Religious debates are boring
Debate Rounds (3)
My opponent should be an atheist
If my opponent cannot use ideas found in the works and video clips of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Daniel Dennett. If they are used in this debate, you lose.
Also, please conversion stories of believers whose life was changed forever after learning about debates against religion. So, no personal narrative, those stories are as boring as they are pathetic.
Please provide an original defense of atheism, why it is worth continually debating, and why its worth endless rehashing over and over. Again, no arguments or citations from Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett. I"ve read those books and watched those youtube clips before. Please contribute something original that requires thought, and does rely on these standard atheist texts.
I. If There Is A God/Spiritual World, It Would Be Of The Gravest Importance To Seek Understanding Of It
II. If There Is Not A God/Spiritual World, It Would Be Of The Gravest Importance To Inform Others Of Their Misplaced Belief
Conclusion: These points convey the two opposing sides and philosophies present in a religious debate. They are fairly straight forward and at this juncture seem to me to require little elaboration. Given that these are accurate representations, religious debate is of the utmost importance in society today, as religion is causal to so much of the phenomena we observe and participate in in society today. Were we to debunk certain traditions of faith or even create more nonbelievers, we could greatly enhance the legal system of this nation and the mental state of its citizens. I say all this because my opponent also professes to be an atheist, and so to argue neutrally seems unnecessary. I look forward to the coming rounds.
Climate change provides a perfect counterpoint to proposition two. Here is what we know about climate change:
Human activity, specifically the release of carbon into the atmosphere is changing the climate , its effects have severe, negative repercussions for everyone, and the effects are largely irreversible.  Moreover, peer reviewed studies reveal 98% of scientists studying anthropogenic global warming agree on these basic facts.  This is straightforward: climate change occurs, will have catastrophic consequence, and even if tremendous effort and resources are allocated to mitigate its effects, it is largely irreversible. Moreover, virtually all scientists, with the exception of 2%, a statistical anomaly, agree on these facts. Here we can use the first or the second proposition but slightly reworded:
1.Climate change exists and it is of grave importance to understand it to prevent [insert terrible scenario] volatile, unprecedented floods, tornados, the extinction of our species, and so on.
2.Because of these grave consequences, it is essential for everyone to inform others who deny climate change that their beliefs are not only misplaced but also false in an objective sense. In addition, they are wrong and are complicit in preventing the worst consequence of climate change.
Notice that I did not use "if" or "would be" but "is" and "because." So, with climate change we know that scientists agree, evidence exists, and a person could literally travel to the north and south poles and watch icecaps melt. Yet only half of Americans believe human activity contributes to global warming and less than half think it poses a threat. 
Let us imagine that tomorrow afternoon 98% percent of cosmologists, astrophysicists, astronomers, and general experts on the universe say because of [invent a scenario] mathematical models demonstrate that God does not exist and did not create the universe and every faith is objectively false. And people like Michio Kaku, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stephen Hawking collaborate and present an easy to understand case, with charts and graphs, use the second season of the cosmos to address the issue and even create picture book for kids.
What would be the response do you think? Americans across the country and people around the world who subscribe to a religion will think, well irrefutable evidence demonstrates the falsity of my beliefs, maybe I should reevaluate how I think, plus the picture books and explanations are so simple and convincing.
Even in this hypothetical situation where these ideal conditions existed, it might move the 90% of American who believe in a God  to"in the best circumstances"a 50/50 split, somewhere around where climate change is currently. I accept climate change, understand the consequences, and could spend the rest of my life sending links to peer reviewed research on climate change to people I"ve met who deny it exists and deny it is a threat. But I wouldn"t do that. Why? Because it would be frustrating, would require talking to people who are ridiculous, and would almost certainly lead me to think "man, I have wasted an incredibly amount of time and accomplished more doing basically any other activity."
And this is my same take on engaging in the religious debate and is even more worthless to pursue.
 America's Climate Choices: Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change; National Research Council (2010). Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
 Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein (2009). "Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) 106 (6): 1704"9.
 Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
John Cook et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024
I. Why Religious Thought (if...then...) Is Still Vital
The impact of religious thought will be addressed in my second point, but I reserve this first one to counter my opponent's statement that because both of the religious viewpoints I presented in argument one are in the "if...then..." format, their impact loses import because of the speculative nature of the claims. This argument is fair, but fails to address that both of these statements (when combined) create both sides of the situation. There is no third party or neutral position left to defend in this model of thought. It only claims "If God...then important to defend, If Not God...then important to show". The question is supernatural and will always be somewhat speculative, but with the tangible advances in science that are ever presenting themselves and our advances in human logic and thought, we still have very real ways to attack the question of religious reality. These ideas are intrinsically worth consideration, but I will show in the following point that they offer practical application as well.
II. How Religious Ideals Impact The Real World (i.e., Global Warming)
Global warming is a real and serious threat often viewed as arbitrary by the politicians who could do something to address the problem. This way of thing is very much impacted by religious thought. If the biblical model is true, then global warming is not a threat. God controls everything, and no matter how hard we try we will not be able to eradicate our species or destroy this planet. God comes back in Revelation and we even know to what specific geographic region in the Middle East. So, in a nation dominated by Christian thought, global warming is a laughable threat. In order to demonstrate the gravity of the situation at hand, we must first remove the safety net of a benevolent god controlling the forces of nature and demonstrate that we, in fact, are the ones in control- and the ones directly responsible for preserving or destroying this planet. I have shown that religious thought supersedes the issue of global warming or any specific crisis like it because it is not a temporal thing that can be addressed apart from every other real issue we face- it is a fundamental poisoning of the individual's worldview, that must first be attacked before any other issue can be addressed.
First, let me make a few remarks about the climate change/religious affiliation assertions con made in round two. While there is a reasonable argument that eradicating the magical thinking used by the religious devout does correlate to one"s ideas about climate change. According to Pew Research, religious affiliation and climate change does show this to be partially true but only nominally.  A rebuttal to Con"s position comes in via Brazil. Brazil has the world"s largest Catholic population  but according to Pew, they are also the most concerned about the effects of climate change.  A Yale University research forum on ecology and religion presents a comprehensive compilation of statements by powerful religious figures around the globe.  Here are two level-headed, lucid statement about climate from Pope Francis:
Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude. 
Here is a second, again very clear position where religion and reason align without any radical departure from Christianity:
"I wish to mention another threat to peace, which arises from the greedy exploitation of environmental resources. Even if "nature is at our disposition", all too often we do not "respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations". Here too what is crucial is responsibility on the part of all in pursuing, in a spirit of fraternity, policies respectful of this earth which is our common home. I recall a popular saying: "God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature " creation " is mistreated, she never forgives!". We have also witnessed the devastating effects of several recent natural disasters. In particular, I would mention once more the numerous victims and the great devastation caused in the Philippines and other countries of South-East Asia as a result of typhoon Haiyan. 
At the same time, researchers have found links between religious beliefs, especially those believers espousing a belief in end-times theology. A study from two researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder found there are "strong reasons" to suggest that widespread belief in "end-times" and a "Second Coming" of Christ could impact U.S. environmental policy. 
So? What"s my point? The Pro position provides compelling evidence to illustrate that religion while often it, very often in fact, installs the silliest nonsense it is incredibly adaptable"very much like capitalism, it seems die by its own hand and yet it returns, both play the role of the undead, sucking the life out everyone. Take interracial marriage, churches and religious leaders were against it but they weren"t insane enough to kill a money making enterprise based on fairy tales, so they gradually gave in because of outside pressure but everything else remained. In the future, gay marriage and homosexually will become some common and acceptable (maybe even in Mississippi, but don"t cross your fingers) that church leaders will give in and eventually society will force them to apologize for the disgusting remarks in the past just like it did a hundred years after the civil war.
At the heart of Con"s argument is an optimism of eradicating very irrational people and ideas from society, of all the irrational ideas existing religion poses both the most challenge (unless we reach the hypothetical mention in round two) and the least worth pursuing in both time and effort. We"ve all probably know someone who in 2004 (specially, the election) was vehemently against gay marriage but now ten years later is open to the idea. I a lot of people who went from anti-gay marriage to pro-gay marriage. I know many people who have been convinced and moved from A to B. However, I have not meet anyone or been able to persuade a believer into a non-believer.
Let me finish with a very extreme example of why a rigid belief system is irrational and can only be wiped out through very intense war.
"In the 1930s, for example, the Nazis could not have been persuaded by rational argumentation that the Jews were not really at the centre of some international plot to undermine the Aryan race. You could not, present them with empirical evidence proving that the Jews were really not like that because they were not dealing with an objective view of reality. Rather, they were looking at the Jews from the point of view of a fantasy frame. You could not, then, contrast that fantasy frame with a view of reality because the whole point of a fantasy frame is that it constitutes your reality in the first place. So even if, you were a Nazi who lived next door to a real, neighbourly 'good' Jew, you would not experience any contradiction between your anti-Semitism and this neighbour. You would, rather, conclude that your neighbour proves quite how dangerous Jews are because they seem such decent people on the surface. The very facts which would seem to contradict your anti-Semitism would actually prove to be arguments in its favour precisely because you saw those facts through your fantasy window." 
I am making this case to accentuate religion is an irrational force immune from the Con position which I believe is sound as fair as it goes but in practice something of a fantasy"even if it is a fantasy I too share. Just about every other debate is more worthy to pursue and more likely to results than the continued religious debate. When they look like their about to self-destruct, they return from the dead, adapting the social norms to remain in business. The religious debate remains at a deadlock and likely to remain there well into the distant future. It is similar to Game of Thrones, religious people are much like the wildlings, there are always going to be some out there, the question is what do you do. I say: build up that wall.
: Pew Research findings on the impact of religious beliefs and political beliefs: http://www.pewforum.org...
 Statement that Brazil has the world"s largest Catholic population: "Brazil". International Religious Freedom Report. U.S. Department of State. 8 November 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
 Pew Research showing Brazil country most concern about climate change: http://www.pewglobal.org...
 The Forum of Religion and Ecology at Yale University: http://fore.research.yale.edu...
 The Yale website provides a series of links, one link is the Catholic Climate Covenant: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org...
 Source 6 is from the same web page, the quote is right below 
 Research linking end-times theology and climate policy: End-Times Theology, the Shadow of the Future, and Public Resistance to Addressing Global Climate ChangePolitical Research Quarterly June 2013 66:267-279, first published on May 1, 2012 Here is a direct link to the article: http://prq.sagepub.com...
 Myers, Tony (2007-03-16). Slavoj Zizek (Routledge Critical Thinkers) (pp. 104-105). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.
My opponent offers the very interesting and seemingly apparent summation that if the religious are content with blind faith, then it is a futile endeavor for the rational atheist/agnostic to cast pearls before swine (to ironically borrow a Biblical cliche). This is fair only to the extent that we accept that because humans are generally content with irrationality, that their irrationality should be overlooked in the free market of ideas. Although personal anecdotes are seldom useful, I can declare wholeheartedly that after a long upbringing in Christian circles, the final breakthrough to atheistic thought was a refreshing (albeit unsettling) one. It is quite hard to win an unwilling audience from point a to b, especially when the two are so fundamentally opposed (further, that the one they currently believe may feel much better as it plays to emotion and quiets fear through "eternity insurance"). Nevertheless, the individuals most heard in the academic realm are increasingly atheistic- and this transformation has not occurred through any arbitrary means. This choice is given to today's youth with the increasing spread of technological availability and the growing rate of global communication coupled with the increasing availability of "pop" atheistic literature (your "God Is Not Great" Dawkins/Hitchens literature). As we begin to see the opportunity to expose the youth in their most mentally formative years to ideas alternative to those they have been brought up in, we are also burdened with the duty to present compelling, personal, and reasonable evidence to further our cause. Though the catalyst of social media may be a slow one, it is increasingly present, effective, and discredits the excuse of human irrationality as a reason to disregard religious debate.
I appreciate the very interesting debate, and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Pro!
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