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We can have as much morality without a God as we can have with one - SWITCH

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/26/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,155 times Debate No: 89843
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (83)
Votes (1)




Before you accept this debate, please leave a comment volunteering for the position, and stating whether you would like to argue "for" or "against" the proposition.

Please include a link to a debate which you believe demonstrates that you qualify for the debate.

Please acknowledge that you understand and accept that we'll be doing a reversed debate after this one.

If you accept this debate, we WILL do a second debate.

It'll be like this:

You'll pick either for or against.
You'll indicate your choice in your application comment, along with your link.
I'll check out your debate and accept your request.
You'll accept the debate as CON, but you'll argue either for or against the proposition, whichever you selected. Say you pick "for."

So you'll argue that the proposition is true, that we can have morality without God, and I'll argue against it

Then we'll do another debate in which we'll argue the other way around. I'll argue that we can have morality without God, and you'll argue against it.

At the end of each debate, we'll ask voters and commenters to try to infer from our arguments when we were arguing our sincere position, and when we were playing devil's advocate, as it were :-)

If this is unclear, please ask for clarification before accepting the debate.


I accept.
I will be for the thesis.
Next debate I will be against it.
Good luck.
Max Lamperouge...
Debate Round No. 1


I will be arguing that we cannot have as much morality without a God as we can have with one.

Take whatever morality you think you can have without God.

The addition of God does not detract from any of that morality.

Therefore, we have either an equal or greater amount of morality if there is a God.

God provides a reliable outside view to our moral disagreements.

We humans argue about what's right, about what's not; who's to say who's right or not?

And if someone can, or some group of people DO say, what's to keep them from changing their minds, or being replaced by new people with different ideas?

To say that some group of people, even the whole population of earth, even, decide what is moral, is to say that ultimately, morals can change.

On what grounds are those people then to determine morality? Only their whim.

Moral relativism states that morality is whatever someone says it is for themselves.
This is all we're left with.

And the position is self-contradictory!
Is moral relativism moral?

It says that things are moral if someone says they are for themselves.

So moral relativism is moral iff someone says it is for them. So they could just as easily say it wasn't, and it wouldn't be moral anymore.

In other words, the final arbiter is not moral relativism, but the whim of the person.

Which makes moral relativism useless. It provides no guidance; it adds no information.

We start with the whim of the person, and an appeal to moral relativism just points them back to their whim.

God provides a constant source of guidance, an addition of moral information. And He does so from a vantage point of infinite understanding, knowledge, and perspective, making the information He adds also the most important and useful of any moral information.

An appeal to God can supersede all mistakes made in the mind of the individual, or the minds of the populous.

And so, we need God to have the best morals, to have morals at all in any real sense.


I would like to thank you for hosting this debate, and apologize for posting an argument so late.
It has been really rushed around my house.

Now to the debate.
First, we must ask ourselves what is morality? If morality is found within and determined by us, then a God would add no more morality than we had before, because morality comes from us, not God.

I believe morality comes from within and is not influenced by God.

I challenge my opponent to provide one moral action that could be done by a thiest and not an atheist.

So I ask -

What is morality?

Where does it come from?

This entire debate relys on there being a universal morality for all people. A "higher law." There is no proof of a higher law. Humans all have different morals and values. So in order to answer the thesis, we must ask ourselves as to what standard we are defining a moral action by? Ourselves? A religious textbook? What?

An atheist can be just as good as a theist.. "For instance, it is not well known that Bill Gates andWarren Buffett have no God beliefs. But they each individually made the two largest charitable donations in American history." -

People can have all sorts of different morals. Even among members of the same church, there can be different versions of morality.
There is no proven "higher law".

In order for this debate to continue, we must decide what determines a moral action.

Max Lamperouge
Debate Round No. 2


Bound_Up forfeited this round.


MaxLamperouge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


My apologies for the forfeiture. I'm afraid I gave up prematurely on having it out in this debate.

