Religious Tolerance is a worthy cause
Debate Rounds (5)
As a result of the debate over this issue, supporters of the mosque have stressed that Islam as a religion, and the millions of Muslims that follow it, should not be blamed for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 or any subsequent attempts. Again, a true statement.
Those who support the construction of the mosque argue that the nation should embrace 'religious tolerance', that we should view all religions as being equal, and none should be explicitly discriminated against or restricted from having the same rights guaranteed to other religions. However, religious tolerance is not a viable solution to the problems that religion itself imposes on society.
I will argue that religious tolerance is not only impossible, but immoral.
This will be a five round debate. The first round will be used solely to establish background and state opinions without elaboration on arguments.
The second to fourth rounds will contain arguments and rebuttals.
The fifth and final round will be used for closing statements and summary.
My position is that religious tolerance (with certain qualifications) is the only moral position.
Since I don't know what arguments Con will rely on (this could range from a highly practical level to a highly philosophical level), I am in no position to elaborate much further at this point.
In this round, I will demonstrate that religious tolerance is immoral, as the stance of my opponent is the opposite, saving my discussion of how true tolerance is impossible for a later round.
For the purposes of relevancy to this debate and the religious issues the world faces today, I will focus primarily on the world's two largest religions (based on number of followers), namely Christianity and Islam.
Morality is, of course, a matter of opinion. Each of us is able, to a certain extent, to determine our own set of values and ideals to guide our lives. It is a general and innate rule, though, that causing unnecessary pain, suffering, or harm to a group of people is not a moral course of action. This weighs into the equation when we each determine our own moral code.
However, religions often establish morals for their followers. Although not all followers of a religion follow all of that particular religion's rules – indeed, few do – the fact remains that both Christianity and Islam have established moral codes that they require of their followers. Both religions have a long, sordid history of violence and imposition that need not be explained here, as it is well-known, scarcely endorsed, and not of immediate relevance. What is important to this debate is the effect these religions continue to have on today's world.
Indeed, whether or not one group, sect, or member of that religion decides to follow any particular rule or endorse any particular action or value is irrelevant, as the base religion allows for the following of that rule. Throughout history, and by all indications, into the future, people will continue to interpret both the Bible and the Koran and dedicate themselves to the tenants found within. These texts advocate and serve as the basis for atrocious acts of violence and intolerance. Again, while not all religious groups adhere to every principle these texts put forth, the fact remains that these religions allow their followers to choose to justifiably discriminate, injure, and kill other people. In short, these religions present as viable courses of action some of the most atrocious injustices imaginable.
The question is: if the principles religion deems acceptable are intrinsically immoral, is it moral to tolerate that belief system?
The answer is no. In fact, it is morally reprehensible to tolerate, or (according to Merriam-Webster) express "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own". In the case of today's major religions, sympathy and indulgence are simply not valid moral options.
It is possible to morally tolerate religion that inflicts a small, occasional amount of suffering or pain upon the world. For example, imagine a religion that banned its followers from brushing their teeth. While this seems like an arbitrary guideline, the world could accept it as an odd and frustrating foible. Yes, it would be annoying to be near one of the foul-breathed faithful, but a reasonable, sane citizen of the earth would be able to overcome their occasional discomfort and coexist. However, while today's actual religions do ask their followers to adhere to bizarre codes of conduct, they also step far beyond what a reasonable, sane person would consider to be morally acceptable. In fact, much of the moral code of today's major religions is markedly reprehensible.
Take for an extreme example the recent sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman accused of adultery. According to the law of Islam, adulterous women are to be stoned to death, and this is the sentence applied to Ashtiani. This barbaric practice should by all laws of reason and morality have been outlawed by the year 2010, and it is shocking to discover that it has not. Islam is responsible for the establishment of this law, and is therefore to blame for the woman's death.
However, the extremity of the above example is simply an introduction to the misery Islam daily inflicts upon both the ‘infidels' who violate its law and even upon the Muslims that adhere to it. In particular, women and homosexuals are subject to grievous injustices under the law of Islam. Whether or not every Muslim chooses to punish adulterous women or homosexuals according the Koran's prescription is irrelevant – the fact remains that, according to Islam, these punishments are justified, and as such, we continue to see them carried out.
