The Instigator
Mellith
Pro (for)
Losing
17 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Religions cause more harm than good

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,216 times Debate No: 13208
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (9)

 

Mellith

Pro

I would like to give a thanks to my opponent for taking on my first debate. I know that I will most likely lose this due to my inexperience and the lack of support for my topic but, let us debate away.
The resolution is: any religions cause more harm than good to society. In essence, a world in which the majority of people are atheist or agnostic would be superior to our world if it were religious.

It is my belief that religions are a problem for society. Religions not only causes(d) bloodshed and thousands of lives lost, but also detracts from the state.

An example of this is the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. Luther believed that the Catholic Church was corrupt and had strayed off of the divine path, as such he started a movement that literally split Europe. During the Reformation the infallibility of the Catholic Church and Pope was challenged. The Church during this time period was the government in everything but in name. The Catholic Church during the late middle ages was the unifying structure of Europe. Literally, the monarchs of each state depended upon the Church and Pope, for in order to become a 'legitimate' monarch, one needed the Pope's consent. This dependency upon the Church puts a great responsibility upon this structure. When Martin Luther initiated the movement against the Church, he essentially stripped the Church of its power. As such, citizens refused to pay taxes to the Church, they refused to acknowledge the Church's infallibility, and most of refused to acknowledge the monarchs approved by the Church. Such disagreements lead to bloody revolts to overthrow Catholic monarchs. One such example is: The Great Peasant's Revolt of 1525, during the revolt it is estimated that over 100,000 peasants were killed, in just that one uprising. (Bedford County Schools, AP European History, bedford.va.k12us.com/_tools/?u=57785) (http://depts.washington.edu...)
(http://hirr.hartsem.edu...)
(http://www.boisestate.edu...)
Danielle

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for beginning this debate.

Before we begin, I'd like to clarify that I am an agnostic atheist, so I will not be debating from a religious point of view. I'll begin by critiquing my opponent's round, and then providing my own contentions as to the benefits for society that religion can provide. Thanks again and good luck!

* REBUTTAL *

Pro hasn't provided many arguments in R1, choosing instead to focus on the negative impact religion has had on one particular instance in the past. He contends that religion causes more harm than good simply because blood is spilled over many religious issues. However, I'd like to point out that most "religious wars" are actually politically based. Surely there are more wars over government than religion; should we wipe out government? Overall providing just one example in which religious disputes led to death does not really affirm the resolution. Perhaps my opponent can expand on this, but for now, onto my contentions.

* CONTENTIONS *

1. Health Benefits

A) Physical: A new study presents evidence that higher religiosity among the elderly may be due to aging effects as opposed to simply secularization of younger generations. Religious people view themselves as more fit, reporting better health, more energy, and less pain. They're also less likely to smoke. Additionally, there have been cases where a person's religious beliefs have given them the confidence or personal inner strength to overcome obstacles and challenges threatening their health.

B) Mental: Data suggests that participating in religious practices fosters one's health and well-being, most notably partaking in public religious participation, and positive religious coping.

C) Psychological: Human beings crave romantic relationships and partnerships, and psychologists generally agree that being married contributes to one's overall psychological well-being. Religious individuals are found to be more likely to be married, have supportive friends, and be treated with respect. Their spiritual growth is also deemed very healthy in this regard, and moreover, being religious is known to contribute to one's creativity and self-expression. Additionally, attending church is considered a therapeutic mental break that many people find rewarding and necessary or helpful to their well being.

In a social group, trust and loyalty provide a strong glue. Group rituals may additionally provide opportunities for networking. Any friend of my invisible friend is a friend of mine. Community rituals may also help build and maintain alliances and provide a catalyst for teamwork. Being able to work in groups is an extremely powerful resource.

2. Tradition

Most people psychologically value tradition, and even in a progressive society, value traditional ideals. Because 92 percent of Americans are noted to believe in a God, they are able to apply traditional, religious values to their lives which offers them comfort and stability. Now, this is not an appeal to tradition fallacy; I'm not saying that something is right BECAUSE it's traditional. I'm saying that society VALUES tradition.

