The Instigator
tvellalott
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Valtarov
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

That not following religion is the best way to live your life.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Valtarov
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/14/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,361 times Debate No: 12312
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (39)
Votes (5)

 

tvellalott

Pro

Hello debaters!

I have very strong anti-Religious views, which is why I choose to be an Atheist, in that I don't believe that there is an all-powerful being, called God or Allah. I firmly believe that when you die, you know no more. Like going to sleep forever, with no dreams. The same as a fly you swat. BLAM! It's over.
The scientific explanation for Earth; that it is a speck of rock in one of an infinite number of Universes, which just so happens to be the perfect environment for Carbon life seems logical to me.

Religion then, seems like a waste of time to me, but more than that, it seems to cause people to not enjoy their lives as much as they could. Instead, they focus on the afterlife and their souls preparation for heaven. Following rules and ancient dogmatic rubbish.

I expect that even without Religion, we would have laws stopping us from killing and stealing from each other. It's logical. I don't want my stuff stolen, so I should steal other peoples stuff. I don't want my family or myself to be raped, so I shouldn't do it. "God's word" is just reason; logic.

My conclusion is that if God really created me, how can he punish me for being an Atheist? If he is omniscient, surely he knew I would not believe in Him before he even created the Heavens and the Earth. Sending me to Hell for an eternal punishment would just be cruel, and if he is a cruel god, he isn't worth worshipping anyway.

"Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today"
-John Lennon, Imagine
Valtarov

Con

Thanks to tvellalott for what I am sure will prove an extremely interesting debate.

My opponent has the burden of proof, and he has not met this burden of proof. My opponent doesn't believe in an all-powerful being; this makes him not an atheist but rather an A-Christian/Muslim. Remember, my opponent is trying to prove that following religion is a bad way to live life, not that some sects of Christianity or Islam are a bad way to live your life. His only real argument is that religion causes one to focus on the afterlife and not enjoy oneself. His only reason for supporting this is that it causes oneself to focus on an afterlife, following "rules and ancient dogmatic rubbish"! The problem is that many, many religions do not have both rules and theology e.g. Buddhism (no theology) and tribal religions (no codes of conduct). My opponent argues against Christianity and Islam, not against religion.

It is also here that my opponent asserts a priori that the best way to live life is to maximize one's pleasure at any given moment. This a priori is completely unsupported, and can only begin to hold any weight in which the only good is pleasure. This is completely unproved, and must be for my opponent's argument to mean anything in the debate. Indeed, under the modern psychology of Viktor Frankl, religion is a much better way to live one's life. Under said psychology, happiness is gained not through pleasure but rather through finding meaning. To exist is to suffer, to live is to find meaning in the suffering. Many, many, many people gain and have gained happiness from their religious experience regardless of its truth value because it fulfills the first desire of human psychology: a meaning for existence. Since there is no meaning in my opponent's worldview, his approach to living life cannot cause happiness as, under his reasoning, all human endeavor is meaningless, thus taking any potential for human happiness.

My opponent slams rules of conduct. Apparently, following rules advocated by the religions that have rules of conduct is bad, which is surprising since he then advocates the Golden Rule in his third paragraph, which is present in some form in at least Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity (and probably in many others as well).

Here's a list of assumptions my opponent makes about religion. Unless he supports that religion, in general, meets these assumptions, he has not proved his side and loses the debate.

1) Religion always focuses on the afterlife and rules of conduct. (Paragraph 2)
2) The best way to live one's life is to maximize one's pleasure felt at any given moment (P.2)
3) The only purpose of religious teaching is to further society (P.3)
4) Religious teaching cannot conform to reason (P.3)
5) God sends people to hell for disobeying his word, assuming He exists and has the power to do so. (P.4)
6) Religion prevents oneself from living in the here an now (Song Quote)
Debate Round No. 1
tvellalott

Pro

This is fantastic, my opponent responded in exactly the way I expected, which is why I was very careful about how I worded this topic.
"That not FOLLOWING religion is the best way to live your life..."
There are a hundred or more debates on this site which pit believers against non-believers. I thought I'd pose a different perspective. So here we go...

I am an Atheist. My parents were both raised as Catholic, but both quickly fell away from religion. My mother is a Pagan witch and my father is also an Atheist. We all agree that there is no God.
My girlfriend of three years however, is a Catholic. She DOES believe that there is a Heaven; That Jesus, Adam and Eve and Moses and all their friends did exist.
We get on fine. Why? Because she doesn't FOLLOW religion. Her relationship with God is personal. She takes the bits she likes and throws out the rubbish. She believes that because I'm a good person, it doesn't matter if I believe in God or not, I'll still go to Heaven. She doesn't follow religion.

----------------------------------------

Now, let me address my opponents arguments...

Most of the rebuttals in my opponents round one argument address things I didn't say in any way, shape or form:
"...Remember, my opponent is trying to prove that following religion is a bad way to live life..."
"...my opponent asserts a priori that the best way to live life is to maximize one's pleasure at any given moment..."
"...My opponent slams rules of conduct..."

Huh? Where did I say any of that stuff?
I suspect my opponent has a lot of prejudice against atheists like myself and jumps far too quickly to conclusions. Religion offers structure and purpose, yes.
Structure and purpose in your life are good, yes.
Do you need to follow a set list of rules to get this structure and purpose? No.
One needs only to look around themselves and they can see all kind of purpose.
One needs only to have a bit of self control and foresight and they can have all the structure they need.

Religions also indeed offers rules. The ten commandments, which were what I was talking about when I spoke of "God's Word".
I propose that only three that make any real sense as "Laws" (Murder, Theft, Adultery) would have been implemented as laws without Religion.

-----------------------------------

My opponent proposes that I am not an atheist, but an Anti-Christian/Islamic:
"...My opponent doesn't believe in an all-powerful being; this makes him not an atheist but rather an A-Christian/Muslim..."
"...My opponent argues against Christianity and Islam, not against religion..."

Atheist: "...a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings..."
Yes, that sounds about right.
However, I AM also strongly against Christianity, Catholicism and Islam on a much more specific level.
Since they account for about 54% of the world population's religious belief and these religions specifically are the ones that insist you follow their rules, I believe they are the correct targets for my scorn.

---------------------------------------------

I'm glad that my opponent mentioned Viktor Frankl. After being freed from the concentration camp he spent 3 years in during WW2, he went on to marry a practising Catholic women. They both went to Church and to Synagogue and celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. Sounds like a perfect example of not following religion to me.

-----------------------------------------------

So the conclusion to my round 2 argument is that most of the stuff in religion is rubbish and the best way to follow it is to not follow it at all. The only good thing about religion is it encourages people to be good and it is doing a miserable job at it.
It hasn't stopped it from carving a path of bloody, righteous murder through history.
It doesn't stop pedophiles from becoming priests and inflicting horrific physical and emotional damage on the children they are trusted with nor has it stopped the Catholic church from covering up such atrocities for the entire length of its existence.
It doesn't stop men and women blowing themselves up in the Middle East in the name of Allah.

These people all follow religion, whether its interpreting a holy book a certain way or performing holy rituals to cleanse themselves of their sins.

Being alive and healthy makes me happy. My family, my friends make me happy. My job, my social life, my hobbies make my happy. Sex, Alcohol and Zombie movies make me happy. There is no room for fear of god or burden of proof (whatever the hell that is) because I'm too damn busy being happy.

Finally, let me address one last quote from my opponent...
"...many, many religions do not have both rules and theology e.g. Buddhism (no theology) and tribal religions (no codes of conduct)..."
One of my favourite quotes of all time concerning religion came from none other than the Buddha himself:

"Believe nothing, o monks,
merely because you have been told it ...
or because it is traditional,
or because you yourselves have imagined it.

Do not believe what your teacher tells you
merely out of respect for the teacher.

But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis,
you find to be conducive to the good,
the benefit, the welfare of all beings.
That doctrine believe and cling to,
and take it as your guide."
Valtarov

Con

I'll begin defining religion, as is defined by professor of religion Stephen Prothero in his book, "God is Not One":
Religions have a statement of beliefs and values (creeds), ritual activities (cultus), standards of ethical conduct (codes), and institutions (communities).

From the Top:
I fail to see how I have not argued that following religion is not the best way to live your life.
Though touching, your personal anecdote hardly counts as hard evidence in a debate. Your girlfriend is following religion if she really is Catholic, as she would believe the Catholic creeds, participate in Communon (cultus), follow the codes of moral conduct spelled out by the Catholic Church, and go to mass (community). If she doesn't do these things, then she's not a Catholic. Moreover, a "personal relationship with God" does not mean that you don't follow religion. Most Christians would say they have a "personal relationship with God" whilst following religion.

My opponent provides no standard for deciding what is "rubbish" and what is not; his point with that is invalid. Her personal beliefs about your soul don't really matter to the debate.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Those three statements didn't constitute a majority of my rebuttals. I will defend why each is true.
1) If not following religion is the best way to live life, then the alternative must be worser i.e. there must be something bad about following religion. Note that my opponent has not proved this in any way, shape, or form, and thus has not met his burden of proof in the debate.
2) "Religion then, seems like a waste of time to me, but more than that, it seems to cause people to not enjoy their lives as much as they could." This statement establishes the standard that the best way to live one's life is to enjoy it as much as possible. He has not proved that this is the best way to live one's life.
3) "Following rules and ancient dogmatic rubbish.[sic]" If that's not a slam against rules, I don't know what is.

Actually, I have no prejudice against atheists at all. To quote a Sergeant Killrain who fought at Gettysburg, "Any man who judges by the group is a peawit." The fact that I happen to think you all are wrong is hardly a prejudice.

My opponent's argument here is that religion isn't necessary for structure and purpose. While I take issue with this statement (addressed below), it doesn't really matter in the debate.

Frankl's psychology is all about meaning. In a world without God, there can be no meaning, and life is essentially absurd. This destroys all potential for human happiness.

The Ten Commandments are irrelevant to this debate. Moreover, my opponent assumes that the goal of religious codes is to make good laws. Daoism et. al. religions prove this false. Not all religions will give you structure, purpose etc.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My assertion was rather sardonic to begin with. My opponent self-identified as not believing in God or Allah, but did not mention, for example, Vishnu. It was an illustration that my opponent's arguments, for the most part, are attacks upon Christianity and Islam, not religion.

Also, Christianity does not condone religious coercion. People who wanted power insisted on the code of conduct to solidify power.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Actually, Viktor Frankl is a perfect example of following religion. He ostensibly believed in a creed, be it Jewish or Catholic, participated in ritual of either faith, followed a code of ethical conduct proscribed by both religions (the codes are the same), and was a member of a community. A perfect example of following religion. My opponent seems to think that following religion means that one is bigoted and intolerant. A genuine take of most any religion will show that this is not true.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My opponent, in his concluding statements, asserts without warrant that "most of the stuff in religion is rubbish and the best way to follow it is to not follow it at all". Despite making no sense (how can one follow and not follow something at the same time?), the statement has not been proven.

"The only good thing about religion is it encourages people to be good and it is doing a miserable job at it."
Again, this claim is unproven. It is not legitimate evidence until it is proven to be true. Moreover, it is empirically denied due to Frankl's psychology.

"It hasn't stopped it from carving a path of bloody, righteous murder through history."
First of all, if the murder was righteous, there would be no problem with it and it would not be murder. Secondly, not all religions have caused violence. Buddhism (which is a religion, as any professor of religion will tell you) has long opposed violence, to the point that Buddhist monks, on several occasions, set themselves on fire and threw themselves off cliffs to protest armies marching by below their high monasteries.

"It doesn't stop pedophiles from becoming priests and inflicting horrific physical and emotional damage on the children they are trusted with nor has it stopped the Catholic church from covering up such atrocities for the entire length of its existence."
The Catholic Church is irrelevant. We are debating "following religion" not "following Catholicism". But in committing these atrocities, the priests were actually not following religion, as they were not following the ethical code set out by their faith. Furthermore, you don't prove that the Church has been doing this from the beginning of its existence.

"It doesn't stop men and women blowing themselves up in the Middle East in the name of Allah."
The Qu'ran specifically prohibits killing women and children in war, and suicide. It was not following religion, but failure thereof, that causes this.

Your personal pleasure is irrelevant to the debate except to prove that your standard of what makes a good way to live life is that which maximizes pleasure. Your personal disavowal of God (or Allah or Vishnu or the Dao) is also irrelevant.

Since Buddhism is quite obviously a religion (it not only fulfills our definition but is classified as such by most every professor of religion out there), my opponent's quote merely serves to support me, as it shows an example of what a religious creed might look like.

Extend all the other arguments I made in the first round my opponent failed to respond to.

My opponent has failed on all counts to prove that not following religion is the best way to live your life. I have provided a positive proof of why this cannot be true; he has not responded to it. The resolution is clearly negated.
Debate Round No. 2
tvellalott

Pro

I'm calling this one an epic fail on my part.

I admit I wasn't properly prepared, expressed myself poorly, didn't cite enough evidence and I honestly didn't have the time to post a third round. I'm writing this a work 10 minutes before the end of a very long week.

I apologise for wasting my opponents time and plan to post a similar topic in the future with a lot more preparation.

Peace.
Valtarov

Con

This debate was hardly a waste of time. It made me think very hard about the subject at hand.

Extend all my arguments and refutations from rounds 1 and 2 that my opponent failed to respond to.

My opponent has said that religion is a bad way to live life; he has only argued only that the practicing of only Christianity and Islam is a bad way to live life. He has offered no argument or evidence against Islam being a bad way to live one's life, and minimal evidence against Christianity.

But this entire debate has been undertaken assuming that Christianity is false. If it is true, then Christianity is the best way to live one's life.

C.S. Lewis writes, "...if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." This Epicurean view of Christianity is echoed by thinkers such as Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More.

If Christianity is false, then a significant portion of a believer's life has been wasted. If it is false, and the hedonists are right, then they have lived in a way that is the most pleasurable (though all their endeavors are necessarily meaningless). If Christianity is true, then the hedonists will find that, in doing what they thought best, they have missed the greatest joys of all, forever doomed to a fate like that of Tantalus, but a thousand times worse. But if Christianity is true, the believer will receive joy and pleasure and all good things in more excess than can be imagined.

Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
39 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 6 years ago
GeoLaureate8
This was definitely an enjoyable debate. Good job guys.
Posted by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
sherlockmethod
Correction: We are not talking about the same Dr. Prothero, my error.
Posted by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
sherlockmethod
I wish to see the future debate as both sides made some good points and then made contradictions. Con was sitting on good ground and debated better than Pro in this one. I am shocked Con used Dr. Prothero as a reference, but that is neither here nor there. I only judge on the debate itself, not forum comments or debate comments so tie except for CA: Con. Nice job, but clean it up next time and we should see a great debate.
Posted by Valtarov 6 years ago
Valtarov
Gah!

I forgot to post the source for the C.S. Lewis quote.

"The Weight of Glory"
http://www.verber.com...
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
tvellalott
Ok, expect the challenge some time in the next two weeks.
Posted by Valtarov 6 years ago
Valtarov
@tvellalott

I'd be honored if you would do your repeat debate of the topic against me.
Posted by Valtarov 6 years ago
Valtarov
@ Zetsubou

You might get more people to respond to your comments if you phrased them intelligibly.
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
tvellalott
i clearly have a lot to learn.
Posted by Valtarov 6 years ago
Valtarov
@ tvellalott

Also, "burden of proof" is a term that describes the logical concept that a claim must be proven. If I say that God exists, I must prove it. You have to prove your claim true; I don't have to prove anything. I don't so much have to prove your claim wrong but rather show that you haven't proven it true.

It is not a religious concept. It is a basic tenet of argumentation.
Posted by tvellalott 6 years ago
tvellalott
You're right Puck. My mistake.
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zircle_of_life
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