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The Contender
Con (against)
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"Religion is the opium of the people"(Karl Marx)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/5/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,554 times Debate No: 26907
Debate Rounds (2)
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Karl Marx once said: "Religion is the opium of the people". I totally agree with his statement.
I understand, that religion gives support, help and protection in the face of God.
On the other hand, religion is used in bad ways by some people.


I understand the reasoning of Pro, but I do not accept this view.

I believe that religion is the backbone to the human race irregardless of religion where religion is defined as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs" [1]. It is in this context that all religions are placed, but with different sets of belief systems.

Rather than religion being the "opium" of the people, religion is the key trait a person can withhold in order to understand themselves and others and that there is no way religion can be used to have a negative impact as mentioned by Pro.

Debate Round No. 1


I agree with Con in the definition of religion and in its importance in our lives, but I mentioned about bad influence of some people.

Let's clarify the definition of opium. It's an euphoria-causing narcotic that makes people addictive to it. Karl Marx compared religion to opium for clear purpose. He wanted to show us that religion has a great power over people. Although religion is hope, faith and belief in sacred for people, it also causes conflicts between different religious, controls people and kill individuals.

First of all, people who are very addictive to religion and don't accept other religions are more likely to create conflicts. We can see this from the example of never-ending struggle between Shiites and Sunnies in the Middle East. Even if those types of Muslims are related to one religion Islam, they still have conflicts, because of exuberant involvement into religion and in-depth concern on the differences. Also the war in the former of Yugoslavia in 1990s, when 3 major religious groups have been clashed for gaining stronger power in the region. In this case, religious authorities showed their irresponsibility and used ordinary religious people in the war.

Secondly, "non-traditional" religious organizations use state in order to control people. For example, in the Russian Federation the state and the church have close relationships. In my point of view, some "non-traditional" organizations need allies in the government to reinforce own rules in people's minds and the state need support from those religious authorities in order to suppress their enemies in the government system. Also we see the growing number of different sects. There are a lot of people's stories when person was invited in "religious" organization in oder to forget about daily problems and became addict, but after all those "drug-dealers"(sectarian authorities) want only money from people's pockets and nothing more.

Finally, how I've mentioned before about killing individual features in people. "The Warfare Hypothesis" has been existed for centuries. There are a lot of stories, when religion has rejected scientists' inventions. The most popular example, it's Galileo and his heliocentric theory. When he firstly introduced his theory, the church was mostly against of his thoughts. He was forced to make a re-statement of his own words, that Earth is actually moving around Sun. "Opium" effect is obviously visible in the way of controlling people.


There are several misconceptions and errors made in Pro's argument, but there is one key concept that Pro has produced that completely discredits this argument.

To begin, opium is defined as "1. the dried, condensed juice of a poppy, Papaver somniferum, that has a narcotic, soporific, analgesic, and astringent effect and contains morphine, codeine, papaverine, and other alkaloids used in medicine in their isolated or derived forms: a narcotic substance, poisonous in large doses. 2. anything that causes dullness or inaction or that soothes the mind or emotions." [1]

Based on the provided definition of opium, the effects cause opium to be addictive as Pro points out. However, his argument by which he claims "[Marx] wanted to show us that religion has a great power over people" is flawed. "What Marx proposes is that religion does not reflect man's true consciousness. Religion, as Marx sees it, is a false consciousness; religion is the product of men, the product of those in power—those who control the productive process." [2] The statement provided by Pro contradicts the religious views that Marx actually produced. As for the latter half of the definition provided, Pro did not provide the fact that while opium in itself is addictive, it is used to provide temporary relief for suffering does such by "blunting the senses." [3] While Marx does claim that "[Religion] is the opium of the people" in the "“Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction," the claim is not that religion is an addiction of the people, but rather he claims that religion "can actually be said to be contributing to human suffering by removing the impetus to do whatever is necessary to overcome it – which, for Marx, is to relinquish religion and turn to revolutionary politics" [3]. Based on the information provided, this discredits the views of Pro on the Marxist belief of religion.

1. "People who are very addictive to religion and don't accept other religions are more likely to create conflicts."

While the "addiction to religion" idea has been discredited, I will stipulate - for the sake of argument - to the idea of "religion being addictive." Even if the idea religious addiction was prevalent, the examples Pro provided do not further his argument. The Shiites and Sunnis are both of Islamic heritage, and on both sides, there are several cases of extremist sects (such as that of the Wahhabi sect and the Sufi movement); however, it should be noted that the conflicts that separated the Shiites from the Sunnis in the first place are due to the separation of supports standing by Abu (Sunnis) and Ali (Shiites) [4] and that the same happened with other religions, especially that of Christianity. As for the war in former Yugoslavia, there is no evidence that shows that "religious authorities showed the irresponsibility and used ordinary religious people in the war."

2. "Non-traditional religious organizations use state in order to control people."

As for the first half of the paragraph that Pro provided, Pro begins in the third sentence with "In my point of view...," thereby demeaning his argument that "religious organizations use state in order to control people" by using bias. While I naturally accept bias, in the case of debate, personal bias lessens the argument provided by the party, as it plays a role on ego. As for the second half of the paragraph Pro provided for this second point, it is difficult to understand what exactly you are attempting to say due to the grammar used. If I may, from what I am reading, it sounds as if you are stating that "There are a lot of stories from people when they were invited in 'religious' organizations to forget about daily problems and later became addicts; but the 'drug-dealers' (sectarian authorities) only did such to retain money and nothing more." To whether or not that is what you were saying, I am not entirely certain. If it is, then I must say that I am not familiar with the sectarian authorities drawing in people by means of supposed religious organizations simply for the sake of money. It is difficult to understand how this ties in to the "growing number of sects" that you ambiguously mention.

3. "The Warfare Hypothesis"

Your mention of "killling individual features in people" was not previously mentioned at all other than your opening statement in the end of the second paragraph. As for the idea of "The Warfare Hypothesis" (also known as "The Conflict Hypothesis"), it is seen in John Brooke's Science and Religion: A Historical Perspective that this hypothesis has proven to be a "a limited and flawed way of understanding the history of the relationship between science and religion" (Brooke, Science and Religion, 33-42), thereby discrediting your argument.

I want to thank Pro for this debate, for this is my first completed debate. Thank you for debating with me.


Debate Round No. 2
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RationalMadman 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Refuted ALL pro's points and had none of his own refuted.