Let's Move Religion off the Great Debates

I’m failing to see how that really differentiates them from the non-religious debates.

Still, I think it’d be a good idea to split GD in two, under similar reasoning as to why Cafe Society sprung into being a year-odd back.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find me in favor of keeping it. I’ve learned a lot about what people who follow other religions and really believe, as opposed to what I’ve been told they believe. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss creationism with those who actually believe it, and to discuss things with Fundamentalist Christians who really aren’t that common in my neck of the woods. At the other ( or at least another) end of the religious spectrum, I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from the Atheists on this board. The breadth and depth of the discussions of religion are one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this board from the moment I found it.

It has strengthened my beliefs, but one of those beliefs which it has truly crystalized with is this: no matter how strongly I may disagree with someone’s beliefs, be they hard Atheism, Fundamentalism, or something which is so hard to wrap my brain around it that, by the end of the process, my brain resembles a corkscrew, that person may well hold their beliefs just as strongly as I do mine and, in their humble opinion, those beliefs are just as logically founded. They might even be muttering about twisting their brains into corkscrews to see where I’m coming from.

Some questions don’t have absolute answers, but discussing them is a lot of fun! I was raised to believe that proper young ladies did not discuss religion and politics in public. Having seen how strongly some people react to those issues sometimes, including me, I can see why, but those have always been two of my favorite topics!

I may not change my mind, but I can learn and already have a great deal. Surely that is fighting ignorance, the purpose this board is dedicated to?

The fight against ignorance begins at home.

  1. Generally speaking, atheists and theists can’t debate religion. There simply isn’t enough common ground. I think that’s what the OP’s referring to.

  2. Additionally, atheists cannot debate religion with other atheists, because there’s nothing there to debate.

  3. However, theists can debate with other theists, and have been doing it for millenia. Many of history’s greatest debates have been between religious scholars - usually of the same faith, but not always. You may say, of course, that such debates, being based on something as illogical as faith, cannot be considered rational. My response would be twofold: firstl, I tend to defer to such people as Thomas Aquinas and Moses Maimonedes as being much smarter than either of us. Second, be careful what you refer to as irrational. As Terry Pratchett would say, there are small lies you have to accept in in order to believe in the really big lies.

Great Debates is absolutely crammed to the rafters with debates between people who at the end of the day have irreconciliable viewpoints. It’s not very different from frequently occurring debate topics such as:

_ Animal rights, which is hopeless because you have those who equate animal and human suffering and those who don’t, or those who believe that there are animal rights in the same way as human rights and those who don’t recognise this.

_ Gun control, which is split between those who are ready to accept higher levels of risk in exchange for more individual liberty, and those who believe that it’s well worth sacrificing some freedom for some extra security.

_ The latest war in Iraq, which reveals so many splits that all debates are for the purpose of settling the question hopeless.

None of these Great Debates can ever come to a definite conclusion. They have no answer. This is no different from discussions between theists and atheists, monotheists and polytheists, or simply people who take for granted the existence of one deity and the ensuing fact that any other deities are figments of the imagination.

That’s the great problem with debates generally: many assume that if all their arguments are clearly exposed, the audience will have no rational choice but to agree with them. Only different people base their arguments on different axioms which result in mutually-exclusive conclusions. God knows I fall into this trap time and time again.