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Would humanity be better off if there was no religion?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 525 times Debate No: 65524
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I am putting forward the argument that the world would be a better place without religion.

Religion has always been one of the main causes of war in the world. Starting with The Crusades in 1095 which was sanctioned by the catholic church itself and going more recently to the Second Sudanese Civil war in 1983, which is one of the longest civil wars in history lasting for twenty-two years. Roughly two million people have died as a result of that war. Including famine and disease caused by the conflict.
Religion, and people using religion, also advocate bigotry, oppression and ignorance. I believe the symbol of the Klu Klux Klan is a burning cross. I would like to point you to the many pictures of 'christians' holding signs saying, 'burn in hell ' and such, in reference to gay people. I would like you to read about Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh, who was arrested because she was raped and tortured for three years by a 51 year old man. She was then sentenced to death because she removed her hijab in court. Also read about the Sudanese woman, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who was arrested and sentenced to death while she was pregnant because she converted to christianity. I could go on and on with examples of different religions persecuting people for their skin colour, their sexual preferences and their different religions but I think I have gotten my point across.
All in all I think that the world woud be a much better place without religion as a whole.


Religion has made many dark marks on World History. Be it the Crusades or the Inquisition many (including you) have pointed to these moments in history and have claimed that religion has had an overall negative impact on humanity. I would like to say that this is wrong. One cannot merely blame religion for humanities problems off of a few independent events. I will make three points that point to why religion is beneficial to society and a 2 points on why a world without religion would be even worse.

1. Religion (primarily Christianity) has caused a lot of good for Humanity by maintaining order and creating an educational base.

As a human race we tend to focus on the bad parts of something rather than the good parts. For this point I will primarily focus on Christianity since it has been the most influential religion purely based off of the numbers. First, Christianity and religion creates order in a society. During the Middle-Ages Rome was fractured into multiple countries in provinces that were constantly at war with one another. In order for order to be restored, religion (Christianity) was necessary to fill the gap. A strong church in Rome allowed many nations to come together under one banner instead of fighting each other to the death. The benefit of this was the creation of multiple schools of thought (monasteries) where people could go and gain knowledge and an education. The Bible was also one of the first books to be mass produced and used for educational purposes after the invention of the printing press. This growth of education in normal society through religion is a result of religion in everyday life. In the early of colonies of America religion was also used to maintain order over chaos. For example, the reason why the Puritans had much more structured colonies over towns like Jamestown was because religion was the defining factor in everyone's life. In fact, the first anti-slave free colony was founded in Pennsylvania by a Quaker, William Penn, while other non-religious colonies (like Jamestown) reeked of slavery, chaos, and indentured servitude.

2. Religion has allowed for scientific progress and Philosophical advancement

Religion has been an important factor of many great scientists and inventors throughout human history. Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in order to mass produce Bibles for the common man. Isaac Newton focused on the complexity of God's creation and developed the theory of gravity. Louis pasture invented the vaccines, and Albert Einstein (Jewish) all used their faith and religious beliefs to advance scientific progress. The great revolutionaries of our time also used religion as a basis for their actions. The American Revolution was started by men who mostly believed in religion. In fact more than 80% of all the framers of the Constitution had religious ties, and even Thomas Jefferson (A deist) said that religion is part of the foundation of a nation. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior also have led major movements that have changed society for the better, and they were both advocates of religion and used religion to promote peaceful protests.

3. Religion Establishes a Objective Moral Standard

Without Religion the basis for objective moral values all but disappears. For example, objective moral values are promoted in Christianity through the commands of the 10 Commandments. Without a foundation in moral values people can do what they want based off of their conscience. This has sadly led to events in history such as Stalin's reign, Mao's Cultural Revolution, and Hitler's Holocaust. Without religion as a basis for morality everything is acceptable. I would have no right to say whether or not Hitler was wrong or Stalin was wrong because they would be following what is right to them. In fact, if religion were absent we would have a whole lot more war and atrocity because there would be no-one telling these people that they will be judged for their actions. People would be YOLOing their lives because there would not be a belief in life after death and therefore no basis to do good in the life they are living.

