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Religion Harms Society | Peter Millican | Oxford Union

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Peter Millican argues that religion harms society. SUBSCRIBE for more speakers ► http://is.gd/OxfordUnion Peter Millican begins by stating that religion's harm on society is about it's impact on society, not it's basis. In most religions an ideal world is depicted as everyone living in harmony through the same religion, this does not apply in our multicultural society. Filmed on Thursday 7th November 2013 MOTION: This House Believe That Religion Harms Society. RESULT: Motion Carried. STAY CONNECTED: Facebook @ http://fb.me/theoxfordunion Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/OxfordUnion Oxford Union Website @ http://www.oxford-union.org/ ABOUT PETER MILLICAN: Peter Millican is Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Hertford College, University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. His primary interests include the philosophy of David Hume, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, epistemology, and moral philosophy. Millican is particularly well known for his work on David Hume, and from 2005 until 2010 was Co-Editor of the journal Hume Studies. He is also an International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster, and has a strong interest in the field of Computing and its links with Philosophy. Recently he has developed a new degree programme at Oxford University, in Computer Science and Philosophy, which accepted its first students in 2012. ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 190 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.
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Text Comments (120)
James Wiliams (1 day ago)
Is There a Higher Theology For Man, Than Knowing God personally -person to PERSON? [Mathew 5:8] “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” There are those that LOVE Him who live in not so distant places (Mount Athos) that have a real-life person to Person relationship with Lord Jesus! These humble words that are shared with brotherly love and respect, point out to the kind of relationship man was made to have with our Lord Jesus Christ. The following paragraphs, where taken from the book of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos Entreaty” (Paraklitika), and it is a knowledge that must be shared with all those who have Lord Jesus Christ as their Heavenly Father. “Those who have made their selves worthy to see God are the True Theologians. Saint Gregorios the Theologian taught that those who saw God like Apostle Paul can safely theologize, because the sight of God cleanse them from all fantasy, and renders them, true preachers of the truth, making them explicitly different from philosophers and philosophies”. This is how the Saints describe their personal experience “UNDER CONDITIONS OF CONTINUED PRAYER AND UPWARD EXTENSION THAT HAVE AS CLIMAX THE UNION WITH GOD, MAN IS POSSESSED ENTIRELY FROM LIGHT OF DIVINE GLORY THAT IS SEND FOURTH ETERNALLY FROM THE TRIAD. AFTER THE MIND IS SEIZED FROM THE DIVINE LIGHT AND ENTERS THE LIGHT IT BECOMES ITS SELF-LIGHT. THUS LIKE LIGHT, IT SEES LIGHT” GOD IS LIGHT AND THE SAINTS IN THE HOLY SPIRIT BECOME LIGHT [Acts: 6-15] " 15 And all that sat in the He face council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. The Image and Likeness of God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezItFNpdnVY&feature=youtu.be If the Salvation does not include the return to the presence of God...what good is it? The vision of Divine Light This is what Lord Jesus told St. Symeon when He became worthy to His presence in His Divine Light. “It is me, God, Who became man for you; and behold that I have made you, as you see, and shall make you god”. http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/studies-fathers/67 Ierotheos Metropolitan of Naupaktos about Greek Orthodox Baptism “Through the "rite of birth in God", holy baptism, man's nous (mind) is illuminated, freed from slavery to sin and the devil, and is united with God. The word Salvation means "salvation from death" and the word "death" means the eternal separation of man from God! Understanding the Orthodox Christian Faith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdbE7033Ho
info Jungle (16 days ago)
Look at the examples Ohhhh Damn😫😫
Nick Sklavos (1 month ago)
F Jackson (2 months ago)
Why is there always so much coughing in the audience during these debates? Geez give everybody a bag of cough drops or something
Ben Quinlan (2 months ago)
Unbelievable, astonishing, arrogance.
NetTubeUser (3 months ago)
Any kind of beliefs, religions, and cults that existed, exist today or will exist in the future, are a pure insult to our intelligence, the most dangerous and deadly threat against humanity.
Bennett Floyd (4 months ago)
Religion is harmful to society if for no other reason than that it presents as _absolutely_ true not only things that are demonstrably false, but things which _cannot_ be demonstrated to be not true.
Bennett Floyd (2 months ago)
@Ben Quinlan, what about him?
Ben Quinlan (2 months ago)
Immanuel Kant.
