Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

3 Pressing Questions on Religious Debate

Last night while on Facebook, I posted a status update, and over time it turned into a pretty heated religious debate between tw people with different faiths. To protect the image of the respective people's churches, I won't reveal what church they belong to, but what I can tell you is that they're both Christian. And as I read over the debate that was unfolding, I came up with the following questions: What exactly is religion, or the concept thereof? How do you define this practice of religious debate correctly? And above all, why does religious debate often end in hostilities?

To answer these questions, the conflicts of each must be outlined, deconstructed, then solved to come with an acceptable and appropriate answer.

To start, I'll take the first question, perhaps the most complex. What is religion? My personal belief is that religion, or church, is the way that mortals can return to our Heavenly Father, or God. Yet as I understand that lots of people out there don't share that belief, I'll go to a more philosophical view. And even though I'm no philosopher, from a strictly philosophical standpoint, I'd define the concept of religion as the belief or hope in a life after death, or with a more immediate definition, a way of defining and living this life we live now. Many religions contain commandments, or guidelines, or "rules" from which to abide by. And oftentimes these rules, when followed, shape the way one views not only himself but those around him.

The next question: How is the practice of Religious Debate defined correctly? Put simply in my own words, Religious Debate should be defined as a healthy practice in which two parties, however different, compare and contrast their beliefs. In the instance where one member disagrees with the other's belief, he should ask about it rather than immediately disregard it as untrue.

Once the definitions of Religion and the debate of it have been outlined, we arrive at the final question: Why does Religious Debate often end in hostilities? Why does the above-mentioned Debate transform into a war over who's saved and who's damned? The definition clearly doesn’t include anything like that. So why the fighting? To answer it, there’s really only one way to do so. Put yourself in the middle of a debate. The person you’re debating with questions, or maybe even challenges one of your beliefs. Your initial, natural instinct is to defend it. Some people defend it in different ways than others. But even the slightest tinge of hostility can corrupt the debate and send it into a vicious attack on each others’ faiths. Now hostility, along with defensiveness, is also a natural reaction for many. If it weren’t, there’d be no wars. So the simple answer to the questions is simply because of a chain of events set in motion by natural instincts.
A more complex answer requires much deeper thinking, however. The natural instincts arise because the two parties obviously care enough about religion to defend it at all costs. But why does it matter that one party’s belief is identical to another’s? The answer is much deeper than the previous, and depends on what beliefs the religions practice. Many Christian faiths believe in converting others not for the purpose of simply converting them but they view it as doing them a favor and giving them eternal salvation. Conversion is one way to answer the more complex question, but another way is simply for the sake of debate. There are people out there who argue every point, ever single detail of every single thought to prove its credibility and legitimacy. The enlightenment of the 18th century is a perfect example of this – using reason to find truth. It’s possible that in the context of religious debate this practice could trigger the above-mentioned chain of events that transform a calm debate into a hostile one. It’s a natural human thing to become frustrated when what’s important to them is repeatedly questioned and in some cases attacked. The natural response is to attack back. And then this escalates until the previously calm debate turns to a hostile one.




Join the Discussion


This article has 9 comments. Post your own!

BlueRainThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm:
Religion is always debated because there are so many different faiths and people feel that if someone else denies what they see as "the truth" then they should defend it as such. Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power at the very least. People treat their religions as if they were as true as the statement that "tigers have stripes". There are hundreds of religions. They can't all be right. Or can they?
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Aalto said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm:
You mentioned being defensive a "natural instinct" when it isn't viewed as such by many.  Just thought I'd bring that to your attention. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
andromeda13 said...
Oct. 10, 2011 at 11:27 am:
Great article, Very good subject. Way too many people fight over religion. Only one critism "ever single detail" should be "every single detail." 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
WordIsTruth said...
May 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm:
Religion is so overrated. Now before anyone rants, I'll tell you the reason why. Religion has to do with a certain belief; why don't we just learn what is the truth around us. What if atheism has it wrong? What if Jehovah Witnesses have it wrong? What if truth is in a book we keep on passing by and never read before? What if we have something nobody has ever thought of? To think logical, we are suppose to live a good life. We should live by morals. But what if the truth of life ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
matt7 said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm:
Debating should not be for the sake of winining (a selfish means), but for the sake of truth.
 
ChelseaKW replied...
Jun. 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm :
I agree. Debating is people with two different opinions expressing them to one another, hoping that the other will see the truth in their view. Many times there is truth on both sides, but sometimes the truth is viewed or interpretted differently.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
write4life said...
Nov. 12, 2009 at 8:04 pm:
I definitely agree that debating over beliefs should not end in hostility! Debating is good and can strengthen your faith, but excessive arguing just brings everybody down. Your writing is excellent!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
QuestionAuthority1128 said...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 8:37 pm:
You are such an eloquent writer! Too many people these days are afraid to use "big words". Good job!
--Fellow Utahn
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Apple said...
Oct. 14, 2009 at 10:46 pm:
Well-written in my opinion. So in this case, your answer to 'why' to religion is based on your belief in christianity and salvation to God. Your observation, I think, is pretty accurate. I, too, think it is important not to tag people of other beliefs than you as aliens or savages; they find their answers, and they are important to them in their own right. I also like how you point out that the reason people go berserk over religion is that they feel that what they value is violated or... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback