Instigator / Pro
11
1652
rating
18
debates
77.78%
won
Topic

The Bible is the Best Standard and Foundation for Ethics

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
3
Sources points
4
4
Spelling and grammar points
2
2
Conduct points
2
2

With 2 votes and same amount of points on both sides ...

It's a tie!
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Philosophy
Time for argument
Two weeks
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Open voting
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One month
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10,000
Contender / Con
11
1706
rating
32
debates
81.25%
won
Description
~ 1,006 / 5,000

The Bible: the sacred writing of Christianity, consisting of the 66 books in the Old and New Testaments
Standard: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example
Foundation: a basis upon which something stands or is supported
Ethics: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

In determining which standard and foundation is 'best,' it will ultimately be left to the judges to determine which system is superior based on the arguments provided. As PRO, I will be arguing that the Bible is a better standard and foundation for ethics than all others. CON will simply have to show that there is at least one other standard and foundation that is better than the Bible.

Bear in mind, CON will have to show that there is a better system than the Bible for ethics. It is not enough to point out perceived deficiencies of the Bible if no other system is presented. This also means that there must be consistency within CON'S system.

Round 1
Pro
To restate my position, I believe that the Bible is the best standard and foundation for ethics. Ethics is an unavoidable principle that must be addressed by any human society. I believe one must have a consistent worldview (a foundation for reality), and some form of guiding principles (a standard of morality) to do this. 

Foundation for Reality
One's worldview - the foundation - plays a large role in determining a system of ethics. What you believe about the nature of man, the existence of God, the origins of the universe, and other such questions are part of one's worldview. It essentially describes what you believe to be true about reality.

The foundation of Christianity is the Bible. Our claim is that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to humankind. Our worldview is then derived from a proper understanding of the Bible. As with any other literary work, interpretation relies on the type or genre of writing, grammar and syntax, and authorial intent to understand what the text says. You wouldn't read a history book the same as you would read a poem or personal letter. Since criticism of the text of the Bible is likely to come up, I think it is important to make these clarifications.

Standard of Morality
A standard is something used to measure or weigh against. In the realm of ethics, a standard would be certain moral principles that guide a person's conduct. This standard must at least contain some method to determine right from wrong (e.g. "that which avoids pain" or "that which causes the greatest benefit").

Laws are an expression of moral principles used to encourage or discourage certain conduct. As an example, a law might claim that murder is evil or charity is good; the respective moral principles are the sanctity of life and the value of helping those in need. I am not taking for granted this claim can be disputed, but doesn't it make sense in a free society? If honesty is a virtue, and no one ever lies, there would be no need to create a rule or law against lying. The Christian claim then is that the moral principles determine laws, as opposed to laws determining moral principles.

An Example of an Ethical Issue
The abortion issue fundamentally comes down to two, possibly three, questions. Note, I am not trying to assert a position or start an abortion debate. I am simply seeking to show how one's standard and foundation play a role in making ethical decisions. The two questions are:

When does life begin?
What value does that life have?

A person's foundation or worldview will answer the question of when human life begins. Most people would say life (or personhood) begins sometime between conception and birth. That perception of reality informs their evaluation of actions like murder. If life begins at birth, an abortion is not ending a life and the issue is resolved. If life begins at conception, then it has to be shown that ending that life is justified. This leads to the issue of standards.

Most standards place some value on human life, which leads them to forbid the unjust ending of that life (i.e. murder). That is why most pro-choice arguments aim to deny the life or personhood of the fetus, or justify why that life can be ended without considering the act unjust. So the moral principles and worldview - the standard and foundation - will determine one's position in the debate.

The Issue of Objective vs. Subjective Morality
This issue is typically discussing one way that we categorize a system based on perspective, rather than dealing with the system itself. It would seem to answer the question about whether morality is an outside standard that is binding on all humanity, or if humans determine their own standards.

My goal is to compare one or more particular systems against the Bible, regardless of whether they would be considered objective or subjective in the typical sense. And to be honest, it seems that most subjective morality advocates would agree that rape and murder are wrong, they just disagree on how those terms should be defined. That does not mean it is not important to examine whether a system falls under the category of objective or subjective morality, but that is not the only aspect to examine.

The Bible as a Foundation for Ethics
I will lay out some essentials of the biblical worldview that serve as the foundation for Christian ethics:

  • Humans are distinct from the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26), and have greater value than plants or animals (Matthew 10:31).
  • Humans are created beings and, therefore, are subject to their Creator. (James 4:11-12; Matthew 10:28).
  • Morality is determined by the character and nature of God, which does not change (Malachi 3:6).
  • As image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26), we are to reflect God's character in our conduct.
  • Rules or laws given to humans may change (Mark 7:18-19), since laws are only expressions of God's unchanging character.
  • Humans are inclined towards evil (Genesis 6:5; Romans 3:12).

The Bible as a Standard for Ethics
There are clear commands and prohibitions that make up the standard of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments are a summation of God's law. Here is the paraphrased version:

  • You shall have no other gods
  • You shall not make for yourself an idol
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not murder
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness
  • You shall not covet

Conclusion
I believe this is a good starting point to lay out the ethical system presented by the Bible. As I stated in the description, to say that the Bible is not the "best" system requires another system to compare it too. Even a system that simply states each society can make up whatever rules it wants is a system to compare. Many people are quick to critique the Bible but fail to provide any system that does not crumble under scrutiny. I look forward to hearing what arguments my opponent brings.

Con
Resolution: The Bible is the Best Standard and Foundation for Ethics

Interpreting the Resolution

In order to properly explain my burden of proof, I should first define every word in the resolution and pay attention to the specific intent that the pro and con position holds. 