Christianity, its leaders, and its followers also promote a morality that forces unnecessary pain and hardship upon people. Take for example a major issue in American civil rights: gay marriage. While the topic has a contentious legal basis, it is nonetheless unreasonable to claim that its illegality has not caused a great deal of grief to those same-sex couples who wish to become married. Christians are some of the most vocal opponents of gay marriage, using several passages from the Bible as evidence that God forbids homosexuality. The Mormon Church, a branch of Christianity, was one of the largest contributors to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state of California. While it is a remote possibility that Mormons funded Prop 8 solely in the interest of upholding its interpretation of the tenants of the United States constitution, it is much more likely that they used their religious doctrine as a basis, as the church is a religious organization, not a government group.
As previously stated, Christianity endorses opposition to same-sex couples, with the case of the Mormon Church and Proposition 8 being only an example. If it can be agreed upon that the illegality of gay marriage has caused unnecessary suffering, and that the illegality of gay marriage is supported by Christianity, then Christianity has a share of the blame for that suffering. If we can agree that causing unnecessary suffering is immoral, and that it is immoral to tolerate immorality, then we can agree that tolerating Christianity and the belief system it promotes is immoral.
Gay marriage is just one of many issues that Christians in this country attempt to regulate based on their faith. Embryonic Stem Cell research is called into question because it violates the Christian belief that ‘life begins at conception'. Abortion is viewed as a violation against the sanctity of God's creation. The teaching of evolution, now a sound scientific fact, is under fire from Christian groups who want it either removed from the curriculum or taught alongside their own origin story, Creationism. Christian ‘morals' pervade this country, and those who oppose the religious reasoning behind these measures are accused of bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance.
I am sure that there are religions in the world with belief systems that are truly reasonable and moral. However, these are not the types of religions we are being asked to tolerate. Instead, we are being told to condone religions which violate basic tenants of human dignity, deprive specific groups of people of their rights, and in some cases, even advocate murder.
I, for one, object.
Now, to the issues.
There are a number of problems with my opponent's argument.
Firstly, my opponent is engaging in a generalisation. The point in issue (what he seeks to prove in this part of the argument) is that religious tolerance is immoral. In an attempt to support his argument, he relies on two religions; Islam and Christianity. He points to things that he finds morally disagreeable and which some (I emphasise the word SOME) of those professing those two religions have been guilty of. From this he attempts to lead us to conclude that religious tolerance is immoral.
Obviously, using this line of argumentation, my opponent AT THE VERY MOST might succeed in demonstrating that tolerating either one of those two religions might be immoral. And this of course does not support his claim. It only supports a claim that "ABSOLUTE religious tolerance is immoral". But of course that's not my opponent's contention.
Since my opponent's argument does not support his contention, I submit that he fails on the point of morality.
2.I did say SOME
I now return to the point I emphasised above, which is that it is only SOME believes of the two religions in question that engage in any practices that we (or, more specifically my opponent) might find to be morally intolerable. He gives an example and that is the stoning of adulterers.
It's important to note that the above practice is engaged by a very small minority of members of the faith known as Islam and is effectively restricted to countries in which religious law is allowed to be used in conjunction with or as a substitute for secular law.
You do not (and if you do, it's extremely rare) hear of adulterers being stoned in countries in which secular government systems are in force. In such countries, the stoning would be considered murder and would be punished under the law.
When we tolerate a religion, we tolerate those of its members who do not engage in actions that we would otherwise consider immoral. Thus, we might say we won't tolerate stoning people or whipping people. But there's no need to go on and say that we won't tolerate anyone who believes in the existence and divinity of a god named Allah or Yahweh or of a prophet/deity called Jesus Christ. Only those who interpret their religious codes so as to endorse immoral practices can be said to necessitate any lack of tolerance. And EVEN THAT is questionable or at least hasn't been demonstrated by my opponent (who, I might add, bears the burden of proof). But more on this in point 3 below.
Of course, this might not apply to a religion which necessarily drives with it immoral practices. One can imagine a cult that says that in order to achieve a divine reward, one must rape little children.