3. Politics

The study, 'For Goodness' Sake: Why So Many Americans Want Religion to Play a Greater Role in American Life,' has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The study found that Americans were skeptical about candidates who talk about their religious beliefs, with 74 percent of respondents saying that those candidates 'are just saying what they think people want to hear.' A majority said it was wrong for voters to consider seriously the religious affiliation of candidates when they decide whom to support.

Asked whether the political system would be threatened if religious leaders and groups were to become more involved in politics, 31 percent agreed, but 63 percent said the system could handle it. 'While there's a wariness about injecting religion into politics, there's also the sense that the system is resilient and will not be hijacked by extremists,' said Deborah Wadsworth, president of Public Agenda.

The study also shows that on average, 65 percent feel politicians should compromise their own religious views for the sake of gay rights, the death penalty, abortion, poverty and welfare to name a few. Further, several economists have linked religiosity with voting and counteracting the effects of childhood poverty. The point here is that while many Americans value their religious beliefs, most aren't in favor of breaching the right and necessary Separation of Church and State.

4. Tolerance and Ignorance

Just because people are religious does not necessarily mean that they will not be tolerant of others. 'There's a paradox in America,' said Jean Johnson, senior vice president and director of programs for Public Agenda. 'So many Americans are strongly religious. On the other hand, they believe there has to be a tolerance for people of other religions.' Additionally, 58 percent of people surveyed in America said it was not necessary to believe in God to have good values. In other words, people don't necessarily assume that those who are not religious, or those who do not believe in their own personal God are immoral people.

5. Science and Evolution

Evolutionary biologist and atheist David Sloan Wilson counters the infamous atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins, in presenting a theory that religion is not only pertinent but helpful in terms of evolution. Wilson's rival hypothesis is that "religious groups are products of cultural group selection... A given religion adapts its members to their local environment, enabling them to achieve by collective action what they cannot achieve alone or even together in the absence of religion. Even though elements of religion often appear bizarre, irrational, and downright dysfunctional to believers, when examined closely most of them will make sense."

To support his theory, Wilson offers the case study of the Calvinists in sixteenth-century Geneva. At a time when factionalism and internecine conflict was rending the social fabric of the city, Calvin and his deputies introduced the Ecclesiastical Ordinances. Wilson surveys a wide body of historical scholarship that concludes that "there is little doubt that Calvinism was instrumental in solving the problem of factionalism and helping the city of Geneva survive as a social entity. Basically, it is his finding that morals specifically derivative from religion are the key to restoring social morale.

"Wilson concludes, based upon this data, that at least in this one important case, the Dawkins view is wrong and his hypothesis is vindicated. The Calvinist leaders were not out to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else. It is simply wrong to say that they got ahead while everyone else suffered. Rather, the opposite is true. Calvinism's dour doctirnes of original sin and predestination contributed to an unprecedented identification of leaders and followers and caused the introduction of checks and balances to curb the suspect tendencies in human nature. To put it in blunt evolutionary terms, Calvinism was socially adaptive."

6. Social Aspects

In the congregation, one is likely to find another not just with similar interests but values as well, which can help one find a lasting friendship and/or romantic partner.

7. Religion

Finally, we because 'religion' merely refers to a belief about the cause or nature of the universe, one can argue that an individual who has any sort of belief about these things - including scientific or philosophical - can be a religious individual, even if they are an atheist. I posit that these individuals can have great impact on the world in terms of knowledge and theoretical contribution.