Yes, many religious groups have committed atrocity, and I am not condoning the actions of these people. But most of the time these organizations are acting outside of what their religion is trying to establish. The Crusades was an example of how "Christians" used the Bible out of context to kill and murder people, which the Bible does not condone. The true believers of any religion, that follow the peaceful teachings of their scriptures have only positively impacted society instead of destroying it.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Avenger for your acceptance of the debate and your very nice rebuttal.
However I would like to refute all of your points.

On your first point, 'Religion (primarily Christianity) has caused a lot of good for Humanity by maintaining order and creating an educational base'. I am not arguing with that, as you have not argued with my statement, I will not argue with yours. Yes, religion has done some good for humanity. You say that 'Christianity and religion creates order in a society', I will reword that and say that Christianity and religion creates conformity in a society, and it does that through fear and death. Do not do this or you will burn in hell for eternity, do not do that or God will strike you down. The fact that most religions do not have room for diversity is also very relevant in the somewhat explosion of Christianity that happened around the time Emperor Constantin made the official religion of Rome Christianity. More and more pagan temples were destroyed, along with Pagan priests being killed by Christian mobs. Pagan practises became punishable by death, Emperor Theodosius even had children killed just because they were playing with the remains of Pagan statues. Emperor Charlemagne ordered the beheading of four thousand and five hundred saxons because they would not convert. This lead to three years of more war. In 15th century Poland one thousand and nineteen churches and seventeen thousand, nine hundred and eighty seven villages plundered by Knights of the Order. I do not have the recorded amount of victims for that particular atrocity. I could really go on and on but my point is that yes, Christianity did create another order in society, but at what cost? There was also another order before Christianity, it was not the case that before Christianity we were all savage beasts. Also, in this day and age, religion is really not what gives order to our society, if anything, religion is one of the main reasons for disorder. Economies, families and social interactions are what gives us our modern day society.

Now, onto your second point.
'Religion has allowed for scientific progress and Philosophical advancement'.
Now, I completely understand your thought process on how it seems that religion played a large role in many scientist lives. However, I believe that without religion Einstein, for example, would still have produced the work he did, as would every single one of the great minds you have named. I also believe that the great philisophical and scientific minds through the ages were heavily persecuted by Christianity. This is because, from the outset, philosophers were highly critical of the religion. They found no substantial arguments, and pointed out a number of weaknesses in Christian reasoning. Christians, in turn were very suspicious of philosophy. At best, regarding them as unnecessary and at worst, the work of Satan himself. As soon as Christianity had gained enough momentum, they burned as many philosophy books as possible. This is why we know barely anything about Athiest philosophers such as Diagoras of Melos (known as the Atheist of Milos) and Theodorus the Atheist. Now, it is no secret that Christianity deems women as subserviant creatures. One line in the traditional wedding vows can tell you this, 'I promise to obey', where no such line exists in the male counterpart. The extent of how they felt about this brought the early demise of one of the greatest women this world has ever known. Hypatia of Alexandria, she was a philospher, a mathematician and an astronomer who became the head of The Platonist school at Alexandria, imparting the knowledge of Plato and Aristotle. She was killed by a Christian mob in 405bc and some would argue that that her murder effectively marked the downfall of Alexandrian intellectual life. In 520 the philosopher Boethius became magister officiorum, which means head of all the government and court services, to Theodoric The Great. He was also a man of science and was working on translating all the works of Aristotle in Latin and twinning them with the works of Plato. The king then ordered his execution for politico-religious reasons. Now, onto some of the most famous scientific minds of human history. In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius, decribing his observation he had made with the new telescope, namely the phases of Venus and the Galilean moons of Jupiter. With these observations he promoted Heliocentrism which is the astronomical model that depicts Earth and other planets revolving around a stationary Sun, which we now know to be right. His initial discoveries were met with opposition from the Catholic Church and in 1616 the Inquisition declared that Heliocentrism was formally heretical. Galileo was forbidden to hold, teach or even defend Heliocentric ideas. Galileo was sentended to house arrest which he served for the remainder of his life. Throughout history, mainly the Catholic Church has not helped scientific or philosophical advancement, only hindered it. On your point about Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. Firstly, I do not think either of those great men inherently used religion in what they were doing. Sure they were both religious men, but they were not saying 'you have to be of this religion to do this' they were enforcing the beliefs that any compassionate, caring human being would know. Do you honestly think that they would have not done the same thing if there was no religion? Because I certainly do not and to some extent I think that saying it was only because of religious reasons they did what they did belittle their work. Religion does not make your morals, you do. This brings me onto your last point.

'Religion Establishes a Objective Moral Standard'.
As I said at the end of the latter point, you make your morals, not religion. You are effectively saying that without religion society would crumble and we would all become savages. This is simply untrue, we have an inner moral compass that tells us what is wrong and what is right. When you were a child and had no concept of religion, you still knew that stealing a sweet was wrong. I follow no religion and I know that murder is wrong, I know that stealing is wrong, I know that hurting someone is wrong. In fact I know that things like same sex marriage, and women having equal rights are right which are things that most religions on some level do not believe. Saying that the only reason we have morals is because of religion is on so many levels wrong. This has never been more true than today. Modern life has created many people that do not believe in a god, yet they still have morals. Intertwining your last point, Martin Luther King Jr did not fight for black civil rights because he was a Christian, he fought because he knew the oppression and disgusting treatment of people, just because of the colour of their skin was wrong. Which, may I add, many 'Christians' thought was right. In fact, the people who first founded slavery in America were Christians. Southern America, one of the most Christian parts of America, and I daresay, the world, fought in a civil war, mainly because they thought it was right to enslave men, women and children. Lack of religion did not cause The Holocaust, or Stalins reign at all. That was men being mentally unhinged and genocidal! You could say the same of the Emperor Charlemange that I mentioned in my first point, who beheaded four thousand and five hundred Saxons purely because they would not convert to Christianity. You could say that about the masses of Christians in America that still believe being gay is not right, I certainly would. To summarise this point, you do not need to be religious to have morals, or in fact believe in a life after death and I would say that quite a lot of the immoral things that have happened throughout our history has been because of religion.

I will also disagree with your conclusion, most of the time it has not been people acting outside of their religion, most of the time the killing has been condoned, if not sanctioned by their church/their god. So to say that the 'the true believers of any religion, that follow the peaceful teachings of their scriptures have only positively impacted society instead of destroying it.' is quite wrong. Mostly all of the religious wars that have been fought have been implemented by their churches, as that was how it was done, and just because in the last blink of history religion, especially Christianity, has calmed down does not atone for the atrocities it has caused. As I said, the truly good people would still be good without religion, it is who they are not their religion which defines that.


Thanks for your answer to my question in a polite manner; however, a lot of these points that are brought up can be refuted.

1. My first point still stands under the context of the question.

My point was that religion has been fundamental in establishing educational institutions around the globe for most of the 14, 15,16,17,18, and 19th centuries. As I mentioned monasteries were the first forms of higher education in Europe throughout the 14th century. On top of this most of the Ivy league colleges in America were founded on religious principal and a desire to teach religious principal with practical education. Therefore, religion has been a key factor in shaping the higher education systems that we see today in America and in Europe. You stated that religion has done some good for humanity. So therefore we are merely talking about whether or not the good outweighs the bad here. In this section I am going to refute the claim that religion has been majorly detrimental on the lives of people in early history.

1a. Christianity creates conformity in society
This in itself is simply not true. True Christianity, when based off the Bible, does not advocate for totalitarian or destructive regimes. In fact, the Bible considers conversion to be a matter of free will in reply to the love of God. I will not deny that many "Christian" groups used Christianity to destroy the lives of others but overall the role of Christianity was used to curb hurtful practices. For example, before Christianity came to Rome (in its paganistic and atheist ways)it was much more barbaric then Christianity. Rome is defined as total slave state, meaning that most of the labor and hard work was left to slaves. Much like in Greece where the slave ratio was 2 slaves to every one citizen. This barbaric practice was occurring on a massive scale even before religion came into the picture. In fact Christians of the Roman period advocated for more equal treatment of slaves and talked to slave masters to become more kind and generous to the slaves they did have (Philemon). Emperors like Nero and Caligula killed, murdered, raped, had massive orgies and burned Rome to the ground. These emperors also tortured and killed people of religion because they hated what religion stood for in their grab for power. Religion is a major check on the actions of mad dictators and horrible regimes, and these emperors show how not having a religious check can destroy a civilization. Yes, religion has done these things as well, but not to the degree and not in context of the religion that they are distorting. Also, these pagan temples that were destroyed involved activities such as child sacrifice, forced prostitution and massive sexual perversions, so these pagans were not totally off the hook either. Again, in Poland CHURCHS and Villages were plundered so these Knights of the Order were going against their "own" people that were living a life of peace. Anyway, one can point to civilizations like Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and the Hittites that all committed atrocities that were far more numerous in body count to what religion did in the following centuries. We may not have been savage beasts, but we were pretty close. One can look at how many martyrs Christians have had by non-religious people throughout the centuries, some estimates put these deaths at about 50 million+.