Bible - "the holy writings of the Christian religion consisting of the Old Testament and the New Testament, or the holy writings of the Jewish religion consisting of the Torah and other writings, or a book containing either of these sets of writings:"
Best - "of the highest quality, or being the most suitablepleasing, or effective type of thing or person:"
Standard- "a moral rule that should be obeyed:"
Foundation - "an idea or fact that something is based on"
Ethics - "the study of what is morally right and wrong, or a set of beliefs about what is morally right and wrong:"

These definitions were all provided by Cambridge Dictionary, the reason I provide these definitions are to properly establish what the resolution is implying - and that is that the bible is the best moral principle. To assert that a standard is a "something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example" isn't descriptive enough to properly ascertain what the voter is supposed to be looking for in a debater's arguments. 

Most of the definitions presented by Pro aren't like this, and are mostly the same as the definitions presented by myself, the difference wordage or elaborating different uses of the word. To be specific my burden of proof will be: Proving that the holy writings of the christian religion, consisting of the old and new testament, is not the highest quality moral rule that should be obeyed nor the best idea that something is based on for a set of beliefs of what is morally right and wrong.


The Goalpost

As pointed out by Pro, I can't simply point out the faults of the bible without presenting some system that is better than it, perhaps the bible has many many flaws, but none other solves for them? First of all I will briefly touch base on the principles established by Pro for the foundation of a ethical standards/foundations, then rendering what is correct, what is incorrect, and what Pro has missed. 

What this debate should establish is that the bible is overall the best, and that no other ethical foundation or standard can compare. That means I do not have to present another foundation and standard, one or the other would suffice, as Pro has asserted that the Bible is both the best standard and foundation. That particular note should be kept in mind by readers, voters, and my opponent. 


Foundation

Pro briefly touches on a "Foundation of Reality", let's not sugar coat things, this is explicitly claiming that the bible is the best foundation of reality. That is a claim, and a fundamental one to Pro's arguments, if Pro does not demonstrate the truth of the bible's words then the veracity of the moral law has not been accomplished. Why ought we follow these standard's then? Are they logically necessary? Axiomatic? Are they pragmatic? This is the question that Pro must answer should they fail to demonstrate the truth of the bible, furthermore, as I will touch on later, the question they have to answer anyways.

This isn't, however, touching on the actual premise of a foundation in ethics. Recall, "An idea or fact that something is based on", to say something is the best idea or fact that something is based on, means that it is of the highest quality, specifically of ethical standing. In order for a foundation to be "high quality" in an ethical sense it must contain a couple of "qualities", such as; a logically consistent system for determining not only what you ought to do, but what you ought not to do and a logically consistent system for determining why you ought and ought not do that is also true. This is because ethics are literally a set of beliefs that determine what is wrong and right.

In other words, a ethic set or foundation must contain some sort of standard to be considered of high quality. 

Before I move onto the standard presented by Pro, I should take a look at the foundation presented by him. It can be summed us thusly: Humans were created with inherent value by god, they must follow what god says and their character ought to reflect god's character, laws given to humans may change because they are a reflection of god's "unchanging" nature, and that humans are usually evil.

I would be remise to not point out how... contradictory that is. Most prominently the "laws given to humans can change because they are expressions of god's unchanging nature." That doesn't track, if god's nature is unchanging then the laws given should be the same across the board, and since god is all-knowing according to the bible he should immediately know the best laws to help his plan. To say, "laws given to humans can change," the part left out is justifiable, if the laws changed are arbitrarily changed then that would lead us to believe that the ethical foundation isn't consistent, and it is also ignoring god's supposed nature.

Furthermore, it is dependent on a premise that is factually incorrect - while Humans aren't innately good they are predisposed to it, such as the high level of empathy that infants and children show, as well a showing that the amount of "badness" in the world is decreasing even as the amount of Christians decrease, meaning that this reduction of badness is due to humanities efforts, they aren't predisposed to being "bad". Another claim that has yet to be substantiated is that god created humans, some of the central foundations of the bible are claims, that either factually wrong, or have yet to be demonstrated by Pro.

To continue is one more argument - the nature of god themself. Pro asserts that god is unchanging and can not change, and there are verse in the bible that support that view, but there are also examples of this not being the case. Such as the difference in how god deals with dissent in the new and old testament, which would be plagues and genocides as compared to sacrificing himself for humans. There is a key difference not only between the execution but the motives behind "gods" actions in the bible. Seemingly from wanting his followers to become perfect abiders of his rules, to saving humanity.

Standard 

Pro notes on how there are laws and moral principles - arguing that laws come as a result of moral principle and not the other way around. Not laws in the legal sense, but as ways to discourage or encourage behavior. Ignoring the circular reasoning used by Pro with their definition of Law presented, the take away here is that Pro believes that the bible is the best collection of moral principles for ethics. Notice in the "The Bible as a Standard for Ethics" section of Pro's arguments he provides the 10 commandments as good summation of the bible's moral principles. This leads me to two conclusions.

1. That the actual principles that Pro is taking and not taking is arbitrary at best
2. That Pro's proposed ethical system is sorely lacking in some basic tenets

Why would I claim the standard to be arbitrary? Quite simple, there are multiple versions of the 10 commandments; they suffer from several flaws besides having different rules, they are only called the 10 commandments in Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 4, and Deuteronomy 10 are the only places where they are called the that, no where else in the bible - furthermore, they are abbreviated leading to more contradictions in terms, they are even different versions depending on the holy book.  Even more, there are many more moral claims of the bible that must be taken into consideration and Pro seems fit to ignore them.

  • "13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."  Leviticus 20:13
  • "10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you." Leviticus 11:10
Just a couple as an example, and these are only a very few. Because I am running out of time here is the standard I assert:

You ought to treat sentient creatures with value because you are sentient.




Round 2
Pro
Definitions
I did provide definitions, as well as providing this statement regarding the term best: "In determining which standard and foundation is 'best,' it will ultimately be left to the judges to determine which system is superior based on the arguments provided." The voter can justify why he or she saw one system as best. That being said, I do not see any issues with the Cambridge Dictionary except with the definition of the Bible. I reject that definition and will use the one that I provided, "the sacred writing of Christianity, consisting of the 66 books in the Old and New Testaments."

