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Considering Everything, Religion has had a Good effect on the world

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/6/2019 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 860 times Debate No: 119783
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
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This debate is not about whether there is a God, Whether Jesus is God, Whether Christianity is the best religion, Whether Eastern religions are better than Western religions, Etc. , Etc. Neither is it about any particular religious texts or doctrines.

Please allow me to further restrict the scope of this debate to the Earth and to non-fiction (yes, Religion and religious texts are found under the 200 section of the Dewey Decimal System for non-fiction).

=== End DISCLAIMER ===

Round 1 is to accept and discuss the thesis and it's definitions. Other rounds are for arguments and rebuttals.

=== Official Debate Thesis with definitions ===
Considering everything, Religion has had a good effect on the world.

--- "EVERYTHING" --- I refer to an expansive outlook that takes into account all times, Peoples, Places, And events.
--- "RELIGION" --- I refer to deist, Theist, And non-theist faith traditions that pronounce moral mandates (like "do this" or "don"t do that") on individuals, Families, And society.
--- "GOOD" --- I refer to a positive ethical valuation of the practical effects (outcomes, Behaviors, Results) of religions and their mandates.


If people are good only because they fear punishment, And hope for reward, Then we are a sorry lot indeed. " ~Albert Einstein

The term religion is used here to refer only to the dominant, Especially Western, Dogmatic, Organized religions, And does not imply the esoteric religious traditions that do have a positive impact on the world.

The term negative- the negative ethical views and values of religion upon today's society
Debate Round No. 1


Opening Arguments

1 === Cultural Morality
"Morality" (1) has not been exactly the same everywhere and forever. However, There has been significant commonality across centuries, Continents, And peoples (2).

But for this debate, The exact morality in question is not relevant, Nor is it relevant whether you or I agree with its tenets. Each time and place is allowed to establish its own cultural morality, And then to maintain it. Further, Every society HAS defined and enforced a cultural morality.

2 === Mandatory
Populations do not follow moral codes spontaneously. Some mechanism is needed to establish and maintain "moral behavior. " This is self-evident. To argue otherwise would be to say that laws and police forces are unnecessary today.

3 === Primacy of Religion
Religion has been the primary mechanism for establishing and maintaining the moral mandates of each time and place. Religion may not be needed to make people good NOW. Religion may not have been the ideal way to make people good THEN. Religion may have been used as a COVER for mundane (ie, Not supernatural) power interests.

Nevertheless, Religion WAS IN FACT the primary style by which people were made and kept GOOD across the centuries:
--- Religion was used to teach children about right and wrong
--- Religion was used to persuade adults to follow "moral" behavior
--- Religion was used to punish "immoral" behaviors
--- Religion was cited by everyone (clerics, Civil leaders, Parents, Other kinship relations, Etc. ) to encourage moral behavior

4 == Summary #1
For almost all of human history, Religion was the tool used to engender (coerce? ) people to behave morally. By this, Religion has had an overall GOOD effect on the world.

(1) By "morality" I mean an overall code of conduct put forward by a society
(2) A common morality can be found by an internet search of "golden rule equivalents. " Or you can review "The Abolition of Man" (1943) by C. S. Lewis for a good review of common morality, Which the author calls "the Tao. "


We can debate whether prosperity and peace lead people to be less religious or vice versa. Indeed evidence supports the view that religion thrives on existential anxiety. But even if this is the case, There"s good reason to suspect that the connection between religion and malfunctioning societies goes both ways.

Think corporate personhood. Religions are man-made institutions, Just like for-profit corporations are. And like any corporation, To survive and grow a religion must find a way to build power and wealth and compete for market share. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity"any large enduring religious institution is as expert at this as Coca-Cola or Chevron. And just like for-profit behemoths, They are willing to wield their power and wealth in the service of self-perpetuation, Even it harms society at large.

In fact, Unbeknown to religious practitioners, Harming society may actually be part of religion"s survival strategy. In the words of sociologist Phil Zuckerman and researcher Gregory Paul, "Not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, Progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity. " When people feel prosperous and secure, The hold of religion weakens.

As it is, It is sickening and amusing how people are turned against each other and forced to contempt view which lead to corruption and dishonor between systems as well as people.