* REFERENCES *

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Debate Round No. 1
Mellith

Pro

REBUTTAL/DEFENSE/CONTENTIONS

First of all, I would like to point out that my opponent's rebuttal was not much of a rebuttal. My opponent did not disprove my argument but merely deflected my point. Yes, of course there politically based wars, I was merely pointing out that religions are more often than not a leading factor in war, blood shed and injustice. Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation, European colonization was fueled by God, Glory, and Gold. The Europeans saw it as their DUTY to spread the word Christ amongst the natives, this incessant need to Christianize others led to the torture of many of the natives. This attitude carried over into the Age of Imperialism. I would like to share with you the first two stanzas of a poem by Rudyard Kipling:
"Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain."
(1)
During this time European colonization went into overdrive. And one of the leading reasons was to spread Christianity. It was common European belief that if another did not believe in the divinity of Christ then they were "savages" and these savages needed to be introduced and assimilated. September 11, fueled by radical Muslims. Wars versus the Shiites and Sunnis, in Bahrain the Shiites and Sunnis fiercely fight and protest against each other resulting in deaths.
1. HEALTH BENEFITS
B) MENTAL: I would also like to point out that my opponent's supposed mental benefit is void. First my opponents states that "religious practices fosters one's health and well-being, most notably partaking in public religious participation..." This in itself is not necessarily a benefit. As we are arguing whether or not religion benefits society, the use of "public religious participation" as a benefit does not work in this argument as it is under scrutiny.
PSYCHOLOGICAL: My opponent stated that "Community rituals may also help build and maintain alliances..." But I argue that religions, more often cause social and national divides, than strengthening alliances. In colonial America, for example, several colonies were created strictly for religious purposes. Massachusetts; in 1620 the Pilgrims/Separatists, who wished to permanently separate from the Church of England, sailed to the New World in search of a land where they could worship as they pleased; the Puritans founded the Massachusetts Bay colony because of sever persecution in England; William Penn created Pennsylvania with the hope of creating a religious haven for Quakers, who were also being persecuted and jailed in England. Even today, there are conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism in Ireland. Northern Ireland, remaining separate from England, retained its Catholic heritage whilst the Southern side of the island became Protestant. While not necessarily a pure religious war, religion is still being used to manipulate people against each other; as evidenced by this quote: "Political and religious leaders have skillfully exploited religious differences to manipulate, justify, inflame, divide or unite people, creating a culture of sectarian prejudice that either supports the existing power structure, or seeks reform, or reunification with Ireland"(2) Religion is not limited to promoting a cohesive society, it can be used to tear society, countries, and people apart.
2. TRADITION
I would like to argue that tradition is NOT always, nor necessarily right. People may take comfort in tradition, but if tradition refuses to, or is unable to adapt to the times, it can be devastating. In general if anything fails to keep up with the times, it becomes obsolete. And like all things, an obsolete item has no value in society, and by no value I mean no practical value. A sundial, whats the point with automated clocks and watches. Now, with revisions and edits items can be kept from becoming obsolete; when was the last time the Bible was revised with the current state of society in mind? Society changes rapidly; people's ideals, wishes, needs, and beliefs; what was once accepted or appropriate is no longer so, and what was once inappropriate is now appropriate. If the religious texts, the religious ideals, the beliefs, and those accepted by religions cannot assimilate to an ever changing society then they become obsolete and need to be deleted from society.
3. POLITICS, SOCIAL
As already stated in the Psychological benefits section. Politicians use religion to manipulate the people. "The pope said it is often "ideological manipulation of religion sometimes for political ends that is the real catalyst for tension and division and at times even violence in society." (3) As my opponent mentioned in their rebuttal: "However, I'd like to point out that most "religious wars" are actually politically based." And adding to social distress are cases of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Just this past month, hundreds of victims have come forward. Due to this abuse several people have committed suicide. And it is not only adolescents but also young children(6)
4. TOLERANCE,IGNORANCE
While religion does not necessarily promote intolerance, during colonial America religion was used to justify slavery: "[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts." Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America"(4) This slavery became so embedded into American culture that it arose to hundreds of years of racial prejudice, which still continues today. Are the radical Muslims, terrorists, jihads, Klan members, members of The Sons of Freedom or members of The National Liberation Front of Tripura tolerant in any form? (the KKK, Sons of Freedom, and National Liberation Front are all religious terrorist groups). In terms of ignorance, there is a significant percentage of Christians who outright deny that the earth is 6.5 billion years old, that evolution is 'real', others claim that dinosaurs helped the Romans build. Does that count as ignorance?
5. SCIENCE,EVOLUTION
Christians are the most ardent dissenters of the theory of Evolution. ""National polls consistently show that nearly 50 percent of Americans still don't accept Darwinism," says TIME science reporter Andrea Dorfman. "They believe that humans were created in their present form as according to Genesis -- just 10,000 years ago."(5) Half of Americans do not support a 'scientific fact'. Could religion support scientific ideals, yes. But history shows that people have a tendency to use religion to DISPUTE science. Even now, religious leaders question global warming (global climate change),(6) when the evidence is here that humans are affecting the environment negatively, the religious deny it.
7.RELIGION
This argument is also void because the debate is whether or not religion is a benefit to society. Saying that anybody with ideals is religious does not support or oppose the resolution.
RESOURCES:
(1) http://www.wsu.edu...
(2) http://www.flashpoints.info...
(3) http://www.nydailynews.com...
(4) http://www.religioustolerance.org...
(5) http://www.youdebate.com...
(6) http://www.washingtontimes.com...
Danielle

