The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion

and all of these debates which is now we were now in our fifth season we've done more than 50 of these debates and we're delighted to have all of you here but they all happen because of one man Robert Rosencrantz who is the chairman of the Rosencrantz Foundation who brought intelligence squared to the city and to to this country in fact and so I'd like to welcome him to make opening remarks and set the frame for what we're actually talking about here bless you for coming intelligence squared is primarily known as a public policy debate series so I'd like to start the evening by sharing with you the reasons we wanted to do a debate about religion America has always incorporated complex ideas about religion in its political culture creationism is invoked in the most famous words of our founding document we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights the First Amendment to the Constitution begins with the ringing words Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion but note these words do not banish religion from the public square indeed many of the original 13 colonies had official state religions which the amendment protects from the actions of Congress nor is there any constitutional issue when the president in his role as commander-in-chief hires ministers and rabbis and priests to perform religious duties as members of the Armed Forces tonight's debate should prove equally complex proponents of the motion might cite the violence perpetrated in the name of religion well opponents will counter that most warfare throughout history was totally or primarily about territory and economic advantage proponents might cite the absence of proof for central religious beliefs indeed the repugnance of some of them while opponents emphasize the utility of faith and ritual and helping believers cope with the challenges of life but both sides are likely to concur that every well-ordered society needs some key moral principles and that every thoughtful person needs a sense of meaning and purpose in life the key question for tonight's debate the complex question is whether those central needs can be better met in a world with or without religion we have a very outstanding panelists group tonight with us and it's my privilege at this point to turn the evening back to John Donvan and to our great panel thank you thank you and I just I would really like to invite one more round of applause for Robert Rosencrantz for making this all possible true or false the world would be better off without religion that's what we're here to debate another verbal jouster intelligence squared us I'm John Donvan of ABC News we're at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University the world would be better off without religion two teams will argue that proposition from opposite sides one for and one against and only one team will win you are live judges you our live audience will be the judges let's meet our debaters they include on this team arguing for the motion the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin author and filmmaker Matthew Chapman by his side and on his side a philosopher who takes a humanistic view of ethics master of the new college of the humanities AC grayling opposing them and here to argue against the motion is one of the most influential conservative thinkers in the nation president of the King's College Dinesh D'Souza and his teammate is the rabbi of temple of Sinai temple in Los Angeles California David Wolpe so this is a contest it's a debate and you our audience here at the Skirball Center will decide the winner by the time the debate has ended we'll have asked you to vote two times once before and once again at the end and the team that has changed the most minds the team that has moved its numbers the most will be declared our winner so let's go on to the preliminary vote you have a keypad at your seat on the right hand side and our motion is again the world would be better off without religion and if you agree with this motion and it's a negative without if you agree with this motion means you want less religion push number one it's these guys if you disagree with this motion push number two and if you're undecided push number three and if you you can ignore the other numbers and if you made an error just correct it and the system will lock in your last vote so remember we're going to let you know at the end of the debate what that baseline number is we're going to have you vote a second time after the third round we go in three rounds opening statements a middle round where you're involved and the debaters address one another directly and then a closing round of short summary statements so let's get started on to round one our motion is the world would be better off without religion and here to speak in support of the motion AC grayling Anthony greying grayling philosopher put that on your business card I guess but it's true in addition to your current position at the new college of the humanities the number of books that you have written on philosophy is now approaching three dozen and I understand it as an undergraduate at the University of Sussex you decided you needed more college more universe so simultaneously you pursued a second Bachelor of Arts degree up in London so you did college twice at the same time is that what else did you what did you pay your spare time yeah it's crazy but it's true ladies and gentlemen ac gremlin thank you John thank you very much indeed and I must begin by asking you if I may to focus on what the proposition is before us we're not here to discuss the existence of God we're not here to discuss whether it's rational irrational to have faith we're here to discuss a sociological phenomenon a man-made phenomenon religion you can see the difference you might call in question whether or not there are gods and goddesses but you can't call in question whether or not there is religion plenty of it history is full of it and it exists around us all the time today and by the way I say that our religion is man-made advisedly there are very few women indeed in the upper half of hierarchies of the world's religions which perhaps has something to do with the point now religions are very diverse in nature they have different interpretations of their deities they say different things about what we can wear what we can eat and when how many wives we can have what rituals we must follow despite the fact that they all take the view that they've got the right story they differ from one another quite dramatically a number of respects and this is why through the course of history they've burdened mankind with a huge number of conflicts and a great deal of divisive nasai I'm not going to bore you by rehearsing the story of Crusades and inquisitions and the rest it's a very familiar matter although it is of course in the interests of apologists of religions to try to forget them rather I want to talk about things that religions have in common with one another rather than the things that divide them they have two things in common with one another most of the time in history and among many of the Orthodox manifestations of religions today they are similar to one another in most of them giving second-class status to women in being hostile to gays in being very opposed to most kinds of progress especially scientific progress the reason being of course that they take it that they received the truth a long time ago anything between one and three thousand years ago and so things that are challenging in on you and offer us different views of the world they find unpalatable and so they tend to be very traditionalist a concern and rather retrogressive and that explains a great deal of the social policy and political endeavor that the religions engage in that's one thing that they tend to have in common with one another but another thing they have in common with one another it's a very important point this is that they share a structural feature in fact they are the religions our paradigm attic of a certain kind of organization what I call a monolithic ideology a one-size-fits-all top-down totalizing ideology which says we've got the right story and you've got to sign up for it if you don't sign up for our story if you don't agree you're going to pay a sanction of one kind or another and during the course of history those sanctions are sometimes been very terrible it's in this respect in which religions in history and in their Orthodox manifestations now not in all their manifestations tend to share with total other kinds of totalizing ideologies so that's why it's no great surprise that Joseph Stalin for example was educated in the seminary what those totalitarianism share is a very very common talk were martyrs Inquisition in Spain in the 15th century and Stalin's Soviet Union in the 20th century say the same thing we've got the answer you've got to agree and if you don't you're in trouble so they have these two features and the second of them the structural feature the idea of being in charge of the truth of possessing the right story about life in the universe is very opposed to the Enlightenment outlook on which our modern Western liberal democracies are based the Enlightenment of the 18th century taught us to think that there isn't one right answer for everybody it taught us pluralism taught us individual autonomy it taught us Liberty of conscience they taught us democracy democracy is about people having a conversation the great conversation of society in which we negotiate with one another about how we go forward how we organize ourselves in society and that's very different indeed from thinking that there is one great ruler one monarch whether in the sky or on the ground who tells us what we should do and that we mustn't think for ourselves but we must all be Orthodox and indeed yet this ethical point is a very important one there are those people who think that you can't have religion you can't have morality without religion and of course that isn't true everything good about religious morality loving your neighbor kindness concern for others responsibility as a member of a community is shared by non-religious ethical outlooks also they're very common to all the great ethical theories I'm an atheist and a humanist and those values matter deeply to me if you look at ancient Greek philosophy for example a dominant strain of thought for nearly a thousand years before Christianity came to command the mind of Europe and you see that those values were shared by those thinkers not because they thought they were told them by a deity but because reason and human experience had offered it to them the final point is this people say what's wrong with moderate religion you know those nice folks who go to church on Sundays and who take part in their neighborhoods and here's the problem with that moderate religion is religion where people do a little bit of cherry-picking they take the best bits of the religion and some of the more embarrassing or difficult or awkward or Rob arbiter bits they leave to one side I know very very few Christians who give away all their own to the poor who take no thought for tomorrow who turned their backs on their families that their families disagree and the families are going to disagree if they do give away everything who who don't marry you stay celibate I find very few Christians actually live the New Testament morality they cherry-pick unkind people would call that hypocrisy at the other end of the scale however are those who who take their religion extremely seriously the extremists we call them the point about the extremists is that they are the most honest of the people who have a religious view because they commit themselves to what their tradition tells them and they state roses to the text now if that's real religion that's honest religion the world is very much better off without it and if the world is much better off without the true and the honest form of religion why not put the hypocrites in with them to thank our motion is the world would be better off without religion and here to speak against the motion David Wolpe he's the rabbi of Temple Sinai temple in Los Angeles California Newsweek magazine named you what is this the way it was phrased the number one pulpit rabbi in America I hope we're not voting on that tonight I just want to I mean do they have playoffs or yes yeah stadiums playoffs National League American League all right ladies Nathan this pulpit is yours Haley will be the caustic and brilliant philosopher at Columbia University Sydney Morgan Besser was once sitting in the back of a lecture where the English philosopher JL Austin said that we know that two negatives make a positive if I say I will never not miss you it means I'll always miss you but he said there's no language in which two positives make a negative and from the back of the auditorium Morgan Besser said yeah right now I'm going to offer you two positives I hope not only that they will add to a positive but that you will approach this not in that skeptical frame of mind but at least open to the possibility that there's a lot about religion that you don't hear you will never see a headline that says religious man feeds hungry man but it happens all the time in fact you might be surprised to know what the largest aid organization in the world is it's called World Vision with over 40,000 people in over a hundred countries that's more than care Save the Children the worldwide operations of the United States Agency for International Development all combined and if you didn't know that it's because the good that religion does is sort of oft interred with its bones but you hear about every depredation every sin every bad thing and yet today all over the world there are millions of religious aid workers who are sustaining people in places that you've never heard of and there were visited right before this conference both Dinesh and I were in Mexico in Puebla at the festival of ideas and I rode back to the airport with Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times and we were talking about this issue and he said you know everywhere I go I see religious aid workers day after day year after year and a difference he said between religious aid workers and others is they stay they don't go when the crisis is over and this parallels my own experience when I was in Haiti helping a friend rebuild an orphanage almost every person I met was a religious aid worker I remember going to the market in Haiti and I met this man and I said to him what are you doing here and he said well I'm a Mennonite and I and my group are building homes in the rural areas outside of port-au-prince so I said why are you doing this he said well I've been here for about five or six years and I came because my son was sent by the church community 20 years ago and after 15 years of watching my son do this I thought it's time for me to go this story could be duplicated again and again and again and in fact if tomorrow you took religion out of the world the world would be tremendously impoverished in terms of the way in which people who are in trouble get help evangelical organizations were the first ones on the ground after the the tsunami in Indonesia and that story could be repeated again and again throughout the world that's point one here's point two the Oxford Handbook of religion and health is about to come out in 2012 the second edition in case you won't find the time to read it I'm now going to save you the time this is a handbook that anthologized is over 3,000 studies from the New England Journal of Medicine JAMA Lancet all peer-reviewed journals that are not particularly sympathetic to religion and this is what it says religious Americans give more to charity volunteer more participate in civic processes more attend more meetings are more likely to vote to volunteer less likely to drink first do drugs they are much more inclined to to be optimistic and feel meaningful about life they're less inclined to depression less inclined to suicide less inclined to suicidal thoughts they're much more helpful in their communities if you want to measure altruism and empathy the best measure is not age gender income education it's whether you're involved in a religious community I'll give you one study at the University of Miami they study people who've been diagnosed with AIDS whether they turn to religion or away from religion those who turn to religion several months later had lower viral loads lower cd4 counts they were healthier than those who didn't in fact religion if you're part of a religious community as measured by attending services and reading scripture and praying it adds on average 7 years to your life if you're a white American male 14 years if you're an african-american male now the Dean of this research Harold Koenig at Duke University says that he has to point out to you that you may spend those seven years in church but nonetheless you have to decide what you want to do with the time still you have the time to do it all of this all of this is a way of emphasizing that religion and being part of a religious community does enormous good I see it day after day week after week the little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love about which Wordsworth wrote that's what religious people do and in part because it's a system that encourages goodness which is why when a religious person does something wrong people get particularly upset how can he do this he's supposed to be religious every time someone complains about the synagogue the call begins as follows how in a synagogue could you which is a way of saying you're supposed to aspire to be better and that's exactly right mother Teresa was once tending to the wounds of a leper in Calcutta and wiping the suppurating wounds from this sick and dying person and a journalist who'd been following her around for several days said to her I wouldn't do that for a million dollars and without looking up she said neither would I it's true many people of all different beliefs and no belief do good in this world but if you want to find an organized system that encourages people to be better to transcend themselves that seeks to make the world colorful kind compassionate giving good a system that often fails but at least aspires to that not in little enclaves of this class or this school but worldwide consistently the only one we have ever had is religion the world without it would be a poor sadder and crueler place thank you thank you David Wolpe and here's where we are we are halfway through the opening round of this intelligence squared us debate I'm John Donvan of ABC News we have four debaters two teams of two fighting it out over this motion the world would be better off without religion we've heard from the first two speakers and now on to the third speaking for the motion Matthew Chapman he is a writer and co-founder and president of science debate and in a sense is our real renaissance man tonight you've also directed films written books written magazine articles you were particularly fascinated by a case I also covered at the Dover school board wanting to push back against the theory of evolution and you wrote extensively about that of course you do have some vested interest in your it's it's it's it's on your mother's side your great great grandfather my great great grandfather on my mother's side all right so you have some sparkling DNA walking around tonight as you come to this argument ladies and gentlemen Matthew Chapman thank you I'm not a professional like these guys so I'm going to read my notes I apologize religion makes two big claims God really exists and religion makes us behave better but does religion make us behave better to partially answer that question let me read you a verse or two from the Bible Deuteronomy chapter 25 verses 11 and 12 when men strive together one with another and the wife of the one drawer ethnicity hand and taketh him by the secrets then shalt thou cut off a hand roughly translated this means that if you're in a fight and your wife tries to help you by grabbing your opponent's balls you should chop a hand off it's there I mean I can show you um I know it's kind of cheap to to poke fun at the Bible because it's so easy but but there is there is there is a serious point here which is that far from making us behave better religion often complicates and distorts morality by any reasonable standards hacking bits off your wife is far worse than her squeeze squeezing your enemy's nuts the thing is that in almost any holy book you can find something that will validate just about anything and afterwards you don't have to defend the humanity of your actions or take responsibility because God told you to do it believe it or not those more atheism up here than faith ac grayling and I are atheists David and Dinesh are – except when it comes to their own religion every other religion their atheist about this is why religion is divisive everyone on earth wants food water shelter love for their children to grow up to be happy and in a peaceful world these common desires are so profound they ought to make war an absurdity of violence against self religion however makes everyone an infidel – someone we're no longer ignorant isolated tribes who think the earth is flat and don't know what lies around the corner we have photographs of our planet from space and most of us have met people of many races we know our world and who we share it with and we also know that critical worldwide problems will require worldwide unity in this context religions continuing assistance insistence that my god is better than yours is disastrous which leads me to credulity there are literally thousands of God's available which one you believe in is really just an accident of birth if David and Dinesh had been born in Afghanistan they both be Muslim probably or they'd be dead like most people like most believers however they have faith in their inherited gods they haven't tested the rest because it's far too many of them how then do they know that their God exists and the other gods don't or that their God is better than the other gods because they've been told by an authority figure and here's how he did it he said our God is supreme but he's invisible we have no proof he exists but if you have faith if you make a big effort to believe in him you will believe in him it's fantastic they take the weakest point of the argument and make it a condition of entry that you overlook it but if in the most important area of your life your philosophy no less the first thing you learn as a child is that faith is absolutely essential and evidence absolutely isn't how can this not affect the way you think about everything you've been brainwashed to be credulous and submissive to Authority this affects many aspects of life including the functioning of democracy and the understanding of science both of which demand that you insist on evidence question everything and take nothing on faith from anyone here's an example evolution through natural selection over billions of years is one of the best supported theories in science but 40 to 50% of Americans believe the earth is only six to eight thousand years old and the God made us as we are now nearly 50% it's really extraordinary event any other in any other culture except Muslim countries and I've written widely on this subject and met creationists of all types often they have I'd say usually they have no idea what evolution is but they dispute it with a with passion from a religious standpoint faith over reason evidence infuriates them as does science itself and this antipathy to science has slowed down stem-cell research continues to harm the health of women and girls and contributes to cynicism about scientific issues like global warming but none of this captures the human suffering caused by religion I grew up next my gay uncle and his partner when I was nine I discovered a phase long prison sentences if the homosexuality was revealed this was justified by Leviticus 20:13 and the verse was often quoted by both politicians in the clergy if a man life of a man as he lieth with a woman both of them have committed an abomination they shall surely be put to death this barbaric verse is still used by Christians including Catholics neva Angelica 'ls and violence is only its most obvious consequence I end where I began religion claims to provide morality but as can be seen in its divisive Nostromo phobia and in its almost universal subjugation of women it just as often deforms morality the question isn't whether religion can sometimes do good of course it can and has the question is can we come up with something better that does not depend on dangerous and childish faith in thousands of competing gods can we persuade people that it's possible to live a good peaceful and happy life guided only by human conscience and modern knowledge when people who believe in martyrdom and an afterlife will soon get weapons of mass destruction I think we have to that we can and that we will and that's why I ask you to support the motion that the world would be better off without religion thank you Thank You Matthew Chapman this is our motion the world would be better off without religion and now here to speak against the motion Dinesh D'Souza he's the president of the King's College he is a leading conservative thinker in the country from a very young age starting in his college years as a young man also he was an advisor to President Reagan you've also written a lot of books now your opponent has written three times as many books as you but I hate to tell you Anthony that Dinesh has written about five times as many bestsellers as he is how so I think you jump on that one legend enesta see is that thank you it's my peculiar fate in this debate to be speaking last and therefore they have to digest the statements of the other speakers must say this puts me in an odd position I feel a bit like the mosquito in the nudist colony I'm not sure where to begin I I guess I'll begin by noting that there were two definitions that have been advanced by the other side that actually I think help our case the first one is the idea that people who have religious beliefs are hypocritical but notice that in making this accusation what was being alleged is that religious believers have have ideals higher than they can live up to and this is advanced as hypocrisy in other words holding up to a standard and falling short of it now that is actually not hypocrisy if you read the Bible Jesus doesn't call people hypocrites because their ideals are too high he calls people hypocrites who pretend to be one thing and now really another the problem with the Pharisees wasn't that they had high principles is that they didn't have principles but they pretended to be something they weren't so we've seen a subtle shift in the meaning of hypocrisy a shift that is advanced by the atheist side why to basically pull down the moral ideals that we hold up that are higher than ourselves that I would suggest is a very bad thing now Matthew made the argument that religion is a function of where you're born if you're a born in India you're going to be a Hindu actually I was born in India I was raised Catholic but never mind that your religious identity is formed as a result of where you're born if you're born in Afghanistan you're a Muslim and so on well I think this applies to all our beliefs let's say for example that somebody born in Oxford England is more likely to subscribe to the theory of evolution than someone born in Oxford Mississippi somebody who is born in New York City is more likely to a for mine Stein theory of relativity than someone born in New Guinea now what does that say about whether evolution and relativity you're true nothing the fact of your birth is irrelevant to the merit of the idea so there's a kind of sleight of hand here you have to judge the ideas by their own merits now would the world be better without religion you can't answer that question without looking to see what religion is done in the world but you've got to compare it to what the world would be like without religion has been some allusion to the boring crimes of religion but let me suggest that those crimes even the worst of them are infinitesimal compared to the crimes of atheist regimes that are far greater in magnitude far longer in duration and actually are still going on if you consider for example a tragedy like the Inquisition a crime I admit it and yet over 400 years the Spanish Inquisition killed fewer than 2,000 people 2,000 the Salem witch trials I heard about when I came to America and then my wife and I a few years ago went to Salem Massachusetts it's a really interesting place I do want to report the witches today are doing great most of them are tourist guides but if you pick up one of their brochure is a number of people killed in the Salem witch trials 1919 now is that nineteen too many yeah or if you want added up 2019 but while the atheist cry inconsolable crocodile tears over the crimes of religion they ignore the vastly greater crimes of atheism now am I talking about Stalin in Russia and Mao in China not even really that's just the tip of the Atheist iceberg you if you dig deeper there is a massive procession underneath in the Soviet Union alone starting with Lenin you continue through Brezhnev Andropov Chernenko a procession of Soviet dictators but what about Ceausescu and were hoja Fidel Castro Kim Jong Il Pol Pot I mean Pol Pot is such a Junior League atheist people don't even mention him and yet in the aftermath of the Vietnam War his Khmer Rouge regime in the space of about three years managed to kill two million people two million even bin Laden in his wildest dreams does not even come close but who should parachute into the discussion at this critical moment but Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion and he goes wait a minute we got to make a crucial distinction here the you might have had some a tyrants who killed who happened to be atheist but they didn't kill in the name of atheism the Christians killed in the name of Christianity now Richard Dawkins is a respected biologist and I think here you begin to see the problem when a biologist is allowed to leave the laboratory why because evidently the poor man knows no history all you have to do is crack open the collected works of Karl Marx and you will see that the atheism is not incidental it's not some add-on its intrinsic to the whole ideological scheme Marx famously called religion the opium a kind of drug of the masses and his point is you got to get rid of religion in order to establish the new man and the new utopia freed from the shackles of traditional religion and traditional morality often when we think of secular society we think of Europe but Europe isn't really secular Europe is a product of 2,000 years of Jewish and Christian civilization even today if there's a famine in Rwanda while much of the world ignores it the European countries the Western countries begin to send food and aid Doctors Without Borders the red cross my point is this is the result of a religious training and a religious habit of mind that remains Nietzsche once said that if we get rid of God we've got to get rid of shadows of God in other words the ideas that Judaism and Christianity brought into the West and into the world those will begin to erode as well Dostoyevsky said a long time ago if God is not everything is permitted and Dostoyevsky's point is that when we get rid of transcendence when we create a war world without religion we license terrible calamities so in the names of the mill of the thousands and hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of souls who have died I would say from their point of view the world would have been a lot better off if it had religion thank you thank you Dinesh D'Souza and that concludes round one opening statements of this intelligence squared us debate we'll be right back okay so we're going to do one of our spontaneous bursts of applause by you to begin our second round I just want to allow the crew to remove the electrons all right let's all clap our motion is the world would be better off without religion this is a debate from intelligence squared us we're at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University I'm John Donvan we have two teams of two arguing out this motion one team AC grayling Anthony grayling and Matthew Chapman arguing the world would be better off without religion they make the argument that religion has been a burden for mankind that it imprisons the minds of those who participate in it keeping them within a narrow range of ideas discouraged from thinking believing in things that they say are evidentially not evidential that are not real and also that religion divides us historically in ways that have had terrible consequences the team arguing against the motion that the world would be better off without religion who are saying explicitly the world would be better off is better off with religion to Nash D'Souza and Rabbi David Wolpe they are