If religiosity is the key to the understanding of human nature and our place in the Universe (or wherever we are), Then this is particularly troubling to the skeptic. Yes, "Why does God let bad things happen? " is a well-worn and simplistic argument, But the fact of the existence of numerous bloody religious conflicts throughout history"including those between differing sects of Christianity"combined with the aforementioned Biblical references to the many types of offenders that should be put to death, Cannot simply be waved away. Not only is killing for any reason obviously morally wrong, But there"s a direct conflict with the First Commandment, The Christian doctrine of turning the other cheek, And the simple truth that religion and politics"that other great cause of violent conflict"should not be mixed.

Indeed, Even those who do not believe in a deity should still be able to agree that the core values of most religions"respect for one"s fellow human beings, Striving to be a good and worthwhile member of society, An agreement not to steal, Cheat or murder"are basic human values that it is the responsibility of every parent on Earth to instill in their children. This does not, However, Necessitate the existence of a Creator who enforces these values upon us; nor does the atheist assertion of a lack of said creator imply that we do not have a duty to lead moral lives.

Such in the end religion is a messed up form of monarchy and ruling driving us apart as humans and people.
Debate Round No. 2


You did not rebut my opening arguments at all. I take that to mean that you agree with them. Please see my rebuttals to your Round 1 & 2 Points.

A === Einstein Quote
I submit to Einstein's wisdom and confess that yes, "we are a sorry lot. " I stated in point 2 of Round 2, "Populations do not follow moral codes spontaneously. " All the wars (economic, Political, And religious) support the "sorry" designation of humanity. Many individuals are naturally good, But there are enough who aren't making external morality needed. For most of time, Religion has provided this moral framework.

Others say "religion is a crutch. " Humanity has always been broken, So we NEED a crutch. It is idiotic to reject a crutch if your leg is broken. Still, I do not agree with this saying because "a crutch" suggests small, Slow, And individual support. Religion has been more like "a train, " providing huge, Rapid, And society-wide support.

B === Comparing Institutions
It is relevant to compare religions with corporations. . . And families, Governments, And science. But your points are dubious.

--- B1 --- "Harming society" as a "survival strategy"
Institutions do not need to create problems because the world is already full of them. The true test of an institution's benefit is geologic time. Over centuries, Useless institutions are relegated to the waste bin of history. Only those that consistently solve problems pass the test of time.

The Roman Empire is a good case study. At first it was beneficial. That it fell apart suggests its benefits dried up or was too hard to maintain.

The institutions we have inherited must have continued to be beneficial to survive. Even if you feel religions are horrible now, They clearly provided benefit for 5000+ years. That sounds like an overall positive impact to me.

--- B2 --- "In the end, Religion is a messed up form of monarchy driving us apart"
Your Round 2 points do NOT lead to or support this conclusion, And false on all points. Religions are very organized. Religious power usually has been diffuse. Religion mostly brings populations together (see next regarding war).

C === Religious Killing
It is necessary to distinguish between 2 kinds of religious war/killing.

--- C1 --- Specific religious direction, Including Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Etc, Demanding war/killing early in their founding. Religion is FULLY responsible for this.

--- C2 --- Claimed support, Including most "religious wars": Moors, Crusades, Conquistadors, Etc. Religion is only PARTIALLY responsible for this. The Moors and Conquistadors "converted" conquered peoples, But that was secondary to the conflicts behind wealth. The Crusades were outwardly religious, With a large covert interest in power and riches.

While both categories count in the negative column, They are minuscule in our consideration of "everything. "

D === Morality can exist without religion
I agree, But this is not relevant to this debate. This is about the effect of religion, Not its necessity.


First let me clarify,
The reason for the lack of rebuttals, Was I needed to state my point, Before answering to yours which I have done down below. It has nothing to do with me agreeing or disagreeing with any statements or view. If that is wrong please let me know.
and as to your request for rebuttals. . . Here they are:

===They clearly provided benefit for 5000+ years.

Try to name wars / conflicts which do not have religion as a root cause. There are a few, But the majority of conflicts in human history have for their genesis a difference in religious beliefs between the warring. This is exactly the same as one child hurting another because he perceives the action as one in which his invisible friend approves. While religion was not the only cause, It was the primary cause, If not, Then it played a huge role into the war.

=== Mandatory

These religions are giving people teachings that were man made to control people and to scare them, All they exist for is financial gain full stop. Following catholic, Church of england and other christian religions will get us knowhere the bible was fabricated by king constantine the great in 325 ad, He along with others saw an opportunity to control his subjects by inventing stories to make a bible? At the time hardly anyone could read or write so the stories were passed down by word of mouth.

==== Religion was used to persuade adults to follow "moral" behavior
Religion was used to punish "immoral" behaviors

I've noticed truly moral people regardless of being religious or not will do good or the right thing just for the sake of doing it. Religion teaches the exact opposite. . . To do good and receive a reward or do bad and receive punishment. All in all, Belief in what we don't know isn't the problem, It's making things up which we already know and continuing with the immoral teachings.

===Religion may not be needed to make people good NOW. Religion may not have been the ideal way to make people good THEN. Religion may have been used as a COVER for mundane (ie, Not supernatural) power interests.

Your statements here cancel each other out. Either way religion was not the right way to discipline human. Feeding one fear and false beliefs for one or a group of people to gain power is (being blunt) stupid.

==="religion is a crutch. "
The only problem with any crutch is when it is used beyond the point of health, In which case any crutch ceases to help and starts to hurt. So, Do some people use religion TOO MUCH, To the point where it hurts their mental and psychological health? I'd argue that anything has its abusers. We need only look at religious extremists to know that sometimes, Yes, Religion does cause great harm.

In conclusion,
Based upon moral view religion has had more of a negative effect upon people, Because while humanity is broken, One must understand, Religion was one of the things that pushed it to the ground in the first place.
Debate Round No. 3


0 === What are we debating again?
Some religious people are bad; some non-religious people are great. Some religious people are great; some non-religious people are bad. This debate is NOT about your clear hate for Christianity. We are arguing about the overall effect of all religions thru time.

3 === Effects of Religion
My position is that religion has done more good than harm. A wise man recently said that religion exists "to make bad men good, And good men better [great]. " Stories abound of terrible non-religious people becoming good/great religious people.

No one has been made worse by becoming religious.

A === The Crutch and Its Replacement
I think you make a reasonable point about crutches: it "ceases to help and starts to hurt" when used too long. How do you know when this time comes? For people, It is when the body heals itself and the broken bone is fused. But what about for humanity? Has the brokenness of humanity been resolved? I point to modern wars, And to common rape, Murder, And violent crime as evidences that humanity is still broken. So, The point of putting off the crutch has not yet come. I submit that it will never come--humanity will always be "sorry" as per Einstein.

Many people think that religion is no longer needed because we have a functioning moral society governed by laws and governments. In effect, Institutions like schools, Welfare services, Courts, And community centers can fill the roles that religions have done thru history. This is an attractive position for religion-haters, But a number of studies shows major flaws in this thinking.

One example is the book "Liars and Outliers. " It investigates ways to get people to behave and obey laws. Its fourth conclusion is that people still need external morality. While these modern institutions have a place in creating a moral society, The book says "moral and reputational pressures" (which religions do best) are "still responsible for most of the cooperation in society. "

C === Non-religious Wars
You said, "try to name wars/conflicts which do not have religion as a root cause. "

Here is an effortless list of modern wars that are not religious with the [real causes] in brackets:
--- Iraq War [politics]
--- Rwanda Genocide [ethnic]
--- Gulf War [economic]
--- Korean War [communism]
--- Vietnam War [communism]
--- WW2 [power]
--- WW1 [politics]
--- US Civil War [union/slavery]
--- French Revolution [politics]
--- American Revolution [politics]

With a little help from the internet, Here are other non-religious wars:
--- the Napoleonic Wars [power]
--- First Sino-Japanese War [politics]
--- War of the Roses [power]
--- Norman Invasions [power]
--- Roman Expansion [power]
--- Peloponnesian War [politics]

In ancient history, I think it's very easy to claim that most battles were tribal. Since most/all religions have been larger than tribes, It is not likely that tribal conflicts were religiously based.


==This debate is NOT about your clear hate for Christianity. We are arguing about the overall effect of all religions thru time.

I apologize if I made it seem as if I had a "clear hate for Christianity". My intentions were none of a sort. I am an atheist and my arguments were based upon the most widely known and practiced religion- Christianity- to make my point clear. If that was making you uncomfortable I sincerely apologize.

==No one has been made worse by becoming religious.

Let me start by saying, That is a completely contradicting statement. Religion is affecting us little by little. Sure we all didn't start out as amazing people, But over time our religious beliefs have limited us from becoming as compassionate or accepting as we should be. Take the LGBTQ+ community for example, We have isolated them, Or labeled them as "sinners" or "awkwards" (depending which religion you are implying) because of beliefs or "rules" from an non-existent being up there "telling us" what we should or should not accept. Or something as small as my Indian parents steering clear of certain food because they are not "acceptable" in our culture, When they may have health or fitness benefits. In they end we have become worse due to religion in a more broader sense than we expect.

C === Non-religious Wars

While I did ask you to name such wars, I did add that religion may not be a primary cause, But I was one of them. Most of the wars which you have stated, Did at one point being involved with, Or were cause by religious differences. And while the war would not have just disappeared with no religion, Some levels of such a war would have decreased, Even if it was just a little. Now, You can argue that its human nature that causes war to be brutal and I agree, To some extent. Like I said before religion is one of the thing which pushed humanity down, And caused certain views to come from certain people.

== The Crutch and Its Replacement

Religion is a like a crutch, Of some value to the lame, But a hindrance to the healthy. One does NOT NEED RELIGION to HAVE MORALES. If you CANNOT tell RIGHT from WRONG, You LACK EMPATHY, NOT RELIGION. The idea of a God or Religion was used to explain the unexplainable, An escape from reality, It "soothed our minds". That was ok, Till an extent though. But then it became an absolute power, And absolute power ALWAYS CORRUPTES. But moral and religious pressures are NOT always the best way to go about something. While it will not be easy there are ways to get PEOPLE TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES, Believe it or not.

In the end "Religion does three things effectively: Divides people, Controls people, And Deludes people. "
Debate Round No. 4


=== Refuting your claims
You keep mentioning that a person can be moral without being religious, But this is totally irrelevant to this debate.

--- "Religion. . . Divides people"?
Due to geographic obstacles, Religions grew up isolated from each other. During this Isolation Phase, Religion provided the major benefit of UNITING a population around a common morality. Much later, Populations with different religions began to interact. In this Mixing Phase there are examples of both religious division and religious tolerance. Much later, Nations began to merge with religions. During this National Phase, There are examples of divisions a) between nations of the same religion, B) between nations of different religions for religious reasons, And c) as noted last round, Between nations of different religions for purely non-religious reasons.

Throughout all phases, The UNITING effect still prevailed within nations and religions. In the Mixing phase and a minority of the National phase, Division was a minor effect. Overall, Religion has done much more uniting than dividing.

--- "Religion. . . Controls people". . . For good
Yes, Religions have always exercised social and formal pressure, Which you may call control. Modern secular ideologies are very similar to religions in this way. The primary reason modern philosophies attack religion is because they don't like to compete for control. Each institution is attempting to "control" people to follow its version of "morality. "

In Round 2, You accepted "the core values of most religions" as "basic human values. " Application of these values by religion thru history has produced GOOD effects even if you call it "control. "

--- "Religion. . . Deludes people". . . So what
In Round 3 you admit that delusion is not a problem.

--- "immoral teachings"
You mention "isolating" the LGBTQ+ community as an immoral teaching of religions. At worst, This is minuscule negative for a short duration on the historic track record of religion. You also mention "steering clear of certain food, " but this is not a negative at all. If it is, The harm is from consuming animals, Not from abstaining.

=== My Summary
Populations will always need external rewards and punishments to achieve morality. Religion does this better than any other ancient or modern institution. Further, For almost all of human history, Religion was the only tool used to encourage people to behave morally.

You accepted that religions were good before, But you clearly feel they are horrible now. This contradicts two significant modern sources.

Over 200 years ago, George Washington agreed with my position in his Farewell Address. He said religion is "indispensable" to political prosperity because it is the "firmest prop of the duties of citizens. "

In present day, The book "Liars and Outliers" says, "[religious pressures] are still responsible for most of the [moral behavior] in society. "

Considering Everything, Religion has had a Good effect on the world


==Refuting your claims
Morality was practiced, Long before religion came up. Such, Religion was a diversion and is a hinderance to people who express morality. Religion drew us away from seeing and/ or learning to rely upon our judgement which is really only how we can seem to be 'human'.