Con

* REBUTTAL *

My opponent suggests that I did not provide "much of a rebuttal." The reason is because there was nothing compelling about his case. In order to affirm the resolution, the only thing he put forth in R1 was one simple example of religion being used to take lives or as a catalyst for war. This lone contention is not enough to prove, on balance, that religions cause more harm than good. I can negate this assertion as I did in the last round by pointing out that just because something has been used as a tool for negativity doesn't automatically make that tool immoral or inherently bad.

There's not much to refute in Pro's example; it's entirely true that religion has been used for oppression in the past. However, I disagree with my opponent that religion has been the greatest motivating factor behind most wars. His example of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" reflects just one man's opinion and justification for the deeds of Europeans. However, just because people do bad things in the name of religion doesn't automatically make religion bad.

People manipulate religion all the time to suit their political agenda, which is exactly what happened during most of the examples my opponent described including European colonization. Again this does not make religion itself bad, but rather the fact that people are using religion as a tool for bad the REAL bad part. The bad actions itself are still bad; attaching those actions with the broad spectrum of "religious" in general is irresponsible. For instance, terrorists on 9/11 committed horrible and destructive acts in the name of Islam. That does not make Islam immoral; it makes the act itself immoral, and the fact that it was done "in the name of Islam" an unfortunate representation of the faith.

I'll conclude this by making an important distinction: Religions don't cause more harm than good; greedy and power hungry leaders cause more harm than good, and use religion as the scapegoat or catalyst as a means to an end. Most religions promote peace, tolerance and respect. If people distort those messages to suit their own agendas, it does not lessen or degrade the religious messages or overall scope of the faith. While I don't believe religions are infallible nor is their scripture, overall they promote a lot of good, which I will get to here...

* Re: ARGUMENTS *

Regarding health benefits, Pro says that there are no mental benefits to partaking in religious traditions. I've explained that attending church is considered a therapeutic mental break that many people find rewarding and necessary or helpful to their mental well being. Moreover, it's neurobiologically proven that prayer often promotes a beneficially meditative state of elevated conscious.

Pro also says that religions cause divide rather than community. To demonstrate this, he noted colonies that were created specifically for religious purposes. First, this just proves my point that religion brings people together. Second, we are sharply divided in many ways. The northeast, for example, is predominantly liberal as compared to the conservative south. We create groups for mutual interests, jobs, etc. We create political groups with those that share our political ideology; why not those that share in our religious?

In discussing tradition, Pro points out that tradition can be counterproductive. I should clarify that tradition is not only doing something for the sake of tradition if that tradition is impractical (such as his watch example). However tradition is very important in every culture. In America we watch football and eat turkey on Thanksgiving: it's tradition (and comforting, which Pro does not deny). Tradition is about celebration or upholding a value or ideal deemed important to your family and those around you. If something is not important, it falls out of tradition and indeed becomes obsolete. However the traditions that survive usually serve a functional and positive purpose. In terms of traditions being old-fashioned, my opponent commits the genetic fallacy. Nevertheless, a tradition like marriage, for example, to some religious people cannot be "changed" if they believe it is granted by god. However, that doesn't mean they have to infringe upon other people's rights (such as giving gay people the LEGAL if not religious right to get married).