The above objection to my opponent's argument is in essence another generalisation-related ground. This time he is generalising WITHIN the two religions that he has brought up as an example (an example which in itself of course constitutes a hasty generalisation).
3.Basis of morality
My opponent says that religious tolerance is immoral. But he hasn't demonstrated any model of morality whatsoever. Most importantly, he has failed to demonstrate that there exists an absolute model of morality (a true, objective test of what is right and what is wrong). And we can be sure that all evidence suggests that absolute morality does not exist. Moral standards differ both at individual level and at societal level.
On an individual level, I think it's not immoral to take drugs if that's my choice and if it doesn't lead me to hurt others. Others might say it's immoral to take drugs because it's against the law and disobeying the law is not a moral thing to do.
On a society-wide level, on the other hand, most people in Poland are opposed to abortion. They think that it's immoral. In Australia, however, the majority believe that there's nothing wrong with abortion. There are countless other examples.
Since my opponent hasn't told us how to test if something is moral or immoral, how can he claim that it's immoral to tolerate religion? He can't.
At the most he can say that he feels it's wrong to tolerate religion because some members of some religions do some things that he feels are wrong.
Well, if that were his Resolution, I'd high-five him and I'd not dare disagree. But it isn't.
4.What this really means is war
Now, if my opponent has his way, what does this lead to? Well, he is endorsing lack of tolerance for those who have different moral standards to oneself. If A thinks that B is morally wrong on a substantial issue, A should (according to my opponent) refuse to tolerate B's views. But then, B can (according to my opponent) do the same to A. Each is entitled to think that his own model of morality is the correct one and each is entitled to attempt to prevent (penalise) the other from (for) having the views that he/she has.
This has been done before, folks. And its results? Holy wars. I, and other atheists against Ali Bin Haba Shabuh (made up name) and his government.
Think about it. My opponent is endorsing a mentality that seeks to justify the prosecution of holy wars.
I, for one, object.
My opponent raises a few interesting points that at first glance seem to weaken my argument. However, I do not even need the full amount of characters to explain why his arguments are invalid.
My opponent's first point is that I have engaged in what he calls "hasty generalization". However, ‘hasty' does not apply, as I have spent a good deal of time considering this issue. ‘Generalization', though, is accurate. I am stating the general practice of tolerating religion is not morally correct.
As it appears that I was not clear enough in my original contention: Tolerating religion of any kind is immoral because religion itself has proven to be extremely dangerous. As I stated in the second round, I decided to focus and use examples from the two religions that are currently most impactful on our society.
To further clarify: Religion tolerance is immoral because every religious doctrine I have encountered (and especially those of Islam and Christianty) validates and authorizes vile and perverse behavior. Even one of the most palatable religions ever to exist, Buddhism, has had violent sects. This content MAY or MAY NOT be followed by every member of that religion. However, the simple fact that religion permits such behavior means that people can do horrible things and feel perfectly fine about it, because their religion says it's OK. Because of this, entire empires and nations have committed and continue to commit atrocities because their religion endorses them.
As I stated, I'm sure that there are religions based entirely on peace and love with no evil content in their texts or preaching. But these are not the religions we are being asked to tolerate – these are not the religions with the most followers worldwide. These are religions small enough that I have yet to hear of them. They are, to a realist, insignificant. In the real world, tolerating these peaceful branches of religion is an endorsement of religion as a concept, and because religion is such a dangerous thing, it is immoral to tolerate even these religions.
In a perfect world, where everyone had each other's best interests in mind and only formed religions that further the best interest of mankind, I would not only tolerate it, I would endorse it. However, this world is far from perfect, and the religions that imperfect Man has formed illuminate and encourage some of the darkest, most divisive and manipulative facets of our psyche.
My opponent rightly claims that there is no such thing as a universal scale of morality in regards to certain issues. However, I am simply claiming that religion should have no part in determining what is and is not morally correct. After all, the morals found in religion are simply someone else's ideas attributed to a God or other religious figure. These morals should be considered no more universal than my own are, but because of religion, millions of people share them. Without religion, society could think more critically about what actually is and is not moral, rather than simply accepting what a text written by a human being ascribes to a deity. My opponent points out that Poland and Australia have different ideas about what is and is not moral, and that is demonstrative of the beauty of individual thought as opposed to religious espousing. Imagine the intelligent discussion we could have about morality if everyone thought for themselves! The fact that we are able to hold this debate without involving a religion's idea of right and wrong means that we can openly debate even the definition of morality, something that would be nearly impossible if our religion defined it for us.
