The Instigator
Jordeef
Pro (for)
Losing
8 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

Secular Society Amounts to Statism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,729 times Debate No: 28311
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (6)

 

Jordeef

Pro

If our government ever comes to the place where we renounce our accountability to God, we will cease to have basic human rights.

The only reference point that we can rely on for the rights of Life, Libery, and the Pursuit of Happiness is God, and in a secular society, the only god would be man and all of his faults.

In this society we would no longer be subject to the immutable God (even if just in our minds), but instead to the selfish whims of man..

In a state of anarchy, an ambitious man would rise up and take power. He would declare himself as a god.

Having a sense of accountability for our actions gives us a reason to not be selfish; only an idiot would be benevolent if he was powerful and believed God did not exist

In this society, the government (be it a doctatorship or oligarchy, what-have-you), would become the god, and it would create our rights. We would be completely subjugated.

My opponent will argue that secular societ does not amount to statism.
First round is for acceptance.
Danielle

Con

Thanks, Jordeef, for challenging me to this debate.

Pro begins, "If our government ever comes to the place where we renounce our accountability to God, we will cease to have basic human rights." Of course, the United States of America and many other countries are secular nations; they do not reference God or religion but instead hold humanist values as the basis of fundamental rights [1]. Likewise, various cultures would rely on their own set of values, secular or otherwise, to govern their lives in an anarchist society. I reject the notion that God is the only point of reference for which rights are derived. Indeed, there are many other philosophical subscriptions including humanism, objectivism, etc. which give us other moral grounds to protect certain rights, particularly the right to life.

Pro suggests that in an anarchist society, we would be held accountable not to God but "the selfish whims of man." We are already accountable to the selfish whims of man. First, the alleged word of God is not used to determine the law outside of theocratic states. Second, there are many interpretations of God; it would be for all intents and purposes impossible to determine which God or which of God's values we ought to apply to the law. Third, it would be offensive and oppressive to impose religious values on the non-religious within any society.

Pro has offered us no proof that "an ambitious man" would rise up and take power within an anarchist society, though this contention does not uphold the resolution anyhow. Pro continues, "Having a sense of accountability for our actions gives us a reason to not be selfish; only an idiot would be benevolent if he was powerful and believed God did not exist." Of course, one doesn't have to be religious to have a conscience. Theism is not a prerequisite for morality.

My opponent states, "In this society [secular], the government (be it a doctatorship or oligarchy, what-have-you), would become the god, and it would create our rights. We would be completely subjugated." We have no reason to accept this allegation as true. Pro also hasn't given us any evidence or explanation as to how a secular (presumably anarchist) society would automatically become a State. In a state of anarchy, people don't worship the authorative State as they do God. They also do not derive "rights" from the government. Instead, government services are used to protect the fundamental right that is the backbone of an anarchist society: the non-aggression principle [2].

Thus far, we have no reason to believe that a secular society amounts to Statism. Secular refers to things that are not religious. Why would a lack of religious values amount to Statism, i.e., a tyrannical, aggressive monopoly on force and violence? The audience should keep in mind that the two are not related. After all, we already have Statism despite secularism. Further, just because people/society are not religious does not mean they will necessarily respect or legitimize the authority of the State. I am not religious and I am not a Statist.

Pro hasn't met his burden. My argument is essentially that the two concepts are not related. A secular society would respect the rights of man according to man, not according to man's interpretation of God.

[1] http://secularnation.org...
[2] http://www.lewrockwell.com...

Debate Round No. 1
Jordeef

Pro

As I have stated in the comments, this argument is in disregard of Con's previous contention. This is because it was in violation of my rule that the first round will be for acceptance only. I ask that the voters disregard her first round post as well.


Separation of Church and State?

"If our government ever comes to the place where we renounce our accountability to God, we will cease to have basic human rights." (Pro, first round) As is understood, our rights are something we hold in common among and for all men, but where do we derive these rights? The Declaration of Independence enumerates the intent of the founding fathers of the United States:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." [1]

This intent was clearly that it be understood that these rights are endowed by our Creator, him being God. The complete secularization of the State would require that even this founding document be rewritten to remove God. Before my opponent challenges this, it is obvious that matters so trivial have indeed been a source of strife, as seen in the cause of the removal of religious symbols from government buildings and the like. A mention of the Creator is not simply defined by mention in a piece of law. This is clearly the view of the proponents of radical secularism- that all official government should be left secular. [2]

Authority

For there to be order in society, enough to ensure the complete removal of God from all government and practice, there must be a potent authority for man to answer to. As we have learned from history, as well as theory, totalitarianism starts with control - namely control over religious beliefs. [3] And as we all know, the removal of religion from all government practice is a property of secularism. Totalitarianism is a form of Statism. The USSR is a great example of this. [4]


Sources:


[1] http://www.archives.gov...
[2] http://www.infidels.org...
[3] http://oae.sagepub.com...
[4] http://blogs.ssrc.org...
Danielle

Con

Thanks, Pro.

