The Instigator
David12N
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Atheism_Debater
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Should atheist groups change their focus?

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Atheism_Debater
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 342 times Debate No: 73633
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

David12N

Pro

I am arguing that atheist organizations should not be promoting atheism to the generally population in liberal western countries or followers of mainstream religion for the most part because mainstream religion and their followers are not really a problem. There is arguably also no huge benefit to members of that group or to society giving up their faith. Cults should be the focus because they are more of a dangerous problem and there would be more benefits to both members and society doing this. Atheist organizations don't have an unlimited amount of resources and so paying for billboards in liberal countries or paying for signs on the bus in England to promote atheism to the general public {or followers of mainstream churches} might not be the best use of resources.

{Of course atheist groups are not all the same and some may already be doing this. This is not an anti-atheist position. It is about where is the best place to focus}.
Atheism_Debater

Con


Introduction:


Firstly I would like to thank (David12N) for bringing up this topic for debate. No debate structure was provided, so I will proceed on my own accord. I will be referring to my opponent as David throughout the debate to eliminate any confusion that could arise, if David has any problem with this, feel free to tell me in the next round. I hope that David and I will be able to participate in this debate with maturity and respect, so that each of us can have the best debating experience possible.


Now, the topic of the debate was labeled, “Should atheist groups change their focus?” where, as Con, I will be arguing that no, Atheist organizations should not change their focus, while David will be arguing that yes, Atheist organizations should change their focus. In order to win this debate, I will have to prove to the voters that the methods that Atheist organizations are using today, is the most effective method, and that they should not be changed.


David has not provided any alternative method yet, and I hope that he will soon. Since it would not be fair if I posted rebuttals in this round, I will wait until next round to post them.


Arguments:


To prove why Atheist organizations should continue doing what they are doing, I will bring up Freedom from Religion Foundation (https://ffrf.org...). The FFRF’s primary focus is “Protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church” and being the largest atheist organization in the country (1), it is apparent that their primary focus has led them to very high success. Therefore, the current focus of this atheist organization is exceptionally successful and should not be changed.


“Averaging across the two measures of atheism, the entire world population would cross the atheist threshold by about 2038… Using the Human Development Index as a clock suggests an even earlier arrival for the atheist transition.” (By transition, Nigel Barber means more than 50% of the population would be atheist.) (2)


Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census data stretching back 100 years.” (3)


The progress that atheism has had through the years is remarkable, from George W. Bush saying, “I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” to the Pope condemning atheism as acceptable, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, not just Catholics, even the atheists.” (4) it is clear, that the focus of atheistic organizations has led to great leaps of success, and therefore should not be changed.


Conclusion:


In my arguments, I attempted to show how well atheism has progressed from the past to the present, in part, because of the focus of the atheist organizations. Therefore, the atheist organizations should not change their focus because they are already doing remarkably well. I would like to remind David to post his alternative focus in the next round. I wish my opponent the best of luck and look forward to the next round, thank you!


Citations:


1: http://ffrf.org...


2: http://www.huffingtonpost.com...


3: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com...


4: http://www.huffingtonpost.com...



Debate Round No. 1
David12N

Pro

Hello,
Thanks for accepting the debate.
Using my name is fine. I would just like to note that I did provide at least one alternative and that was related to focusing on getting people away from cults.

I would argue that the predicted increase of the number of atheists in the future is not in itself a good thing unless one can argue that it is. That it is better than say helping people escape dangerous religious cults. I would argue trying to get them to give up their beliefs although harder not impossible would do more good then pushing for separation of church and state. In liberal democracies that historically have had a relatively fair amount of separation compared to other countries. Better than just increasing the number of atheists overall.

If we look at the success rate of atheism in general {based on number of atheists and to a lesser extent acceptance of atheists} then I would also say atheistic organizations are not doing as well as stated. Atheism movements and philosophies have been around for thousands of years and have gotten less people than religious groups that have been around for the same time or not as long.

The stats on atheism can also be quite misleading. Some agnostics are included and people who still go to church and support organized religion claim to be atheists. No religion on the census also does not just include atheists and in fact in America they tend to make up a smaller proportion of no religion then theists that just don't go to church. The numbers of global atheists is considerably bumped up by the number of Chinese that say they are atheists. I would argue that is not because of the great work of atheist organizations but a communist regime that historically was very anti-religious and suppresses organized religion.

Some statistics claim that atheism is going down because religious countries have a higher birth rate than more secular ones and presumably the religious parents will bring the children up in their faith. In the United States the number of atheists is still quite low. In the single digit percentage wise. {At least according to some surveys}. So going just by sheer numbers I would say they have not been overly successful at increasing the numbers. The countries that do have more atheists may not have gotten all of them through the work of atheists organizations in the first place.