In the Politics/Social section, my opponent points out that many young boys have come forward with stories of rape and other sexual abuse instigated by religious officials. This is indeed a travesty. However, once again these horrifying acts were not religious in nature. The men that committed them were not true representatives of the faith but simply employees of the church; bad men who abused their power. People abuse their power in every field - not just the religious. It's not right and it's not just, but it'd be wrong and again irresponsible to pin the blame on religion itself. That would be analogous to a serial killing medical doctor turning people away from medicine because some doctor abused his position. It's not right.

In the Tolerance/Ignorance rebuttal, my opponent again draws yet another example of religion being used to foster hatred and bigotry, this time in the name of slavery. First, it is said that the Bible was manipulated and/or misinterpreted to seemingly condone slavery, while in reality the "slaves" were just a mistranslated term for the equivalent of an indentured servant or some other low employee. Regardless, once again we see religion being used as a tool for bad. However, that doesn't negate all of the times religion is a tool for good. More about this in the conclusion...

Regarding science and evolution, I agree that it's laughable to the degree in which many theists reject scientific concepts such as evolution. However, I should note that evolution, just like creationism, is in fact nothing more than a theory. While it's a theory I'd say most should reasonably believe to be true, there are still conflicts within the realm of theism itself that regards many theists saying evolution supports god's existence, etc. Though most scientists continue to assert that evolution is blatant, are the non-believers really causing any harm? So long as the legitimate intellectuals and well-informed educators and problem solving scientists know and believe what is probably true, then other people's fantasies are not really inhibiting society to a significant extent.

* CONCLUSION *

I've proven that throughout history far more people have been religious than not religious. To ALL of those people, religion offered benefits. If religion was not beneficial to them in some way, they would abandon it. Those benefits include but are not limited to the things I mentioned in the last round: social benefits, spiritual benefits, mental and physical benefits, etc. As I explained, many people admittedly using religion as a crutch used their faith to help motivate them into recovery of a dire illness, or help propel them through other tough situations or low points. For most, religion offers a sense of security and hope.

Since so many people are religious - and it's reasonable to conclude that they drew positivity from their faith - then you can see in sheer number, volume and practicality that religion has positively impacted many people by distracting and comforting them from the harsh realities of the cruel world. It also helped them lead a happier and more fulfilling life in most cases. While religion has, in fact, been used as a tool for oppression, you cannot lay sole blame on religion itself; religion may have helped people going through hard times endure, again, the realities of a cruel world from the inevitable political class wars (i.e. slavery) evident since humanity's inception. In this way it is not religion itself but simply the act of oppression that was wrong; religion was important and useful on both sides.
Debate Round No. 2
Mellith

Pro

It should be noted that I did not say that there were NO mental health benefits, I merely said that my opponent cannot use the reason of "religious practices fosters one's health and well-being, most notably partaking in public religious participation..." How can someone say that participation in religious activities is a benefit when the argument is whether or not religion is actually beneficial for society?

Now, my opponent also states that "we create groups for mutual interests". A better word for mutual interest is greed or selfishness. As a result of greed someone is always put down and crushed. Now, the Northeastern colonies were founded because the Puritans, Separatists, etc...were tired of being persecuted in England. Once there, the colonists closed their societies. In Boston, Puritanism is the ONLY religion. Anyone who had ANY dissenting opinions were banished from the colony. There was constant bickering between the colonies, none of them liked each other, and there was no cohesive unity between the colonies by which the colonists could identify themselves as 'American'; it was never American but always Bostonian, Virginian. And while my opponent may say that, although the colonies were divided amongst each other, within each colony the colonists were part of that community, or cohesive; this is also untrue. For example, Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia. In Virginia there were two type of people; the back country farmers and the big plantation owners. There was absolutely no sense of community between the two; and Bacon's Rebellion brought forward that issue. They liked their state, not the people in the state. Plantation owners and back country farmers abhorred each other. The racial divide between the English and Irish because one group was Protestant and the other was Catholic existed well into the 1900's. No matter how small you break down a community there was ALWAYS division and at the base of that division was religion. Modern day Ireland, it is unsafe to go into some neighborhoods for fear of being bombed, beaten up, killed or whatever because the country is divided; the politicians may know that they are not fighting a religious war, but the common people think its a war of Catholicism vs. Anglicanism. My opponent can argue all they want about how going to weekly religious gatherings can promote a sense of community to a couple hundred people but that's insignificant when compared with the division between thousands and millions of people.

Who are the strongest advocates of anti-gay marriage? The religious people, after all it's sacrilege. Catholicism blatantly disagrees with same sex marriages; they believe that it should be illegal for same sex couples to be married. Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas; just to name three, currently ban same sex marriage? Notice that they have strong religious sentiments? "The image of God is both male and female and is reflected in a godly union between male and female where the creative power of God, His life-giving, His self-giving and His moral nature are perfectly expressed. This is only possible in a heterosexual union." (1) Next, I would like to attack my opponents thesis of tradition. "Tradition is generally defined as long-standing beliefs, practices or customs that have been handed down from one generation to the next. Every culture, every race or group of people have their own rich customs and traditions."(2) My opponent says that tradition provides comfort, I cannot deny this but there is a flip side. First of all, traditions can be demeaning. My example for this is Christmas. Nikolaos of Myra, it is rumored, once sneaked into the house of a man. This man had three daughters, due to his financial distress he would have to sell his daughters into prostitution. In an effort to prevent that Nikolaos gave the family an anonymous bag of money. This is where the legend of St. Nicholas comes from. Today society has changed the idea of father Christmas into a purely commercial venture. Christmas no longer has the meaning it once had, now its a commercial business, Christmas is as much of a time, if not more, for presents rather than love. People have mutated St. Nicholas' figure into something he very much was not; children do not know St. Nicholas, the founder of Christmas, they merely know Santa Claus, the man who gives them presents. Nicholas has been defaced by society, a man who did a good deed deserves better than what society has molded him into. Yet people continue to mock Nicholas because it is tradition. Tradition may be comforting, but it mutates the original ideals of the people who first enacted these traditions.

My opponent points out that sexual abuse by religious officials were not religious in nature, but that statement is only half true. Of the many religions of the world we only hear about abuse from Catholic priests, not to say that it does not happen in other religions, but that is what is reported in the news. My opponent says that pinning the blame on religion; "It's not right" the term right is generally defined as something that is in accordance with that which is good, proper, or just. When someone says just, what exactly do they mean by that? The official definition of just is: to be "guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness"(3) When a bully picks a fight with John and John hits back in self-defense, who does the school punish? Both of them, the instigator and the defender. Is it necessarily fair? Yes and no, John did not have much of choice, hit or be hit. But at the same time, John was involved in the fight and the schools want to show that fighting will not be tolerated. Now, if religion were John, should society not show that sexual abuse will not be tolerated? Innocent children are being preyed upon by men who hide behind the facade of religion in order to stop these men and to protect the children the mask they hide behind needs to be taken away so that everyone can see plainly who they really are underneath. RELIGION may not be bad, but it is a stick. (see final argument)

Regarding science my opponent said that "other people's fantasies are not really inhibiting society to a significant extent"; my opponent should know better than that. People change the course of nations, people shift ideals and values, people ARE society. It may only take a few people to start something, but in the end things can only be accomplished when the majority of people are on board. Revolutions, intellectual and physical, are fueled by the people. In our society, as I have already stated, half of Americans do not support evolution, how can a small percentage of people ("the legitimate intellectuals and well-informed educators and problem solving scientists") fuel this intellectual revolution towards something that, "While it's a theory I'd say most should reasonably believe to be true"? Revolution requires a majority of people to actually succeed.

My opponent has adamantly admitted time and time again that religion has been used as a tool for corrupt and tyrannical people. These corrupt politicians, and people in general, use religion as a tool, a weapon. Take their weapon away and these people can no longer use this stick to poke and incite people. Will hey find another stick to use? Perhaps, but right now THIS is the problem because it IS what is being used. People do not stand by whilst being poked with a stick it is a survival instinct to grab the stick and throw it away. In conclusion to my argument I would like people to consider that religion does not promote violence, it is used for violence and before it hurts anyone else it needs to be thrown away.

I would like to thank theLwerd for taking up this argument, and I would like to remind voters to freshen their memory on my argument.
(1) http://tinyurl.com...
(2) http://tinyurl.com...
(3) http://tiny.cc...
Danielle

Con

For clarity, I'll be breaking down each argument and rebuttal numerically.