A. Anderson (7 months ago)
MILLICAN ARGUMENT FROM HIS MORAL STANDARDS 1.God can not set any moral standard in Ten Commandments 2.Homosexuality is not a sin 3.Therefore religion harm society 4.Therefore God does not exist
Ben Quinlan (2 months ago)
If God does not exist.. then what are you talking about
A. Anderson (7 months ago)
MILLICAN ARGUMENT FROM CREATION VS EVOLUTION 1.If evolution is true, then creationism is false, and therefore God doesn’t exist. 2.Creation can’t be true, since I lack the mental capacity to understand it and am not at all interested in studying it; moreover, to accept its truth would cause me to be uncomfortable ERGO: God doesn’t exist.
A. Anderson (7 months ago)
the real harm to the society is Millican and Dawkins..
cr4zyu (7 months ago)
This debate is about as informed as a today's brainwashed generations of school & university bred children.
SeKo (9 months ago)
If you don't have religions then you end up with atheist society. Did Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, etc. create paradise on Earth? No religion is not paradise on Earth it's HELL on Earth.
Samantha Rivera (8 months ago)
Atheism nor Religion can bring “paradise” upon Earth. Humankind in general is a very self-destructive species
Samantha Rivera (8 months ago)
Many Chinese people are religious. The main religions in China are Buddhism, Chinese folklore, Taoism and Confucianism. North Korea may be an official religious country, but there are many people that practice Korean Shamanism. Russia also has a large religious population, most are Orthodox Christians
Shyla S (10 months ago)
Who is that rude, nasty, angry woman sitting in the front who interrupted him. She was so angry and rude. Ask the question politely you stupid woman
Shyla S (10 months ago)
This speaker is really good.
Herman Huerta (10 months ago)
Psychological Eclipse, a Shield with intent, one sided doctrine, deception, Templars KKK irrational mentality, commercialized wars, personally I'm so sick of this Idiotice subject, I wish we get rid this mental constipation.
Gerald Bennett (11 months ago)
Evolution can't think and talk, its just not abstract and objective, just invented. At the judgement people will be judged by the books, and if you are not written in the book of life you will not make it in , the Bible says if your name is not written in the book of life you will not enter in, you repent and get save in this life Revelation 20:11-15
Aleks Pavlovic (1 year ago)
Just before the first minute finishes I have a question. Do people have the same cognitive abilities to follow a religion? If they don't have than religion is neither good nor bad, it ultimately depends on those who justify their actions using the religion.
Dawn Broker (4 months ago)
If practicing religion depends on cognitive abilities, why didn't God create everyone with same good cognitive abilities? Oh, never mind.
Jlinus (1 year ago)
Personally I think for the case of Christianity isn't inherently evil, just like a gun isn't evil. You put it in the hands of evil people however and it shoots. It could be used for protection or for destruction
MadGirl BitchingBoutStuffs (8 months ago)
that's actually really wise!
Samantha Rivera (8 months ago)
0:55. 1:15. 1:30. 3:00. 3:30. 5:30. 7:40.
Spookish (1 year ago)
Sajjad's question answers itself. I really don't know what answer she was expecting.
La Lumière Huguenote (1 year ago)
what a bad speech... I lost it at "think about the Crusades".. oh boy.. is that an argument in 2018 ? please... Let me argue that atheism harms society because of the gulag.. is that an argument ? no! Now if this guy was actually honest he would have looked into the Encyclopedia of war to read that religion is the cause of only 7% of wars throughout history, and 3% after removing Islam.. And if we compare by death toll then religion is nothing on the scale of the 20th century massacres committed in the name of atheistic ideologies like National socialism and communism (two things that liberals today are condoning and want to go back to.. ) All his speech is build on scenarios instead of actual data. exemple : Christians do not care about the environment or conflict because they welcome because it might be Jesus coming back In practice that it not representative of Christianity at all. Not at all. All his points are objections to religious doctrines but never actual data.
F Jackson (2 months ago)
There is no such thing as an atheistic ideology. Atheism is the disbelief in a God. That's it. Whatever ideology you're thinking of is separate from that one single point. Is there a god. Try again.
Goodgulf Wizard (1 year ago)
All religious books can be classified as "The Goat-herder's Guide to the Universe"
James Wiliams (1 day ago)
GOD IS LIGHT AND THE SAINTS IN THE HOLY SPIRIT BECOME LIGHT [Acts: 6-15] " 15 And all that sat in the He face council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. The Image and Likeness of God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezItFNpdnVY&feature=youtu.be
Craig Smith (2 months ago)
_All religious books can be classified as "The Goat-herder's Guide to the Universe"_ Then you have not read any of them.