arguing that a world without religion would be a very very bleak place in part because of the absence of the sorts of goods that manifestly are carried out in the name of religion around the world and that in places where godlessness has been established terrible things terrible crimes have been committed in the name of godlessness or more accurately in the absence of the name of God we're going to go on to round two now these are this is the round where the debaters address one another and also take questions from me and from you in the audience we're going to revisit some of what's been said already and also to some new areas and I want to start with the side arguing for the motion the side is arguing that we would be better off without religion what what does it say about the many billions of humans who embrace religion that they do so given your argument that it is destructive to them and that it is limiting to them and that there is a delusion in it what what do you say about them why are they doing that Antony grimly well first of course Matthews right to point out that the religion that anybody has tends on the whole I mean in much more than 95 percent of cases to be the religion of your parents and so it's a traditional thing people to brought up in the religion of their historical I just want to ask you cycles of the micro talk the miser and you can address the answer out to the audience it doesn't have to be in my direction you could story you asked me the question I know that I know that but know that my eyes are boring into the side of your head okay so I repeat the answer which is of course you know room religion is pervasive in history and it's traditional and it's handed down from from parents to their children so it remains the case that it's a very potent force in society but if you look at the trend in the developed and advanced and educated countries of the world then mainly the Western countries since the 17th and 18th century enlightenment and the growth of science you see the numbers of plummeting plummeting even here in the United States of America you look at the pew polling data and it points out to us that the number of people who self-identify as not having a religious commitment or agnostic or atheist is increasing all the time especially among the young so the trends are setting in the right door let me take that to the other side and and in the argument made by by Antonin grayling and also earlier by Matthew Chapman is that there's a that religion kind of gets kids early when when they believe anything and then it's and then it's set and then it's set and hard to hard to move off and I want you to take that point on sure remember we also get kids early with habits like brushing your teeth learning the mathematical tables now here the point I think that as a practical matter we all learn our ethical values from our parents I would I learned what I would call crayon Christianity from my parents but the fact of the matter is that's my parents beliefs when I became a teenager when I went to Dartmouth that set of beliefs got battered and crayon Christianity became no Christianity at all so it was an adult life that I had to go back to the ideas that had been bred in me as a child and ask which of my parents beliefs do I agree with but do you think your typical your you know I do Dartmouth you're a very bright guy and and brushing your teeth etcetera those are scientific experiments that have determined but but they're arguing a somewhat different point that it's that there are lots of people who who may not be able to do the critical thinking that your singer do but I think we're making a deep mistake here because just to say we learned it from our parents misses the thrust of why billions of people in the world continue to do it long into old age in other words religion delivers practical benefits it gives us the hope of life after death now you might say that's an illusion but you don't know none of us knows what comes after death we all have to die in any case either we just we die with despair facing annihilation or we have the hope of something else that's a practical benefit second religion is a mode of transmission of morality you might say there's morality that comes through a contour Nietzsche or Heidegger but no one teaches the kids morality that way people are in their morality let me bring it over to Matthew Chapman to bring him into this and if you can respond to some of what you've heard here well I just think it's a it's a distortion of what you actually see in life which is you see people who grow up in cultures they become addicted to their particular religions they disagree with all kinds of other religions even you you disagree with you started as a Catholic you end up as an evangelical does that mean that you then say the stuff in the Catholic it was actually wrong and you were mistaken about that I think all of this is frankly delusional and that even if you could remove all of the bad things about religion and keep all of the good things in religion none of which can't be performed by people who don't believe in God because they can but even if you could remove all of the bad things from religion and you ended up with a character was like father Christmas and a nice harmless or a person would you want to find out that the President of the United States was a devout believer in father Christmas not me all right let me take this let me take this – I wanted oh I want to take it – David Wolpe because the the issue of this of whether there's a credulity here the people Brice is suggests that the people's minds are in growth so I want to say first of all it's so interesting that the side that's quoting the Bible is that side and the side that has actually provided evidence of any kind as this side so let me give you another piece of evidence as opposed to the to the generalities in their encyclopedia of wars okay the Encyclopedia of Wars Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod them they chronicle over 1700 serious conflicts throughout history do you want to know what percentage actually reduced to religious wars 7% David the reason well the reason I'm saying this is because it's not about credulity no it's not about credulity the idea that people who are religious are religious because of some psychological deficit but people who are not religious are not religious because they reason their way to the lack of religion not only slights the idea that religious people are capable of thought but also tries to sort of railroad you into this belief that you should condemn it without actually looking at all the statistics the ideas the history that we cited and that sort of sliding of the religious belief makes me think that your argument might not be as sound as you think it is it's again I come back to that I hear a certain kind of incoherence on the other side there firstly if you're religious you live longer that puzzles me I mean isn't heaven meant to be a nice place that it's always been Moses was like 800 years old or something like that and and then and then Dinesh says that one reason why people stay religious into old age is because they they're thinking about life after death well that was Bernie Madoff's mistake he promised returns in this life are so you know religion I'm afraid the things that most people are brought up in a religious tradition and those people who escape religion do it because they look at the facts they look at the evidence they look at the morality they look at the teachings they look at the world around them and they recognize that there is something very divisive and very distorting here look at small children in kindergarten all races and ethnicities and backgrounds and classes and religions they don't know that we have to work very very hard to divide them and tell them what tribe they belong to what religion they belong to and that's where the source of the trouble comes in our domestic on division donessa sister responder AC said earlier that the defining feature of religion is hierarchy and exclusivity and I think that on both these he's giving a very narrow and ethnocentric definition first of all Christianity is the only religion in the world that considers another religion Judaism to be wholly true Hinduism considers all other religions to be wholly true there's no sense in the Eastern religions of this hierarchy of this exclusivity so we're seeing here not an attack on religion but on a very slice of religion perhaps fundamentalist religion I think the deeper point here is this and that is that the religious guy and the non-religious guy are both responding to the world as it is Charles Darwin became an atheist not because he discovered evolution it wasn't facts it was when his daughter Annie died and Charles Darwin said if there's a hell lots of the lovely people I know would be in it I can't bear that kind of a doctrine you Matthew in your article in Slate Magazine talked about nuns or or or teachers who beat you on the ankles and people people who stuck their hands down your pants my point is in many cases we're not dealing with facts we're dealing with wounded theism many times when we hear the word atheism we're dealing with a person who is angry with God or angry maybe with the represent the cellphone appointed representatives of God that's not real atheism that they two are conducting if you will an ideological war otherwise they are already here that's an interesting but Matthew Chapman are you angry with God how can you be angry with something that doesn't exist I'm angry with Dinesh because he's making these preposterous statements about my about my great-great-grandfather that are simply that are simply not true his atheism didn't come solely from the fact that his daughter died it was a very slow process of seeing how the theory of evolution was in conflict with the Bible and I think the point I would make is is let's give the religious people that at some point in history religion was helpful they didn't make people do better things but that the texts that these things that the religions are based upon are archaic absurd cruel open to interpretation and frankly there are better ways of conducting yourself in life there are and people like myself and Anthony here we don't find a problem with being moral without God or and I don't buy this argument that we've inherited it from Christianity because if you look at the sort of evolutionary world empathy and cooperation compassion clearly existed before God decided for some unknown reason to be taken to David Wolpe to talk about this question of the text and you're in an interesting position because in 2001 you you gave a talk in which you actually questioned the literal truth of of the Exodus story so you you are not you are already not tired I'm not a literalist no but but what I find very interesting is the the leap that Matthews making he says these texts have cruel things there are better ways to behave but we're asking not with the world be better off if you rewrote the Bible but with the world be better off without the influence that religion has on religious people and I tried again and again to say this is what religious people do this is what religious people do this is what religious people do only to get back but look at the terrible text and I want to say in response to what to what Anthony said I have the exact opposite experience I actually think that if you believe that people are fundamentally good and if you leave them alone they're just going to be good then you've never visited a playground because my experience is when a new kid comes to the playground the other kids don't go oh look a new child let us embrace him and share our toys actually children have to be socialized to good they do and it takes a lot of work if any of you are parents do you have to tell your kid don't share so much don't be so nice no quite the opposite and that work is difficult work and constant work and that's what religious communities do do they ever do harm of course they sometimes do harm or their texts I don't like of course but the coda to this is this idea that religious people are thoughtless automatons that follow what the text says does violence to everything I know about religious training about religious leaders about religious people and by the way about the fact we're having a debate like this then let me go to the other I would like to intervene very quickly because I think what he's saying is this is this is the viewpoint of a rabbi who does work in an affluent community in Los Angeles both these men are very sophisticated the people I met in Pennsylvania who 50% of them believed in in creation in creationism and are fundamentalist are people DC people these people they ignore they're saying we ignore their sophistication I'm saying they ignore the fact that most of the world is fundamentalist and takes a barbaric view of many of the texts and and and and if if there were no religion what would be happening in Pennsylvania in other words if what's the harm in the Pennsylvania situation where the school board wanted in create intelligent and intelligent design taught as an equal alternative to evolution you've got to specify what the harm is there well the harm is absolutely enormous I mean 50% I mean just to be practical about it 50% of the growth of the American economy since world war ii has come from science and technology and this anti scientism is gradually eroding America's ability to produce enterprising educated okay I want that's a new point that I want to take to this side the argument that religious thinking and religious strictures limit science Galileo into the future go ahead Dinesh to see first of all if you were to make a list of the 200 greatest scientists of all time from Newton Copernicus Kepler Pascal gasps Andy Boyle the list goes on you find that the vast vast majority of them were religious believers moreover it's not an accident that science did not develop universally it developed in Western civilization why is that because in Western civilization there is an embedded religious idea and that is the idea of the rational cosmos the Muslim philosopher even the Muslim philosopher al-ghazali denies that the universe operates by laws he says everything happens because Allah wills it at every given moment that's why science didn't develop in the Muslim world it's the sense of the whimsical the miraculous universe the point I'm trying to get out here is that on the basis of I would say a 1% minority of religious rednecks we have an indictment of all the world's religions as a whole nothing could be more crude and shameful than to imply that Athens and Jerusalem which have given rise to Western civilization that have shaped our philosophy our economy separation of powers checks and balances when Thomas Jefferson or Josh I want to I want to cut you off to little Anthony gray yeah sorry I'm I mean that there are two things two national great respect to you you are the most tremendous rewriter of history I've ever come across everyone you don't you don't seem to be conscious of the fact that – when Christianity became dominant in Europe at about the 3rd 4th century AD it had looked at its sundial the parousia the second coming of the Messiah hadn't happened they needed some extra ethics the ethics of the New Testament and the Pauline epistles are very thin they're the stuff I talked about earlier give everything away don't get married don't bother about tomorrow where did they get it from they got it from Greek philosophy most of European culture and that means culture of the West is deeply rooted in classical antiquity in the thinking of Socrates and Aristotle and the Stoics that is where our European outlook our cultural Outlook comes from conceptions of Justice of ethics of democracy they all come from a pre-christian State of Europe your Christianity was an oriental religion that inter erupted into Europe and changed the course of European history and derailed it for over a thousand years people couldn't build a dome like the Dome of Maxentius in Rome because they'd lost the understanding of simple engineering wasn't until Brunelleschi's dome in Florence in the 15 16th century that that was possible so we're looking at a phenomenon here where religion did to our forefathers did to the history of our culture exactly what Matthew says it's doing again did the prospects for science and program in our contemporary well David well very briefly Anthony I think actually you're the victim of a very parochial education because long before