The Instigator
Korashk
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
johngriswald
Con (against)
Losing
19 Points

Resolved: Atheism is Not a Religion

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
Korashk
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,464 times Debate No: 10167
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (9)

 

Korashk

Pro

My arguments will affirm the resolution that Atheism is not a religion.

Terms Defined:
Atheism:
1 archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

Atheist:
one who believes that there is no deity

Religion:
1 a : the state of a religious b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Faith:
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

Belief:
1 : a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2 : something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3 : conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

Evidence:
1 a : an outward sign : indication b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
2 : one who bears witness; especially : one who voluntarily confesses a crime and testifies for the prosecution against his accomplices
— in evidence 1 : to be seen : conspicuous
2 : as evidence

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Contention 1
Atheism does not contain any elements of organized religion.

Sub Point A:
To be considered a religion a belief system must conform to a certain mold. I'm not talking about a cookie cutter model of other religions, but a certain set of rituals that make it both unique from other established religions and provide the followers of said religion with guidelines on how to observe their religious beliefs. For instance in Christianity you need to believe in God, there are many religious gathering places for you to attend, and there is a book of rules that provides the basic tenants of Christianity. The same can be said for religions like Islam and Judaism, the criteria may not be exactly the same, but it is similar. There are also religions that do not believe in an all-powerful supernatural being such as Buddhism [1]. The thing that Buddhism does share with other religions is that there are very specific guidelines that are meant to guide Buddhists throughout their lives.

Sub Point B:
Atheism does not have any of these guidelines. The only universal aspect in Atheism is the disbelief in deities. There may be many ideas that Atheists can live by, but there is nothing that hold true throughout the whole of the system. An excellent example of this is that while the theory of evolution is something that many Atheists believe in; it is not required that you believe in evolution to be an Atheist.

Contention 2
Belief does not equate faith, and faith is a basic tenant of religion

I am not denying that Atheism is a belief, but belief is not a universal tenant of most religions. Faith is a universal tenant of most religions. To illustrate my point I will refer to belief in things not commonly believed in like the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. For the sake of this debate lets say that I believe that the Loch Ness Monster exists, this is because I have seen the evidence given in support of the monster and it seems to me that it exists. This is different than having faith that the Loch Ness Monster exists. To have faith one needs no evidence, while to believe one must only think that the evidence of a thing proves it to be true.

Contention 3
Atheism has no founder.

For an organization to being it must have some form of foundation. It does not matter if that foundation is a person, a group of people, a book, or any other thing that could possibly set forth guidelines that dictate action. Atheism does not have anything like this. There were Atheists who by being Atheists popularized the disbelief in existence of deities, but there is no single person or group that can claim to have founded Atheism.

[1] http://www.buddhanet.net...
johngriswald

Con

First off I would like to accept my opponent for his interesting debate topic. I would also like to thank him for his clear, well-thought-out definitions and contentions which will make this debate much better than it previously would have be

Definitions:

To start out I would like to accept my opponents definition of religion which he stated was:
"a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

Also I would like to accept his definition of atheism as well which he stated was:
"one who believes that there is no deity"

Furthermore I would like to accept my opponent's definition of faith which he also stated was:
"firm belief in something for which there is no proof"

I would also like to accept my opponent's first contention that atheism is not an organized religion.
I would also like to accept my opponent's third contention that atheism has no founder.

I would however like to dis-affirm my opponent's second contention which states:
"Belief does not equate faith, and faith is a basic tenant of religion"

Belief in something in which there is no proof is the definition my opponent provided for faith. My opponent has already provided that atheism is a belief in his second contention. Furthermore there is no proof that a deity doesn't exists as there is no proof that a deity does exist.

Therefore by his own definition, atheism includes the principle of faith. Thus since atheism is a system of beliefs and includes faith it is a religion as defined by my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1
Korashk

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting my open challenge and I hope that this debate is a good one.

Con stated:
"I would also like to accept my opponent's first contention that atheism is not an organized religion."