In response to my opponent's utterly ridiculous claim that I am advocating a literal war against religion, I would like to state my absolute opposition to this idea. Endorsed violence is one of the major reasons that it is immoral to tolerate religion. Therefore, it would be totally hypocritical of me to advocate war. For my opponent to put such foul words in my mouth is in poor form.
In fact, the debate at hand does not concern an actual solution to the problem of religion – rather, it is simply a discussion about whether or not it should be tolerated. I would be very interested in debating solutions at a later date, however, so please let me know after this one concludes if you are interested.
Lightkeeper forfeited this round.
Now, to the issues.
1."Hasty generalisation" is simply the name of a logical fallacy that basis itself on drawing a full conclusion based on a small sample of data. The word "hasty" is just part of the name of the fallacy.
2.My opponent now says that every religious doctrine he has encountered validates and authorises vile and perverse behaviour. Now, that of course is incorrect. "Love your neighbour" is an example of a well-known religious doctrine. And clearly I find it doubtful that my opponent would argue that "love your neighbour" is morally reprehensible.
3.Of course, what I said above might be splitting hairs because it seems that my opponent has simply applied the wrong term "doctrine". What he perhaps really meant to say was that every religion CONTAINS doctrines that validate or authorise "vile and perverse" behaviour.
But there are serious problems even with this contention.
a) First, my opponent has not provided any evidence at all that even the two religions that he uses as examples (namely Islam and Christianity) contain any doctrines that validate or authorise perverse behaviour.
He gave examples of Islamist courts sentencing people to death for adultery. But he provided absolutely no reference to show that those practices are in fact a valid part of the religion called Islam. In other words, the fact that those governments CLAIM to be acting under the auspices of Islam does not mean that they are. People have abused religion in their pursuit of power. There are plenty of examples of this throughout history. And there are plenty examples of people abusing power without religion. Indeed, Stalin was notably a huge murderer. And his killings were not in the name of religion; quite to the contrary. He actively fought religion and was opposed to religious tolerance.
What can we conclude from all that? It's a bad thing (if we agree on a model of morality in the first place) to kill people without justification, whether in the name of religion or of free thought or of anything else.
c) He also gives an example of Christianity in the context of gay marriage. He says that Christianity's reluctance to accept gay marriage is immoral. But why is that so? Because it causes unnecessary harm, he says. So he seems to be relying on the "Harm Principle" model of morality (yes, that's what it's called by philosophers). But if causing unnecessary harm is immoral then a huge many things that we do every day are immoral. For example, rejecting someone's romantic advances. In doing so, we hurt the other person. It would cause nobody any harm if we had a fling with them. By rejecting them, we are causing them unnecessary harm. We must, therefore, be acting immorally, by my opponent's test.
d) The problem with the above goes further. As mentioned already, the Harm Principle has serious problems in itself. But in addition, there are a great many people who disagree that the Harm Principle is the correct model of reality at all. They claim that morality comes from a god. And there's no independent standard by which we can measure where morality comes from or which type of morality is a better type of morality. Let me illustrate this by a hypothetical example of a conversation between me and my opponent:
My opponent: "Immoral things are things that cause unnecessary harm".
ME: "Immoral things are things that my god (the Flying Spaghetti Monster) says are immoral".
My opponent: "My model is better because it prevents harm".
Me: "But that's circular. You can't rely on the Harm Principle itself in order to support a contention that the Harm Principle is a better test of morality!"
e) And of course my opponent has not showed any evidence that, even within the Harm Principle, same-sex-marriage is something that should be supported by law. There are many people who are opposed to it for other reasons, such as issues of children, family values, etc; arguments that have nothing to do with religion.
f) Embryonic research and abortion. My opponent says that the principle that "life begins at conception" is a religious principle. Well, maybe so. But it also happens to be true. Life DOES begin at conception. The real question is whether this life is deserving of legal protection at that stage. And there are plenty of arguments that it should, for a variety of reasons, including the very future of mankind.
The same goes for abortion. There are plenty of secular arguments against abortion! Is it ethical to destroy an unborn human? If so then is it ethical to do so two days prior to birth? Most would say "no". Where do you draw the line? You can draw it arbitrarily, as the laws of many countries have. But what's the basis for that? Because unborns have no conscious thought? Well, we don't know if they do or not. We do know that we don't consciously remember things that happened before we were born. But we don't remember the first 1.5 years of our lives either. Would it then be ok to kill a one year old baby? Most would say "no". But why?
4. My opponent's REAL ARGUMENT
My opponent says that if there were a religion that did not promote anything that he finds immoral, but which instead focused on the benefits of mankind, he would endorse it.
Well, if that's the case, why doesn't he endorse my local Catholic Parish? You see, that parish does not preach about FIGHTING abortion or gay marriage. There are millions of Christians who do not involve themselves in legal or political issues. They might believe that abortion or gay marriage is immoral and they would not do those things themselves. But they do not interfere with others' liberty to have other moral standards.
So what's my opponent's objection to those millions of Christians? He can't have one. And their religion is as much a religion as any other.
5. "Without religion, society could think more critically about what actually is and is not moral, rather than simply accepting what a text written by a human being ascribes to a deity."
Here my opponent is saying that people should think critically about what is moral and what is not. But what about those who don't want to think critically? Should people not be free to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong and why? And if they wish to rely on an ancient (or even modern) text, should that be forbidden?
6. I admit that my claim that my opponent's attitude promotes religious violence was a little harsh. But it's true. "My morality is better than yours and I refuse to tolerate yours" is the exact thing that drives abortion clinic bombers to their actions.
In conclusion, it makes no sense to refuse to tolerate religion. It would amount to depriving people of freedom of thought. What does make sense is a refusal to tolerate practices that we find disagreeable. But that's something we already do.
1.Ah, I was unaware that was the official title of a logical fallacy.
2.Actually, there are two definitions for ‘doctrine' – one is a specific principle, and the other is a broader, encompassing "body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject". So in essence, the sum of the teachings of the Christian Church is a doctrine, and that's what I was referring to.
3.A) My opponent has claimed that I have not cited specific examples of vile, perverse behavior endorsed by religion. To begin with, I'd like to note that the Islamic legal code (Sha'aria) is what governs Iran. Sha'aria is the book of laws Muslims are supposed to follow. Therefore, that stoning is an example of vile and perverse behavior endorsed by religion.
While it may seem that the recent Iranian death-sentence was a freak occurrence, the fact of the matter is that, since 1996, Sha'aria law has been carried out on adulterous women in Afghanistan, the UAE, Nigeria, and Sudan, among others. It is not an isolated occurrence. Additionally, Saudi Arabia claims to govern by pure Sha'aria law, in which the "Hadd laws" are observed, including the severing of hands for theft and death sentences for improper sexual affairs. http://www.guardian.co.uk...
I will here list some further biblical endorsements for your viewing displeasure (hopefully):
From the Old Testament, Leviticus and Deuteronomy (wherein God lays out the laws for His people):
-If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. ( Lev 20:9)
-If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death. (Lev 20:13)
-If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people (exiled). (Lev 20:18)
-A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them. (Lev 20:27)
-If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. (Lev 21:9)
-Lev 21:16-23 forbids any blind, disfigured, sickly, or deformed person from praying at an altar to God
-Deu 13 concerns the discovery of a town that worships any other god. It orders that the town be sacked, that every man, woman, child, and animal be killed, that everything in the town be burned, and that the town should remain in ruins forever.
-Deu 17 says that if at least two witnesses attest that you believe in another god, you are to be chained to the gates and stoned to death!
To comment on this particular group of Bible-endorsed behaviors: They essentially demand discrimination and intolerance. Yes, intolerance, the same thing I'm championing. The key difference is that I'm advocating intolerance of religion precisely because it advocates (and in fact, demands) the sorts of cruel and twisted punishments listed above. In place of these harsh laws would be discussion and reflection in a modern world, where the moral shackles of that terribly dated, discriminatory code are broken and minds are open.
Further, it might seem that these types of laws are so dated that they are irrelevant. However, the fact of the matter is that the sentiments of these statements live on. The passage listed above (Lev 20:13) is the most cited passage when Christians are asked for their opinion on the gay ‘lifestyle' choice. The Bible condemns it – therefore, it is evil and should not be tolerated. These people fall back on the Bible as their evidence regardless of how the opposing side frames its view. There is simply no negotiating on this point. That's the danger – deeply religious people cling deeply to the beliefs they find in the Bible, and when laws like those listed above are validated, nothing good can result.
My opponent reduces my qualms with religions structured moral code to my relying on the ‘harm principle'. He is correct in stating that this principle simply does not work, but is incorrect in saying that it summarizes my view. All I have ever advocated is the removal of religious influence on the moral decision-making process. The causing of unnecessary harm is the reason that I find religion to be immoral, as my opponent points out, but that isn't the reason YOU should find it immoral. We should ALL find religion immoral because it restricts our ability to use our developed, rational brains to make moral decisions that MAKE SENSE in the context of our modern word, which grows more morally-aware by the day. Religion throws a wrench in the gear and slows the process of moral growth, as there is no room for change.
As far as the arguments on the legality of gay marriage and abortion, I don't believe a legal debate fits the theme of our current debate. I would happily debate that with you at a later date, but in regards to religious tolerance, my point in bringing those two examples was to demonstrate the presence of religious ideals in political issues. Religion should have no place in this government, as established by the first amendment to the US constitution, wherein we find that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion..."
My opponent reiterates claims that I would be OK with violent action against religion, which is patently untrue. He is once again using hyperbole. This is intolerance that is very specifically pointed at religion as a concept. The word 'intolerance' has a negative connotation, to be sure, and I was aware of that going into the debate. The intolerance I advocate is nothing more than an absolute refusal to accept religious reasoning as a valid means of coming to a conclusion.
You might still be wondering by this point (as my opponent was) why I endorse intolerance even in the case of benevolent chapters of churches who do real good in this world, volunteering and having community dinners, and just being good people. Well, here's why. A mere 2% of the people in the USA call themselves atheist, and these people are NOT the people in the Senate, the House, or the White House. In fact, EVERY SENATOR currently seated is openly affiliated with a religion, in this supposedly secular nation. When a moral code as strict and structured as that found in religious doctrine is seated deep in your brain, you have a much harder time making a choice based on a different set of laws: for example, the US Constitution. Yes, the reason religion of any form should not be tolerated is that it is an ever-growing force in politics, and these politicians are the ones making the decisions that guide the course of our country. It is our responsibility to make it clear to the government that we will not tolerate the influence of religion on the critical decisions that change the course of our lives, and the clearest way to do that is to denounce it outright.
By this point, it has probably become clear that my points are directed almost entirely at Christianity and Islam. As previously stated, these are the two major players on the world stage. These are the religions we are being asked to tolerate. And these are religion which pose a great threat to the moral progress of a changing world.
Thanks to Lightkeeper for this great debate! Thanks to everyone who reads it for lending us your ear! I hope you will think carefully before voting, and vote based on the content and quality of the debate, not your pre-existing views, regardless of who wins!
Let's get started.
1.Islam's endorsement of inappropriate behaviour.
My opponent says that Sha'aria is what governs Iran. It is true that there is a religious government in power in Iran and that this government engages in acts that many of us find objectionable. It is also true that the government claims to be acting under the auspices of Islam. However, my opponent has not shown any evidence at all to demonstrate that this is indeed the case. Is the government following a correct interpretation of the Islamic law or is it abusing the law to promote its own purposes and retain its power? We might suspect that it's the former or that it's the latter. But we've seen no evidence of either.
Where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with a single example of a government that does things that many of us don't like and that claims to do those things in the name of religion. And there are millions and millions of Muslims worldwide. In fact, there are 48 countries in the world with Muslim majorities (http://en.wikipedia.org...). So, out of 48 countries, one happens to have a government that appears to be abusing religious principles to do things that we happen to disagree with. Contrast this with the number of secular states that have been known to engage in atrocities of various degrees. Start with the USSR, Nazi Germany, go to Communist China, go to North Korea, go to Vietnam, go to Pinochet's Chile. And there are scores more. If a government wants to abuse power and persecute people, it doesn't need religion to do so. It will use any excuse it wants.
Once again, my position is that we can condemn ACTIONS but not THOUGHTS. Thought police died with Orwell.
2.Christianity's endorsement of inappropriate behaviour
On this point, my opponent is quoting some of the "good old" laws from the Old Testament. This is all good and well but it's entirely out of place in this debate. You see, his argument was that CHRISTIANITY tolerates and promotes vile and inappropriate behaviour. The laws of the Old Testament DO NOT apply to Christians. Those laws have been replaced by the New Commandment which is to love your God and your neighbour (see Galatians 6:2, Matthew 22:37-39, Matthew 22:40). Christians believe that the purpose of the Old Law was to demonstrate that it's impossible for humans to obey the law and therefore the only purpose of the Biblical Law was to lead them to Christ (http://www.gotquestions.org...). And indeed, how many Christians are there who advocate stoning adulterers or burning prostitutes? I certainly haven't met ANY. Ever. I'm also not familiar with any Christian church that advocates such practices.
What does all this mean? It means that my opponent has failed to show that Christianity endorses any immoral behaviour. At the most, he showed that ancient Judaism (today, the Jews do not stone adulterers anymore) contained some principles that we might feel morally opposed to. And this of course means that he has failed to prove his case.
My opponent then makes a point about gay lifestyle. He says that Christians cite the biblical laws when arguing against gay lifestyle. But is disagreeing with gay lifestyle a vile thing? Of course not. It's just a moral view of the world. Some people agree and some do not. You're free to dislike homosexuality. You're free to dislike blondes. You're free to dislike anything you want to dislike. You just can't ACT ON IT. So, let's not tolerate gay-bashing and blonde-stoning. But let's leave people's MINDS alone. Let them believe what they want. It's a free world.
3.The morality of intolerance
This point is so obvious, it's almost trite. My opponent almost admits it in his last argument. Essentially, he's saying that he wants us not to tolerate religion because some religions have been known to lack tolerance towards other religions and towards lack of religion. But what gives him the right to do this? What right do we have to claim that atheism should be tolerated but religion not? Is atheist morality any better than religious morality? There's no answer to this question because we don't know what morality is based on and there's no absolute or independent or objective standard that we can use in order to compare conflicting moral standards.
I understand my opponent's position now. It is that it's immoral to tolerate religion because it restricts our ability to make RATIONAL DECISIONS in regards to morality. But what's a rational decision when morality is concerned? How is morality based on rationalism? Morality isn't exact science! It's based on BELIEFS, on PERSONAL STANDARDS. Moral arguments are always reduced to an AXIOM. Mine is "if it hurts someone else, it's a bad thing". Yours might be "If it sins against a god, it's a bad thing". And WHY is it a bad thing if it hurts someone else? Because I said so! There's no other way of explaining it. Morality is based on an emotional attitude and is INCAPABLE of rational treatment. And if I don't want to discuss my morality with you, I don't have to. You can't force me. I am free to have any moral standards I want, as long as I don't commit HARMFUL ACTS.
5.Religious people in politics
My opponent says that every Senator in the USA has a religious affiliation. Well, that may be so. In a country where mere 2% are atheists, this is hardly surprising. You'd this (or something very close) to be the case. But are we seeing Congress (or state legislatures) passing vile and inappropriate laws? Are we seeing laws that mandate the stoning of naughty kids or of prostitutes? No. And what of the Supreme Court? Most judges are affiliated with religions too. And do we see the Supreme Court failing to protect public school students from religious teachings? No. To the contrary. The Supreme Court has consistently extended the protections of the Establishment Clause. Not protections OF religions but protections of separation between them and the state. Case after case, year after year and decade after decade.
In conclusion, my opponent has not showed that religion is the cause of anything immoral. He has failed to even substantiate what "immoral" means, despite my direct question "what is your moral model?". He has certainly not showed that Christianity supports any immoral behaviour.
Interfering with people's freedom of thought is a huge step. It would take exceptionally good reasons to take that step. My opponent has showed none.
Thank you for this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ethopia619 6 years ago
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