2. Religion, Science, and Philosophy

I will give you the point on Einstein due to the fact that he was not all together religious. However, all the other great minds I have mentioned have been influenced by their faith. When Newton was discovering the creation of the stars and how they were affected by gravity he said this "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." He not only described God as a factor in creating the universe but he also described how God has maintained and managed it as well. The thing is Newton wrote far more religious items than he did scientific, mainly due to the fact that he realized the importance religion brings. The comment on women seems irrelevant to this discussion within this point; however, I believe that I must answer it quickly. Women are defined in the Bible as on par with man God created both man and woman in his own image. The way people misunderstand the Bible is there business, but there are many people that follow the Bible for what it says about woman in the correct way, and thereby give women the respect they deserve. Now you continuously take anecdotal evidence about one or two moments in Christian history and then make assumptions based on this evidence. Of course some people are going to demean others no matter what group you are a part of. Their are eco-terrorist groups that are atheistic but we do not say that all environmentalists are evil. There are plenty of people that are pro-life that blow up abortion clinics without basing their actions off of the Bible and yet we do not consider all pro-life people to be horrible or a drain on society. One cannot merely take 3 people out of 2000 years of history and then claim all Christian or Buddhist or Hindu religion is horrible; that is not fair to those that are trying follow their religion by helping others (i.e. Mother Teresa). Galileo was in fact a CHRISTIAN who wrote a letter to Madame Christina in 1606 declaring that the Church was wrong in its scientific reasoning and that in fact the Bible pointed more towards his scientific discoveries. Galileo was in fact using science and scripture together to make progress on scientific thought. Martin Luther King actively used religion to get their points across, King was a Baptist pastor for heaven sake. Here are a few quotes of King while he was striving for civil equality,

"I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.

"Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can"t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they"ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them."

These quotes depict the life that King is trying to lead in respect to religion, now on to Gandhi,

I am a Hindu because it is Hinduism which makes the world worth living. I am a Hindu hence I Love not only human beings, but all living beings.

Hinduism is a living organism liable to growth and decay subject to the laws of Nature. One and indivisible at the root, it has grown into a vast tree with innumerable branches. The changes in the season affect it. It has its autumn and its summer, its winter and its spring. It is, and is not, based on scriptures. It does not derive its authority from one book. Non violence has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism.

The religious beliefs of Gandhi also allowed him to lead a life of non-violence and respect. This is very much the case in other religions as well like Buddhism, Jainism and Confucianism. These religions are very much full of non-violence and self-sacrifice. Let us not forget that there are other religions besides Christianity that add to this debate.

3. Moral Standard
If you read my statement I did not say that people without religion have no morals. I said that they have no BASIS for them. People like Stalin and Nero, Hitler and Pol Pot wanted to go beyond the moral framework because they had no basis to stay within it. Everyone has an inner moral compass, but it is our decision to choose right or wrong. A lot of the principles of the Bible and of other religions like Buddhism point people towards the good side of the compass. For me Christianity provides a basis for me to live my life in a way that is good and pleasing to a God with absolute morality. A non-religious society would have no basis to believe in one moral over the other. You would not be able to tell anyone that they are wrong since they have their own beliefs that could be just as true as yours. For example, in the Middle East honor killings are considered acceptable in culture. You and I would say this is wrong; however, without a basis for our morals we would not be able to tell them they are wrong and fix the situation. Slavery was not abolished until Western countries moved to abolish it based of moral principles in religion. William Wilberforce caused Britain to abolish the slave trade because it was against moral principle in the Bible. During the time of Stalin and Hitler religion was all but non-existent in those regimes, and what was there was a religion that worshiped the State and the dictator in power. The churches and the mosques have implemented bad practice, but this was against religious principals which stated that one should NOT murder, or rape, or steal. Jesus even said that if you HATE someone you have committed murder in your heart. This man was a man of peace not war. Hindus practice peace not war and Buddhists practice peace not war. Just because some churches condoned wars that were fought does not mean they were following the ethics or the code of their religion. One must look at the religion without looking at the fanatics of that religion as I pointed out in my above statements.
Debate Round No. 2