Jared Garbo (9 months ago)
Nice one.
Varied Vids (1 year ago)
Excellent points! But how does he get his hair like that?
Dan Le Mesurier (2 years ago)
Both the Peters (Millican and Atkins!) easily provided the best arguments in this debate
Andre Aladdin (2 years ago)
Blasphemy laws don't allow liberal critical argument on the subject of islam as it offends muslim sensiblity. So the concept of blasphemy presupposes rabid dogma in favor of a retarded priesthood that wishes to control it's citizens and manipulate them into living In the bronze age past. This is not true of other religions in general. When a religon becomes a mafia, like islam Is, one risks death by leaving the fold. End of story. This is what the west is up against. The dark ages still eclipsing the middle east.
Gia Gozalishvili (2 years ago)
The Crusades were defensive wars against Islamic invaders...Before The First Crusade had started Muslims had already sacked:Jerusalem,Alexandria,Rome and Antioch...4 of the Epicentres of the Christian world at the time and had the crusades not happened..The Muslims would sack Constantinople centuries before they did it in our timeline
Varied Vids (1 year ago)
That is categorically false. Sending warring armies to recapture lands lost in prior wars is not the same as a defensive posture. Also, the Crusades had a far broader purpose, such as the suppression of paganism and heresy, as well as the ultimate quest for world domination under Christianity. All-in-all, you only presented another great example of how religion harms society -- whether they be societies of today or many centuries ago.
Paul Louis (2 years ago)
why do Europeans embarrassed homosexual soo much?
William G (3 years ago)
aa How can a scientist be an atheist? and additionally how can they build their arguments on that? (atheism) It seems to me they are building their arguments and compounding their potential error on unsubstantiated conclusions (atheism), i.e. they haven't proven there is NO God, yet atheism assumes as much....get it?
Chiungalla79 (2 years ago)
+William G There is objective evidence what love actually is. How it came to be. How it starts. And that it doesn't need a God or implies one. In facts, as we know today, there are many heuristics, biases, and fallacies involved when you fall in love. And then there is subjective evidence, but that's not worth much if you want to use it in a discussion because it is subjective.
William G (2 years ago)
Really, so, there is no evidence for love?
Chiungalla79 (2 years ago)
+ William G "... but objective empirical evidence isn't the only evidence that exists!!" There is this objective empirical evidence. And then there are heuristics, biases, fallacies and all those other tricks your mind plays to you and every human being. They are very well understood. And everything you would say in favor of your God is ultimately based on some of those. And that's it. You start to believe when you fail to think. And humans are not as good at thinking as they think.
William G (2 years ago)
The formless creative intelligence that governs the universe has been given different names down thru time due to language and cultural development. The same formless intelligence could be given a dozen different names and still be the same underlying creative intelligence (God).
William G (2 years ago)
True there is NO objective evidence that WE have or you will accept, true there may be no empirical evidence, but objective empirical evidence isn't the only evidence that exists!! No one can prove God to you, you must prove God to yourself! The experience of God is *subjective*! and a very personal experience; evidence enough for those who have had the privilege to experience it!
A new Channel (3 years ago)
5:23  "ohh that .. !!! you are right ! really didn't think about that "
Gg Mo (4 years ago)
Christianity and Science have both evolved. Belief in what/who God is , like our development to the discovery of quarks, has had corruption, violence and intractable arrogance in it's Bio. Atom bombs of mis-use, so to speak. But, we evolve. "Christianity" with out Christ was a primordial bloodbath. We evolve.
Richard Atkinson (4 years ago)
Who is that idiot woman who keeps interrupting with nonsensical questions?
Aeterus (4 years ago)
Good speech, but I would have answered differently to the first questions . I mean she really give the respond herself with saying that people can use religion as a reason, this wouldn't be possible if no one would think about it as a sound reason.
Katalyzt (4 years ago)
Well said/done. ᵔᴥᵔ ★★★★★ Katalyzt
marty the gent (4 years ago)
check out the hairstyle :P
Gooners Rule (3 years ago)
+marty the gent I know & I agreed with every word he said.
SXeNaz (4 years ago)
Sure you can have conflicts over land/politics/resources etc., but why add imaginary conflicts from religion to make things worse. The German's hated Jewish Germans for their wealth and different beliefs, but if all German's were Jewish/christian/atheist etc., they wouldn't of exterminated them.