Christianity Judaism enunciated all the ideals that you say did not actually come from religion in 50 BCE when when Hillel was asked to summarize all of Judaism he said that which is hateful to you don't do to others and and the sages of of Judaism were killed by the Roman Empire not by a religious Empire as opposed to Socrates who was killed by the athenian polity that you idealize they killed their own sages in Judaism we venerated them and they're actually the ones who seeded Christianity and gave us the morality that you claim came from the Stoics Anthony can I tell David just a quick little answer about a conversation I had with a cab driver in London cab drivers in London very interesting folk I asked this that this man if he'd read the Old Testament he said he hadn't I said do you remember any stories Snell test he thought for a moment he said yep I remember something about a woman being turned into a pillar of salt and I took this to be evidence of some domestic disorder in his own family and wishful thinking I said to him do you remember that story you know God didn't like the the homosexuals in Sodom she was going to destroy everybody there somebody pointed out to him that there might be a righteous person sent the angels to tell a lot to get out of the city the citizens wanted those two angels they're handsome young men a lot said to them you can have my daughters instead when they finally left the city what happened his two daughters didn't have husbands so they slept with their father and became the Arabs we see where your second story by the way actually your you live you also are the victim of an inadequate biblical education I think because Sodom was not destroyed because of homosexuality read the Book of Ezekiel it was destroyed because of the cruelty of the people of Saddam their immorality and and I really I think with all due respect that that to cite London cab drivers pithy though they may be as the as the demonstration that Judaism didn't actually create the morality of the West maybe a little thin all right I want to be used in the chemistry I want to and Sodom was destroyed no matter what reason you get to it I want to go to questions from the audience I want to move on to your questions and and recall that I'd like you to be very terse and to really ask a question that's on our motion that move it forward but I want before we get to to get all ready for that I just want to take one move things in one more direction to this side I want to I want to rephrase what David Wolpe has been saying is that is that religion a religion organizes religion has the capacity to organize the best in us to do good things and to transcend ourselves and and what he paints is a is a bleak world without that so it's undeniable in places like Africa etc that the enormous amount of work is done through organized religion and that's on everybody's mind so I'd like you to take that on well III we can share it but most people are religious so it's not surprising that most people who are out there doing good things are religious it's the same argument I would make about scientists most scientists were Christians well most everybody was Chris so of course most of Sciences for Christians so you're saying there's no cause and effect because I don't think so there's lots of blush people delicious's I'll challenge that on the basis of this book right here by the sociologist Arthur Brooks it's called who really cares and it's a careful study of philanthropy in America so it's comparing like with like it divides America into four groups religious conservatives religious liberals secular conservatives and secular liberals and it looks at generosity not just in terms of money but also in terms of time and not the religious causes but two so-called secular causes it turns out that the most charitable people in America by far are the religious conservatives the second most the second most charitable are the religious liberals the third most charitable are the secular conservatives and the last are the secular liberals now what's particularly poignant about this is the secular liberals in America are the richest they earn the most money but they give away the least so it is not the case that this is a generic matter of people who happen to be religious the point which David Sloan Wilson made in a recent book is that evolution narrows the circle of our sympathies to our kins or to people from whom we can get something but when you do things in service to God you're much more likely to help the stranger the Arabic responsibility side if you want okay there are plenty of non-religious people involved in charitable endeavors and they don't stay on afterwards because they don't have an extra agenda and I just want to quote you when you mean pricilla's Asia yeah and I don't I just want to enter you can you be explicit about yes and because I didn't think that they're staying off his I'm going to need to proselytize about they don't want to return for their investment that George Bernard Shaw said in this very very quick quote he said when he gave up religion escaped religion as a teenage he said that moment was the moment when I felt the dawning of moral passion because people who don't take a box out of the frozen-food warehouse of morality you know they're all is a people you've got to think about their responsibilities and about their relationships to other people there got to be people who think about the diversity how different people are from one you know the Golden Rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you George burnisher said no under no circumstances should you do to others what you'd like him to do to you because they may not like it and that's a very good insight it means see them for what they are in their individuality and personality and base your morality on a genuine understanding of what it is to be human in a human world all right I'm going to go to questions and if I turn down your question please don't take it personally I just be my judgment that it might not be on point right in the middle there yeah yeah you just pointed to yourself and if you could stand up and tell us your name hi my name is Elizabeth and my question to those who are for the motion is how are the harms of religion different from those of nationalism or racism and for those against the motion how are the good things from religion different from the good things that come from secular charities or community organizations or being involved with your family ok I'm going to good questions which are really one question and I think we all see and I will let the side go first decide for the motion well ok I I think the difference is is that even the mistakes of people who are acting out of non-religious motives are mistakes based on reason and most of the horrors of religion our mistakes based out of superstitious fear and delusion and I cannot see how delusion can be healthy to a society I just can't I can't see it not all of these religions can be true because they all contradict each other so some of them are delusional how can this be healthy it's divisive it's nonsense and I'm not saying that atheism has come up with the perfect solution but there has to be a better way than this do you know what it is I think it's secular humanism it's a present David Wolpe if you want to respond either respond to what's just been said or to the question which was a very I mean the the frustration that I that I repeatedly am having in this debate is that we're arguing theory against the world the world is that there are millions and millions and millions people who be who buy their own testimony although the other side may not believe it say they're doing good because they believe there is a transcendent purpose in there doing good therefore they'll do it tomorrow next week next month next year it's not a club that's going to dissolve they're not going to go away they're not going to stop doing it and they're going to teach their children to do it and what we hear on the other side to a great extent is that's bad because it's delusional and the question is not actually with the world be better off if everybody had the same scientific ideology would that be a better world the world the question is what would it be like if religion were gone what would it be if you just all of a sudden sucked that motivation from these countless people who do good and that's what I want to know I'd like to I'd like to propose an experiment if I may which is I would ask the audience how many of you out there do good things do charity visit people in hospitals take care of friends and could I see a show of hands of anyone who's involved in charitable endeavors helping people taking care of animals giving money to charity whatever a rapture happens right now goes there we have I always tell now now I would like to see a show of hands of how many of those people did that because they feared religion or religious authority fear well or or were all worried here's Mike okay I haven't no I haven't been I haven't finished it off so I haven't finished it okay or I mean we saw no hands there or who did it because they thought that by doing good action it would get them into heaven let's see a show of hands you that either favorably now now let's see a show of hands from people who do these good things simply because they have a human empathy towards people who are suffering we have a bias let's ever hear any audience I mean right we get it David recite the reason the reason the reason the reason that that the reason that that's not persuasive shall we say is first of all very few religious people will tell you it's to get into heaven it's because it's what God expects them to do that's first of all in other words you do it because other human beings are created in the image of God and if you take that out then our link is a species link but if we're all children of the same God then you are my brother and sister and that's why you do it it's different it's not because you're afraid of God and second peoples self-reported charitable doings although obviously everyone here is completely honest people's self-reported charitable doings are a lot less reliable than survey after survey after survey and the way that that the surveys were answered by Putnam by Brooks by Koenig by respected sociologists the way that he answered them is by asking you to raise your hand now I want to ask you seriously how many of you believe that all these sociologists and psychologists are cooking the data and how many you don't have to raise your hand and how many of you believe that whether you like religion or not the truth is that it does make people much more inclined to be self-sacrificing in this world and if you don't believe it then all I can say is I know a world without religion that you can look at I'm from that world it's called Hollywood alright let's go to another question right down on the front row there too now gentlemen the gentlemen gentlemen you'll probably notice a male/female pattern in my selection so so the next question you know who should raise her hands thank you so much for this evening I think it's a great debate and I truly enjoy it I am Muslim okay so definitely my question will go to you guys great point that you make but I will make a quick the thing is like is religion is really the question for me today because is that the misuse of religion does really bring all this drama and all the casts that we really talk about or is it really the religion itself because if I have a weapon right and I use it against you and in this day today we go to court I will take the person on his character and take him to court and take him to jail not the company that make the weapons or the owner of the company but I will take the person on his own Act let me so this is it really yeah I think your you started with the question okay which was is it is it religion or is it the way that some people are using it or misusing it and it's terrific question let's let the go to this side well I mean that did you need that to me is the entire problem if you look at any religious texts it can be interpreted in any way and give you an excuse to do anything these gentlemen here I'm sure they're very nice people and they look at it in the most benign way I've heard rabbi well pay over there say that the whole probe the whole process of religion is that you take all these complicated books and you filter them through human consciousness and outcomes something that makes sense I agree and when you filter them out what you get is humanism Jefferson did the same thing with the Bible he took out everything that he thought was contemptible or had nothing to do with the origins of religion he got 48 pages I say you could bring it down to one page that said or one phrase which would be do unto others as you do as you would have done to you it is as simple as that all of the so Matthew you write your answer to his question is it's not just how religion gets used it the problem is religion it's a problem as the ancient texts to the infinitely interpretable for any purpose good to nation you have somewhere new to take this response well yeah first of all Jefferson when who is the man of the Enlightenment not a very devout Christian as you point out correctly but when Jefferson was asked what is the source of our rights he could have said the social contract he could have said the Enlightenment but no he said it's the Creator he could think of only one source one word about the texts I think the point that rabbi Wolpe and I are stressing is that the way to interpret a text is to look and see whether the people who revere the text do the things in the text so for example he read a passage from do door animee about chopping off people's arms or removing their genitals so I ask you how many religious people are going around without arms or genitals no one who is Jewish or Christian reads the text that way so there's a form of you might say atheist fundamentalism in taking the text in so literal away that no Christian I mean there was a debate that between Paul and the early apostles about which aspects of the ancient law should apply to Christians it was settled 2,000 years ago that Christians would not follow the Old Testament in a literal way and even the guys in Dover aren't doing that so in a way I think these guys are charging an imaginary dragon trying to hold us accountable to texts which were in a sense not taken as literal 2,000 years ago the 4th I want to move on and fourth row but you can in your closing remarks you can my question is a little bit more broad it says is it religion basically a fear of death and ultimately your ultimate judgment and the selfish belief that humans are so important that we should have the right to live forever well you guys are going to say yes to that I'm pretty sure so I'm going to go over this way dinesh this is it I think your question is echoing an argument in Sigmund Freud that religion is wish-fulfillment we all that life is tough we have diabetes we have the gravedigger we would like to have another life and so religion is made up to accommodate that wish now I think that actually that theory doesn't square with what religion actually holds and here's why certainly it explains heaven heaven is a good example of wish fulfillment but remember that all the major Abrahamic religions also have held now think about that hell is a lot worse than diabetes hell's a lot worse than death why would we make that stuff up the bottom line I'm trying to make is that that diagnosis of religion is expressing wish fulfillment runs headlong into the actual facts that religious people actually sometimes fear of fate far worse than anything that life can offer them okay let's go to gentlemen yeah I'm looking right actually thank you if you can rise the mic we'll come to you um if there's anybody in the in the part of the auditorium that's not lit I want to confess I can't see you if you really truly want to have a question you ask a question if you come down the steps a little bit and I'll be able to see you I'll try to call on you I can't promise it but I'll try to call on you sir cut it this is specifically for you can you tell us who you are please Robert gentlemen thank you how could you possibly give a speech leaving out the Holocaust Bosnia Turkey and the Armenians how could you quote that ridiculous book which has been disproved when you take out the money that is given to the religion all of the numbers shift the other way you are sitting here systematically making up statistics to