The Goalpost
CON is more than free to attempt to try to provide only a standard or foundation as opposed to both. Though I don't think that this will be the approach taken, given that I used those words to establish that ethics should have a what and a why. Take CON's standard:

"You ought to treat sentient creatures with value because you are sentient"

  • The standard (or the what) is "treat sentient creatures with value."
  • The foundation (or the why) is "because you are sentient."

My argument is that the Bible is consistent as a standard and foundation, and that no other system can consistently provide a better basis for ethics. We will likely see CON's system described in more detail in Round 2, so I will wait until then to fully address it and examine it for consistency.

Foundation
CON tried to summarize my position using this phrase: "laws given to humans may change because they are a reflection of god's 'unchanging' nature." While this is a clever use of words, my argument is not being accurately represented. As my Round 1 argument states, it would be more accurate to say that "laws are an expression of moral principles," and "morality is determined by the character and nature of God." Even if the laws change, the moral principles always remain the same since God always remains the same. It is then the application through laws that varies.

The laws change based on who is being given that particular set of rules, and what context the law is being given. To give another illustration, traffic laws regarding automobiles were not made until after the automobile was invented. The moral principle driving those laws (pun intended) is the protection of human life. That principle affects how we should conduct ourselves behind the wheel of a vehicle. Laws give specific parameters on our conduct, and the government enforces those laws. In this case, the moral principle existed before the invention of the automobile. The new context required new laws in which we apply the moral principle in quantifiable ways - speed limits would be an example.

This concept is also biblical. The laws given to the nation of Israel were expressions of God's character that applied to those people. Those under this particular law were participants in the Mosaic Covenant. The 613 laws of the Mosaic Covenant do not apply to people who are not participants of this covenant. However, that does not mean that non-participants are not subject to the moral principles underlying those laws. The sanctity of human life as a moral principle applies to all people; it was expressed in Genesis 9:6 when God established the death penalty as a punishment for murder. The Mosaic Covenant, given many years later, further applied this moral principle to different situations in the form of various laws for participants in that covenant.

CON's argument that humans are predisposed to "good" is begging the question. For this argument to be valid, there must be an established ethic in which we can actually determine good from bad, or right from wrong. But establishing an ethic is the topic of this debate, thus the argument is invalid. I will also point in passing that CON compares the "badness" in the world, and then provides a statistic saying that the number of Christians in the United States is decreasing. This is a flawed comparison, and it still requires that a specific ethical system is established as true.

I also cannot help but note that the 20th Century saw two world wars, a Holocaust of Jews, and an estimate of around 100 million people murdered under totalitarian regimes, to name a but a few atrocities. Stories now are daily coming out of foreign countries telling how Christians are being tortured and murdered for nothing more than faith in Jesus. And Christians are not the only ones suffering.  The Chinese Communist Party's treatment of Uyghurs is particularly horrifying. So forgive me if I am skeptical of Vox's cherry-picked statistics revealing how ignorant Americans are of the suffering going on around the world. 

Regarding the unchanging nature of God from the Old Testament to the New Testament, CON's analysis is incorrect. God has demanded moral perfection of all people from the beginning: 

"The Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'" (Genesis 2:16-17)

And from the New Testament:

"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." (James 2:10-11)

To sin literally means to miss the mark, such as an archer missing a target. Any time we do not perfectly conform to God's standard, we have sinned. And the condemnation is stark: "The soul who sins shall die" (Exekiel 18:20). And this is not just physical death: "This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14-15).

CON's argument that God has changed His demand for moral perfection from the Old Testament to the New Testament is untenable. God is perfectly just and has always required punishment for sin.

Standard
I am unsure how a law that encourages or discourages behavior is not considered to be a law "in the legal sense." Speed limits discourage accelerating past a certain velocity at the threat of punishment in the court of law. Tax laws include tax breaks that encourage certain behaviors with financial incentives. So laws are established - in the legal sense to state it redundantly - in order to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. Biblically, God is both the Lawgiver and Judge. He establishes and enforces His laws in the legal sense.

Now if you go back to my argument, you will see that I specifically said, "Here is the paraphrased version," before listing the Ten Commandments. CON should have vetted his source more carefully. The paraphrased version of the Ten Commandments is based on the established text of Exodus 20:3-17. Jews and Christians all paraphrase from the same established text in Exodus 20. It is not the paraphrase that is authoritative but the text itself. Muslims believe the Bible is corrupt and the Quran is the only pure holy text, so their view is irrelevant to this debate.

You will also see that I said the Ten Commandments are a summation of God's Law. You might say they can act as categories which other laws fall into, while also serving as laws themselves. With 613 total laws in the Mosaic Covenant, I think it is quite helpful that God gave ten overarching commands if just for the sake of memory. It should be noted that the Ten Commandments (or more accurately stated, the commands in Exodus 20) are also a part of the Mosaic Covenant. This means that as specific laws, they apply to participants in the Mosaic Covenant. But they also explicitly reveal the scope of moral principles that apply to all people as image-bearers of God.
Con
I do not have much time so for brevity: 

Even if the laws change, the moral principles always remain the same since God always remains the same. It is then the application through laws that varies.
IF a perfect god was crafting the laws which reflected perfect principles, THEN the laws would necessarily be perfect. If they were not then that god would not be perfect, therefore IF the laws changed THEN that god is not infallible. The entire nature of the authority of the bible depends on god being perfect.



Laws give specific parameters on our conduct, and the government enforces those laws. In this case, the moral principle existed before the invention of the automobile. The new context required new laws in which we apply the moral principle in quantifiable ways - speed limits would be an example.
Again, a perfect god, and one which knows everything, would not be constrained by this limitation. This is a false equivalence. 


The sanctity of human life as a moral principle applies to all people; it was expressed in Genesis 9:6 when God established the death penalty as a punishment for murder
Interesting how killing is "immoral" yet beating "servants" is perfectly fine.  [LINK] This suggests inconsistency. Why is killing immoral, yet beating a "servant" not? It even acknowledges that the servant could die, but the punishment is only IF the servant dies. Does the bible not factor in that beating that servant is taking him or her closer to death? 


