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This House Believes That Religion Does More Harm Than Good

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#1
Vesper

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Context: The last few years have seen a renewed enthusiasm for atheism and secularism in much of the world and debates between believers and non-believers have become ever more vigorous. One distinction that is frequently made, particularly by theists, is that between faith and religion. Whether such a distinction is meaningful or relevant does not fall within the purview of this debate, which focusses entirely on religion in the ordinary meaning of the word. In addition it will focus primarily on the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) purely on the basis that they represent the largest of the world’s religious traditions.

Debates on religious issues are notoriously challenging because the burdens of proof can vary hugely and the term covers so many traditions and so many exceptions- that there always seems to be a counterfactual available to any evidence-based argument. Take, for example, the well publicised and widely discussed Roman Catholic prohibition on contraception. From a purely secular perspective, the decision makes no medical sense. However, from a religious standpoint it encourages abstinence and faithfulness, which are seen as valuable normative goals in and of themselves.

It would be wrong to ignore the fact that debates on religious issues also have a tendency to be heated and, in the case of public debates, can be frustrating because of the reluctance of anyone in the room to criticise their own views. However, precisely because of these factors, discussions on the value of religion for excellent training and competitive debate topics. Debates on religion compel speakers and adjudicators not only to question their own views but to focus on the structure of arguments themselves, rather than relying on frameworks of assumed knowledge, as can often be the case in political debates.

Usually, debates on this motion run along the lines of the impact of religious organizations on various moral issues and the groups affected by them. Abortion, gay marriage, women’s rights and others tend to come up. A common theme also tends to be the extent to which organisations are responsible for the actions of individuals who profess that particular faith. There is a frequent claim that religions- or the organisations that represent them- get to pick and choose. As a result, the argument goes, Islam is not responsible for terrorist atrocities nor is the Catholic Church culpable for child sex abuse. It’s an interesting distinction and one that is likely to exercise both sides of the debate.

Efforts to play the same argument the other way around against secularism do not really work, as it is difficult to find an instance of acts comparable to religiously sponsored intolerance being committed as a direct result of the actions of secularism. Opposition teams often resort to the use of examples that break Goodwin’s law. A desperate opposition team may discuss that securalist or atheist tendencies of Hitler and Stalin – although rarely to any effect.

Ultimately this is a debate that is all about defining the parameters of discussion. It is all too easy for it to degenerate into general assertions about charity and bigotry and yet there is plenty of fact on both sides.


Read more here: http://idebate.org/d...-more-harm-good

There are points for and against, along with counterpoints and so on and so forth.


So, do you believe religion is a force for good? Or one that is counter-productive to different strands of progression and society? Should religion be entirely separate from state run institutions (all of them; hospitals, schools, government etc)?

Thoughts...?

#2
Floyd Pinkerton

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Well, we all know how pretty much everyone responds to this.
I'm waiting for Alex, Dylan, John, and Rush Guy :lol:

#3
Vesper

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It's not a debate about whether god exists or not, and I will trample anyone who tries to make it so. It's about the influence of religion and how it should be monitored, if at all.

#4
Floyd Pinkerton

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I know. But most people seem to think religion does harm rather than good. Add that to logical reasons and you have a.debate. :lol:

#5
Kayfabe

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Well, we all know how pretty much everyone responds to this.
I'm waiting for Alex, Dylan, John, and Rush Guy http://www.greendaycommunity.org/public/...

yeah. ITT, a bunch of people saying agree/disagree and a few lines of explanation, followed by these guys with their essays books

on topic, no. people use religion as a means to be their usual shitty selves. it's easy to say something like 9/11 happened because of islam when I don't think it's the case. 9/11 happened because some very evil people used islam as a means to convince people that being shit is the righteous thing to do. because the stakes were heaven/paradise.

and honestly, who doesn't love themselves a bit of paradise?

#6
Vesper

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I know. But most people seem to think religion does harm rather than good. Add that to logical reasons and you have a.debate. http://www.greendaycommunity.org/public/...


But what about all the solace it provides certain people? And the charity it provides to others?

#7
Floyd Pinkerton

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People can do charity being religious or not. Religions.just tend to say they're the reason people are charitable because it gets them recognition.

#8
Tubbie Head

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I totally agree with him.

#9
Vesper

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People can do charity being religious or not. Religions.just tend to say they're the reason people are charitable because it gets them recognition.