try and convince us that it's a good thing and I'd love just your response okay so you know I'm in a donation I don't I don't want you to I just I just think that's going to turn into a circle that doesn't get us further on our motion so I'm going to move on to a different question really let's do that can we do that show of hand things the show of hands thing all right make it very quick though please I want to focus on the Holocaust I would recommend to you this book Hitler's table talk it's edited by the prominent historian Hugh trevor-roper and it constitutes direct notes of Hitler's comments authorized by Borman between 1941 and 1945 in the night early 1930s when Hitler was coming to power he wanted to win over the Bavarian Catholics and the Lutheran's in Germany and so he invented what he called a Nazi Christ not a Christ who was killed but a Jew killer and he tried to sell that to the churches which didn't go for it this book records page after page of Hitler's loathing and hatred for Christianity he regarded the church as the most dangerous opposition to the Nazi regime and I could read for an hour quotations from Hitler's mouth about his hatred for Christianity my point is what the atheists will put up on their websites are are quotations from the early 1930s Minecon for Hitler says I'm doing the Lord's work this was part of a propaganda campaign to win over the churches that was unsuccessful Hitler was a hater of Christianity I've never called Hitler an atheist he was a circle kind of a pagan all right all right everybody happy all right good I just don't feel that it really moved our topic about whether religion is good or bad ma'am sitting on the stairs because he came all the way down eat sure yeah yeah hi my name is Katherine and it seems today that there seems to be a disconnect between the two sides one side argues that religion only creates good and perpetuates charity and civic engagement while the other says that it's a system of discrimination and religious doctrine creating hate I'm a feeling of the truth is somewhere in the middle however my question is this how do you get the benefits of civic engagement without the discrimination or is it even possible to disentangle the two within religious doctrines that more of a question to this side ah sounds like a yeah David Wolpe well I mean it is certainly true that good and bad are mixed in every society in every organization in every human being and the question you asked is a metaphysical question that is how do you get only the good and not the bad I don't know that that's possible to do in anything there's no charity that has not been subject to corruption and to misappropriation of funds and to people doing cruelty and I don't know that you can wash religion away and actually the essence of the debate is does religion too bad sometimes absolutely but if you measure the good in which religion does in the world and as I said the unadvertised good the the small good the constant good then what do you get in a world without it and the essence of the debate is whether in fact that world's going to be better or worse I think it's almost undebatable any response from this side of me the response is I notice that most of our mostly advanced countries of the world are secular constitutionally like this one or functionally secular like my own United Kingdom and the point about those societies is that they they organize welfare education defense infrastructure and they do this not in the name one another religion but in the name of society generally so when you look at the benefits you look at the rational application of ideas about how a society should flourish in advance and what the needs are of the members of that society the the post enlightenment world the world since the 18th century of the world which has been putting to work the ideas of scientific rationality has made a vast improvement to the lives of most individual people when you think of the poverty and you think of the ill health and you think of the divisive Nisour societies before their time you compare them to the society of today and notice this in every city of the world there are millions of acts of personal kindness and cooperation between people far outweighs all the conflicts and difficulty there is in the world and it has nothing to do with their ideologies or religions or anything else it's just a fact about us as social animals we need one another and we care about one of here's a very simple example you're walking down the street so you see somebody ahead of you big pile of brick Sun Awards just about as topple on that person's head what do you do your instinct is not to say this is going to be interesting your interesting thing is to call out to them and say watch out and you do it not because you're an evangelical or or a Jew or a Muslim but because you're a human being and that's another human being all right another question I would like to add that I think it's our job to say that to say that the secular people advertise and religious people don't religion is a constant process of advertising every good deed religious people do is taken along with a banner showing whatever religion is Doctors Without Borders makes no claim to having any religion without any nor does it claim a really you really think that accusation after I do a poll now of the group let me ask you how many of you had heard of the largest aid organization in the world that I mentioned at the beginning how many of you heard of it now how many of you had heard of Doctors Without Borders I rest my case well all right all right let's let's move can I take a poll on should we stop doing polls show of hand sir you're up sure thank you this is a question for you could you tell us your name please Frank Roberts thank you this is a question for Matthew and Professor grayling so the question of the evening is what would the world be better off without religion but my fear is that the question is in event itself somewhere disingenuous because it keeps it religion seems to be this theoretical thing up here and I'm wondering if we can ground it to more practical examples so my question is would you be willing to say in public that the world would be better off without Jews or the world would be better off without the civil rights movement or movement that we know it's based in a kind of radical black Christianity so my question to you is again rather than asking would the world be better off without religion is it more so a question of whether or not we think that religion is problematic or has been misappropriated etc etc etc but it seems like the very question of way better if it's probably can you zero in because I know that you can because you zero into the one point that you want to ask at one point that I want to ask is is is the question is the turn is the very term of the question somewhat disingenuous because we know that we would never say that the world would be better off without religious people with the world would right so you're asking would the world be better off without religious people and is that what you're arguing no I think we're arguing we'll be better off without religion but the point but but I think the point of his question is that I understand this person is lacking I understand this question exactly and it's a deep point of principle that in all these kinds of debates it's not about individuals it's not about people it's not about human beings we understand why human beings are religious they brought up to be religious or all they're they're not told enough about the history of their religion that they're given them the most updated version of it and so on so it's not about attacking individuals it's about attacking ideas it's about attacking ideologies it's about attacking conceptual frameworks which act like spectacles that make people see things in a particular way that's the argument it's not saying that we would like all Jewish people or Muslim people or Christian people taken as individuals not to be there no what we would like them is to be free from those distorting ideologies we're being I want to point out we're being live-streamed also on and we've asked viewers and readers of slate to submit questions and I have one that I find quite interesting to put two to the side arguing for a world with religion dan Riley in Portland Oregon says what a world in which Hinduism or Islam or Norse paganism were the only religion still be preferable to a world without religion in other words he's kind of if there were in Christianity and Judaism but there were one religion motivating people but it wasn't your favorite dimensional look I'll make my own case hard by looking solely at Islam because it is such a controversial subject in our world today I would submit that the world would be vastly worse the Muslim world would be vastly worse if it wasn't for Islam let's look at why that's the case first of all you have to look at what was there in the Bedouin culture before Mohammed rape pillage concubine edge Mohammed actually was a moderate in limiting the number of wives to four and by basically saying that you had to treat the four wives equally giving them all the same gifts and so on Mohammed essentially ensured that the entire Muslim world for the most part you'd have people with one wife polygamy is very rare in the Muslim world for that reason so the bottom line of it is that Islam was a vastly civilizing force not to mention the introduction of a cosmopolitan civilization with the history of philosophy and a distinctive architecture not to mention great Islamic philosophers and thinkers even the great Jewish scholar Bernard Lewis has a great appreciation for the civilizing influence of Islam in the world a clear answer to that question I still want to go to the other side to see if you respond to that well I just have in mind what Gautama Buddha said to his followers he said don't make me a god don't turn this into a religion it's a philosophy it's a philosophy of compassion it's a philosophy of authenticity it's a philosophy about living respectfully and responsibly don't make it a religion and don't turn me into a God and the thing is that even if it was just in awe Scots and paganism or or the Olympian gods somehow rather it would cease being that that thing that the Buddha wanted a philosophy to be and it would become something that admitted you know all its extremes including the the hypocrites on one side and the extremists on the ER okay ma'am you were patient before when it was almost your turn so try again there's the mic and if you could stand up and tell us your name please hi my name is Mita and I'm a student at NYU my question is sort of a clarifying question for both side you've been referring to religion and to the acts of religious people I'm wondering if you see religion as a social organization versus religion as a personal individual instance of faith as distinct and having distinct effects or do you see them as inseparable and can I refine your question to take a more to our motion and you tell me if this is fair in a way are you asking should we get rid of the organizations and the churches and the synagogues and the panoply and the various kinds of hats the different faiths wear to establish themselves and and and to promulgate their rules is that what you mean essentially yes oh yeah and I want to ask the side arguing for a world without religion is that's what you're talking about if you're talking about yes I think the organization's I think we're thinking about a more or less organized collective practice of doctrine and morality I mean people do the thing about the word religion it's like sort of grandmother's Underpants you know it's huge in baggy and saggy no it's got so so many things in it and we we talk about football is this religion or tennis is our religion and so I'm meaning something it obsesses you and and takes you over that the idea of what one person believing that you know there are fairies at the bottom of the garden and that that's that person's religion is a bit of a stretch of the word you've got to look at the paradigm and the paradigms are Judaism and Christianity in Islam and Hinduism and they are collective practices is their religion without the organisation rabbi will be David Wolpe no um I mean there is personal religious experience but there but but what we're talking about today is the social organization of religion and what religion does in the world not some specifically what it does for individuals so I would okay Serge right down in the front row plaid shirt thank you my name is Mike I put in the holidays and we're talking a lot about charity and you focus on making is that religion is very charitable charities are often scrutinized because of their overhead I've I've been to the Vatican and how do you reconcile the the obvious plunder fluid of funds that are being collected versus what is given out and be honest with you fi how do you how would you convince me to give my money to you when I can give it to charities knock on door Anakin I promise charities without as much overhead but but David Wolpe I think the questioner is saying that religions can get very involved in earthly things and bogged down in them or internationally want to take the question yeah I think in the case of the Vatican the wealth of the Vatican is in priceless treasures tapestries that's the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel art now let's remember let's remember hold on a second it's not the Vatican's bank balance it's the Vatican's treasures and let's remember that it was Pope's the Medici Pope's and so on who commissioned those paintings if it wasn't for Catholicism we wouldn't have the Sistine Chapel not only that not only that but in a study of achievement this the social scientist Charles Murray asked this question why at the top of the Gothic cathedrals are there gargoyles that have been detailed and carved in a way that no one can see them and when the people who did those were asked why they were doing it when no one could see it they said we are carving for the eyes of God the point being that transcendence introduces a new perspective subspecies a turn entities the perspective of eternity and so in a sense your orientation is different you act differently and I'm not defending accumulations of wealth I concede religion like any human institution is susceptible to corruption a little bit like politics or anything else but I'm saying on the balance I think it would be wrong to think that we would be better off as a civilization as a culture it's not all Athens it is a combination of either side on the question of the balance either Church the Church commissioned a lot of up because it had the money and even artists have to eat and were you notice that after the the medieval period the time when of the great Gothic cathedrals were built soaring up to heaven with their wonderful spires and Crockett's that was a time when people were taught that this life is short and nasty and brutish and you've got to hang in there and if you don't sin too much you might have a bit of a shorter time in purgatory and the Renaissance the rediscovery of classical antiquity and it's its love of things human and things natural reintroduced not just devotional art but landscapes picnics portraits of ordinary people paintings are still lives a celebration of this world and all the joy and pleasure that there is to be had in this world a humanistic perspective well not Thomas Hobbes who said life was nasty brutish and short it wasn't a religious it was a philosopher I was quoting him yes one more question right from the center there microphone will come in all over the United States today so far as I can tell we're seeing churches the organized religious institutions shutting down or closing down or contracting in particular churches and synagogues as far as I can see personally in great numbers does that bee speak in your view and in your view a decline in the views of Americans towards religion as something that they do not want in this country so in other words our American is beginning to vote with the other side more should I take a poll now ah good one the look in in survey after survey after survey Americans still pronounce themselves overwhelmingly religious overwhelmingly religious 80 percent 90 percent it is it's certainly true and by the way and don't discount economic downturn because that also has a profound effect on religious institutions and other nonprofits as it does on the on the rest of the economy I think that you find both