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Without God there is no reason of morality

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,238 times Debate No: 14776
Debate Rounds (3)
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Without God there are no morals
This will be my first debate. So far I am disappointed in the weak attempts to prove gay marriage is wrong, but that is for another day. I begin my debating career with the strong and daring statement: without God there are no morals. Everyone who does not believe in God and some who do will undoubtedly object to this. Remember, I am not saying people who do not believe in God have no morals, but the God is the reason for their moral standard. My opponent will attempt to show that morality can exist without God. I will mainly push for consistency from my opponent.

Definition of morality* – conformity to the rules of right conduct (morals)
- A person stealing money is acting immoral, while a person giving money to another who needs it is acting morally.

*As if there was a need to define it.

C1: Without God, there exists no reason for morality. Morality is then unreasonable and non-existent.


First of all, I thank my opponent for bringing this debate to DDO. Due to a personal situation beyond my control, my last debate did not go well. Hopefully, my life will keep itself in order long enough for me to fulfill this obligation and complete this debate. May the best man win!

For the time being, I accept my opponent's definition of morality, as it doesn't appear to suggest anything untoward. And there is, of course, a need to define the term. If one's definition had included something about religion, then I would've started there first. ;) I don't particularly like the example my opponent provides, but it isn't material to his argument, so I'll let it go unless it becomes an issue later.

I do, however, wonder if my opponent is speaking of *all* gods, or just "the" God, which I would take to mean the Judeo-Christian God. This is of great importance to the debate, since he is claiming that all morality comes from that one source, and therefore must be universal in order to make his argument work.

This debate requires me to write in essay form. I hope that my readers can forgive me. However, I find contentions to be inappropriate considering the way my opponent has presented the debate. He's given me little hint of his advocacy. This may become an issue later on, but I'm hoping it won't.

My opponent asserts not only that morality cannot exist outside of God's influence, but that if there is no "God," then morality is both unreasonable and non-existent. He's set himself up with quite a burden already, and I don't think he'll be able to meet it. Allow me to explain.

First and foremost, of course there are rules of right conduct outside of a religion. Furthermore, people have plenty of reason to conform to them outside of non-secular guilt. Let's start simple. We all, on a regular basis, adhere to the rules of the road, yes? But, you would be hard pressed to attribute our stopping at stoplights to God. State statutes are created, at least in this country, by a secular government in order to ensure public safety, and that concept can clearly exist outside of religious belief (see every social contract known to man). We follow rules of right conduct constantly without the divine being involved.

But let's go deeper, to the core of moral beliefs. My opponent has alleged that even atheists and agnostics pull all their moral knowledge from the element of the religious in their environment, and that no fully atheist community could possibly conceive of right and wrong conduct. That's a huge burden of proof laid on my opponent, and though he can produce every example of moral code he pleases from any number of scriptures, none of that would serve to prove that morality is born exclusively from God.

I would present a different picture, one of anthropological evolution in which religion can influence morality, but doesn't have exclusive rights to it. Human beings have instincts, just like any other animal. We seek to survive, and we do so using all of the tools at our disposal, and that includes our unique ability to rationalize a situation and adapt, unlike our other animal counterparts. This most clearly explains the fact that codes of conduct are not universal across societies. If, truly, morality was born of a single God, as my opponent suggests, we would not see such moral diversity amongst people in the SAME community, much less across different cultures. Religion is one way to dress up why we should, as people, follow the codes of conduct within a society. However, not all of these codes could possibly stem from a single being. In fact, it would seem that most moral codes that can be attributed to religion can, on a genetic or instinctual level, be traced straight back to genetics and the need for the species to survive. After all, that's what religion is, isn't it? A method by which to explain seemingly unexplainable natural phenomena? Religion helps us to cope with the rationalization of death. It helps us (in some cases) to be more altruistic and help our fellow man. It explains the origins of our universe, and why bad things happen to good people. Religion is merely a method of imposed rationalization for things that already existed outside of it. I would argue that most people know, inexplicably, not to kill other people. Is religion the only reason most of the population (with the exception of some very disturbed people who make up a vast minority of the human race) adheres to this basic rule? Doubtful.

But, thus far, we've only talked about why it is that populations can find codes of conduct outside of God. Obviously, they can, and have, for millennia. Let's talk about why morality, whether via God or not, is not irrational. Take John Locke, for instance. He maintains that people who do not preserve their species (unless it comes into direct conflict with personal rights fulfillment or individual survival) as much as possible have entered into the domain of irrationality. Again we go back to our animal instincts, and our genetic desire to see our kind flourish. Granted, I'm taking stabs in the dark at this point because my opponent didn't actually tell us why morality is irrational or non-existent. He just said it must be, so we are to assume it is…? However, if we look at the definition of rational, which is:

(1)Agreeable to reason, reasonable, or sensible;
(2)Having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense.

we see that my opponent needs to prove to you why furthering ourselves as individual organisms or our species as a whole is always unreasonable, insensible, or unsound. He then has to link that irrationality to the lack of God influencing our morality. He then has to prove that morality doesn't exist, which I assume means that he will maintain that God doesn't exist, so morality cannot.

Where I'm really hoping this doesn't go is straight to "well, if every moral code we have is meant to further ourselves or our species, then why is it even good or rational to do that?" My preemptive answer (though I hate giving defensive arguments) would be that it is reasonable because it is what all living organisms, from amoebas to grey whales, want to do (it's in our very nature to do so). We use reason to further that one goal, at the end of everything. And I would also tack on that not all reasonable decisions which further the species inherently create life. They will usually save existing life, but if we take the practice of polygyny, for example, that is a rational, secular code of conduct that actually seeks to decrease new life.

My opponent is, I think, attempting to paint morality as a bad thing because, in truth, his definition of morality only adheres to a single set of morals (my guess from the gay marriage comment being right-wing Christian American morals). Unfortunately, that's not what morality is, and that's not what it can be limited to. As an atheist, I would argue that, while I've been introduced to religion-based morality, I've chosen to formulate my ideological foundation based on rational decision-making that is free of God's influence. At that point, I've already won the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting the debate, I assure you, you have not yet won.
I. I am in fact speaking of the Judeo-Christian God. You are an atheist so let us keep it at a debate between and Atheist and a Christian.

II. If an atheist has a right to be non-religious, then so should I. I try not to have anything to do with religion. I hate the word. If religion is simply "a method by which to explain seemingly unexplainable natural phenomena" then I am not religious because atheism (specifically evolution) does the exact same thing. You said, "My opponent has alleged that even atheists and agnostics pull all their moral knowledge from the element of the religious in their environment..." No, atheists and agnostics pull their moral knowledge from God. You may say there is no difference but I disagree. I contend that it was not a religious group that developed morals, but it was God Himself.

III. You have brought up a very interesting point by stating we "If, truly, morality was born of a single God, as my opponent suggests, we would not see such moral diversity amongst people…" But I disagree with this point. First of all, there is a general moral code within all humans. You pointed this out at the end of the paragraph. Everyone, even in the remotest tribes, would agree that it is wrong to kill. Deep down inside, everyone knows stealing, murder, and adultery is wrong. Now, there are specific disagreements within some moral issues. Homosexuality, abortion, etc. are all debated. This is because when humans originally sinned against God (they had free will), their perception of morality (conscience) was damaged. I think this is perfectly rational.

I was purposely saving the reasoning for the irrationality of morals outside of God for this round. It goes as follows:

a1. I will begin with assuming God does not exist
a2. If God does not exist, then the universe came about randomly by chance (in other words, nothing)
a3. If the universe came is based on random chance, then humans are based on random chance.
a4. Human minds are therefore nothing but random chemical combinations.
a5. If ideas are part of the mind, then ideas are random.
a6. If ideas are random, and morality is an idea, then morality is random.
a7. The statement, "morality is random" contradicts morality, because it is a specific standard of right conduct and cannot be random.

There must be an absolute standard for morality. Otherwise its boundary can be increasingly pushed. You could say it is moral for a person to steal money only if they steal from one who is richer than they are. But clearly, by some standard, stealing is definitely wrong. I say it is by God's standard, not society. The society you speak of is based on evolution, which is based on chance (nothing).


I thank my opponent for his timely response, and apologize for the delay in mine.

On I: Sounds like a plan to me.

On II: My opponent makes a point of designating himself as a non-religious Christian, but never bothers to tell us what that means to the debate. When I used the term "religious," I was pretty clearly referring simply to the dichotomy presented by viewing morality as a product of God or not a product of God. As he states, this debate is pretty obviously between a Christian and an Atheist, so I don't understand why this qualifier was even necessary. Furthermore, evolution is not "a method by which to explain seemingly unexplainable natural phenomena" because it's an evidence-based scientific theory of development. Religion was born of our inability to scientifically explain these things. Evolution is the work of credible hypothesizing and the resulting data collection and observation. Furthermore, I'm really hoping that, at some point in here, my opponent intends to prove that God actually exists…

On III: What I pointed out was an instinctual pull based on genetics. All animals exhibit the same species survival traits that human beings doing, but as a Christian you cannot claim that God instilled the same moral code in all other animals, as it would fly in the face of your doctrine (basically, everything "known" about God is clear on the fact that animals do not comprehend moral codes). You also cannot claim that morality is universal, especially not the codes espoused by dogma like the Ten Commandments, because you clearly can't prove that to be true. And, despite your claims that we debate issues like homosexuality and abortion because we are "morally damaged" by Adam and Eve's fall from grace, it's not. You fail entirely to explain the rationale behind this at all. Why, if there is a universal moral code, do we debate moral issues at all? Furthermore, which issues are above debate? I bet I could find examples of entire societies that debate the moral issues which you say are beyond question. Lastly, if things like stealing, murder, and adultery are always wrong, and we know it deep down, then why did God and Moses need to bang out the Ten Commandments in the first place? If that's all imprinted already, no need to mass inform, right? So, unless you are talking about me, an atheist, being informed by God via direct revelation of my moral code, then God had no hand in my ethical development.

On my opponent's "syllogism":

A2. Randomness does not equate to nothing. We see "random" chemical reactions in nature all the time, but the substances that reacted together existed prior to the reaction. Randomly does, on the other hand, obviously imply a lack of intentional design.
A3. To a certain extent, human evolution could be considered random at some points, but that's a gross mischaracterization of evolution. The difference is simply that God didn't go "abracadabra" and a human popped out. The evolutionary constraints that led to human beings were relatively finite in that, based on the environment and the traits that led to maximization of species survival, human development was naturally guided to the stage it has remained at for quite some time.
A4. Again, the use of the word "random" is incredibly misleading in terms of human brain function. The chemical combinations available to the brain are finite and incredibly meaningful to the function of both mind and body.
A5. Sigh…some ideas could be classified as random, such as those in sleep or absent-minded thought. Other ideas, as I'm sure my opponent is aware, are quite deliberate. Has my opponent never planned a trip, or contemplated the frailty of mortal beings, or logged into a computer? Is he suggesting that every thought in the human head is a product of chance?
A6. Morality is hardly random. As I am contending, it is a product of the indirect but powerful link that we have, as animals, to our instincts. Morality is simply our rationalization of our basic genetic urges. Moral systems have taken millennia to develop, and it would be incredibly hard to prove otherwise. Ethics are an evolving system in all societies, much like every other institution formed by humans.

In summation, that whole quasi-syllogism thing that my opponent provides is based on a number of false assumptions that my opponent cannot warrant, even on the best of days.

On the existence of a single, absolute moral standard:

Why does morality need to be universal or absolute? He said something about "pushing the boundaries," My opponent has a complete lack of warrants for this assertion other than the syllogism he provides, which is incredibly inaccurate. Shifting morality is the rule, not the exception, and if my opponent wishes to contradict me on this point, he would basically need to prove that all human beings have operated by the exact same moral code since they were "created." Furthermore, he's encouraging religious hegemony by claiming that the Christian standard is the only absolute moral standard we should follow, but that's another can of worms that we can open if my opponent so chooses.

Bottom line: there are plenty of observable instances that my opponent cannot account for of codes of morality developing independent of the standard that he has set for "God's acceptable moral standard."
Debate Round No. 2


Hold on, you have brought up so many side topics its not even funny. Remember you're trying to defend that morals can logically exist without God. Meanwhile you're attacking other subjects of Christianity, which I do not have a problem with but maybe that should be a different debate. I am not trying to directly prove God's existence. If morals cannot exist without God, and morals exist, then obviously that is some convincing evidence. But again, let's stay on track.

On II: You are missing the point. Christianity is based on scientific evidence as well as revelation. "Religion was born of our inability to scientifically explain these things." I completely disagree with this statement. You have no way to prove this and my faith is not based on such an idea. I believe science confirms God and the Bible. Do not use religion in this debate because both Christianity and Atheism are, in the end, based on assumptions and can never be entirely proved or disproved, which makes them equally valid. In addition, both are quite scientific, I assure you. I'm not going to mess with your ideas of evolution, I will instead use them to confirm my point.

On III: In this section you use everything based on your own worldview and disregard my ideas on genetics, science, evolution etc. I believe evolution is completely faulty so what do your arguments mean to me? But we cannot prove evolution in this debate because that is off topic. I never said God instilled the same moral code in animals, but I believe animals were changed during "The Fall." Again, this is irrelevant to the debate. I will try to prove that a universal code of morals thing a bit later. Still, is this necessary to prove the original argument? You then say I fail to explain the rationality behind The Fall. I do not have time for this and it is not relative to the debate. I already answered the question of why we debate moral issues and the whole Ten Commandments deal. It is because when you sin, your conscience begins to lose its sense of right and wrong. The more you steal, the less guilt you feel. It all goes back to The Fall, which is irrelevant to the main issue.

a2. Now, I could have done al little better in my logical argument. I will improve it now. Chance equates to nothing. If you say I won by chance, you are saying you won by nothing. If you say the world exists by chance, you are saying it exists by nothing (nothing caused it). And chance is random, very random.

a3. Evolution is based on chance. What are the chances that life would form by electricity in a specific mixture of chemicals that just happened to come together by chance and survive to reproduce?* That is pretty amazing for such a random universe. (Oh wait, the universe is not very random... Strange.) Again, everything you say about humans is based on evolution which is based on what? Chance. Nothing. Pretty random.

a4. Thing interesting thing is that the brain is far from random. I wonder how chance has the ability to create such a complex structure. How can this be "meaningful" anyway if the brain is based on evolution?

a5. I'm not saying ideas are random; I'm saying they should if the world is based on chance alone.

a6. Morality is not random; but in a world based on chance, it should be quite random. Then you give your ideas on what morality is. It cannot be our instincts because instinct is based on the chances of evolution. You might say that evolution is based on the environment, but the environment too is based on chance. Then you say ethics are constantly evolving, changing. Why can a person finally change morality and go on a mass murdering spree? Well, it turns out, someone did that. It was called the virginia tech shooting. A very atheistic kid realized there were no basis for morals, existence, rationalism, and purpose in his life and thus starting shooting people before killing himself. I'm not saying any atheist reading this would ever do such a thing, and I do not want to offend my opponent. But this kid realized the lack of basis of all these subjects in his radically atheistic worldview. Really, he was a true atheist.

Why don't I just make an extremely simple argument:
If the universe is based on chance (which means nothing, nothing caused it), and morals are based on the universe, then morals are based on chance, which is really, nothing.

A last argument showing that there must be either a universal code of right and wrong OR no code at all:
If morality is relative, a person can decide what is right for himself. If he believes stealing is right, then he is one of many standards of morality, thus stealing is moral in this specific case. If so, every case could be moral if one conforms to the right conduct of his own ideas. This makes the standard of right and wrong relative to each individual. This means there is no single standard. This means that an idea can be true and not true at the same time, which breaks the rules of logic. Therefore morality cannot be relative. Some say you cannot use logic on relativism, but that would give no case for the position of moral relativism.

I think I improved my arguments as I went on. Anyway, thank you for the debate. I hope readers were convinced by my arguments.


alto2osu forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by MrCarroll 7 years ago
No worries.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
After reading your profile, MrCarrol, I was definitely off in my last paragraph. ;)
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
I couldn't help myself. Game on.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Grape 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro for the forfeit. Con seemed to be winning the arguments but it was never concluded and pro got the last work, so arguments tied.