The Instigator
kvaughan
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
LR4N6FTW4EVA
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Religocity is simply bad epistemology

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,330 times Debate No: 4170
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

kvaughan

Pro

I will defend that a reasonable epistemological stance includes two premises:

1. Claims without evidence are not believed.
2. The degree to which one believed a claim should scale with the evidence.

Now, we have to distinguish between two kinds of religious belief: evidence-sensitive and evidence-insensitive.

Evidence-insensitive belief or 'faith-only' is rules out by premise one. In almost any non-trivial circumstance, one should not (and empirically, people do not) believe a claim unless there is either a priori or a posteriori reasons to think it is true. Religion of this type is an unfounded exception, and so should be rejected.

Evidence-sensitive religious belief, I will argue, almost always falls victim to premise two. No existing religious book or body of evidence provides the necessary evidence to cash out the metaphysical claims of the religion.

This is a short summary. I will elaborate on anything contested. If you have questions, ask before jumping into a useless debate.
LR4N6FTW4EVA

Con

Okay, my case, then rebuttals.

Religion, whether it is good or bad epistemology, is more than epistemology. It is a moral, cultural, and psychological system that has many uses in society. One use, charities. Many hospitals, schools, food banks, etc. are run by churches, mosques and synagogues. Whether their beliefs are right or not is irrelevant, the beliefs lead to charity. I don't see any atheist-only charities. Religion, however flawed it may be, serves that purpose.

Also, religion serves as a system of ethical and cultural mores that help build a functioning society. I mean, what stimulates you to do good more, a promise of eternal bliss, or the fact that its the right thing. I think eternal bliss is much more enticing. Furthermore, governments throughout history have only been able to unite nations through religion. Chinese emperors had the mandate of heaven, the Anglican Church united the British Empire. Religion allows civilizations to grow powerful.

Finally, there is the psychological aspect of religion, it allows people to cope with things they don't understand. There are studies that show deeply religious people are happier. Even if they are living a lie, it is a happy lie.

My opponent's case:
"1. Claims without evidence are not believed.
2. The degree to which one believed a claim should scale with the evidence."

I accept these premises.

"Evidence-insensitive belief or 'faith-only' is rules out by premise one. In almost any non-trivial circumstance, one should not (and empirically, people do not) believe a claim unless there is either a priori or a posteriori reasons to think it is true. Religion of this type is an unfounded exception, and so should be rejected."

Okay, I agree with this, but obviously not all religions fall under this category.

"Evidence-sensitive religious belief, I will argue, almost always falls victim to premise two. No existing religious book or body of evidence provides the necessary evidence to cash out the metaphysical claims of the religion."

I'll give Christianity as an example of a religion with good evidence for many of its aspects. The existence of God has been logically proven (I'll elaborate if contended) by many philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas, Avicenna, and Anselm. The claims of Jesus being God's son also have evidence. There was a consensus by early officials, Christian and non-Christian that Jesus of Nazareth did indeed exist. Also, Roman officials acknowledged that his tomb was found empty after three days of him being dead, they just claimed his disciples moved his body. Obviously one could reasonably believe either claim, so religion has some evidence there.
Debate Round No. 1
kvaughan

Pro

"Religion, whether it is good or bad epistemology, is more than epistemology. It is a moral, cultural, and psychological system that has many uses in society..."

There are many problems with your 'case' here. Most of them concern the flagrant inaccuracies in your comparative analysis of religion versus 'atheists'. But, instead of getting bogged down into a lengthy and irrelevant argument, I think I can circumvent that whole discussion with an intuitive distinction: there is a difference between a belief system and the implications of that belief system. An example will illustrate:

Let's say I believe:
1. I am tired.
2. I need to wake up.

Now, a potential implication of that belief system is that I might go and drink coffee, but this implication is not directly contained in the belief system.

Analogously, religious charity, nation building etc. are implications of religious belief but are not religious beliefs in themselves (and that these actually result from religion is highly dubious as is). Since my critique is of the religion, not the implications of the religion, the critique is fine.

The only other important claim is the paragraph beginning: "I'll give Christianity as an example of a religion with good evidence for many of its aspects..."

Here I cannot reasonably ignore obvious fallacies in evidential defense of Christianity.