As I noted in the comments section, I missed my opponent's disclaimer that R1 was for acceptance only (I thought that his R1 contained arguments, so I responded). While I accept my first round being "disregarded," what I posted there can actually be extended to refute his arguments from R2. Rather than copying and pasting them, I will refer the audience back to the previous round to see my rebuttal to his contentions for the sake of brevity. I don't think the audience would appreciate me copying and pasting the entire round if they've already read it, but please extend all of those arguments as that entire round successfully refutes all of Pro's claims from R2. I expect that my opponent will accept the extension of the previous round as my R2 rebuttal, and will respond accordingly in his final round.

His first argument was that rights must be derived from a Creator a.k.a. God. Please extend the first paragraph of arguments from my last round, specifically, in which I explained that rights are not necessarily derived from God and why. Also keep in mind that Pro merely references the U.S. Declaration of Independence as a point of reference, but surely the ideas of our Founding Fathers cannot speak for how every culture interprets "rights." In fact, while Pro posits the Creator as the source of our inalienable rights, neither the word "God" nor the word "Creator" appears in the Constitution.

Charles Bogle writes, "The clear intent of the Constitution is confirmed by the writings of the two Founding Fathers who were most responsible for establishing the rationale for separation of church and state, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson, a Deist who favored a federal government with limited powers, and Madison, a Christian and Federalist, wrote passionately and convincingly from the Enlightenment point of view that human rights are determined by secular, natural laws, and not by any god or religion" [1]. I also explained in the last round that secular states including the U.S. already exist, and why that is acceptable and even preferable in terms of governance (as it avoids religious oppression).

Pro writes, "For there to be order in society, enough to ensure the complete removal of God from all government and practice, there must be a potent authority for man to answer to." The second, third and fourth paragraphs of my last round refute this notion. A government does not have to hold a tyrannical monopoly on force and aggression (State) in order to function. Proof are the examples of non-Statist government acting agencies throughout history [2]. Pro's argument essentially boils down to the idea that in order to have a moral authority, you need to reference either God or the State. However, in the last round I explained that this is not true; people derive their moral authority from all different avenues, including secular. Secular humanists are one example [3].

Pro continues, "As we have learned from history, as well as theory, totalitarianism starts with control - namely control over religious beliefs. And as we all know, the removal of religion from all government practice is a property of secularism. Totalitarianism is a form of Statism. The USSR is a great example of this." The flaw in Pro's logic is that he equates the removal of religion from political governance as "control over religious beliefs." However, secularism aims to do the exact opposite. It aims to AVOID control over religious beliefs by not imposing the religious beliefs of some to dictate the laws that govern over the non-religious, or those who adhere to other faiths. While Pro provides the example of the U.S.S.R. as a secular State, in the last round I explained that there are many secular States that are not totalitarian including the U.S. Moreover, I explained how secular societies can and have existed that did not necessarily act as States (a monopoly on government within a given territory).

[1] http://www.wsws.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.secularhumanism.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Jordeef

Pro

"His first argument was that rights must be derived from a Creator a.k.a. God. Please extend the first paragraph of arguments from my last round, specifically, in which I explained that rights are not necessarily derived from God and why. Also keep in mind that Pro merely references the U.S. Declaration of Independence as a point of reference, but surely the ideas of our Founding Fathers cannot speak for how every culture interprets "rights." In fact, while Pro posits the Creator as the source of our inalienable rights, neither the word "God" nor the word "Creator" appears in the Constitution."

I believe the burden of proof to be on Con for this argument that these rights do not extend to all persons. I believe it the intent of the founding fathers of the United States of America, for this notion of rights to extend to all people. The only reservation is that these rights are only specifically given to Americans in the Declaration of Independence. This is because the Declaration of Independence only refers to Americans.

"Charles Bogle writes, "The clear intent of the Constitution is confirmed by the writings of the two Founding Fathers who were most responsible for establishing the rationale for separation of church and state, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson, a Deist who favored a federal government with limited powers, and Madison, a Christian and Federalist, wrote passionately and convincingly from the Enlightenment point of view that human rights are determined by secular, natural laws, and not by any god or religion" [1]. I also explained in the last round that secular states including the U.S. already exist, and why that is acceptable and even preferable in terms of governance (as it avoids religious oppression)."

All I can say is: if there is a God, then we derive our rights from Him.
It will be up to the individual voter to decide if he believes in God, because this is not a debate on the existence of God.

"Pro continues, "As we have learned from history, as well as theory, totalitarianism starts with control - namely control over religious beliefs. And as we all know, the removal of religion from all government practice is a property of secularism. Totalitarianism is a form of Statism. The USSR is a great example of this." The flaw in Pro's logic is that he equates the removal of religion from political governance as "control over religious beliefs." However, secularism aims to do the exact opposite. It aims to AVOID control over religious beliefs by not imposing the religious beliefs of some to dictate the laws that govern over the non-religious, or those who adhere to other faiths. While Pro provides the example of the U.S.S.R. as a secular State, in the last round I explained that there are many secular States that are not totalitarian including the U.S. Moreover, I explained how secular societies can and have existed that did not necessarily act as States (a monopoly on government within a given territory)."