There is discrimination against atheists of course which is wrong and should be addressed. A survey in Brazil alleges that most people would not vote for an atheist president which might not really matter given that most people in Brazil and presumably candidates would be religious anyway. The fact that the survey said atheists were the most hated demographic and almost on par with drug addicts is beyond ridiculous and of course it would be nice if that changed.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Atheism_Debater

Con


Thank you David for responding, I look forward to how this debate will turn out.


Rebuttal:


“I would argue that the predicted increase of the number of atheists in the future is not in itself a good thing unless one can argue that it is.”


The question is not whether or not the increase of atheists in the future is or is not a good thing, it is whether or not the increase of atheists in the future is a good thing for atheist organizations, and it obviously is.


“That it is better than say helping people escape dangerous religious cults.”


When someone is an atheist, they are definitely not part of a dangerous religious cult; therefore by increasing the amount of atheists, we decrease the amount of people in cults and solve the issue that you are concerned about.


“I would argue trying to get them to give up their beliefs although harder not impossible would do more good then pushing for separation of church and state.”


The separation of church and state is a constitutional law, and abridging these values that make up our country is a violation of integrity and morality. I would care much more that our government was following the constructional laws, rather than a select few people that belong to a religion that is impossible (or extremely difficult) to get them out of, that might be potentially dangerous.


“In liberal democracies that historically have had a relatively fair amount of separation compared to other countries. Better than just increasing the number of atheists overall.”


Please give an example of a country that historically had fair separation, and how this relates to the number of atheists in the world and how it is better.


“If we look at the success rate of atheism in general {based on number of atheists and to a lesser extent acceptance of atheists} then I would also say atheistic organizations are not doing as well as stated. Atheism movements and philosophies have been around for thousands of years and have gotten less people than religious groups that have been around for the same time or not as long.”


This is a rebuttal of my argument of how well atheism has progressed. Let’s take this apart piece by piece…


“Atheism movements and philosophies have been around for thousands of years…”


David’s argument is irrelevant; we are discussing atheist organizations, not atheist movements or philosophies. As far as organizations:


American Atheists: 1963 http://atheists.org...


Freedom From Religion Foundation: 1978 https://ffrf.org...


Atheist Alliance International: 1991 https://www.atheistalliance.org...


American Humanist Association: 1941 http://americanhumanist.org...


“have gotten less people than religious groups that have been around for the same time or not as long.”


Please site an example or something to back up your claims.


“The numbers of global atheists is considerably bumped up by the number of Chinese that say they are atheists.”


Are Chinese not allowed to be atheist? I say that I am atheist, a Chinese says they are an atheist, why am I an atheist and the Chinese not? Please explain this confusing logic, it sounds like racial stereotyping.


“I would argue that is not because of the great work of atheist organizations but a communist regime that historically was very anti-religious and suppresses organized religion.”


Ok, point me to one example where a communist government made it a law that it is illegal to be religious, and how that increased atheism instead of organizations.


“So going just by sheer numbers I would say they have not been overly successful at increasing the numbers. The countries that do have more atheists may not have gotten all of them through the work of atheists organizations in the first place.”


The atheist organization’s goal was to increase the number of atheists, atheism has increased, therefore the atheist organization is successful. Just because few atheists converted not because of the organization does not matter overall; and the organization was still successful.


Conclusion:


out of room!




Debate Round No. 2
David12N

Pro

The relatively small number of people that join cults mean the undirected efforts {promoting atheism to the general population} is not likely to stop the majority of people that may join a cult. Unless they converted every single person in the world which is not likely to happen. So if only one out of every ten million people join a cult {that is just an example} atheists would have to convert a lot of people just to stop the same number of people that belong to even just one of the big cults out there. So I would still argue being more specific would be better.

The United States and Australia as two examples that have never been theocracies {correct me if I am wrong} or really close to theocracies which are more dangerous. So there was historically a degree of separation of church and state.

Atheists movements/philosophies have included organizations and so it is not irrelevant to mention them. Ancient Greece had people promoting and pushing for atheism through schools and the like and this groups have been active for centuries but have not gotten as many members as religions that were operating for around the same amount of time like Christianity. {Keeping in mind also the survey issues related to the 14% global atheist number

Communist regimes are well-known for being anti-religious. State atheism is an example. A high number of the global atheists are found in one part of Asia. That includes China which has a large population of Chinese people. You quoted 14% and more of an acceptance of atheists as proof that atheist organizations are doing the right things. I pointed out that the 14% number is considerably bumped up because of China's crackdown on religion because it impacts so many people. That was the context in which I made it. Without that and just western atheist organizations there would be considerably less atheists out there. {So the organizations can't get credit for that}

I have included a link to communist China's well known opposition to religion hence the existence of secret Christian churches and a highly regulated official church. That makes the preaching, converting, fund raising and promoting of religion difficult. The fear of the government would keep some away from theism {at least publicly}. State atheism like practiced by the Soviets saw the massive government apparatus being used to promote it which has far greater reach than any atheistic organization would ever have. So if you remove state atheism and ones we atheists would not support oppressive regimes. There would be far less atheists in the world and thus even less success for atheist organizations to note.