[I can only assume that this was not what my opponent meant to say because this statement basically concedes defeat to me. Given that the definition indirectly states that religion is organized. This statement also does not illustrate what my first contention stated.]

"Belief in something in which there is no proof is the definition my opponent provided for faith. My opponent has already provided that atheism is a belief in his second contention. Furthermore there is no proof that a deity doesn't exists as there is no proof that a deity does exist. Therefore by his own definition, atheism includes the principle of faith. Thus since atheism is a system of beliefs and includes faith it is a religion as defined by my opponent."

[This statement confuses me a little bit. My definition of belief has no relation to the definition of faith, the definition of faith references belief. In the definition of belief it references evidence which is the key to my third contention. There may not be conclusive proof that deities exist or not, but there is evidence that supports both sides. You do not need this evidence to have faith in a deity's existence and in some religions you are asked to ignore this evidence, but it is the evidence against that gives Atheists their belief. To Atheists this evidence is in fact proof that deities do not exist.]

I look forward to my opponent's response.
johngriswald

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his quick and timely response.

"Given that the definition indirectly states that religion is organized."

1. Nowhere in the entire definition my opponent gave does he state that religion has to be organized, or that organization is a prime requisite of religion.

Opponent's definition of religion:
Religion - a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

"This statement also does not illustrate what my first contention stated""

My opponent's first contention was
"Atheism does not contain any elements of organized religion."

My acceptance of his first contention stated:
"I would also like to accept my opponent's first contention that atheism is not an organized religion."

"My definition of belief has no relation to the definition of faith, the definition of faith references belief."

How can the word "belief" have no relation to faith, when you define faith to be: "firm belief in something for which there is no proof."?

There is absolutely a relation. The relation is that if there is no proof of atheism "one who believes (belief) that there is no deity" then atheism contains an element of faith. Or, phrased differently, Atheism is a belief of which there is no solid proof, thus to believe in atheism you must have faith (firm belief in something for which there is no proof).

"There may not be conclusive proof that deities exist or not, but there is evidence that supports both sides."
If you were trying to prove that atheism does not utilize faith, then you have just lost the battle. Members of the audience, my opponent has just affirmed that there is evidence in favor of all religions that support a deity. My opponent has also confirmed that the same inconclusive evidence that is used by religion to support their belief in a deity is used by atheism to support their belief that there is no deity.

Thus either both religion and atheism do not utilize faith, if inconclusive evidence fueling a belief is enough to establish that faith is not being used. However by this standard, most of the world's religions by my opponent's standards would not be called a religion which would invalidate his definition of religion and thus cause his resolution to be nulled.

Or both religion and atheism use faith in addition to inconclusive evidence to establish their belief. If evidence isn't conclusive than it is certain. If a belief is not certain then it is not proven. Since it is not proven, you must use faith in conjunction with your inconclusive evidence to validate your belief. Essentially to beleive in anything one must have faith. If the belief was certain it would be a fact in which case you would know it, not believe it.

Therefore atheism utilizes faith and is considered to be a religion by my opponents definition of religion (a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith)

My opponent went onto state:
"You do not need this evidence to have faith in a deity's existence and in some religions you are asked to ignore this evidence, but it is the evidence against that gives Atheists their belief. To Atheists this evidence is in fact proof that deities do not exist"

Atheists also do not need any inconclusive evidence that a deity does not exists to establish their belief. Many atheists became atheist when a tragic event occurred in their life that they felt God would not have allowed to happen. Your entire argument that religion actively rejects the same inconclusive evidence that supports that a deity exists is completely opinionated and doesn't even make sense. Why would people of religion reject evidence that confirms their belief? To many the evidence validates and even causes a belief.

I would like to thank my opponent for his debate and look forward to his next argument.
Debate Round No. 2
Korashk

Pro

I applaud my opponent for his well thought out rebuttals. Now on to my defense.