The removal of expression of religion from all those individuals who hold public office would equate to control over religious beliefs. You can not eliminate religion from public office without infringing upon individual rights.
Danielle

Con

Thanks for the debate.

Pro never explained why rights had to come from God. I've given examples of philosophical perspectives and an explanation about why rights do not necessarily come from God. This is an argument in support of secularism. The audience must accept (considering a lack of rebuttal) that you do not need God to derive the concept of rights.

I also never said that rights do not extend to all persons. Pro dropped my argument that our founding fathers asserted human rights are determined by secular, natural laws, and not by any God or religion. Pro also dropped my point that secular laws are preferable in terms of governance (as it avoids religious oppression).

Pro concludes, "The removal of expression of religion from all those individuals who hold public office would equate to control over religious beliefs. You can not eliminate religion from public office without infringing upon individual rights."

This is inaccurate. As I explained in the last round, secularism does not aim to control the religious beliefs of the masses. In fact, it does the opposite. It does not prevent those who hold office from having or practicing their own religious beliefs. What it does is aim to protect non-believers and those of various faiths from religious and political oppression by using one set of values (or a politician's values) to dictate laws about their livelihood.

[ Conclusion ]

I've explained why rights do not necessarily come from God. I've also explained that not only would it be practically impossible to determine which God/ interpretation of God's values to use as a precedent for law, but that it would be oppressive to impose religious beliefs on non-believers through force (a State's monopoly on law and governance). Pro never disputed this claim throughout the debate.

I've argued that one doesn't have to be religious to have a conscience; theism is not a prerequisite for morality. Pro never challenged this. I've also challenged Pro to provide an explanation as to how a secular society would automatically become a State. People wouldn't/don't worship a secular State as they do God. Rights are not derived from government; rather government protects rights secular societies derive from humanist principles.

Pro hasn't remotely proven that a lack of religious values amounts to Statism, i.e., a tyrannical, aggressive monopoly on force and violence. The two are not related and I've negated Pro's attempts at finding comparisons. Just because people might prefer a secular society does not mean 1) they themselves are not religious, 2) they will necessarily respect or legitimize the authority of the State.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
Pro says first round is for acceptance, but he made an argument himself. Naturally, Con should be permitted to respond.

Con points out that rights can be derived from several secular philosophies. Con points out that societies are already secular. As Con says, how would we know which god to follow?

Pro's argument that secular governments must be totalitarian is rebutted by simply pointing out that many secular societies exist
which are not totalitarian.

Pro's contention that you cannot eliminate expression of religion from the state without religious control (read "oppression") is rebutted by Con.

Pro utterly failed to make his case. He seems to think that the US Constitution means that rights must come from God. The US Constitution is not the only political or philosophical document.
Posted by Jordeef 4 years ago
Jordeef
Thanks for a good debate
Posted by Jordeef 4 years ago
Jordeef
I accept your apology and admit that it was easy to overlook. I thank you for being cordial. I will overlook your opening argument and post mine as if you had never made an argument. I ask that the voters also overlook my opponent's opening argument. She has, however, shown herself to be cordial and not deliberately surreptitious, so her conduct may also be overlooked.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
I apologize. I missed that clause. I can be penalized for conduct if that's what the voters want... although I don't see why you got to make 7 assertive statements whereas I would just have to say "I accept," but that's cool. I glossed over that last line by accident and if that's considered "bad conduct" than so be it. I made the honest mistake of assuming those were your (opening) arguments to get the discussion going. Again, I apologize.
Posted by Jordeef 4 years ago
Jordeef
I ask that my opponent be deducted points in conduct for disregarding my request that the first round be for acceptance. I will disregard her attempts at refuting my arguments, as I have not yet made my official arguments.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Citrakayah 4 years ago
Citrakayah
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Jordeef made an argument first round and said first round was for acceptance. Conduct to Danielle. Pro didn't fulfill the burden of proof--what stops secular philosophies like deontology or rule-utilitarianism from not being statist?
Vote Placed by NotYourFault 4 years ago
NotYourFault
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to pro because con didn't follow pro's acceptance rule. Some of pro's contentions could be better, but they were better than con's. Sources to pro for obvious reasons.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: See Comments.
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had the burden of proof, but he never made a case. Why should we believe that secular societies are statist? Pro doesn't give any unrefuted reason.
Vote Placed by Jarhyn 4 years ago
Jarhyn
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Danielle accidentally posted her opening argument during acceptance; however PRO presented arguments and claims in round 1, so neither gets the conduct point. Arguments: PRO dropped a large number of points, particularly the fact that what amounts to normative ethics, complete with responsibilities to humanity and requirements for freedom, may be derived from purely secular means. Sources: PRO's source [1] is used as an argument from authority/law, and thus fails to be a reliable source for his claim.
Vote Placed by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
JordeefDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to pro since con violated the "first round for acceptance rule"...Pretty clear win for con. Pro couldn't show the necessary link between secularism and statism. He kept saying rights are given to us by God but never really explained how. Con also countered by saying secularists still have a conscience and will still respect the rights of others and also the government is here to protect rights rather than enforce them. Pro also dropped cons rebuttal to the constitution contention. Actually he dropped a lot in the last round.