the former: that which is moral is only so because a religion has deemed it thus.

In order to refute my claim that morality is a set of universally accepted principles he has provided several examples of morally reprehensible acts which are accepted in some societies, some of which contain loaded language. He inserts his political views by choosing to define as "infanticide", and euthanasia as "murder of the elderly". It is interesting to note that religion has been used to justify these generally unacceptable acts such as female oppression, human sacrifice, honor killings, and even slavery. My opponent says on his profile that he is a Catholic, and apparently views female oppression and honor killings to be immoral. Yet consider this passage from Deuteronomy 22: 20-21: "If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house, there the men of her town shall stone her to death." This is a text from the Bible apparently endorsing such behavior, and yet this is an act which most Christians, and indeed most people, would find appalling. Why? Because they have chosen to judge these actions based on today's more liberal, secular norms. This view morality does not owe itself to any religion or religious movement. Instead it owes itself to social movements by human beings such as the Women's Rights movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In his book, Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche claims that human morality has continued to evolve with the human species. This is e clear example of it. While there will always be deviants from the norms, such as some of the examples my opponent has provided, morality is a constant part of human existence. Some of its intricacies may change along with humanity, but it will always exist separate from mankind's religions.
SperoAmicus

Con

SperoAmicus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mr.ROdr1duez 9 years ago
Mr.ROdr1duez
r r right u dont need religion u need God to b saved or watever ur talkin bout
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
Very good debate. While I'm a new member, that was the best debate I've read so far. But rwebberc is right. The essence of Hammurabi's code is "eye for an eye", which takes its inspiration from the first forms of maintaining law and order. Way back in the early days of humanity, you knew that if you killed someone, his family was most likely going to kill you out of retribution. As society has evolved, we've given the ability to exact revenge over to the government through social contract theory. While what is legal is different from what is moral, it is impossible to say that legality is not significantly informed by morality.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
I wasn't offended, I miscounted the number of hours I had left to post and got on too late.
Posted by rwebberc 9 years ago
rwebberc
Honestly, SperoAmicus, if you were offended by what I said, then I am truly sorry. However, I saw it as a fair point and in no way intended it to be any type of attack on your character. I hope that had no bearing on your decision not to post as I had enjoyed the debate thus far.
Posted by Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss 9 years ago
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss
If you chose to disclose your religion than it completely appropriate to challenge you to either defend or reject the tenants of the religion, especially in a conversation about religion. If your not ready to defend your faith, don't bring it up.
Posted by rwebberc 9 years ago
rwebberc
I'm not using it as a personal attack by any means. My entire family is Catholic and I think people have the right to believe in any religion they choose without being criticized. I'm just pointing out a contradiction that helps my argument.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
And bringing in my religion is a personal attack which has no bearing on this debate and is in violation of the terms of use on debate.org.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Umm, I really mean infanticide and murder of the elderly (as in, against their will), which have been done ritually throughout history.
Posted by Chuckles 9 years ago
Chuckles
anonymous, did you win your debate? (against yourself).
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
I have a typo in my Round 1 argument. The second-to-last paragraph should read, "should be internally consistent before it is to be followed," thereby becoming a moral rule by tying the statement to behavior.

I hope rwebberc will respond to the argument as it was intended.
25 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by rwebberc 8 years ago
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