If Chinese communism collapses I would argue that one is probably going to see more people embrace religion. Something that happened when the Soviet Union collapsed. There are people converting to Christianity under the persecution so arguably even more once that persecution is gone So the number of atheists will fall even more into the future in some parts of world.

In conclusion, it was nice debating with you. I think you are being too nice to atheist organizations. If you believe all they have to do to prove their worth is by citing there has been an increase in atheists. With no proof that the atheists organizations played a significant role in people becoming atheists versus all the other factors. The fact that atheists still represent the minority in many countries.

I would say that the value of atheism itself is relevant because my original post was that atheistic organizations would do more good focusing on going after religious cults because promoting atheism for its own sake may not be beneficial {to the world is what I meant}.

http://www.chinaaid.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Atheism_Debater

Con


Thank you David for your last response, it is now my turn.


Rebuttal:


In David’s first paragraph he backs up his cult idea as an alternative to the methods that atheist organizations are using today. I decided it was finally time to focus on this.


The cult idea would not be a good focus because of these reasons:


1: How do you decide if the religion is a cult or not?


The definition of cult, “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.” (Merriam Webster)


Whether or not a religion is extreme or dangerous is an opinion based claim, I think that many popular religions are extreme and/or dangerous, but that’s only my opinion. Deciding whether or not a particular religion should be regarded as a cult would be an extremely difficult, if not impossible task.


2: Such a small amount of people belong to cults


Such few cults exist, and such few people belong to these few cults. Also, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to separate these people from these cults. Keeping in mind all of this, you can expect to “save” very few people from these cults, less than 100 people perhaps. Were these few people worth all of the time, money, energy, danger, frustration, and work that went into them? When all of this could go into a different approach to save more people.


“The United States and Australia as two examples that have never been theocracies {correct me if I am wrong} or really close to theocracies which are more dangerous. So there was historically a degree of separation of church and state.”


The United States says, “under God” in our pledge, churches are exempt from taxes, churches are used as polling stations, “In God We Trust” is on every single piece of money in America, the presidents say, “So help me God” or, “God bless America” after almost every speech, government meetings are opened with prayer, Bibles are distributed at public schools, Ten Commandments are set in stone outside government buildings, “I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” – Ex- President Bush, I would say that no, the US is not very “separated.”


“Atheists movements/philosophies have included organizations and so it is not irrelevant to mention them. Ancient Greece had people promoting and pushing for atheism through schools and the like…”


Yet David failed to give one example. This accusation has no weight.


“Communist regimes are well-known for being anti-religious…”


In this paragraph, David shows how the number of atheists in the world is bumped up by communist regimes, example: China. I would combat this by showing the exact opposite, discrimination against atheism.


“In thirteen countries around the world, all of them Muslim, people who openly espouse atheism, or reject the official state religion of Islam, face execution under law…” (1)


David can argue that atheism is bumped up by discrimination, I can say it is also bumped down by discrimination.


Conclusion:


I have enjoyed debating this topic with David. I hope he is successful in the future and has a nice day. The debate is over and is now in the hands of the voters, and I would like to politely ask them to… VOTE CON!


Citations:


1: http://www.reuters.com...



Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Juris 1 year ago
Juris
For the Spelling and Grammar...

Pro made this error, "I am arguing that ...generally population...."

is it "generally" or "general"?

If you can show me that "generally" is acceptable, then I may change this vote.
Posted by Juris 1 year ago
Juris
Pro wants atheist organizations to change their focus to campaigning against CULTS because he said that cults are more dangerous than mainstream religion (this is the alternative Pro has proposed which con did not see). On the other hand, Con opposes this idea because according to him that the current focus of atheist organizations have made them successful in terms of increase in their membership. Moving on, Con has solidly proven that atheist organizations have an increase number in their membership when he presented various statistics. Pro tried to counter con"s argument by saying that more atheists does not necessarily mean that it is a good thing. Then, he further attacked con"s idea by providing his own statistical evidence. However, Pro"s statistics cannot be verified in the debate as has he failed to source them properly. (Source goes to Con)In addition, Con made a good point that decision should be based not only if this proposal is going to benefit the society, but also if it is fair to atheists. Lastly, Pro"s proposal is vague because it is difficult to separate cults from others according to CON
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Juris 1 year ago
Juris
David12NAtheism_DebaterTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD (see comments)