I know. I was merely pointing out that religious organisations are one of (if not the) largest sector of charitable giving.

#10
Floyd Pinkerton

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True.
As for solace, hey, whatever floats your boat. When people get out of control with it, that's when I get pissed.

#11
tabbycat1596

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While religion does contribute good to the world through charity, offering comfort, and missions and stuff, I think that it can and does contribute bad. If there had been no religion, would there have been the Crusades or the Holocaust? There also wouldn't be the insane amount of fighting in America over the separation of church and state. :dry:
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#12
Comrade

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On a personal level; undeniably yes. On a small communities based level - probably yes, which with charity work etc. On an international and all time-spanning level, absolutely not. Organised religion is a bane on human advancement.

#13
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While religion does contribute good to the world through charity, offering comfort, and missions and stuff, I think that it can and does contribute bad. If there had been no religion, would there have been the Crusades or the Holocaust? There also wouldn't be the insane amount of fighting in America over the separation of church and state. http://www.greendaycommunity.org/public/...

Yes. People are shit, there would have been another excuse, and it would have been dressed up with another name.

#14
Floyd Pinkerton

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If there had been no religion, would there have been the Crusades or the Holocaust?

Yes. People constantly overlook a particular section of the Holocaust: it wasn't just Jews being persecuted. It was also blacks, gays, gypsies, and people with mental disabilities.

#15
tabbycat1596

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True. Now that I do think about it there would have been some other reason, but religion was a part of it.
I'm a bad debater :rolleyes: You guys will have to wait for John to get the good debating.

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#16
Daughter.of.Rage.and.Love

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I think religion provides a higher power that makes it easier to accept bad things ("it's the will of God" etcetera), it bonds people, and it gives people hope. People also do good things (like charity) in the name of or because of religion.
However, people also do and justify actions that harm others in the name of religion, and different religions (of lack of religion) clash.

I think religion does more good than bad on a personal level, but as soon as you start applying your religion to other people (and specifically, apply it to what other people should do according to you(r religion)), it gets tricky. And I do think all public institutions should be separate from any religion.

It's hard to monitor something like religion. People should be free to believe in what they wish to believe in, but it's difficult to determine what people can and can't do with their religion. It's also something a lot of people are very passionate about so you can't just decide on a universal rule or law or verdict on religion.

#17
Yussef

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Capitalism is probably the evil of the world, not religion. Big organised religious groups just feed from it.

and honestly, who doesn't love themselves a bit of paradise?

Uh. Is it filled with Jensen?

I will trample anyone who tries to make it so.

Bryony, this isn't the right place for it. :shy:

You guys will have to wait for John to get the good debating.

ye

nobody else has a brain

A desperate opposition team may discuss that securalist or atheist tendencies of Hitler and Stalin – although rarely to any effect.

I've yet to find an instance this has worked because Hitler and Stalin really were not an example of atheism.
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#18
Vesper

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It's interesting for me to read some of the ideas about how you restrict people's religious freedom, if at all, because for some reason, religion has the kind of untouchable feel about it. If for example, someone is a communist, you can be damn sure I'm going to disagree with them, quite probably vehemently. And yet if someone is a Catholic/Muslim/Any Religion, you're not "allowed" to be forward about questioning their beliefs because it's their "religion" and therefore almost sacred in just it's concept.

Why do you think this is?

#19
Velocity

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It's interesting for me to read some of the ideas about how you restrict people's religious freedom, if at all, because for some reason, religion has the kind of untouchable feel about it. If for example, someone is a communist, you can be damn sure I'm going to disagree with them, quite probably vehemently. And yet if someone is a Catholic/Muslim/Any Religion, you're not "allowed" to be forward about questioning their beliefs because it's their "religion" and therefore almost sacred in just it's concept.

Why do you think this is?


I don't agree with that. In Christianity at least, questioning different aspects of it is often encouraged by priests/nuns/etc from what I've seen. People can reach a greater understanding of their religion after thinking through things they didn't understand before, or they can realize that their religion isn't for them, whatever floats their boat. I can't say the same for Judaism or Islam, because I haven't really had any exposure to them or closely known anyone who has, but I think Christianity can be a lot more open than people think.

Hopefully this makes sense, it's 5 a.m. and I'm a zombie right now :P

#20
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Uh. Is it filled with Jensen?