CON's argument that humans are predisposed to "good" is begging the question. For this argument to be valid, there must be an established ethic in which we can actually determine good from bad, or right from wrong.
That would be true, if not the case that Pro attempted to use the exact same thing - asserting that People were predisposed to evil - do not fret, I won't fall into a Tu quoque so easily, it is also the case that things that "god" would see as bad, stealing, killing, etc, are reducing. IF god sees these things as bad, THEN I see no reason why this isn't compatible with Pro's proposed ethics. 


also cannot help but note that the 20th Century saw two world wars, a Holocaust of Jews, and an estimate of around 100 million people murdered under totalitarian regimes, to name a but a few atrocities
Pro is employing fallalistic thinking - and not factoring in the fact that there are MORE people now, we are talking the murder per population, and rates adjusted for that, of course in sheer numbers modern times win, we are discussing rates. Even further, there have been plenty of genocides, more in fact, in the past than of current times. 


So forgive me if I am skeptical of Vox's cherry-picked statistics revealing how ignorant Americans are of the suffering going on around the world
You are being quite ignorant here - while it is true that people are still suffering, it is not the case that they are suffering MORE, it in fact, the case that they are suffering LESS. If you would like to bring up more than a vague criticism of my source, then we could start talking until then I would like to see direct engagement instead of red herrings. 


CON's argument that God has changed His demand for moral perfection from the Old Testament to the New Testament is untenable. God is perfectly just and has always required punishment for sin.
So I'm the cherry picker eh? Would anybody like to inform pro that just because one piece of god has not changed that does not mean that god has not changed at all. If I go away for three years and come back with the same affinity for drawing, does that necessarily mean that I have not changed? Not at all. I also see no further engagement in my arguments. How he deals with the world would be fine of you to address, why in one case is it genocide and one case its Jesus? Explain, please.


You will also see that I said the Ten Commandments are a summation of God's Law. You might say they can act as categories which other laws fall into, while also serving as laws themselves. With 613 total laws in the Mosaic Covenant, I think it is quite helpful that God gave ten overarching commands if just for the sake of memory. It should be noted that the Ten Commandments (or more accurately stated, the commands in Exodus 20) are also a part of the Mosaic Covenant. This means that as specific laws, they apply to participants in the Mosaic Covenant. But they also explicitly reveal the scope of moral principles that apply to all people as image-bearers of God.
In other words, anything in exodus is fair games? Wooo boy, you got: as I mentioned before, killing people because of combing of clothes, eating shellfish, pork, being gay is an abomination apparently, its okay to have slaves, just don't kill them? Some of these conflict with liberty (which is apparently not valued in Pro's proposal), but more with life, and even with killing. I mean.. the entire point of god is to be a perfect moral example... yet he kills and destroys without remorse or punishment? How is that at all consistent? You are meant to emulate god and jesus, why then is god such a monster according to his own framework.

Finally:
You ought to value other sentient creatures because you are sentient. This can be further expanded - IF your sentience should be valued THEN you should value others sentience. This can then be spread to suffering IF you desire to not suffer, THEN you should not inflict suffering on others, it goes on and on - my point is that this way of thinking is how we evolutionarily got to where we are, but also how most people do it anyways. The golden rule anybody?

I would also like Pro to acknowledge the several points he dropped of my argument. Unfortunately this is all I have time for, thank you for the debate thus far.
Round 3
Pro
I do not always address every single point in my rebuttals for various reasons. Though mainly it is because some points are simply not worth using space to address. It lengthens the debate unnecessarily, and often shifts focus away from the main topic. If CON would like to point out an argument I have not addressed which seriously undermines my position, I would be happy to engage with it. I am satisfied with my response so far, but the voter can decide.

A One-Sided Debate
It is unfortunate that we have really only had one ethical system adequately presented to engage with up to this point. The purpose of this debate was to allow two systems to interact with each other, not just to talk about the Bible. At this point, even if CON does give more detail, I will not be even able to meaningfully engage with it since there will only be one final round left. But, we have been given a few general statements so I will try to fairly address what I can.

Here are the explicit details we have been given regarding CON's system:


"You ought to treat sentient creatures with value because you are sentient."
The term "sentient" here has not been defined. Oregon law recognizes that certain animals are "sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear."[1]  Yet the same case cited also recognizes animals can still be viewed as personal property. Should we consider this slavery, or would CON like to clarify his terms?



"IF your sentience should be valued THEN you should value others sentience."
Why should your sentience be valued? Because you personally value it, or because it has inherent and objective value? If it is a personal and subjective value, then can someone who is suicidal also justify murder? They obviously do not see any value in preserving their own life, so they would be consistent if they also did not value the lives of other sentient creatures. If it is an inherent and objective value, what gives it value?



"IF you desire to not suffer, THEN you should not inflict suffering on others"
Again, what if an individual likes to suffer? They would be consistent in causing others to suffer since that matches their desire. Without an objective foundation and standard outside the individual, there is no consistent objection to the masochist who inflicts harm upon others for his or her own pleasure.



"this way of thinking is how we evolutionarily got to where we are...The golden rule anybody?"
These were two interesting assertions made about evolutionary processes and the golden rule. I came across a quote from Charles Darwin, so I will let him point out the irony:

"Nor is it probable that the primitive conscience would reproach a man for injuring his enemy: rather it would reproach him, if he had not revenged himself. To do good in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which it may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever led us. It is necessary that these instincts, together with sympathy, should have been highly cultivated and extended by the aid of reason, instruction, and the love or fear of God, before any such golden rule would ever be thought of and obeyed."
--Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man [2]

CON has appealed to the golden rule to justify his ethical system - a rule that would call for returning good for evil rather than revenge. But I must ask, where is the golden rule found? It was taught by Jesus Himself: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). Interesting how Jesus summarized the Law and the Prophets - a common reference to the Old Testament Scriptures - using what we now call the golden rule. Even Leviticus 19:18 says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," which Jesus quoted directly in Matthew 22:39.