trends at the same time I think that this is a complicated you need Balanchine to choreographic this it's complicated at the same time as people's religion is still high their sense of religious affiliation and what how they want to express their religion shifts very much and so I don't think that you necessarily are seeing a decline in people's sense that there's something transcendent something greater than themselves but but some organized religions and not all Mormonism is growing some evangelical groups are growing some they all are decline you reported that 10 percent 10 percent of the American population is made up of former Catholics which I find astounding that is astounding oh sorry are they Jewish unbridled gilts running around in the society as well maybe I should do the Vatican Dinesh D'Souza well I do think it's there was an expectation in the 60s and 70s that the world was becoming secular Europe was seen as being the automatic vanguard of this and the assumption was that as people become more affluent and educated they will automatically become more secular it's turned out not to be the case America has not gone the way of Europe and in fact if you look at any other culture we're not seeing this automatic secularization if you meet a Hindu PhD and a Hindu janitor they're just as likely to be religious there's no difference same in Islam so I think that it is the disproof of the secular assumption that has in a sense brought out this aggressive new atheism because the Atheist thought they were winning anyway they were winning by default I think the European case is anomalous it was not an attack on religion it was an attack historically on an oppressive alliance between throne and altar it was a political rebellion against a particular manifestation of religion in that society and the rest of the world is not going that way at all to Germany's advance of atheism actually a bit of a retreat Iida sadly I don't see much of an advance in atheism but as for the church is emptying out I think it's rather like the corner store has been taken over by Walmart you you have the little churches and then you have the big mega church and you have churches now where 20,000 people going to go to pray evangelical Christian so I'm some diminution of religious attendance but I don't see a huge surge of atheism okay I'm fluent and Anthony grayling I think Dinesh might be guilty of a tiny bit of wishful thinking there because that the trend is towards more secularism in fact what's happened since 9/11 when you know but very violent religious activism bought bridge and back into everybody's point of focus again is that the volume has gone up people think that religion is resurgent but actually it's because the volume has gone up in the debate literally thousands literally thousands of books of a religious nature are published every year in the United States of America and in Britain you'd only have to walk into a bans and nobody see shelf after shelf of them about half a dozen books Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and Dan Dennett about half a dozen books have been published attacking religion and putting the Atheist case and all hell breaks breaks loose but by the way hell was sufficiently banned by the Episcopalian Church back in the nineteen twenties I don't know whether you know this but you know they're trying to reinvent themselves but anyway it broke loose because half a dozen books to come out attacking the religious standpoint and what happened was this before 9/11 religion went sort of by default if I met a religious person I would you know pussyfoot around few eggshells somebody once said you meet a Christian it's like meeting somebody's at a recent death in the family which is a bit sort of apropos so you wouldn't say anything and they probably at a dinner party wouldn't come out with that with their religious mission State Anthony but after 9/11 they did start to do it the gloves have come off the debate is now out in the open and that's why it all sounds so noisy and that concludes round two of this intelligence squared us debate and here's where we are we are about to hear a brief closing remarks from each debater in turn the closing remarks will be two minutes each this is their last chance to change your minds remember after this we're going to ask you to vote again and very quickly we'll have the results in a couple of minutes to declare our winner on to round 3 closing statements by each debater in turn our motion is this the world would be better off without religion here to speak against the motion in his closing remarks David Wolpe rabbit rabbi of Sinai temple in Los Angeles California it's I'm not going to read you from the article and skeptic magazine that appeared in the most recent skeptic magazine which is as anti religious a magazine as you can find saying that it is not possible to sustain that religion causes violence in the world that that is in fact not true and none of the statistics support it but I do encourage you to take a look and read it and instead I'm going to end with a story I'm a rabbi so rabbis you go grin was a rabbi in England for many years but he and his father were in Auschwitz when he was a child and Hanukkah came around and his father took the precious margarine ration and instead of using it for food he used it to light the Hanukkah candle and his son protested and said how can you do this don't you understand that this is food and his father said to him listen my child we have learned that you can go three weeks without eating you can go three days without drinking but you cannot go three minutes without hope now we've been accused of being too sophisticated to participate in this debate real religious people are simple-minded but I want to tell you that there are people all over this world who whether you think of them as simple-minded or not the hope of their lives the purpose of their lives the good that they do is dependent not in fact on evolutionary pressures alone but on that candle on the idea that God not threatens them not is going to send them to hell but that God created them in God's own image that they are precious that they are sacred and so are other human beings and they wouldn't leave live three minutes without that hope and if you vote for the motion then you're suggesting that that the world would be better if the hope were taken away from them it isn't and you shouldn't Thank You David Wolpe our motion is the world would be better off without religion and here to speak in support of the motion AC grayling philosopher and author of the good book a humanist Bible thank you um it seems very unkind to say this but alas it's just basically true that the religious outlook on the world has its roots its origins in the beliefs the superstitions of illiterate goats who lived up to 3,000 years ago and however much religion reinvents itself and however much it tries to make us forget its history and however much it it obscures the fact that it depends upon proselytizing very small children for its survival despite all that we have an opportunity to think again and afresh and to recognize that in order to live with the kind of hope with the kind of responsibility with the kind of love for our neighbor which is essential for a world of peace we've got to do that hard work of choosing our morality choosing our ethics thinking about the principles on which we live not borrowing it not inheriting it not having to conform to a set of doctrines about these things in a set of rituals which people very very very long time ago depended upon to do their thinking for them but to think of fresh start again and look at this world as a place where reason and human experience have to be our best because they are in fact our only guides thank you easy ghrelin our motion is the world would be better off without religion and here to summarize his position against the motion dinesh d'souza president of the Kings College in New York rabbi whoopee and I have been laboring under a tremendous disadvantage in this debate both our opponents have a British accent now now I was raised in in India and I come from a small part of India called Goa which was a Portuguese colony for many years and I'd always assumed that my Christianity was the product quite honestly of the Portuguese Inquisition the Portuguese came to India with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other and lots of people converted they were extremely persuasive so I'm very alert to the dangers of religion on the other hand I once asked my grandfather a historian about this and he said that the fact of the matter was that tons of Indians flung themselves into the arms of the missionaries they wanted to convert why and my grandfather's answer was that if you look at history it was because of the ancestral not religious but cultural caste system most of the Indians were relegated to the lower castes and the fact of the matter is that if you were at the bottom and untouchable let's say there was no way to get out there was no way to move up no amount of merit could help you and so even though the missionaries might have been greedy and irredentist the fact that they preached an idea of universal brotherhood of love of compassion inspired people in noble their lives and that's why they became Christians a world without religion would in fact be a grimmer harsher meaner world religion for all its flaws gives us a kind ler a kinder and gentler world and that's why it's better to have a world with religion in it thank you thank you Dinesh D'Souza our motion the world would be better off without religion and here to summarize his position in support of this motion Matthew Chapman writer and co-founder of science debate the world will be better off without religion because it is better off without religion if religion made people behave better markers of social dysfunction drug addiction ignorance teen pregnancy violent crime would be much lower in highly religious societies in fact the opposite is true to quote my friend Austin desi in post Christian Europe entire nations have been plunged into endemic health skyrocketing education and hopelessly low rates of violent crime this whereas a disadvantage being glish and I'm not I'm American forgive me for using America by way of comparison I am American I love America however ninety percent of Americans believe in God but we have by far the largest prison population on earth drug addiction is widespread gun violence is grotesque our education system produces kids whose math and science skills are far lower than in secular countries while I rate of teen pregnancy a far higher and in a country so rich and Christian it's amazing how many people live in abject poverty religion is irrational morally confused and confusing and divisive it still exposes young children to the ghastly concept of hell it still denigrates women it still fast as homophobia and religious gave us 9/11 making no reference to God sciences has among many other things rid us of the plague smallpox and polio dramatically reduced infant mortality doubled the average length of a person's life and is coming to understand how the brain works including its capacity for empathy and moral decision-making all this progress all this beautiful knowledge all this alleviation of human suffering in 100 years religion has had thousands of years to prove its supernatural effectiveness it hasn't we think it's time to try a safer and more enlightened way so I hope you'll support our position that the world would be better off without religion Thank You Matthew Chapman and that concludes our closing statements and now it's time to decide to decide which side you feel argued best let me just say that again so that it comes in and now it's time to find out which side you feel argued best we're going to ask you again to go to the keypads at your seat and to vote on which argument you felt was better presented push number one if you're with this team the team that's arguing that the world would be better off without religion number two if you're with the team that argued against that proposition and number three if you remain or became undecided in the course of the debate and we'll lock those in ignore the other keys and you can correct your vote as I said earlier and we'll we'll have the results practically instantaneously our producer Crisco Mikawa is backstage working on them and we'll bring them out to me so um before we move forward I just want to thank I want to thank our debaters for that for the quality of argument and the spirit of fairness that they brought to this and I really feel that they they might not have agreed with each other but they heard each other and that's the essence of what we're trying to do here and I also want to say that the questions that we got tonight were some of the best we've ever had in a debate the question from Slade from everybody here even the gentleman with the question that I wanted to veto the audience's veto of my veto was a good call I think that went into a good place so thank you to all of you for your participation into the questions ago so this concludes our fall season but we're starting up again right after New Year's we start a new season of five debates throughout from March from January through May and we are setting them up now and I just want to talk with you let you know what's coming up what's booked so far what's in the cast and the iron at this point On January 10th the UN should recognize a Palestinian state will be our motion and our debaters will include arguing for recognition Hanan Ashrawi who has long been a player in the story of the peace process she was the first woman to be elected a member of the pl o–'s Executive Committee very frequent guest in the old days on Nightline and we're very very happy that she's coming in for that and arguing on the other side Aaron David Miller he has served six secretaries of state on arab-israeli negotiations and the rest of the slots on that debating panel are yet to be filled on February 7th our motion is going to be obesity is the government's business and we have booked Paul campus he is the author of the obesity myth and he is trying to fight society's fear of body fat March 13th the motion we go internationally and every season we do we do something from the east or try to and this time a focus on China in an interesting way we think China does capitalism better than America and our debaters and that include Ian Bremmer who is a founder of a global political risk consultancy New York magazine says he makes his career makes Mozart look like an underachiever and on April 17th the motion will be when it comes to politics the Internet is closing our minds will include Jacob Weisberg who is a pioneer in online publishing chairman of the slate group and our partner in this whole process and Elly Perez our who is the forum executive editor of and may 8th we book this before the news caught up with it but the motion on May 8th is banned college football our debaters will include buzz Bissinger who is a missing girl who is a writer and acclaimed author of Friday Night Lights and Malcolm Gladwell who has compared football to dogfighting and who's the author of blink so our full line of debaters will be will be put together fairly soon you can come to our Facebook page and if you join our Facebook page you'll have a discount on future tickets we're also on Twitter and on NPR stations across the nation you can check the local listings for when it will air on NPR and wmic here in New York and we'll also be on public television this particular debate as well so again I want to thank you all and we'll we'll do a very a very brief countdown I'm going to guess from 60 seconds or so to the point even faster thank you Chris all right so we have the final results we asked you to vote before the debate and once again after the debate on where you stood on this motion and on what team you felt argued their position best in the team whose numbers change the most are our winner the motion is this the world would be better off without religion and here is the result before the debate 52 percent were in support of the motion 26% were against and 22% were undecided after the debate 59% support this motion that's up 7 percent 31% are against it that's up only 5% and 10% are undecided that's down 12% that means the side arguing for the motion that the world would be better off without religion has carried this debate our congratulations to them thank you for me John Donvan and intelligence squared us we'll see you next time

that was a brilliant first opening speech. Completely sold me on the for team. Ill keep watching till the end though

The first speaker hit it right on the head. To me the only TRUE Christians there are are the Amish. They live strictly according to the Bible. They are the most loving and honest and hard working people walking this earth. All others are simply cherry pickers and the biggest hypocrites are on this planet. They live not by what they preach, only what soothes their guilt of the wrongs that they do through out the week, then to meet weekly to repent only to repeat this cycle over and over. I would recommend dropping all of this religions nonsense and just do everything that comes from heart and soul. Love all, forgive all, help your brothers and sister, hold no grudges, fear nothing, especially GOD! Once you realize we are all one, you will never want to harm anyone in any way again.

Religion is only as good as the people who practice it. Just like with anything, it can be used for good or bad. Man is fallible, God is not. And for those saying there is no God like it is fact, that's your opinion. Ironically, it takes faith to believe that there is no God. You tell me to show proof of a higher power. The "proof" is everywhere. The proof is you and me. Provide me proof that there is no God. But you will say I'm the one making the claim so the burden of proof is on me. But actually, we are both making claims, so the burden is on both of us. There is more proof for intelligent design than there is against it. After all, life cannot come from non-life. And you might say that we believe in God to make ourselves feel better. Well I could say the same about you for not believing. You may feel better being an atheist, because who wants to be accountable for all the wrong they've done?

Why are the debates about god and religion taken in the recent western world that Christianity represents all religions and that Christian god is seen as the right god? In Christianity, God is mal-established, the Bible and Jesus contain many non-scientific elements, and the religion itself has historically made many mistakes. OnCharm Lee (Author of the book “Humans & Truth – Human life is the awakening process”)

Yes I do believe that the world would be better off without religion, but it has it's good things, but religion has also done a lot of damage.

Does religion breed intolerance, violence, and the promotion of medieval ideas?
The religion called solidity promotes intolerance, which promotes violence which ARE medieval ideas. Solidity is a myth, an untruth, the only religion that has led to every war, prison and torture ever experienced. And all this when there are billion dollar colliders built in the world that never find solidity.
Whom do you think your are fooling, but the slaves to your religion that have no time to read?
I say to everyone—go see what the God particle looks like. It is pure energy, the same as every point of light that spins as every atom.

Bullies always seem cheerful when they feel vindicated for the harm that has been done to them first.
Religion is the way a person sees and feels the world. To take away religion would take away all of what a person is. Then they might as well be robots.

Man even in debates religious people are so angry sounding, he wasn't saying angry words, just they seemed to be so defensive that it came across that way at times. Maybe just frustrated because their positions in all the gods are so much harder to defend which I can see as a source of agitation.

Makes them hard to listen to, don't need to feel like I'm being scolded as a listener of a debate, take it easy next time guys, your points will be much much better received said in a calm cool and collected way

Are you kidding! I've watched all these religious oriented debates and I am a Christian and I have always thought that the religious panels did a piss poor job in arguing their case because they would allow the atheist panel to drag them into debates about doctrine and mistakes made by men or women of religious faith instead of hammering down on the premise of the debate. I have rarely been surprised by the outcome but this one blows my mind.
For once, the religious panel kept to the point. In fact, the religious panel was the one quoting science, statistics, and experience while the other side was drastically void of such studies.
I'm not saying this from any point of view or bias. I think the religious panels in previous debates lost but in this case the religious panel decimated, DECIMATED their opponents. It wasn't even a contest. The panel of atheists had absolutely no response to the studies presented by their opponents. They could point to no one atheistic organization that could compete with religious altruism. They had no response to the studies that showed that religious individuals donated more to charity. They had no answer to religious value systems effect on western culture and government. And their only response was that "we can do it better" without any evidence that they do!
Their best argument from the atheists, in my opinion, is the one about mass delusion. There is a reasonable discussion to have about what is better, a population of deluded individuals that through their delusion give greatly of themselves to others and develop a belief that encourages them to be at another's aid verse a population of people that are not deluded but sit on their hands and hoard their own wealth and time for themselves or immediate families.
The problem with the delusion argument is that it starts with a presumption that both sides havn't conceded, and that is that God is a delusion. To use the delusion argument you must first prove its pretense which of course would take another debate altogether. But, you know what? The atheists didn't really harp on this argument and I give them credit for this because it would have been dishonest.

The greek are the ones who set all ethics and laws in Europe that we still practice today. Also, they were religious people. They had their Gods that they worshiped. I am pro the world is better without religion.

Forget about "good" or "bad" deeds of religions.
Religions have clearly done their time, during which they brought their own share of benefits. But they are now clearly redundant. We need more FAITH in the visible Humanity, less reliance on invisible "Gods". Humans have lived for over 50000 years: it's time we get out of this "teenage" state of religion beliefs and embrace our intellectual and social capacities as a "grown-up" species.
Enough of being "infantilised" by superstitions that make us doubt ourselves and mistrust each other.

There have been 1,763 wars ever recorded in history.
Only 123 were religious (66 of them involving Islam).

Remind me again how religion causes most wars.

I have heard Rabbi Wolfe speak at a number of these type functions and he oftentimes seems unable to pull from rich Jewish thought. Either he does not perform well under pressure and therefore must resort to cute little comments. Having lived and worked in LA perhaps he practices Judaism "light" where it is not necessary to be biblical and more important to practice universalism.

I am likely to be an atheist when two things happen, number one we create a life form and secondly when we can explain how something came from nothing, there had to be a creator otherwise our own existing is not possible.

The world would be a sadder place without the influence of religion. Without religion there would be no universities, no hospitals, no homeless shelters, no food pantries, no Catholic Social Services, no Lutheran Social Services, no Salvation Army. And YMCA/YWCAs. Where are the atheist social services, atheist homeless shelters, atheist mission halls, atheist food pantries?

Is religion better off in a world with hunger, suffering, crime, war and disease, or one that's educated, prosperous not so much crime not so much suffering and governments that are interested in the well being of their people. Statistics indicate it's thriving in the former and dying in the latter.

The best religion is in Genesis I alone. which  states that we are completely spiritual, without any reference to our materiality, or to an angry god, or a talking snake, or a devil or anything but good. Most religions, while they speak of loving others, they can be very harsh also and tend to help pieseople think they are basically bad. Genesis I refutes this clearly, and say's "God saw EVERYTHING God had made and BEHOLD, IT was VERY GOOD!" And we have "Dominion", over the things of the Earth including material laws, (Quantum Physics backs this up now as did Jesus), and that we were made in "God's own image and likeness, meaning we are basically loving, good, beautiful, and like God in qualities, which lifts people up, and is the Truth which could set us free. Love to all.

Why do Christians hang onto known criminals as their Champions? Dinesh D'Souza, Kent Hovand, Peter Popoff…. why?

The closer one person get to a holy book, the crazier that person seems to get … moderate religious people who merely go to church once a week… then you have evangelical, then you have scary pseudo-scientist trying to distort science so it fit with the bible, then you have the westboro baptist church… then you have flat out terrorist.

Of course, any reasonable logical person will start 'interpreting' the bible…a 6000 years old earth just doesn't make any sense whatsoever with science. However, you may reinterpret that it was created in 6 'cycle', each cycle being several hundred millions years long… You'll probably use the very harsh sociological context of the 1-2th century to justify many of the violent act of the bible… you will probably just skip over the part where you have to stone to death your daughter because she had sex before marriage and you won't even try to justify Noah's ark cause nothing in that fairy tale make sense, from a scientific point of view, and a moral point of view ( why a slow agonizing death as the available land slowly shrink over 30 day? God can't push the 'Reset' button? why kill children under the age of reason? why kill unborn children? why kill all animals (minus 2), all plants, all freshwater fish, all insect…and offer to the remaining 8 survivor one depressing desolace wasteland …?)

In the end, you'll simply end up choosing which part of the bible you like, and which one you don't like ( one of the reason we have hundreds of different branch of the same religion today!).

Well, if you can pick and choose what make sense to you and what doesn't… why not just go all the way? Instead of basing your morality on a 2 thousand years old book who doesn't make sense half the time, why not simply use your own logic, your own reason for your morality?

Congratulation, you no longer need god in your life to be a good person.

Those who lean left on the social political philosophy scale also do all those things, volunteering, tending to the less fortunate, planting trees, etc. It's not religion that motivates them, it's raising people in a society that values altruism. We can replace religion with just plain old altruism. It's not as if in Denmark or Sweden people are drinking all the time and not giving a shit about any poor or unfortunate people. By the way, they also live very long compared to the world average. It's not religion that's having these effects in those countries. It's raising people in a caring, supportive environment and inspiring them with stories of altruism.

ALL religion is based on a single axiom, the concept of God. It is a concept entirely without foundation and should be dismissed at a glance. But most of us believe what we are expected to believe as a matter of cultural survival. So the fallacy of God continues and religion remains the means of murder, torture and slavery in the lust for power over others.

I completely support separation of state and church. However I am quite dubious whether wiping out religion from the face of the earth would solve the problem. I agree the currently religion is being exploited for terrible uses (or even by nature some religion may be created for such purpose) but I find some ideologies very similar to religion when adopted by a government. Certain ideologies are extremely oppressive just like religion. I believe even without religion there will be more ideologies replacing religion to cause more troubles in the world

48:00 People are born with genetic dispositions in terms of aggression and general temperament. Some kids are too giving, others are too selfish. It's a toss up, whatever the outcome.

I thought we would be better off without religion at one time but I have noticed it leaves (some people ) vulnerable to bad ideas.

So out off all the religions.. Only one of them (yours) has to be real? So people die for a fake illusion, are just as obsessed with your there as you even tho it's fake, truth is they're all not real

There is no crimes of atheism.. Only crimes of religion, crimes based on religion, crimes are not based on atheism but just based on politics and power.. Religious and atheist people fight these wars


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