The first is the claim that philosophers have logically proven the existence of God. Obviously, I'm going to need to see these arguments before I can refute them, but my intuition is that you are conflating the difference between an a priori argument and an a priori proof. However, regardless here's an argument I'll formalize right now which may logically disprove the existence of God:

1. a being is omnipotent iff (if and only if) he can do any action.
2. a being can either
a)create a stone so big that he cannot lift it or
b)lift any stone he creates.
3. a) and b) are mutually exclusive so no being can do both
4. there is an action no being can perform
5. there is no omnipotent being

The next claim concerns the evidence for Jesus. Again, I will reason by analogy:

Sathya Sai Baba is a contemporary South Indian guru and religious leader (you can read about him here: http://tiny.cc...) who is said to heal the sick, manifest food and holy ash, levitate, vanish and control the weather among other things. This man is not the David Koresh of Hinduism, his miracles are attested to by his 6 million followers including thousands of western-educated intellectuals.

Claims about his mirracles are so unconvincing that they don't warrant an hour on the Discovery Channel, but if you take the same claims, and place them in the pre-scientific, ubiquitously superstitious context of the first century AD written in a book decades after they are supposed to have occurred, it suddenly becomes a legitimate project to build one's life around them.

In any other context, knowing that a person existed, and that their body was not present in their burial spot would not warrant the conclusion that the person magically ascended into the sky and so, it should not warrant the conclusion here.

Additionally, it is highly dubious that Jesus did in fact exist. There are no reliable extra-biblical accounts of his life (Pliny the younger allegedly mentions him, but this is an obvious forgery) and the accounts we have are highly suggestive of a mystery cult like the one surrounding Mithras where the existence of the central figure is not required.

Finally, do enlighten me on how "The claims of Jesus being God's son also have evidence".
LR4N6FTW4EVA

Con

"Let's say I believe:
1. I am tired.
2. I need to wake up.

Now, a potential implication of that belief system is that I might go and drink coffee, but this implication is not directly contained in the belief system.

Analogously, religious charity, nation building etc. are implications of religious belief but are not religious beliefs in themselves (and that these actually result from religion is highly dubious as is). Since my critique is of the religion, not the implications of the religion, the critique is fine."

Religiosity-"excessively, obtrusively, or sentimentally religious" Merriam-Webster

Religion- "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

Many charities are not implications of the religion, they are part of holding to the beliefs with "ardor and faith." In Christianity, Jesus teaches that we should help each other, to "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:12 So, charity is part of Christianity, not an implication of it.

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God." Leviticus 19:34

Again, charity is a belief, not a implication.

Also, religion is a moral system, and stimulates morality, and the like. It is certainly not simply bad epistemology (It isn't even bad epistemology).

Now, discussing the next part.

"1. a being is omnipotent iff (if and only if) he can do any action.
2. a being can either
a)create a stone so big that he cannot lift it or
b)lift any stone he creates.
3. a) and b) are mutually exclusive so no being can do both
4. there is an action no being can perform
5. there is no omnipotent being"

I would like to focus on premise 3. "a) and b) are mutually exclusive so no being can do both" An omnipotent being can do anything, that means it can do mutually exclusive actions. It may seem illogical, but you have to remember, God is supernatural, which means he transcends logic. (also, even if you claim that He is natural, part of being omnipotent is being able to transcend logic, as that is included in "anything").

My opponent asks for proof of God's existence. First I'll offer empirical evidence (not proof per say, but evidence). The existence of our Earth, and the existence of life is an extremely improbable situation. There are also so many complex elements in this world, that random chance seems unlikely. An intelligent designer seems more plausible, the world is simply too perfect for random chance. Epistemology consists of evidence, so the evidence for the existence of God is there, and it is not so improbable as you make it seem.

Now, for an actual proof:
1. God is a figure in the minds of 30% of the world's population.
2. God is by definition, unimaginable.
3. God therefore, cannot simply be a creation of human imagination.
4. Therefore, God is real.

Also this:
1. The universe is made up of many beings.
2. Each being must have come from another being.
3. This would continue endlessly, unless there was one being that was the original creator.
4. There must be an original creator.

And this:
1. God is the greatest conceivable thing.
2. It is greater to be existent than not.
3. God must exist.

Now, for the claims of Jesus. On the wikipedia article about Jesus, there is this quote "Historians are nearly unanimous in accepting Jesus' baptism as a historical event." This is sourced to:

Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1987; Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1981; Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Obviously, Jesus must exist to be baptized. This and other biblical events are supported by historians. Obviously, there is enough evidence for one to be reasonable in the belief in God, Jesus, and the like.

I will bring up a final point this round. Buddhism. It is by all means a religion, but it does not contain large amounts of outrageous claims. It is not amazing epistemology, but it is not bad epistemology. I can extend if you so desire.
Debate Round No. 2
kvaughan

Pro

"Religiosity-"excessively, obtrusively, or sentimentally religious" Merriam-Webster

Religion- "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

You forgot one:

Christianity: The belief in Jesus Christ as Savior of the world and son of God

Obviously, in the definition of Christianity there's nothing about charity, so it becomes an implication and not part of the definition.

But, let's say you try and define Christianity as following everything Jesus said. Then, what about this:

"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." -- Matthew 5:29-30.

I've never actually seen a Christian do this. Am I to conclude that there are no real Christians in the world? Obviously not, because Christianity is belief in the Central teachings of Jesus. This does not count as one of them and neither is charity. It's a periphery belief at best.

Ok, so now your refutation of my argument. You claim: "An omnipotent being can do anything, that means it can do mutually exclusive actions."

The argument is such that all I can gesture to is how wildly improbable this claim is. In fact, at the point where you've made this claim all discussions of God become entirely meaningless. Including religion.

In Christianity, the logical inference made is 'God claimed he wanted X, so doing X will make God happy. A happy God will sent me to Heaven'. God as logic-defier cannot be held to this claim. Perhaps God said he wanted you to believe in Jesus, but what he meant is make extravagant red hats. Nothing makes any sense without God as a logical entity. So, I do not think you actually believe this claim.

LOGICAL PROOFS:
I think I was right here that God is not demonstrated a priori, only argued for. To prove this, let's go over your arguments:

"1. God is a figure in the minds of 30% of the world's population.
2. God is by definition, unimaginable.
3. God therefore, cannot simply be a creation of human imagination.
4. Therefore, God is real."

Premise 1 is false. There's a difference between 'imagining' something in its totality and holding the concept in mind. I have the concept of infinity in my mind, but I obviously cannot completely imagine infinity. The same goes for God: people either understand the concept or they partially imagine him (i.e. bearded white guy). No one actually imagines the unimaginable God.

"1. The universe is made up of many beings.
2. Each being must have come from another being.
3. This would continue endlessly, unless there was one being that was the original creator.
4. There must be an original creator."

First, premise 2 is just stipulation and is at least not demonstrated. Stephen Hawkings for example suggested that the universe sprang into existence on its own much in the same way that oppositely charged particles spring into existence.

Also, 2 contradicts 4. How can there be an original creator if every being has to come from another being? Another way to put it is, if God created everything, who created God?

"1. God is the greatest conceivable thing.
2. It is greater to be existent than not.
3. God must exist."

Premise two here is by stipulation as well. If I imagine the most perfect chocolate chip cookie, the cookie in my mind will always be better than the cookie in real life. Even if you disagree with that. It certainly isn't proven.

JESUS AND HISTORICITY:

You actually just ignore my most devastating argument. Evidence for more plausible miracles exists now, yet no one believes it. Why believe in Jesus?

This is the main point. Evidence for miracles is rampant in ancient times, yet people only believe in the Jesus side of the miracles. Why?
LR4N6FTW4EVA

Con

'You forgot one:

Christianity: The belief in Jesus Christ as Savior of the world and son of God

Obviously, in the definition of Christianity there's nothing about charity, so it becomes an implication and not part of the definition."

Ask any minister, priest, monk, nun, elder, deacon, or any other member of the clergy of almost any Christian church, and they will tell there is much more to being a Christian than simply believing in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World and the Son of God. Being a Christian means following Jesus' teachings. Jesus teaches many things and most Christians try to follow his teachings. Countless times in the Bible, Jesus gives us the Golden Rule, "Do unto others..." this is not just a periphery belief. This is a central principle of the religion.

"But, let's say you try and define Christianity as following everything Jesus said. Then, what about this:

"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." -- Matthew 5:29-30.

I've never actually seen a Christian do this. Am I to conclude that there are no real Christians in the world? Obviously not, because Christianity is belief in the Central teachings of Jesus. This does not count as one of them and neither is charity. It's a periphery belief at best."

Apparently my opponent has never heard of a figure of speech. What this passage means is that if part of you is immoral, you should correct that part, and lose that part, for losing that is far better than burning in hell. It is talking about self-improvement, not hacking off limbs, at least, not literally.

If my opponent wants a religion that clearly has charity as a central belief take Islam. The third pillar of Islam is to give religious alms, to the mosque, and to the poor. This is charity.

Ok, so now your refutation of my argument. You claim: "An omnipotent being can do anything, that means it can do mutually exclusive actions."

The argument is such that all I can gesture to is how wildly improbable this claim is. In fact, at the point where you've made this claim all discussions of God become entirely meaningless. Including religion.

In Christianity, the logical inference made is 'God claimed he wanted X, so doing X will make God happy. A happy God will sent me to Heaven'. God as logic-defier cannot be held to this claim. Perhaps God said he wanted you to believe in Jesus, but what he meant is make extravagant red hats. Nothing makes any sense without God as a logical entity. So, I do not think you actually believe this claim.

In response, I would like to say, an omnipotent being has to be able to defy logic, otherwise, it wouldn't be omnipotent. That doesn't really seem to defy logic to me. "Nothing makes sense without God as a logical entity." I never said He wasn't illogical, I just said He could be. Just like He could make rocks that He couldn't pick up, but as far as I know, He doesn't. Another principle of God is being omnibenevolent, all good. That means He wouldn't deceive us.

"Premise 1 is false. There's a difference between 'imagining' something in its totality and holding the concept in mind. I have the concept of infinity in my mind, but I obviously cannot completely imagine infinity. The same goes for God: people either understand the concept or they partially imagine him (i.e. bearded white guy). No one actually imagines the unimaginable God."

Well, we certainly imagined enough to write a whole book on him. We imagine him beyond what he have imagined about infinity. Besides, with infinity, there isn't much to imagine.

I'm not going to fight a battle that I can't win with only 4038 characters left, so I'll drop my Avicenna argument, (the everything has a cause argument).

"
"1. God is the greatest conceivable thing.
2. It is greater to be existent than not.
3. God must exist."

Premise two here is by stipulation as well. If I imagine the most perfect chocolate chip cookie, the cookie in my mind will always be better than the cookie in real life. Even if you disagree with that. It certainly isn't proven."

It is certainly greater to exist, because if that cookie doesn't exist, then it isn't as enjoyable as a real cookie. So, that chocolate chip cookie is not the most perfect cookie, but God is the most perfect thing.

Jesus historicity:
I would like to say a) Jesus has been established to exist. The miracles he has (supposedly) performed are at least slightly plausible. The Indian man, his miracles are slightly plausible as well. The reason he is so unpopular, is because Jesus is here, stealing the limelight. Jesus certainly seemed like the Son of God, and there is evidence, enough evidence for someone to believe in him without warranting being called in denial, crazy, etc.

Next, even if Jesus isn't the son of God, I've still proven Islam or Judaism okay.

Finally, I would like to point out my opponent never refuted my empirical evidence of a god.

Quod erat demonstrandum
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by LR4N6FTW4EVA 8 years ago
LR4N6FTW4EVA
This isn't ad hominen, I was simply implying that religious organizations have more charities compared with other charities. It is simply a statement of fact, I was defending religion as something more than bad epistemology.
Posted by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
I never impled they were atheistic, the phrase was "non religous".

Atheism is not a collective like religion. "Whether their beliefs are right or not is irrelevant, the beliefs lead to charity. I don't see any atheist-only charities" This is an ad hominen against atheism, an implied lack of humanitarianism.
Posted by LR4N6FTW4EVA 8 years ago
LR4N6FTW4EVA
Oh, and the charities weren't atheist, they were secular, that's different.
Posted by LR4N6FTW4EVA 8 years ago
LR4N6FTW4EVA
The topic said "simply" I don't think it is simply bad epistemology. If it had just said Religocity is bad epistemology, it would be a different debate. And anti-atheist sentiment? What are you talking about?
Posted by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
****religious**** not 'religous'

Character Limits
Posted by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
****it's**** not *it*

Character Limits
Posted by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
Ummmm it a debate on epistomolgy "Theory of knowledge" not exaggerated religous claims and anti atheist sentiments

For a list of some rather prominent non religous charities

http://techskeptic.blogspot.com...
Posted by kvaughan 8 years ago
kvaughan
I'm not entirely clear on what you're arguing, but I know that my argument encompasses every position in logical space. Premise one deals with belief without evidence and premise two deals with belief with evidence. So, either way, I have something to say.

It's possible that no belief system is entirely without evidence, but then premise one is useful to argue that filling in the gaps in our knowledge with God is unreasonable.
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
Korezaan
Your explanation of premise one says "unless there is either a priori or a posteriori reasons to think it is true". This means any contention that is a priori or a posteriori bypasses premise one entirely, and most religions claim that their faith is a priori, and a posteriori based on their "history" as stated by their holy text.
Posted by kvaughan 8 years ago
kvaughan
They're at least more evasive and less honest about saying "evidence is irrelevant", but I agree with you more or less.

But, this doesn't avoid my argument, they have to bite premise one because by saying evidence is irrelevant they conclude that one can have belief without it. If they go this way, I'm prepared to get into a discussion about why evidence is necessary for belief.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
kvaughanLR4N6FTW4EVATied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Vote Placed by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
kvaughanLR4N6FTW4EVATied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by kvaughan 8 years ago
kvaughan
kvaughanLR4N6FTW4EVATied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30