So, the golden rule is a foundational principle to the ethical system of the Bible that I am arguing for. The golden rule is also not a principle that comes naturally according to Darwin's analysis of the evolutionary system. It seems then that CON agrees with me that the Bible at least provides a good ethical system based on the golden rule.

Two Key Misunderstandings
I believe CON has misunderstood two critical biblical teachings. The first misunderstanding is that Jesus is God. We are not here to debate the Trinity so I will simply assert that there is one God existing in three persons. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Spirit have eternally coexisted and have been in perfect agreement with every judgment (not genocide) made on humanity. So even though I disagree with the term, God the Son was just as involved with the "genocide" of the Old Testament, as God the Father was involved with Jesus' crucifixion in the New Testament. Any attempt to put God the Father and God the Son in disagreement must be justified from the Bible.

As I clearly stated, God - the Father, Son, and Spirit - has always demanded moral perfection since the beginning. Sin has always demanded a punishment, which is exactly what Jesus taught. My Round 2 argument provided specific passages from the Bible defending this point. CON has provided no actual evidence to back his claim that God has changed.

The second misunderstanding involves the nature of the Mosaic Covenant, which I will explain in the next point.

"If Laws Change, Then God is not Perfect"
Since CON is doubling down on this argument, I will address it more fully. I admit, analogies often fall short of fully illustrating a point so I will provide a direct biblical argument. When God created Adam and Eve, there were no laws regarding sacrifices for sin because they had not yet sinned. That doesn't mean that God did not know they would sin in the future, or that God did not have sacrificial laws in His mind for the time when the Mosaic Covenant would be implemented. But those laws had not yet been given because humans had not yet sinned. So it is not the imperfection of God that causes laws to change in this case, but the imperfection of humans.

But it is also important to clarify that I am not a participant in the Mosaic Covenant. In fact, I would not be a Christian if I was. Why? Because the Mosaic Covenant did not solve the sin problem, nor was it made to. Hebrews 10:4 makes clear that the blood of bulls and goats did not provide atonement, which is the appeasement of God's wrath for sin. These imperfect sacrifices were a reminder of sin (Heb. 10:3), and pointed ahead to the one-time perfect sacrifice of Christ that actually provided atonement (Heb. 10:10). So it would be blasphemous for me, having full knowledge that Christ's blood has completely removed the punishment of sin from me, to then go back to following a sacrificial system that was never intended to take away sin in the first place.

So, God's work in redemptive history to solve our sin problem means He must change the laws in terms of what participants in the Mosaic (or Old) Covenant must follow, and what laws participants in the New Covenant (Christians) must follow. I am bound by moral laws, as all people for all time have been. But, in the context of Christ's work, I am a participant in the New Covenant so I am not bound by the sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant. You can disagree with the premise, but there is no contradiction.

Beating a Servant
The Bible does not suggest that killing is immoral, but murder is. I will also note that one cannot even read the rest of Exodus 21 and assume that a slave can be beaten for no reason, so it must be a form of physical punishment. And there must obviously be restraint shown if a slave is punished by beating, hence the guiltiness of the one who is too severe.

But let's put it in the context of the golden rule, which CON advocates for. Though corporal punishment is generally balked at in our current society, it has long been an accepted practice throughout the world. And if everyone agreed that corporal punishment is an acceptable punishment by law, how is that a violation of the golden rule? To clarify, if I believe that a certain crime demands a physical punishment regardless of who commits it, whether myself or others, that means I believe the law is treating all people equally (treat others as you would want to be treated, including the application of law and justice). 

Begging the Question
The reason CON is begging the question by saying humans are predisposed to "good" and the amount of "badness" in the world is decreasing is because he is trying to undermine my system by using a different standard and foundation than the one I have presented. The only way that he can argue against my system is by assuming an objective way to determine good from bad, and that this objective ethical system can measure good and bad in a way that contradicts my system. Thus, he must assume that the Bible is not the best ethical system in order to argue that the Bible is not the best ethical system.

Regardless, I have also not claimed that babies cannot show high levels of empathy, or that humans always act as badly as they possibly could. My foundation, the Bible, claims that humans are inclined to sin, not that they are always as evil as they could be. A murderer who donates to charity is still a murderer. And a sinner who shows empathy is still a sinner. And to repeat myself regarding the statistics, comparing the claim that "People in developed countries [throughout the world] have more leisure time"[3] and that adults in the U.S. who describe themselves as Christians is "down 12 percentage points over the past decade"[4]  is a worthless comparison. So this argument is both fallacious and irrelevant.

Sources will be in comments.
Con
RESOLUTION: The Bible is the Best Standard and Foundation for Ethics
POSITION: Con


GOALPOSTS:
Pro has yet to demonstrate how the Bible is necessarily the best standard and foundation for ethics, Pro’s entire argument is reliant on my standard, but that should not be necessary. It would be a logical fallacy to claim that because Pro’s standard is superior to mine that it is superior to every moral measure. Pro must demonstrate that it is the best standard and foundation for ethics, regardless of what I am claiming. It is my BoP to demonstrate that it is not the best standard, therefore for my arguments to be valid I have to reason why there are standards which are superior to the Bible. However, that does not change the fact that Pro must demonstrate his position to be THE BEST. 


REBUTTAL - A ONE-SIDED DEBATE

To keep this brief I will answer Pro's questions in sequential order - yes having animals as personal property is slavery, that's all that's to it. Why should our sentience be valued?  Because if you want your genes to be expressed, then you need to value your sentience (you know, the whole survival thing), and if you want other people to value you, then you need to value them, this is simple kindergarten stuff. I fail to see how this proves Pro’s standard superior. The next bit about subjectiveness is a strawman. If someone is suicidal is it justifiable to kill them?

Nope, because that does not advantage them as valuing sentience does, because if you do murder then you will be punished, also pretty simple stuff - though - the voters should consider that this is a strawman as I never claimed it to be personal, this is simply supposition on Pro’s part. It does not matter if a person happens to not value their sentience, the question is if they SHOULD value their own life. It is simply the fact that the majority of humans do, and even suicidal people value their sentience, as they were driven to suicide because of an abuse of sentience. The coping mechanism should not be interpreted as what somebody actually values, it is just that, a defense. 

Finally, why does sentience have value? Because you are sentient. Yes, it is circular, however, it is also exceedingly practical - which I have failed to see Pro demonstrate of his; however that is only if we are talking about Sentiencfe in this perspective, which I wasn’t. If an individual likes to suffer, would that then be fine to cause others suffering? No - they are doing what’s called “a mistake in reasoning” because people do not like to suffer - it is an evolutionary trait of organisms that have evolved. The example you bring is simply not the case, and if it were the case it would be more advantageous of them to not do that - because suffering is definitionally harmful to an individual. 

Pro makes an appeal to Darwin, which I will ignore because I never mentioned Darwin, - I am not using the golden rule to justify my system, I am pointing out the similarities from my system to it. Furthermore, Pro claims that the Bible is the foundational principle to the bible…. I would like voters to turn their attention to Exodus 21: 20-21

“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” 
This is within Exodus and is, therefore, the free game as Pro allowed, how would this fit into the golden rule? The “golden rule” is certainly something the bible claims to use, but the perfect moral example provided by the Bible, does not actually go by these standards, a classic “Do as I say not as I do” thing. The problem with that is that the bible is literally built on, “Do as I do.” thinking.

Furthermore, the Bible is hardly the only place that the Golden Rule is part of, I could literally list off a couple that doesn’t have the baggage of the bible:
“The golden rule is closely associated with Christian ethics though its origins go further back and grace Asian culture as well. ..”

To say that the golden rule is somehow a unique advantage to the Bible is incorrect.


REBUTTAL II - Two Key misunderstandings.

“.... God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Spirit have eternally coexisted and have been in perfect agreement with every judgment (not genocide) made on humanity”
Pro wants to replace judgment with Genocide, but wiping out a population of people with intent to destroy them is genocide [A].. I simply asked why in one instance he saved sinners by killing them all, and in another case sent Jesus, Why did he send himself to fix it? That is a clear difference in behavior. The people in roman times were just as “evil” as the stories of the people he killed, why then such a difference in reaction? - Because there is a difference in nature.


“... God the Son was just as involved…... put God the Father and God the Son in disagreement must be justified from the Bible.”
Pro is playing a semantics game - I already answered it - differences in solutions to the same problem.


“As I clearly stated, God - the Father, Son, and Spirit - has …... from the Bible defending this point....”
There is a difference - Jesus apparently taught that sin deserved punishment, but he also taught that they could absolve their sins by accepting him as their lord and savior. God did not give that opportunity to the people he killed, or did he send himself down? No he did not. If Pro’s argument is, “he will send them to hell”, then why the heck did some people get the chance to not go to hell, and others did? Beyond even a change in nature, this is a clear moral failure of the bible. 


“When God created Adam and Eve, there were no laws regarding sacrifices for sin because they had not yet sinned. That doesn't mean that God did not know they would sin in the future”
Yes, he knew that, but Adam and Eve didn’t, they also didn’t know that an angel would convince two completely naive people that it was fine to do what God said they couldn’t, because they literally didn’t know that it was wrong - because -that was what the apple was for. If they hadnt yet eaten the apple, then they wouldn’t know that it was wrong to disobey god, which god knew - he also knew that if he allowed “Satan” to talk to them they would be convinced - and since god made the scenario, every part of the situation is god’s fault..



“But it is also important to clarify that I am not a participant in the Mosaic Covenant.,.........pointed ahead to the one-time perfect sacrifice of Christ that actually provided atonement (Heb. 10:10).....”
So god decided that one group of people wouldn’t be able  to absolve their sins, and another would, and….He doesn’t care? This is a problem in a moral code that alone would be enough to destroy the credibility of the bible. Why was the law never intended to work?



“So, God's work in redemptive history to solve our sin problem means He must change the laws in terms of what participants in the Mosaic (or Old) Covenant must follow, and what laws participants in the New Covenant (Christians) must follow…..”
Yes…. the thing is, God made the sin problem, because according to the bible he created everything, and he only has to change the laws because he decided so, how logic works, how evil works, how sins work, therefore any inconsistencies in the laws are by definition because of him - if a machine stops working we do not say; what a bad machine it has chosen to stop working!’ we say, “what a bad creator, he has failed in his duties.!” 

“.... I will also note that one cannot even read the rest of Exodus 21 and assume that a slave can be beaten for no reason, so it must be a form of physical punishment. And there must obviously be restraint shown if a slave is punished by beating, ...”
There is no reason for there to be slaves - it is a fundamental conflict with liberty to allow slaves within a moral foundation - upon Pro’s foundation, this is apparently allowed.


“... it has long been an accepted practice throughout the world. And if everyone agreed that corporal punishment is an acceptable punishment by law, how is that a violation of the golden rule? To clarify, if I believe that a ...crime demands a physical punishment regardless of who commits it,..., that means I believe the law is treating all people equally...“
Appeal to populum and nature Look at all the fallacies - furthermore - the fact that physical punishment is happening on a slave, should spell more trouble than whether its acceptable to beat people. How is anything a slave does in servitude worthy of beating?



REBUTTAL III - BEGGING THE QUESTION
"Regardless, I have also not claimed that babies cannot show high levels of empathy, or that humans always act as badly as they possibly could. My foundation, the Bible, claims that humans are inclined to sin, not that they are always as evil as they could be. A murderer who donates to charity is still a murderer. And a sinner who shows empathy is still a sinner." 
The point is that if babies are inclined to empathy, then they are not inclined to sin. Furthermore, to address the previous paragraph in Pro's argument - I am using the Bible, if you are claiming that the golden rule is a foundational rule, then it is fair to say that empathy is good. Pro misses the point. I don't see the relevance of continuing this, so I will jump ahead.


DIRECT COMPARISON:
So for the bible here's what we have- flaws wise - the entire being that the entire code is based on is inconsistent, allows slavery, allows for people to go to hell with no chance to repent, even though he lets others, no actual verification that it's true, and several fallacies... as for Pro brought up Is wrong with mine? Animals being property, and a misunderstanding of how value works... furthermore, Pro has failed to show that the Bible is the best standard and foundation for ethics, while I have shown that there is something superior to it.
Round 4
Pro
I would like to open this final round by refocusing on the topic of the debate. We are discussing ethics, which is the study or the beliefs concerning what is morally right and wrong according to CON's own definition. I made the assertion that to engage in ethics, one must have a consistent worldview (a foundation for reality), and some form of guiding principles (a standard of morality). I have not seen CON argue this point throughout the debate.

We have finally been given some semblance of a system for ethics by CON with one final round left in a debate with four rounds. I will try to fairly summarize what we've been given.

SUMMARY: You ought to treat sentient creatures with value because you are sentient.

There has still been no definition of sentience given. There are obviously at least some animals included in this, and it seems these sentient animals should be treated ethically the same as humans. This is drawn from the assertion that having animals as property is tantamount to slavery. It would seem then that raising animals for food should be considered as heinous as killing and eating another human. So according to CON's system of ethics, if you own a pet or own livestock, you are a slave owner. And if you eat meat, you are no better than a cannibal because you are eating another sentient creature. I ask you to consider this as you are personally weighing the ethical system that views owning livestock and eating meat this way.

Now I have been accused of misunderstanding how value works. But CON has not provided any meaning for the term itself. In CON's arguments, value is constantly spoken of as worth ascribed to something. Yet, underlying the entire argument is the presupposition that sentience has objective worth, and it is therefore objectively wrong for someone not to value their own sentience. CON argues, "Finally, why does sentience have value? Because you are sentient." CON immediately admits to circular reasoning, meaning there is no basis to make this claim. This indicates there is a glaring inconsistency between the worldview that informs the standard. CON has no basis in reality to justify the value that sentience is claimed to have.

Another inconsistency is the assertion that CON's system resembles the golden rule. Even if the golden rule wasn't the justification, CON has made clear that the concept the golden rule provides is a good one. But just as with CON's previous circular reasoning, there is no basis to make such a claim. Darwin's quote was dismissed by saying that he was never mentioned, but there was a failure to provide any rebuttal to the point. Evolution is part of the underlying worldview, and I would consider Darwin a legitimate authority in that realm. So when Darwin directly contradicts CON's claim by saying that the moral standard being presented is highly unlikely from an evolutionary standpoint, that is a relevant argument. Darwin even admitted that religion is a better basis for this principle. So that is another inconsistency between CON's worldview and standard.

It was admitted that the Bible at least claims to go by the golden rule, so this is an admission that the Bible follows a moral standard that CON believes is a good one. The source given to "prove" that the golden rule is not unique to Christianity fails to mention that Leviticus was written around 1400 BC. This date is based on the date of the exodus from Egypt (there is a weak case for an earlier date of around 1250 BC, but that is another topic), which is earlier than the other cultures and religions that have similar teachings according to that source. And that also assumes the Hebrew people did not previously understand that principle before it was formally codified into the levitical law around 1400 BC. So I would argue that the Bible does in fact have an advantage and unique claim when it comes to the golden rule.

Final Defense
Let me put the slavery argument to rest since it keeps being brought up. Deuteronomy 15:15-17 states, "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same."

Here we see a direct example of the word "slave" being used to describe it as a voluntary status, not simply the slavery we often think of today. That is not to say that slavery did not exist. But unless CON can prove what type of slavery Exodus 21 is referring to (voluntary or involuntary), then there is no basis to assume it is referring to the involuntary slavery being asserted. So if a person volunteers to be a "slave," liberty has not been violated and the corporal punishment argument stands.

The Goalpost
I believe I have been clear about the intent of this debate:

From the short debate description:
"Christianity is often criticized for it's stance on moral issues. I am interested to hear if anyone can provide a consistent system of ethics that is superior to the Bible."

From the long debate description:
"As PRO, I will be arguing that the Bible is a better standard and foundation for ethics than all others. CON will simply have to show that there is at least one other standard and foundation that is better than the Bible.
Bear in mind, CON will have to show that there is a better system than the Bible for ethics. It is not enough to point out perceived deficiencies of the Bible if no other system is presented. This also means that there must be consistency within CON'S system."

From my Round 1 conclusion:
"I believe this is a good starting point to lay out the ethical system presented by the Bible. As I stated in the description, to say that the Bible is not the 'best' system requires another system to compare it too. Even a system that simply states each society can make up whatever rules it wants is a system to compare. Many people are quick to critique the Bible but fail to provide any system that does not crumble under scrutiny. I look forward to hearing what arguments my opponent brings."

CON even stated in the Round 1 argument "The Goalpost":
"As pointed out by Pro, I can't simply point out the faults of the bible without presenting some system that is better than it..."

The point was to compare the worldview and moral standard provided by the Bible against at least one other system to see which provided a better basis for ethics. So the question is, has CON provided us with a consistent system of ethics that is better than the Bible?

Conclusion
I understand that there are strong opinions about the Bible and Christianity among the users of this site. But I believe if you objectively compare the two systems that have been presented, the Bible provides a better and more consistent basis for ethics. That doesn't mean you have to agree with the biblical worldview, nor do you have to agree with every moral principle in the Bible.

But if you believe that owning sentient animals should be considered as heinous as owning humans, and that eating sentient animals should be as heinous as eating humans, you may want to vote for CON. And if you believe that our local subjective morality advocate has successfully used circular reasoning to prove that valuing sentience is an objective moral principles that all sentient creatures ought to follow, then a vote for CON might be the right choice.
Con
RESOLUTION: The bible is the best standard and foundation for Ethics
POSITION: Con

I. RECALL - GOALPOSTS:
Notice that my opponent has still failed to address my reminding his burden of proof - my opponent must demonstrate that NO OTHER SYSTEM surpasses his in regards to its abilities as a standard or a foundation - my opponent has made claims and has argued that it is sufficient - or "valid" - however, they have failed to actually provide an argument to why it is the best of either. My burden of proof is simple to demonstrate that it is not the best - "to the highest degree; most." - standard - can it improve? Is there anything better than it? As I have argued this entire debate, there are inconsistencies within the text of the bible, and as such there are clear improvements that can be made - therefore it cannot be "the best" - as anything which improves on these elements would be superior. 

Regardless voters, even if I somehow fail to meet my B.O.P, my opponent has failed to even attempt to address theirs. It does not matter if their system surpasses the one I have shown, that would only mean that their standard is better than mine, not that it is the best one. Regardless I don't have to leave it there - I am simply reminding the voters of my opponent's goal post. 


II. DEFENDING MY STANDARD:
You ought to treat sentient creatures with value because you are sentient. (CON-ROUND 1)

You ought to value other sentient creatures because you are sentient. This can be further expanded - IF your sentience should be valued THEN you should value others sentience. This can then be spread to suffering IF you desire to not suffer, THEN you should not inflict suffering on others, it goes on and on - my point is that this way of thinking is how we evolutionarily got to where we are, but also how most people do it anyways. The golden rule anybody? (CON-ROUND 2)
This is the framework of my standard - and my opponent has attacked it on several fronts:
1. The enslavement of animals
2. The circular reasoning of sentience
3. The golden rule

1.These are the three major reasons we are given by pro to disavow my argument - yet - they fail on several levels. Firstly, the enslavement of animals - they don't actually provide any reasoning for why this is illogical - to quote pro:
"So according to CON's system of ethics, if you own a pet or own livestock, you are a slave owner. And if you eat meat, you are no better than a cannibal because you are eating another sentient creature. I ask you to consider this as you are personally weighing the ethical system that views owning livestock and eating meat this way." (PRO-ROUND 7)
Where in this summation is the illogical nature of this thinking - why is having an animal or eating meat a good thing? What reasoning does Pro provide that would cast doubt on my standard because it leads us here? Pro gives exactly zero reasoning - Pro apparently believes that the fact that many voters don't agree with the claim is enough for it to make my standard "worse"... yet, that doesn't really matter - that would be obvious and apparent biased judging - unless Por provided an actual argument why this is wrong, there is no actual reason for this conclusion to make my argument worse than Pros - which is their BoP to prove that their standard is the best, better than mine.

2. Next, we move on to the circular affirmation of  "we value sentience because we are sentient", they take it as so, however, they fail to actually see the reasoning behind it - after all - we accept other axioms as long as we have a logical explanation. For example: We know our reality is as we observe it because we can check measures with tools which we use to gather data.... that we absorb with our senses. This is essentially arguing that we know our reality because we can use our senses, and we know our senses are true because of our senses. However, in order for us to even be having this debate right now - we would have to assume that our reality is true- the same is true of my argument.

Recall: "and if you want other people to value you, then you need to value them" (PRO-ROUND 6) - what did I mean by that? Well - in order for you to personally have value (and this bit is not contested by Pro) you must assign others value - in other words, if you want anyone to recognize your right to live you must recognize theirs- otherwise - if you failed to value them, well from their perspective they have no reason to value your life, your sentience. Therefore- in order to be living today - we MUST recognize other's value. This is not a last-round argument either, I literally provided the reasoning right after the claim, and Pro refused to even touch it. 

3. Finally, we arrive at the golden rule - my opponent argues that - well - if I'm ascribing the golden rule to my argument, then anything that has the golden rule has to have something to it, and I would agree- IF the golden rule is not contradicted by other rules in that standard, and IF the golden rule is the priority - neither of which is the case in regards to the bible. I have, quite literally, spent this entire debate pointing out inconsistencies with the bible to show that even if it does have the "golden rule" it doesn't practically apply the golden rule.

III. SLAVERY
My opponent has cited the case of the jews being enslaved in Egypt - and then that a person could "choose" to be a slave if they felt they loved the house and all that - that therefore the slavery of the bible isn't the same we know today - case shut. This, even if accepted outright, does not stop the "slave issue". Let's say it's a form of indentured servitude, are you just allowed to assault your servents? Is assaulting another human being, for no reason, okay as long as the person doesn't die? Because this is what my opponent utterly fails to respond to. They have issued no rebuttal against this point - so even if we were to accept that this one mention of slavery accounts for EVERY mention of slavery in the bible (which it doesn't - clearly the jews didn't want to be enslaved by the Egyptians - there's an example in the quote) - it would not solve the moral
the problem of being allowed to whip your servent as long as they don't die - recall: 
" Before I move onto the standard presented by Pro, I should take a look at the foundation presented by him. It can be summed us thusly: Humans were created with inherent value by god, they must follow what god says and their character ought to reflect god's character, laws given to humans may change because they are a reflection of god's "unchanging" nature, and that humans are usually evil." (CON-ROUND 1)
While the latter, un-underlined portion was contested by Pro, the underlined portion - that humans have inherent value - was left uncontested: meaning that at least in that regard I accurately represented Pro's standards - so by Pro's own admittance humans have value, and therefore hitting them would be contradictory to that value. 


IV. DROPPED POINTS:

  • God will allow some humans to be saved, but if you were born before Jesus you had no opportunity to repent
  • God, knowingly, allowed Adam and Eve to be convinced to do evil - even though he could prevent it
  • That god's character changed because in one instance of global sinful behavior he committed genocide, and on another occasion sent down his son

These are points that are not only dropped by Pro, but they are foundational contradictions and moral wrongs in Pro's foundation - even if you accept Pro's argument that my claim is on circular reasoning - the god of the bible allowing laws to his humans is objective (according to Pro) because he does not change in character, yet, he does change in character. God also plays fast and loose with who gets into hell, an unholy separation from god and torture for forever, and the literal start of evil... I would argue that such things are much more impactful to Pro's case being worse than mine. 


VOTE CON