The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Secular Morality is Superior to Religious Morality.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/17/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,954 times Debate No: 22073
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (18)
Votes (1)





Secular Morality is Superior to Religious Morality.


Religious - of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances (

Secular - not connected with religious or spiritual matters (

Superior - of higher grade or quality (

Morality - conformity to ideals of right human conduct (


First round is for acceptance only. No new arguments may be brought up in round five.

The Burden of Proof is shared 50-50.
As Pro, I will argue that secular morality is superior to religious morality.
The Con will argue that religious morality is superior to secular morality.
No semantics with the resolution. It is quite obvious what is being argued here.

By accepting this challenge, you agree to:
1) Follow the structure I have provided
2) Abide by the definitions I have provided
3) Not forfeit any rounds

Failure to follow these rules should result in an automatic loss.

Questions/Concerns prior to the beginning of the debate may be voiced in the comments.

Good luck, and may the best debater win.


I'll be taking a devil's advocate position here, but I wish Pro the best of luck. I agree to the terms outlined.
Debate Round No. 1


The burden of proof is shared, so I would ask in addition to refuting my case, that my opponent provides a case as well.

My Case

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
-Steven Weinberg[1]

Contention 1: Empathy is the foundation of morality.

Whether or not an action is right or wrong is dependent on human conscience, reason, and more imporantly; empathy. Empathy is a person’s ability to recognize, perceive, and feel the emotions or experiences of another person.We are born with a natural capacity for empathy, but empathy is also something that can be learned through experiences. Empathy is important because without it we would exhibit no altruism towards our fellow human beings. We would be utterly and completely selfish and only serve our own interests. This is similar to the state of nature that proponents of the Social Contract Theory refer to. It is because of the existence of human empathy that we have no need for a god, or any religious morality for that matter. Humans are very capable of coexisting with each other without a religious ethical system.

Contention 2: Accountability.

A strength of Secular morality lies in accountability. Secular morality is based on reality and the natural world as opposed to the metaphysical. When a secular person acts morally, they do so based on a sense of accountability. They understand that their actions have consequences and will effect other people around them. This understanding enables them to refrain from acting immorally. Religious morality on the other hand, works beyond the physical world. A religion can mandate an action with little regard to how moral that action actually is, or the consequences that action would have. For example, at one point in time, under Christianity it was considered morally permissible to own and trade slaves. "However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." (Leviticus 25:44-46)
Obviously, slavery is very highly immoral. One might say that this passage I cited is outdated and irrelevant, but this is no ordinary book I quoted this from. This is the Holy Bible, the supposed word of god. If this was really the word of a god then surely the moral teachings would be universal and practical.

I was going to write more, but I have a debate tournament coming up so I'm kind of busy. Sorry if it's disorganized. I look forward to seeing my opponents case.




Con Case

My case will be simple. I outline it as follows:

If there is a God, then a religiously based morality is objectively superior to a secular morality.
If there is no God, then neither moral system is "superior" in any meaningful sense given the lack of objective moral values.

Pro Case

C1: Nature of the word superior.

Pro strongly runs the risk of arguing in a circle here, and we find he is already on unsteady ground as I will point out later. If superior means "according to my intuitions about how morality should be" then Con has essentially already won. My own vision of "superior" - as briefly outlined in the Pro case - seeks to remove the term from its intuitional content and into the realm of objective judgment.

C2: Empathy

Pro has already departed from numerous secular moralists in this regard (Kant, Rand) nor does he even put forth his own particular ideology of secular morality for us to even debate. Pro never really provides a target here, so to speak. Emapthy is perfectly in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ (the religiously-based morality I will be advocating). Pro cannot rely on some conglomeration of secular doctrines to fit his own amorphous definition of "superior."

Pro makes a sweeping statement here without providing much backing, although to be fair he did clarify that his time is limited due to other committments. Let me first say that Jesus Christ is unbeatable on the front of empathy - his entire existence is dedicated to the idea of altruism, helping the poor, and serving God.

C3: Accountability

As warned of earlier, we have Pro begging the question here ("A religion can mandate an action with little regard to how moral that action actually is.") Pro's point is a little confusing here because if accountability is synonymous with responsibility then there is no shortage is religious injunctions against wrong-doers. Christanity is undoubtedly serious about moral responsibility with the presupposition of free will. The main point here Pro cites is a "sword quote" and there's a few things to be said here.

1. The context of the quote must be considered. For instance, "In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters" [1]. There are certainly strict guidelines on how to treat slaves, but it must be noted that even some secular moral systems condone slavery (utilitarianism can in some circumstances). Pro has yet to cite a secular moral system to be argued for.

2. Pro cites from the Old Testament rather than Jesus' teachings. For the sake of argument I will take the NT to be more authoritative, and the text must be viewed in the context of other anti-slavery clauses. Even mosaic law is harsh against "man stealers": “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” [2].

Back to you, Pro.

[2]Exodus 13:14

Debate Round No. 2


TheDiabolicDebater forfeited this round.


Debate Round No. 3


I had an argument, but it got erased for whatever reason. From now on I will be using google docs to type my arguments...I have already lost according to the rules I set out so vote con.


OMGJustinBieber forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Vote con. I apologize once again.
Debate Round No. 5
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
Wait, what?
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
What exactly is a "sword quote"?
Posted by toxicmaniac 4 years ago
I am interested to see Con's arguments as religious morality has been far easier and more criticized compared to secular morality. Personally i find that morals should be based on logic, knowledge and tolerance that we have taught ourselves over time in order for our society to survive instead of basing it of supernaturalism and pseudoscience.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
Rearghhhhh I hate being the first one to post an argument.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
Yeah I have to agree with that.
Posted by OMGJustinBieber 4 years ago
And this is no ordinary teen idol. Lets not give tips in the comments section.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
This is no ordinary house cat. ;D
Posted by Utopian 4 years ago
Only on the internet can you see a teen idol have a debate about morality with a housecat. :)

... you can definitely say that secular morality is more internally consistant, while religious moral rules are far more arbitrary, and even contradictory.
Posted by Yep 4 years ago
GL BEIbER!!!!!!!!!!!!@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@######################################$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
Essentially what I want to prove is that Secular morality better adheres to the definition of "Morality" than religious morality.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: FF