The Instigator
killshot
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Callan
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Best Argument(s) for Mainstream Theism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2019 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 562 times Debate No: 120308
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
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killshot

Con

I will let the contender (pro) go first. Please present one or more of your best arguments for Theism.

I'm intentionally leaving this open so my contender can pick the arguments and religion of their choice.
Callan

Pro

Greetings, I'm looking forward to an interesting discussion.

I'm not picking a specific religion in my argument, Just as you put it, My argument is put forth in regards to mainstream theism.

Humans are self-conscience beings, We know we're alive and we know that someday we'll be dead. Uncertainty about what happens after we die is extremely distressing for many people. A promise for an afterlife where you will be rejoined with your friends and family relieves this distress. It might be a false promise, No one really knows, But obviously it is enough to allow many people to lead happy hopeful lives.

I happen to be agnostic but I cannot say my agnosticism brings me any happiness. Similarly I know many atheists and again I don’t think their atheism brings them any happiness. I do however know religious people who are comforted and strengthened by their religious beliefs.

Debate Round No. 1
killshot

Con

Hello, Thanks for accepting the debate :)

Although your answer is subjective, I suppose comfort is a benefitial side effect of some religious beliefs. I would contend this though with its polar opposite, Hell (depending on the Theism you subscribe to it might be called something else).

Without you choosing an actual religion, This is going to be difficult to respond to. .

I was looking more for reason(s) why Theism is true and should be believed. I'm sorry if I was not clear about that.
Callan

Pro

While I sympathize with your situation, I’m going to stick with the debate as it was put forth. That is, Best Argument(s) for Mainstream Theism. Being an agnostic myself I can hardly argue for reasons why theism is true.

Certainly religion has its negative aspects, Especially among fundamentalist factions. In my estimation fundamentalist or purists in any field is generally a bad thing. For the mainstream though, Which is what we’re discussing, Religion has some very positive aspects. These aspects include community, A sense of purpose, A framework to live life and a hope for an afterlife.

You put this all together and it leads to happiness and gives life meaning for millions of people.

Debate Round No. 2
killshot

Con

That's no problem, I'm more than happy to have this debate too. I was simply clarifying my original intent.

Sure, There are subjective benefits to religious subscriptions. Apologists of religions who practice their religious tenants tend to find security and comfort; however, Does this outweigh the negative impacts they have on society as a whole?

I would argue, No. A sense of community and purpose is not solely a characteristic of religion. People can find a community or individual purpose in many different ways. As far as an afterlife, That would be contingent on religious systems; however, Holding a false belief against all evidence and reason I would argue is nonsensical and placebo at its best.

I totally agree that fundamentalism generally correlates to negative impacts; however, I would argue that fundamentalist theism is not a requirement for negative impacts. Theism in general is an issue, Regardless of how fundamental someone interprets it. Although I do agree with you that theism can provide positive impacts for individuals on a subjective personal level, Like the ones you aforementioned, Those positive effects may have negative impacts on society as a whole.

For example, Religions such as Islam and Christianity, Arguably the two largest present-day theistic religions, Have immoral and antiscientific foundations for their "frameworks" (as you put it). The authoritarian dogmas of their religion guide their principles and beliefs, And are governed by their varying ranges of fundamentalism. Numerous religious people have oppressed or obstructed the advancement of many things in our society on a variety of topics including abortion, Stem cell research, Laws, Advancement of science as a whole, Academia, And others. In addition to this, There is also an inherent threat of terrorism from extremist religious constituents. Their beliefs affect their society and the goals of most theistic religions is to spread and overtake non-believers.

Callan

Pro


I agree that belief in an afterlife might be false, Then again it might be true. Regardless, The fact that it gives many people comfort and a sense of purpose is indisputable. Furthermore, For those who truly believe, This comfort is unlike any other. Depending on the religion it could literally be a hope for immortality in paradise. What does atheism or agnosticism offer that can compare with that? The net result of this belief is happier people and happier people make the world a better place.


As far as religion having negative impacts on society, Certainly there are many instances of this being true. However I defy you to name any large institution that does not have negative aspects for society. Social media has an ugly side with cyber bullying and information bubbling. Healthcare has pharmaceutical manipulators like Martin Shkreli who unjustly drive up prices of medications. There are even unscrupulous charities that line the pockets of the people running them and provide very little money to those they are ostensibly helping. This doesn’t mean we should abandon social media, Healthcare and charities or that these institutions have an overall negative impact on society. It just means that there is good and bad in everything.


I have no idea how you would go about quantifying religions’ positive versus negative aspects, And I’m not sure that’s even necessary for the scope of this debate. I’m just arguing that mainstream religion does bring happiness and fulfillment to many true believers.


Debate Round No. 3
killshot

Con

I agree that belief in an afterlife might be false, Then again it might be true. Regardless, The fact that it gives many people comfort and a sense of purpose is indisputable. Furthermore, For those who truly believe, This comfort is unlike any other. Depending on the religion it could literally be a hope for immortality in paradise. What does atheism or agnosticism offer that can compare with that? The net result of this belief is happier people and happier people make the world a better place.

Like I said previously, Having a placebo effect from a false sense of security does not outweigh the negative impacts religion has on society. The individual benefits are subjective and limited at best. Just because someone feels good about dying does not change the fact that their world views have crippling obstructions to the rest of societal domains. In addition to this, Theism is delusional by definition. All mainstream theisms are anti scientific and require the belief in magic, Which by definition is not aligned with reality (delusional). Most theists are only in the predicament due to indoctrination.

Arguing that other large organizations are proponents of harmful societal impacts does not negate the fact that religious organizations are. Sure, There are lots of other bad organizations – so what? All the kids on the playground are mean so therefore it’s ok to be mean?

I have no idea how you would go about quantifying religions’ positive versus negative aspects, And I’m not sure that’s even necessary for the scope of this debate. I’m just arguing that mainstream religion does bring happiness and fulfillment to many true believers.

I would start by determining what benefits mainstream religions have - aka our debate's subject. What things can individuals get from religion that they can't get from other sources? Are those things benefitial?

Callan

Pro


It seems like the debate has shifted from Best Argument(s) for Mainstream Theism, To a debate on whether religion is good for society. I’m OK with that, I just wanted to point out the shift.


In addressing whether religion is good for society, It makes sense to determine what is necessary for society. I would think it inarguable that among other things, Society needs order. The government imposes this order through law. Religion influences this order through sin.


Before I get into the details, It’s worth noting the difference in the terms I used here, Impose vs. Influence. The reason I chose those terms is that if you break a law, The penalties from the government vary from fines to imprisonment to death. The penalties from mainstream religion for sinning are much less tangible, Perhaps a threat of damnation for true believers. Nevertheless, Sin is an effective tool in providing structure for the lives of many people.


By the way, It’s no coincidence that there is a tremendous overlap between secular laws and religious sins. It all has the same source. It all comes from our natural sense of morality. This stems from humans evolving from community animals. Community animals rely on members of the pack to behave in a manor that enhances the wellbeing of the pack. Individual pack members that work well with other pack members in activities such as hunting, Defending the pack and raising offspring, Get the opportunity to breed and pass along their ‘good’ genes. On the other hand individuals that are anti-social, Overly aggressive, Or otherwise harmful to the wellbeing of the pack are driven off or killed and do not get a chance to pass along their ‘bad’ genes. Millions of years of this process has given us an instinct to be good community members. We call this instinct our conscience.


Now we take all this inherent moral baggage we have ingrained in us and we form societies. This moral baggage then gets codified in our laws and our religions. It is taught to our children and it enhances their natural inherent sense of morality.


So religion has not only been good for society, It is part of the basis of society.


Debate Round No. 4
killshot

Con

I agree there was an unintended shift in the debates subject, But I too am ok with that and I will roll with it. I am enjoying our chat/debate.


You said, "In addressing whether religion is good for society, It makes sense to determine what is necessary for society. I would think it inarguable that among other things, Society needs order. The government imposes this order through law. Religion influences this order through sin. "

I suppose you would have to specify which government and time period we are referring to. The separation of church and state in America was intentionally installed as a proactive measure to remove religious authoritarianism from governmental affairs. It is true, At least in the US where I am from, That religion has no direct influence in government affairs; however, The Cathloc reign was not such a distant past where it was a direct influence, Prior to the foundation of our country. This being said, Religious dogma still finds a way to bleed into politics and law through radical politicians and other religious apologists. Third world Islamic countries are still under the direct influence of Islamic law (Sharia). I would argue that religion does not offer order through sin, Since there is virtually no such thing as an unforgiveable sin. Apostacy, Or turning away from God/not believing is the only punishable sin by Christian theology. Murderers, Rapists, Etc all go to heaven if they believe, According to Christian doctrine. I'm unclear which religion you are referring to when you mention sin, But I assume it's Christianity since it's heavily structured around original sin.

You said "Before I get into the details, It’s worth noting the difference in the terms I used here, Impose vs. Influence. The reason I chose those terms is that if you break a law, The penalties from the government vary from fines to imprisonment to death. The penalties from mainstream religion for sinning are much less tangible, Perhaps a threat of damnation for true believers. Nevertheless, Sin is an effective tool in providing structure for the lives of many people. "

I would totally disagree with this. Religion is littered with useless proclamations of sin. For example, Boiling a baby goat in it's mothers milk is sinful according to Islamic doctrine. Why is this important to know and how does this provide structure for peoples lives? Wearing two types of linen is sinful according to Christian doctrine. Why is this important to know and how does it provide structure for peoples lives? I could list things all day, But the point I am trying to make is that there is nothing people get from religious doctrine that cannot be obtained elsewhere in relation to morality and structure. There is no threat of damnation if the person is a true believer.

You said "By the way, It’s no coincidence that there is a tremendous overlap between secular laws and religious sins. It all has the same source. It all comes from our natural sense of morality. This stems from humans evolving from community animals. Community animals rely on members of the pack to behave in a manor that enhances the wellbeing of the pack. Individual pack members that work well with other pack members in activities such as hunting, Defending the pack and raising offspring, Get the opportunity to breed and pass along their ‘good’ genes. On the other hand individuals that are anti-social, Overly aggressive, Or otherwise harmful to the wellbeing of the pack are driven off or killed and do not get a chance to pass along their ‘bad’ genes. Millions of years of this process has given us an instinct to be good community members. We call this instinct our conscience. "

I totally agree on the evolutionary argument you made, But I disagree that it overlaps religion. Morals are not derived from religion, And religion is certainly not the centerpiece for morality or secular law. Islam advocates domestic violence and murder (apostates and infidels), Which is illegal by secular law. Christianity advocates slavery and mysogeny, Which is illegal by secular law. I could go on, But I'm not trying to bash religion, Just make a point. There are some things that overlap between secular law and religion, But secular law is not derived from religion, Nor does it share a common source, Otherwise we would still be living in a bronze age culture. Religion's moral system is based on divine command theory and it's immutable, Secular morality is based on well being and it's capable of changing with the demands and evolution of society. They are not overlapping or in support of each other.

I look forward to your rebuttals :)
Callan

Pro


I should have specified that since the debate topic was ‘mainstream religion, ’ I’m limiting my arguments to current day United States. One could easily make an excellent argument against religion if you open it up to all religions from all time. Human sacrifice was once very popular among many religions thousands of years ago. As time goes by and society advances, Religion also evolves. The Bible is filled with laws and commands that people no longer follow, If they ever did. For example;

Deuteronomy 21:18-23 American Standard Version (ASV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, That will not obey the voice of his father, Or the voice of his mother, And, Though they chasten him, Will not hearken unto them; 19 then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, And bring him out unto the elders of his city, And unto the gate of his place; 20 and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, He will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, And a drunkard. 21 And all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones: so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, And fear.

No one in mainstream Christianity in the U. S. Is stoning anyone in spite of the biblical command. Mainstream religion does not allow it.

Perhaps I was unclear regarding religion and morality. I don’t think morality initially came from religion, I think religion came from our inherent sense of morality. Nietzsche summed it up in one sentence “Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual. ” When early humans started forming societies, They already had this community instinct. At that time their lives were very precarious, They could easily be devastated by storms or floods or draught or a myriad of other natural events. Since they had no understanding of nature or weather, They attributed bad fortune on the Gods being angry. In order to get on Gods good side, They started making sacrifices. The more precious the sacrifice, The more God would be appeased. I’m sure you see where this is going. Subsequently they made all kinds of rules to keep these gods from becoming angry. This was the origin of early law and early religion.

As I said earlier, As people and societies evolved, Their gods also evolved. Today mainstream religion has very loving Gods, And the teachings of today’s mainstream religion is generally focused to inspire people to be good members of society. I think the overall effect on society is positive.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
missmedic
Gods and the belief people put in them, Don't do anything. One need not own beliefs of any kind to establish scientific facts, Observe and enjoy nature, Or live a productive, Moral, And useful life.
Posted by killshot 3 years ago
killshot
Like @missmedic said, - if you only chose to believe out of fear of possible consequence, You likely don't truly believe it. . Pascals wager is not a good reason.
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
missmedic
Pascal's wager, Like the bible, Does not take into account the fact that belief is not a choice.
Posted by Leaning 3 years ago
Leaning
I've never much cared for Pascal's wager myself. To me that'd be like Beni in The Mummy, Some dozen of so tokens of religions hanging about his neck. I don't mind people going for religion if it makes them happy or if they think it true though.
Posted by zapp 3 years ago
zapp
Pascal's wager might be a good starting point?
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