== "Religion. . . Divides people"?
Some researchers at the University Of Central Florida have actually have researched such a topic, They found that local religious rituals helped to forge strong small scale community links which delayed the development of large state institutions.
The scientists were studying the period from approximately 700BC to 250AD and found elites came to dominate religious life and controlled the connection between communities and their gods - leading to conflict with traditional community leaders. Such, DIVIDING people amongst each other for some beliefs of the "supernatural".

==--- "Religion. . . Controls people". . . For good
During many points in history, Was religion used in the wrong way. Notice that Europe was kept in the Dark Ages for centuries because a power elite " consisting of the kings, The noble class and the church hierarchy " used religious doctrines to get the people to accept that their lot in life was inevitable, Even mandated by God. Such the system of Hierarchy and Tyranny at some, If not most points in History, Was controlled and caused by rational beliefs of a Remote God.

I accepted that the core values of religion as SIMILAR to basic values of a human being. Saying so the Church or Temples, Etc. Are not needed to enforce such practices or beliefs. For we have Judgement, Character, And Law for that. And it may not work for everyone, Nothing ever does, But similarly religion is not always able to provide"good judgement" for everyone, Everywhere, All the time.

=="Religion. . . Deludes people". . . So what
I have stated that it COVERS for such acts, But never stated if it was or was not OK to do that.
"So What? "- As humans the one thing we all deserve is the truth, No matter how Sad, Or disturbing it may have been for the individual to have found out. Delusion is never right, No individual has the given right to trick someone into submission.

== "immoral teachings"
Isolating people for being who they are is not a "minuscule negative". As for food, Sure it depends on ones point of views or choices, But my point was, That we may be forced into stuff we do not perceive as our "wants" because of our religion, Even if it may be good for us.

==Your summary
the population will need rewards or punishments to achieve morality, But religion is not answer. Religion is an ancient "institution' used to teach one of the ways of "god". I have accepted Religion was an asset at one point, But the point is long gone and it rather has become something of a "nuisance" upon us.

Great thinkers such as Christopher Hitchens, State the clear nonessential being of religion:
"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Red_Fox 3 years ago
If you were confident in your claims, Then you would test them in debate.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Nothing "good" strictly comes from religions. That religions wipe nonreligious people out and people are forced to say they are religious even if they are not in order to live in societies doesn't give you the ability to say all goods have happened because of your religion.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
You can't sacrifice people to Gods without religion.

You can't suicide yourself into a tower to try to get into heaven without Religion.

You can't sell indulgences and escapes from your sin without something to sin toward.

You can't justify every war against every one without God. You can cook up scenarios, But those scenarios are far easier to question.

You can't justify mutilating the genitals of the young without saying that the perfect God created them for you to mutilate.

Justifying having sex with newlywed wives because God commanded it to be so.

It's about motivations for bad actions. It's easy to point to hundreds or thousands of justifications of terrible deeds via religion.

Name me 1 thing a religious person can do that is good that a nonreligious person wouldn't do. You can't.

TBH I have little interest in debating things with you after our current environmental debate. I'm unsure if you're just intellectually dishonest or if you really require 100% accurate numbers to problems before you believe they exist, And constantly misinterpret causal links. I'm not sure yet. I have yet to see an ounce of charity from you towards the position 98% of climate scientists believe. (and believe more strongly the more credentials they have) Your opinion on this seems to just be "I don't believe scientists because they don't have 100% accurate predictive measures of the total cost to the world undergoing a massive climate shift. " On top of that, You constantly misinterpret the data I do throw your way. It's such a weird position to take it seems like you're just denying for the sake of denying.
Posted by Red_Fox 3 years ago
Thoht, I welcome a debate on these topics. I am not at all convinced that you can find support for your claims

It is not clear that any negatives are "unique to religion. "

It is not impressive to say that religion's "positives" were "possible without religion. " The fact is that religion did provide them.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Who can really say what the world would look like without religious persecution of the world and each other?

All I can say for certain is that the negatives unique to religion would be eliminated, And the positives are all possible without religion.
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