"Nowhere in the entire definition my opponent gave does he state that religion has to be organized, or that organization is a prime requisite of religion."

[If organization is not a prerequisite of religion then I ask why are there any religions? Organization is required because without it an idea carries no importance. Let's say that I invent a religion and give guidelines for that religion, and the last guideline is that you don't need to follow the guidelines as long as you think this one thing. In effect what I've just created and would like to call a religion is not truly a religion. This is what Atheism is.]

"There is absolutely a relation. The relation is that if there is no proof of atheism "one who believes (belief) that there is no deity" then atheism contains an element of faith. Or, phrased differently, Atheism is a belief of which there is no solid proof, thus to believe in atheism you must have faith (firm belief in something for which there is no proof)."

[First I would like to state that there is a relation between the two, I was wrong in saying that there was no relation. With that said Con's original argument against this contention did nothing to refute it. He made the argument that because Atheism revolves around a single common belief that it involves faith. This is untrue because one of the accepted definitions of 'belief' is: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence. The key phrase there being "examination of evidence."]

"Or both religion and atheism use faith in addition to inconclusive evidence to establish their belief. If evidence isn't conclusive than it is certain. If a belief is not certain then it is not proven. Since it is not proven, you must use faith in conjunction with your inconclusive evidence to validate your belief. Essentially to beleive in anything one must have faith. If the belief was certain it would be a fact in which case you would know it, not believe it."

[Beliefs do not need proof. I will clarify this. To believe in something you must examine the evidence of a thing and decide that this evidence proof. For instance, I believe in the theory of gravity, there is no absolute proof that gravity exists but the evidence in favor of gravity proves to me that it does exist. This is why belief does not equal faith.]

"Atheists also do not need any inconclusive evidence that a deity does not exists to establish their belief. Many atheists became atheist when a tragic event occurred in their life that they felt God would not have allowed to happen. Your entire argument that religion actively rejects the same inconclusive evidence that supports that a deity exists is completely opinionated and doesn't even make sense. Why would people of religion reject evidence that confirms their belief? To many the evidence validates and even causes a belief."

[The tragic events in these specific people's lives is the evidence that affirms their belief. And what I was referring to is a verse in "The Bible" where God has a conversation with a prophet where the prophet asks why God doesn't just show himself to the world. God responds by saying that he will never do this because he wants those who follow Him to follow Him because they have faith that He exists. Not because there is evidence that supports His existence. I wish I could remember what verse this is but I can't find it anywhere.]

I would like to thank my opponent again for a good debate as this is my first real one on the site.
johngriswald

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his well thought out conclusions, and I congratulate him in taking part in a very well put together debate.

"If organization is not a prerequisite of religion then I ask why are there any religions?"
The same reason there is atheism. Because the populous is given a sum of imperfect evidence, people influence their decision, and they add faith into the mixture and violia, religion is born.

Furthermore there doesn't need to be organization in religion because you did not define religion to be such.

Additionally many people claim to be of the Christian religion do not attend religious exercises, and instead privately worship. Many thousands of religious fanatics across the globe do not attend organized worship activities but instead hear, the impartial evidence surrounding christianity and adopt the belief. Some feel so strongly that they practice martydom for the belief. Prime examples would be Christians living in countries where Christianity is illegal.

"He made the argument that because Atheism revolves around a single common belief that it involves faith."

No I made the argument that Atheism is a belief (given by opponent) The belief has no conclusive proof (given by my opponent). Faith is a belief that has no proof (definition given by opponent). Thus Faith is used in belief of atheism.

"This is untrue because one of the accepted definitions of 'belief' is: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence."

If my opponent had any problem with my acceptance of one of his uses of the definition of "belief" he should have argued it in the second round, or not originally defined "belief" as such, instead of bringing it up in the conclusive round in which no new points are to be brought up and is mainly a time to refute 2nd round arguments. Due to these points I will ignore my opponent's new argument about my acceptance of his definition of belief.