1. Pro's first question is, "How can someone say that participation in religious activities is a benefit when the argument is whether or not religion is actually beneficial for society?" Well, I've demonstrated that practicing one's religion i.e. attending church is considered a therapeutic mental break; prayer is neurobiologically proven to promote a beneficially meditative state of elevated conscious. Based on that fact, I can quite obviously and legitimately draw the conclusion that practicing religion rewards mental health and well-being (which I've demonstrated with other facts from the round) meaning I can absolutely claim that participation is a benefit. That's a conclusion I've drawn from the facts.

2. Next, Pro says that we do not create groups for mutual interest but solely out of selfishness and greed. Of course this is false; I'm part of clubs that do not monetarily reward anyone yet we join for our own satisfaction. Nevertheless, here Pro goes on to discuss racial and political divides in Colonial America. None of this, of course, demonstrates that religion causes more harm than good. His point that there are political divides in Ireland that common people *assume* is based on religion doesn't really help his case either. For one thing, I could easily make the argument therefore that RELIGION is not the problem but PEOPLE'S STUPIDITY is the problem. Indeed if Pro acknowledges that most wars are in fact political (which he admits) then again it's the people's ignorance - perhaps through no fault of their own, but their ignorance nonetheless - that is causing the problems: not religion. I could easily say that once the people become educated on the reality of the conflict's origin that religion would have nothing to do with it. This is once again using religion as a scapegoat for the real issue.

3. Pro is correct in noting that religious people are the biggest opponents of gay marriage. However, once again this is a failure of *politics* not a failure of religion. First, marriage should not be a legal institution to begin with for either heterosexual or homosexual couples. Second, people should not be allowed to vote on civil rights. That said, why is it acceptable for religious people to be condemned for their beliefs though atheists are not condemned for their beliefs even if they are also false or strange? A Christian may say that homosexuality is immoral and I disagree. Right away we're quick to point to this person's religion as the basis for their disagreeable claim. However an atheist could also say that a pregnant woman should be forced to carry her pregnancy to term, and yet while we might disagree, we cannot look to their religion as something to point fingers at for their disagreeable claim. The point here is that indeed Christians have many absurd beliefs, but non-theists also come up with some pretty ridiculous claims as well. It's not fair to presume that religious people are the most illogical.

4. Pro's next point discusses tradition and points out that it can be negative. In the last round, I explained what tradition was (I also accept Pro's new presented definition as well, as they essentially say the same thing) and noted that if something were not beneficial, it would most likely fall out of tradition. Pro's point was that tradition can be non-beneficial and his sole example was Christmas. He posits that the real man behind Santa Clause has been defamed and his legacy minimized. On the contrary, I advocate the exact opposite! First of all, this man became a legend and is significantly valued and praised annually for his positive deeds. Second, the commercialism of Christmas has its merits (fueling the economy, for one). Third, Christmas is a time of seasonal joy, family and happiness. It is during this time people feel most generous and united with their fellow man. My point is - Christmas is not negative. Therefore this isn't even a good example of negative tradition. I'm not saying that negative traditions don't exist, but my opponent hasn't made a good argument for that case and we can only judge this debate based on what is presented. Also, this doesn't negate the benefits of tradition I've described.

5. Next, Pro argues that sex offenders use religion as a tool to fuel their addiction. According to a survey by the Washington Post, over the last four decades, less than 1.5 percent of the estimated 60,000 or more men who have served in the Catholic clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse. A New York Times survey promotes a similar statistic (1.8) and researcher Thomas Kaine also suggests the figure to be about 1.5 percent. Additionally, the Associated Press found that only two-thirds of 1 percent of contemporary priests have charges pending against them. Moreover, up to 90 percent of these priests happen to be gay [1]. What does this all mean? It's quite obvious that the problem here is not only a psychological disposition but also a severe sense of paranoia and shame about one's sexuality. While gay men are still objectified and scrutinized in society, a homosexual man can avoid the social stigma and perhaps familial alienation of coming out of the closet as gay by joining the clergy, because priests are not expected or allowed to marry women. This does nothing to indicate that RELIGION is responsible for these acts, but reflects an intolerant society or the desperation of just a few men who happen to be priests. There are over 400,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. alone [2], so it's unfair to presume that priests in particular are dispositioned to this fate. Faith is irrelevant here; it's obvious that sex offenders choose clergy professions not as a religious preference but as a way to avoid the reality of their own sexuality and/or sexual desire. It's simply the best job to achieve their goals, just as becoming a political or law enforcement agent is the best job to have if you want to break the law.

6. Pro's next contention discusses religion and revolution. He notes that a majority of people must believe something in order to spark one. We haven't talked about revolution at all in this debate; what I asked was how half the country denying evolution was negatively impacting society. Pro of course did not provide an answer. Had he said something along the lines of people simply remaining intellectually stagnant in their ignorance, I would have pointed out that a *huge* majority of scientists accept evolution, so it's not as if evolution is not being taught once you get to the college and post-college levels of science. Considering these are the realms in which scientific influence is actually pertinent, then my point that this is not a huge downfall of society stands.

== Conclusion ==

Throughout this debate I've described the mental, emotional, psychological, social and physical benefits of religion. My opponent has never denied them. He concludes that because religion is used to instigate violence, it needs to be discarded. This of course is non-sensical; people use political stances as catalysts for war all the time yet we do not suggest that all communists, for instance, need to be rid of simply because wars over communism existed in the past. Please extend my other arguments, including that this is an *on balance* resolution -- meaning just because religion can be used for destruction that it can also be used for GOOD. Let's not forget or ignore institutions like The Salvation Army which are religious-based and do a lot of good within the community. Overall, because so many people are religious, and because it is logical to assume that they stay that way because religion is beneficial to them (see: last round explanation) than on balance it's perfectly acceptable to conclude that religions cause more good than harm.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
The resolution is a generality. Pro provided only anecdotal evidence and his personal opinions. Pro had the burden of proving the resolution, and that doesn't do it.

the problem with this resolution is that is requires proving what wouldhappen if there were no religion. Pro's opening argument claimed that the Catholic Church was for practical purposes the government. If so, did the Church provoke rebellion or did the government? In general, ideology seems like a ready substitute for religion, and the 20th century was dominated by ideological wars.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
True, but in that paragraph I was making two points -- First, that evolution isn't 100% proven (on a random note, I just heard about the whole thing where they've found that the sun can actually have an effect on carbon and other kinds of dating, so the earth may not be as old as we think... I'm surprised the theists haven't used that as a weapon against us here lol). Of course I clarified that given the evidence that evolution is a more than reasonable conclusion; however, the second point I clarified was that the concept of evolution varies among theists -- A lot of theists accept evolution and still attribute it to god. Still this was a minor point and I'll address this and everything in the last round :)
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Yes, but when using the layman's version of the term to equalize Creationism and Evolution, it implies that both lack sufficient evidence, so it's unreasonable to solidly conclude which is correct.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
You only need evidence for it to be a *scientific* theory.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
"However, I should note that evolution, just like creationism, is in fact nothing more than a theory."

Creationism isn't a theory; that requires evidence. Contrarily, Evolution has myriad evidence.
Posted by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
J.Kenyon
"Christopher Hitchens isn't so smart. Plus, God is about to kill him for being an atheist."

Sigged.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Man, I'd like to debate this from the Pro side..
Posted by mcc1789 6 years ago
mcc1789
@Kinesis: If so Hitchens will doubtless go out flipping him the bird.

Very interesting subject to debate. I must point out that Calvinism heavily persecuted Anabtists, Catholics and dissident Protestants. The "social adaptiveness" came at the price of people being drowned alive because they practiced adult baptism instead of infant, a kind of twisted ironic punishmnet by the Calvinists.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
Christopher Hitchens isn't so smart. Plus, God is about to kill him for being an atheist.
Posted by mongoosecake 6 years ago
mongoosecake
I have high hopes for Mellith. I wish I could help him but I can't. I would sincerely hope he's reviewed arguments from Christopher Hitchens on the same topic though.
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