Obviously man. Paradise :toocool:

#21
WalkingContradictionPL

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In my opinion relligion isn't a force for good. I don't think that someone can call forcing relligion as a good think. Many times religion was set by the sovereign to allow him to have unlimited power. I'm Roman-Catholic, but can't understand why in acient Rome people were forced to believe in God and Jesus Christ. I'm tolerant and for me human is human, no matter, if he believes in my God or another. I also don't agree with some of my religion laws and truths. My friends are homosexual and they still believe, but as our religion says, they are condemned. Is it good force of religion? I don't thinks so.

I also recon that religion should be separete from state run institutions. I can't stand when some preist call on sermons to vote for their fav party, which I personally hate for its program. Church is church, place, even people, who believe in one God, but there shouldn't talk about politics. Religion is in Poland everywhere, we must even learn about Roman-Catholic. One priest here has a big impact on society and they create something as a sect of old ladies, who said, that he is second after pope.

#22
Drop Dead Hideous

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I think it's the leaders not religion itself. People in those position, most of the time they abuse it for their own personal gain. It's like politics, with bad leadership it will cause harm and vice versa.

#23
Yussef

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Also, islamophobia is not a thing. Stop making it a thing. It's pure racism.
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#24
frunsi

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i think the problem is not religion. it's organised religion.

#25
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Also, islamophobia is not a thing. Stop making it a thing. It's pure racism.


How is it racism? Islam is not a race...

#26
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How is it racism? Islam is not a race...

Because, discrimination is not targeted at islam itself but the people. Who are suspected to be muslims and 'terrorists'? White people? Never. The religion part is just used as a scapegoat to further continue prosecution based on racism, just under a different name.
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#27
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Because, discrimination is not targeted at islam itself but the people. Who are suspected to be muslims? White people? Never. The religion part is just used as a scapegoat to further continue prosecution based on racism, just under a different name.


Hmmm I disagree. People who are targeting Islam or Muslims are going to target someone wearing a burka, regardless of what their skin tone is.

#28
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Random airport searches are only done on women in burkas?
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#29
Floyd Pinkerton

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As for the questioning thing, I'm a christian and I question the beliefs all the time.

#30
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Frank is right, there is institutionalized racism against people who perceived as Arab-looking in the West, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. People are often very ignorant. A person might see a dark-skinned woman in an airport dressed in all white, including a headcovering, and might have some paranoid delusions she is a Muslim extremist who might want to blow up a plane, although if they knew anything they would know this particularly woman is in fact a Jain, a member of an absolutely pacifist and non-violent religion, some to the point of total veganism and not even accepting violence in self-defense.

My cousin once in an airport about six years ago was nervous about an Arab looking man sitting at our gate, who I talked to in the line at Starbucks - of course, he was a Spaniard, and by all indications, not a Muslim at all.

There is actually some Islamophobia too, which is usually more in theory than in actuality, because Islamophobia is usually people freaking out over imaginary things. For example, a few local referendums in the United States have moved to ban Sharia law, fearing that towns with large Muslim populations would implement it and soon there'd be stonings. Of course, the First Amendment to the US constitution already prevents the government from "paying respect to any establishment of religion", and effectively banned religious law's recognition by secular law only about... 200 fucking years ago.

The other issue is these cases are blown totally out of proportion, the infamous "judge who used Sharia law", was in fact about a judge recognizing a settlement between two Muslims who mutually agreed to use a Sharia arbitrator. And people can agree to use any arbitrator they want, and agree to be bound by the arbitrator's decision, that is basic fucking law. But all the media did was spread Islamic panic that a judge "used Sharia law to settle a dispute" which is both factually inaccurate and completely fucking stupid.

Back on the original subject, and this would be a good transition, I have a problem with religion when its influence is so strong that it can overrule or invalidate the secular order. Therefore, I am against religion being used to deny life saving medicine, like blood transfusions, to children. I am against religion justifying genital mutilation of both males and females, I am against parents saying they don't want their kids to have sex education for religious reasons because it's still secular society that is going to be the support system when the daughter of Christian fundamentalists is 18 and having her third kid.

Overall, religion does more harm than good, is what I think. Yes, it is a tremendous force for charity. But, I think the very need for charity in a society where there are more than enough resources for everyone twice over is a sign of a broken society, but that is a whole different debate entirely.
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