"Beliefs do not need proof."
Then my opponent and I agree. Beliefs do not need proof. This furthers my point that atheism uses faith as my opponent defined faith to be: "A belief in something in which there is no proof." Belief is not faith. However one uses faith to validate a belief.

""The Bible" where God has a conversation with a prophet where the prophet asks why God doesn't just show himself to the world. God responds by saying that he will never do this because he wants those who follow Him to follow Him because they have faith that He exists.."

Exactly, so you agree that if God were to reveal himself then faith would be gone. Thus even if religion holds the (as my opponent stated in R2) the same impartial proof, and complete proof were to remove their faith, then by the same reasoning, atheism will use faith until it is (if ever) revealed that no deity exists.

My opponent (mainly by his own definitions) has shown that atheism is a religion. Because atheism has no complete proof, then it utilizes faith, because it is a belief and uses faith, it is a religion.

I would like to thank my opponent for my second real debate on this site, and I look forward to debating him in the future.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
I'm going to have to vote for Con...

Pro gave conflicting definitions for atheist and atheism. The former required a firm belief in an assertion for which no evidence exists, while the latter only required disbelief in an unprovable assertion. Pro also gave several definitions for "Religion" which allowed Con way too much leeway.

Con jumped on the problems with the definitions given and rode them for all they were worth, while Pro didn't seem to even notice the error.
Posted by johngriswald 7 years ago
johngriswald
I appreciate your reasons for decisions Jargonification and I only wish every voter provided such excellent analysis you have just given. I can assure you both of us will take away much from your analysis and apply it in becoming better debaters. I encourage all other voters to follow his excellent example which should be set as a standard.
Posted by Jargonification 7 years ago
Jargonification
Well... I'll vote once debate.org fixes my account issues... Seriously.
Posted by Jargonification 7 years ago
Jargonification
Nevertheless I must award points to johngriswald for debating better for Con side, the setting up and the original framing of the argument and defining was done poorly by Korashk, though it is his first debate he still might want to research a bit more. And because johngriswald is only obligated, unless pushed otherwise within the debate, by what he and his opponent agreed upon, to argue using those things in their local context, he simply did a better job.
Posted by Jargonification 7 years ago
Jargonification
Pretty bad debate, neither seems to understand what religion is, and why religion is more than just a system of beliefs, something that while religion is included in that domain isn't fully described by it, and atheism can't belong to it. Depending on your foundational epistemological view of http://plato.stanford.edu... belief it may or may not, or may depending on the cultural context, and individual history, be a disbelief. In certain instances the confused tacitly accents to the argument that there is no such thing as non-belief in anything, which seems rather absurd on its face, and begs what if any meaning the word belief has if it includes its "set's" negative, or what if any remaining value it has in the argument at all, if that be the case, as it is with faith. Religions are not just beliefs, they are not alone just a system of beliefs, they are like systems of beliefs, but they also include ritual practices which are informed to them by their common beliefs. This is why judicially (though may not pass the "bar" in sociology and anthropology) humanism is a religion, but athiesm isn't, it's alone contain a mere tenet a negation at that, it informs little to nothing considering it offers only one restriction to that persons take on metaphysics. There are religions, unlike humanism, which is a system of beliefs in humanity entailing ritual, which have belief systems based on metaphysical systems, ideas, upon which in many of their sects, or denominations there is no deity nor even a demiurge, animism and spiritulism like in some sects of Jainism. I wouldn't describe atheism as religion for the same reason I wouldn't describe theism as religion, it doesn't make any sense to, neither are terms conveying enough information to describe anything other than their most base definition, whereas a person's religion like their ideology or their movement's (all also different movements/= religion, very similar) name describes much about their thinking.
Posted by johngriswald 7 years ago
johngriswald
I would appreciate some reasons for decisions for all votes cast. Don't just randomly vote as that benefits no one. Give reasons so both debaters can learn from their mistakes and learn what they did right. Make this site better by giving reasons fo your decisions.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Nice. Well done, Con.

I like the new guy.
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