kitten1504 forfeited this round.


Due to the fact that you have forfeited this round I will rebut some arguments that have gone unanswered and re-clarify some of my main points.

1. Religion is one of the main causes of war.
When history is looked at in the context of all war that humanity has faced religion has played a rather small role in these actions. I will give a list of the top 10 wars of all time with casualty counts and compare them to the top 10 religious wars to prove my point.

World War 2 - 70 Million+ (non-religious: actually an assault against the Jews so an anti-religious war)

Mongol Conquests- 60 Million+ (non-religious)

World War 1- 50 Million+ (non-religious)

Japanese Conquests in 1900s- 20 Million (non-religious)

Russian Civil War- 7 Million (anti-religious)

Napoleonic Conquests- 6 and half Million (non-religious)

Thirty Years War- 5 Million (Partially Religious, eventually turned into a European political power struggle)

Vietnam War- One and a half Million (Non-religious)

Soviet War in Afganistan- 1 Million (non-religious)

American Civil War- 800,000 (non-religious)

The top ten wars of all time as you can see only have one war that was on account of religion and that was only PARTIALLY due to religion. Now on to the top 10 religious wars to compare death tolls.

Top 10 Religious Wars

Second War of Kappel- 700 (yes, 700; religious)

Lebanese Civil War- 150,000 (religious)

Crusades- 500,000-600,000 (religious)

Second Sudanese Civil War- 2 Million (religious)

First Sudanese Civil War- 500,000 (religious)

German Peasants War- 200,000 (religious)

Nigerian Civil War- 1 Million (religious)

French Wars of Religion- (Unknown) Yet projected at under 800,000

Thirty Years War- 800,000-2,000,000

Eighty Years War- Partially Religious, had more to do with Dutch Independence.

Total 6,200,000 Compared to the Top 9 wars against it 215,000,000! This comparison of these wars shows the fact that religion has not made a major impact casualty wise in comparison to other non-religious or anti-religious wars that have taken place in history. People can be bad, no matter if they have a religion to follow or not. A religion does not expand on the problems of society when non-religious people do worse things on their own.

2. Fanatical Groups
Of course there are going to be organizations that pose as Christian or religion yet spill hate. Jesus said to love your neighbor and to turn the other cheek. The groups that deny this principal are not following the religion they claim to be a part of. Also some religious groups are bad no matter how you slice it. Satanists are evil and disturbed and Radical Islamic groups like ISIS are also considered evil by a majority of people, yet this is not the cultural or religious norm of society. In fact as I have stated before many religious groups have peaceful intentions that are shown throughout history. The Mormons are the wealthiest religious group in America, the Jews have the most Noble Prizes, and the Christian religion is the most generous and charitable. All religions have bright shining attributes that make them beneficial to society. People just have to look past the radical factions and take a deeper look at what the religion is trying to say.

All other topics I have already hit in my above statements, so thank you.
Debate Round No. 3


kitten1504 forfeited this round.


In this round I believe that I have no need to continue beating my argument to death. The forfeiting of the third and fourth rounds of my opponent either implies his lack of interest or a lack of further evidence to disprove my evidence. Either situation should convince any spectators to vote for my side. Thank you Kitten for beginning this debate.
Debate Round No. 4


kitten1504 forfeited this round.


I have said all that I think I should say.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by dhardage 1 year ago
Religion gives good people reason to do bad things like killing off the entire population of another tribe so the could occupy their land. Yes, humanity would be better off without religion.
Posted by BioDiver 1 year ago
Gee dang Avenger nice rebuttal!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture