T Nation

'Society Needs Religion' Debate


Got asked to take part in a college society debate in proposition of the motion, "This house needs religion", next week. Was hoping that you guys could help me out and give me some arguments that I might be able to use.

PLEASE PLEASE don't make THIS a forum for debate, that's not what Im looking to do I just need some help in writing a speech.

Some points I'm thinking of making are

that as long as there has been society, human awareness and the capacity of complex human thought there has been religion and so the 2 simply can't do without one another
that most of the best second level educational institutions (here in Ireland anyway) are religiously associated, and particularly associated with the Jesuit order
thinking of maybe ending with something along the lines of, in and incresingly atheistic society we have invented a new religion called corporate banking blah blah blah.... and our new Gods are the stock and financial markets blah blah blah

Would really appreciate any tips, haven't publically spoken in quite a while

Cheers lads!!


You could go a lot of different ways. It may be interesting to go with it's benefits to society and it's necessity to having a free and prosperous country.

It's the foundation of human rights, self government (individual responsibility), limited government, and morality.


Tell them that religious thought gives society good and evil. Without faith, the argument is that we're nothing more than bio-chemical machines. Good and evil doesn't exist in that universe.

Well, there's the contradictory belief that good and evil exists, but only as the individual preferences (determined by how a predetermined nature responds to the environment/nurture, giving the illusion of free will) of the previously mentioned bio-chem machines.

Therefore, they could even reduce the experience of living a good, moral, life to the stimulation of the appropriate regions of the brain, even in the the comfort of one's own home, without actually having to live it. Or, they could have some faith.


Let me make a clarification. We are talking that religious belief is good and necessary to society by it members and not government? Am I getting that separation correctly?


correct pat


Tell them you think religion is pushing itself too far into our government, I think the concept of God is great
but my god don't like your god is ridiculous


An ideal society doesn't need religion. In such a society people treat one another with mutual respect for the sake of the act itself, and for the positive outcomes it creates for society as a whole. They don't need to believe in supernatural entities in order to do this. By grounding themselves in reality, they circumvent the inevitable god wars that have plagued humanity during our entire history of creating religions to explain what we don't understand.

Then again, the ideal society is a dream rather than reality. Many actually do need religion in order to treat others with respect, and thus society benefits in that regard from religion.

Die Religion ist das Opium des Volkes.



Religion is many things, but a numbing opiate it's not. And Marx is and was a complete idiot. Everything he said was wrong.


"respect" and "positive" are derived supernaturally. In order to have a "positive" societal outcome, you must first define a universal positive direction. You can't have people pull together in the same direction without it. And you can't arrive at one without the supernatural.

If it's individually defined, all moral codes break down in society by simple disagreement. While it is often argued that the absoluteness of a religious belief is a weakness that doesn't allow flexibility, the other side of the coin has the opposite, and IMO much more severe, problem.

You even mentioned in on of the other threads, that you have, and your perfect world requires, faith in right and wrong. That is a religious belief. You are just too biased against the notion of religion to see it. You have faith in a universal moral code. It doesn't get any more religious and supernatural than that.

Not to mention you are on here just to argue, and are presenting and arguing the opposite of what the OP asked about.


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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Well then you need to break it apart to make your point. First you have to point out the fact that people will either be religious or replace it with something with which they will have a religious like fervor. Be it idealistic like science. OR materialism. People will hold something other than themselves in high esteem, it will be the focus of their lives and it will not have a rational basis. So I would first show that this is an intrinsic behavior and use examples. Humans worship, it's a need. Non-relgious folks just arrogantly believe their objects of worship are "rational", which actually makes it more bizarre.

Second, you are going to be attacked on the basis that religious rituals are seemingly meaningless. So your job here will be to show how everybody, especially in the west is consumed with daily rituals. From our bathroom to the courtroom, our lives are surrounded by rituals most of which are pretty meaningless. So religious rituals aren't more meaningless than anything else.

You then have to acknowledge that there are evil people who claim religion as their source for their evil, or relgious people gone bad do exist, but how they are not behaving in accordance the tenets of faith.

Last, you then have to show how base religious tenets are a force of good in the society where as atheism or secularism is intrinsically selfish, religious are called to do good to the fellow man with out expectation, where these religious tenets can make a society better by calling on people, not governments to treat each other with kindness and to help those in need.

This is a rather big scope though. We can drill down in multiple ways. I am betting money this will boil down God vs. no God. One way or another, this will lose all it's rational backing in a quick minute. It's an emotive topic and my experience is that people who aren't religious aren't neutral, they are down right hostile.


God of gaps expired melinia ago, we're not cave men. This is what mean. You are being derogatory and arrogant stating that religious people believe in something they do not. The is commonly referred to as the ol' Red Herring. Most wars fought through out history were not religious in nature and most religious people save for the lunatic fringe does not believe in a 'God of gaps' models of reality. Don't let the fact that I have pointed this fact out several thousand times stop you from repeating the same lies.

Except those who need it the most are the ones who don't have it.

Karl Marx, what an idiot! 'Yeah, work your ass off every day and just throw the fruits of your labor in to the communal pot.' That worked, how many millions died under this ideal model?


I did not notice that he was from Ireland but I would imagine the Protestants vs Catholics
would have a negative effect in Ireland's politics , perhaps


Religion doesn't need to be useful for society. For the faithful, it comes first.
If anything, religion justify society (and everything else), not the other way around.

Society could dissapear in a breath, the eternal truthes of religion would not cease to be true, as they are transcendant.

Asking how "society need religion" actually reflect a quite defensive stance.
it's indeed a quite irreligious, if not anti-religious question.

As soon as you ask it, you're applying an utilitarian perspective on religion. And, to the eyes of a religious man, you're actually asking how God serve Man, which is both absurd and blasphemous.


didn't even make it to a half dozen posts.


Seems to me the religious around here aren't quite neutral either and, quite hostile.


OP, I have an idea.

Do your own homework :slight_smile:


Actually, FL made the perfect post for you...These are the type of counters your are going to get so learn to pull apart the mistakes and find the points that actually don't address what you are talking about but are used as little poison pills.... Let's examine shall we?

So first, understand your topic. You topic is that 'Society needs religion'. You weren't talking about how to make an 'ideal society' right? So right their this is off base. You weren't talking about utopian society, you weren't talking about the fact that everybody needs to be religious, but simply that the presenence of religion helps people help society. Not that it makes a 'ideal society'.
Second sentence refers to mutual respect. I didn't see anywhere where you said mutual respect is only brought about by religion or religious people. So he's kind of arguing here against things you did not say or mean. It's note worth to point that out in debate.

Next he mentions not needing a supernatural being to support the notion that you can have an ideal society without religious belief. Again, it's not what you are discussing. Further, even if you were discussing that there is no evidence of a ideal cooperative society functioning with out belief in supernatural entities. So it's a double whammy.

This next statement is particularly noteworthy in its presentation and the dagger he throws in. You know the little dig that intimates that relgious belief and hence people who hold those beliefs are stupid. But it's very subtle. so lets look at what he did there.
Next he is intimating that religious people believe in a 'God of gaps' view of reality. In other words, if we do not have an explanation for a phenomenon observed or otherwise, we naturally assume it 'must have been God'. So for instance, say you are in your kitchen in your house by yourself and a chair in inexplicably moves. FL is stating here, because you haven't been able to determine a cause for this, if you are religious, you are going to necessarily believe that God came down from heaven and moved that chair. So if your religious you are necessarily an idiot. Forget the fact that said notions haven't been practiced for thousands of years literally. We still believe God is the only thing that explains things we don't have an explanation for. That was one dagger.

The second dagger is that war is a necessary side effect of religious belief. So if you are religious, then you are pro-war because of your region because there were religious wars in history. As I stated before, most wars in the history of the world were not religious in nature. Second, it's unfair to say every seemingly religious war was a religious war, and that it was malicious and unjust. It's intimating that religion begets evil despite the fact that such things are expressedly condemned by most faiths. Third its a poor view of history. It would be more fair to look at each war by why the war was fought, what was the goal and what actually happened.

There is a third dagger from the one statement. It's simple and elegant in it's expression. Religious people are not grounded in reality.
So in one sentence, he judged religious people to be stupid, deviod of reality and violent...Forget the fact that all of it is baseless, it still is off topic too.

Next he makes the claim that ideal society is 'just a dream', i.e. cannot be achieved after stating earlier how to achieve it. Then their is another dagger a forth that intimates that stupid people do need religion because if they didn't have it, they would not be capable of treating people with mutual respect.

Then finishing off the tasty morsel with a quote from Karl Marx, of all people. Translated means that 'Religion is the opiate of the people'
Of course, any religious person knows that's a load of crap. Being religious is the hard road not the easy road. But again he is speaking to the stupidity of religious people that they are just unthinking robots who just do what they are told and don't think about anything.

This post was perfect for your discussion. You may not realize it, but you do want this to turn in to a debate. Forlife's post is a perfect example of what your opposition will argue. They will tell you religion and religious people are non-nonsensical, stupid and violent.
You job is to show that that line of reasoning is just an Ad hominem. Disdain for religion and religious people doesn't make it wrong or not benificial to society. Further, that 'mutual respect\' as FL mentions is likely void of hateful bigotry. So with in this 'counter argument' he disproved his own point. That having a lack of religion doesn't beget mutual respect as he clearly shows he has no respect for religious people or religion.

He says some people (dumb people) need religion to have mutual respect, but he with having no religion has no respect for the religious. Does that mean he needs region then since he has no respect for religious people or religion?

What he did show clearly is not believing in God or being religious makes you more apt toward mutual respect, because he doesn't have mutual respect, but only respect for non-religious people. Having respect only for those who think like you is NOT mutual....Just sayn'


Religion is a drug that helps people be nice to each other. It is also a drug that helps people kill each other. Kinda like how alcohol creates happy drunks and violent drunks, depending on the person and the amount of alcohol.

Which is why I can't categorically embrace or condemn religion. It has both positive and negative effects on society.