My opponent asks what moral act a theist may do that an atheist cannot!
I'd like to ask what this has to do with the point?

I'd also be quite delighted were it revealed that the ability or inability to answer their question is deeply revealing, because I believe I have just the thing for it.

A theist, in expectation of heaven, may give their life for another. It's a sacrifice of a kind, I suppose.
But hardly the sacrifice that an atheist can make, of their life for another, with no expectation of anything after to come.

But this, is also NOTHING compared to the sacrifice that a theist can make: their soul for another's well-being. A theist can, for the sake of another's happiness, act in full expectation of being eternally tortured for it, a theme presented in Mark Twain's "What It Heaven or Hell."

I do hope, in the interests of fair play, that you'll reveal why this question was meant to be meaningful, even though I may have satisfactorily answered it.

It is written: "This entire debate relys on there being a universal morality for all people. A "higher law." There is no proof of a higher law. "

I'll not quite call this a "gotcha," ladies and gentleman, but I call your attention to it.

The man has held as proof that morality does not come from above the absence of proof that morality comes from above.
Didn't he? Isn't that a fair representation of his argument?
And it's a fine one.

But it's not the debate we're having! We're arguing if theology CAN add morality, in theory. It was hardly expected that we would prove the existence of a higher law to do so.

And so, in the not-quite-gotcha, my opponent has implicitly suggested that IF there WERE a higher law, then it WOULD add morality, my exact position.
Surely were it otherwise, they would have said that it did not matter whether there was proof or not that a higher law existed, for it would add no morality either way.

Instead, they feel the need to argue that there's no proof such a law has been given, in implicit recognition of the fact that if it HAD BEEN given , it WOULD have increased how much morality we can have.

But that is MY position, not THEIRS. I repeat, I argue not that there necessarily IS a higher law, but that if there WERE, it would increase how much morality we can have.

You've heard it from both sides now, ladies and gentleman: if only there were a higher law, it would increase how much morality we can have. The debate is done.

Morality: what is right and wrong.

The case has already been laid before you, ladies and gentleman, produced quite adequately by both myself and my opponent!
Humans will produce their own answers to what is right or wrong.

Brilliant! What shall we call it? What a useful idea; it simply must have a name.

Moral relativism, perhaps? I do love to coin a phrase.

The addition of a universal law can only re-establish morality where it has been dissolved. Where my opponent has said people may do whatever they please and it's moral, we can now say that people MUST DO WHAT IS MORAL if they wish to be moral. And a knowledge, a steady and sure, unchanging knowledge of that morality might come from above.

And so stands the point: We can NOT have as much morality without a God as we can have with one


MaxLamperouge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


We've spoken of this in distinctly philosophical terms

Allow me to bring it home with some more practical application.

Consider first, the opposition, a quote from a Dr. Richard Dawkins:

"The most successful speaker, I think, on the archbishop's side was actually an atheist, and he made the point that although he was an atheist, he said that people need religion, and I thought that was what won the floating vote over: People need religion, even though religion is false. He was the last speaker, so there was no chance to reply to that, but if I had a chance to reply, I would have said, "What a patronizing, condescending thing to say: 'We intellectuals are too intelligent to need religion, but you hoi polloi, you ordinary people down there, you need religion.'" What a patronizing, condescending thing to say. Nevertheless, the evidence seems to be that insofar as there were people won over by a speech, it was the speech by that atheist."

It is an interesting thing to note. For all his "I love truth" posturing, when it comes to a point like this, Dawkins abandons any attempt to comment on the TRUTH of the claim, falling back on philosophically irrelevant, emotionally-charged attacks about how insulting the claim is.

Let us grant him his claim! Let us confess that it IS insulting and condescending! But now we're still left with the question, is it true?

Well, I'll see your Dr Dawkins and I'll raise you a Benjamin Franklin:

"think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc'd and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security; And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it."

I second the point. There is many a theist turned atheist who yet maintain the morals of their youth. A close self-examination may lead them to realize that they have a greater tendency toward uprightness than their atheist-from-childhood counterparts.

I much prefer Benjamin Franklin's sentiment, as a commentary on truth. It well may be an insulting thing to say, but insofar as it is true, we have at stake the morality of generations, and the suffering which may come from a lack of that morality. Let us value that suffering sufficiently to not stop thinking, just because a claim seems distasteful.

Some few there are who would have restrained themselves from crime, if they were believers, some very great many who would have paid stricter heed to honesty and consideration, were things otherwise.

Furthermore, I know of at least one case, where one restrained themselves from suicide on the basis of believing it to be a sin.
One might ask, on what grounds it was necessary for religions to include this teaching in their creeds, and we must naturally suppose it is because there WAS a need, there WAS a group of people whom they hoped to affect by affecting the stance, a group who might have taken their lives, but were influenced by the moral teachings of religion to hold on a bit longer.

It is also worth noting, to what degree a happy person is a good person. Desperation can drive one to dastardly action, if there is no consolation to maintain one's strength of psyche.

Religion provides community support, and comfort in desperate times. These are indirect, not direct supports for morality, as they contribute to general happiness, and in this way cut out from under it part of what motivates people to err from within the midst of agony.

Indeed, studies have listed the correlations with happiness, and found that religiosity has a moderately strong correlation with happiness, buttressing the anecdotal claims of comfort and support.

By means both direct and indirect, religion contributes to a moral society. It mandates morality and holds out happiness.

As also, it counters the inevitable failings of moral relativism; it provides an unshifting philosophical basis for appeals to a higher morality than the individual's whim.


MaxLamperouge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
83 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by vi_spex 5 months ago
religion is wrong, never right
Posted by godtraitor 5 months ago
Need votes guys! Come take a look!!! Are moral codes from God subjective?
Posted by MaxLamperouge 5 months ago
Posted by Bound_Up 5 months ago
It is done, MaxLamperouge
Posted by Heirio 5 months ago
"People have many beliefs and morals which are all different, but this does not mean that there is not one true set of morals."

How would you define "one true set of morals"?
Do you mean the set of morals God has?
Or do you mean the set of morals all people can agree on?
Posted by MaxLamperouge 5 months ago
Hey Bound_Up I will accept if you change the character limit to 8000.
Posted by MaxLamperouge 5 months ago
Ah, I see your argument now!
I understand your point of view, and I came across it wrong.
People have many beliefs and morals which are all different, but this does not mean that there is not one true set of morals.
If there is a God (religion), then there is only one true set of morals.
If there is no God, then there are only conflicting opinions on what is right and wrong.
Does that make more sense?
Sorry if I was wrong or unclear.
Posted by Heirio 5 months ago
I gave my definition of morality; the principles one has concerning right and wrong.

You argument is a bit odd. I'm not sure if I completely understand it.
But I'll try my best (on ma phone).

You seem to.imply that Christianity gives Christians sets of morals and that these sets of morals are universal for Christians.
Atheists, lacking belief in any religion, don't necessarily lack the morals the Christians have, but rather lack the basis. So our basis for morality is not solid, whereas yours is.

That is how I am seeing your argument.

This is flawed in a few ways, as the Bible is open to many interpretations. It also implies that Christianity gives Christians a certain set of morals, which is easily disproven via the KKK and Martin Luther King Jr. Both parties are Christian, yet both have fundamentally different views on how black people should be treated.

Also, it implies that the morality which Christianity apparently gives people is constant in that it doesn't change; it is solid, unlike the morality of atheists, according to you.
This is also easily disproven if we compare Christians from the Tudor times to Christians today. Catholics then (like Mary Tudor) thought it moral to burn protestants at the stake. Many Catholics now are completely against the burning of anyone.

If I have interpreted your argument incorrectly, please say.
Posted by Bound_Up 5 months ago
Do you accept the debate, MaxLamperouge, or should I find another?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 5 months ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Con ff many times, so conduct to Pro.