Sahil Satishkumar (4 years ago)
the girl looked so offended. Was acting too kiddish.,
MrMrmike5 (4 years ago)
Mr. Millican stole that Irish Protestant/Catholic joke from Hitchens
memisemyself (4 years ago)
+MrMrmike5 Hitchens stole if from someone else, it's being doing the rounds in Ireland since the 1960's at least.
Stephen Eadon (4 years ago)
It's an old joke
CDenic (4 years ago)
Never seen the girl before... ...never want to see her again, either. Self-righteous bitch.
MaximilianoRace (4 years ago)
@CDenic Why people can interrupt the argument, that's make no sense to me, there are rules for those debates?
0730Ender (5 years ago)
Actually,Philip Pullman once confessed in an interview to be a "Christian ahteist", in the sense that he lived on Christian values. I doubt he'd agree on that in hindsight, since he supports the notion that modern values go beyond those established by religions. This was certainly a far better speech for the motion than that of Nonie Darwish, which was counterproductive.
kmica2008 (5 years ago)
if you're an idiot and you don't know politics is a thing in the world then yes, you can blame wars on religion but you're still a massive idiot.
archanth (5 years ago)
Mehrunissa Sajjad uses pushy tactics. Millican was right to give her short shrift.
Nick Halme (5 years ago)
A good example of this is St. Augustine who, despite being an interesting philosopher, did believe in forceful conversion and put forth the idea of baptizing at birth to establish that everyone is born a sinner. He was all for making people believe, for their own good.
Zartos Andra (5 years ago)
We all know those things comes from the era of the 1st Vatican council and we know that the 1st Vatican council were highly corrupted with power and wealth. The arguments are highly in the past and yes there is some corrupted individuals with power and autonomy in the 21st century, but it is to be expected no one can control power. It is like an ecstasy: you've tasted once or a little you want more. We can't blame this on Religion but on us
Zartos Andra (5 years ago)
Don't underestimate the Ancients mr Peter Millican
Andrew Lohbihler (5 years ago)
That was a clever comeback. Good work Peter !!
Michael Emmanuel (5 years ago)
Sorry, but if the world were full of athiests there would still be wars. People cause wars, religion does not.
memisemyself (4 years ago)
+Michael Emmanuel I think you should look into why the Plantation of Ulster worked and all other plantations in Ireland failed. Then look into why Ireland is divided in to North and South. It's interesting and would change your view on what caused the conflict in Ulster. Without religion, it would not have happened. There were several plantations, in many parts of Ireland, by the English. All others were pre-reformation. The natives were Catholic and so were the planters. The communities intermarried and became one community. That's why, outside of Ulster, the descendants of the native Irish and the planters are not killing each other. Religion alone changed all of that in Ulster. The so called 'Glorious Revolution' in England was all about the religion of the monarch. When Charles had a Catholic heir, the protestant establishment invited his protestant son-in-law to replace him. A war that destroyed four countries and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths resulted. Without religion, it would not have happened. Research your history and you'll see that there were a lot more examples of wars in Europe which would not have happened without religion. There were many more which were made worse by the religious divide between the sides. Many of the worst atrocities would not have happened if religious hatred didn't come into the mix. In some cases religion was only used as an excuse, when no other excuse existed. The fact that it could be used as an excuse for atrocities and massacres shows the harm it can do and can enable.
KeiRaRaRa (4 years ago)
@Michael Emmanuel we would also have less excuse for wars, no one said wars will always be religious. We've had one or two that weren't related to religion at all in the recent century, but faith is often used as an easy tool to make believers fight over issues that are actually political or economical, sometimes it's just an excuse to be hateful and push weight around. Sure it's not always religion, but it doesn't have a great track record for preventing it, in fact the opposite is true.
Stephen Eadon (4 years ago)
Your point is analogous to saying that smoking doesn't cause cancer but humans cause cancer - it true, but it's what is known as greedy reductionism
Sturla Þórðarson (4 years ago)
@Michael Emmanuel It is that most of us work in a way that whee accept the teaching whee get. And Religion is most often a real bad teaching. So as long as this teaching is not going to be taken out. It is what is going to be wrong with us. And religion has the most wrong teaching humans have bean brought. Since it becomes something that trigers fear in humans and that fear brings out a real bad action.
Michael Emmanuel (4 years ago)
@Sturla Þórðarson I think this comment is of no value, please, make a claim....Religion may be what is blamed...but Humans are the cause. Over to you :-)
Beno Will H (6 years ago)
I don't believe Peter Millican has studied Irish history or politics in any depth and I believe he should have considering it is one of his main points. There are other conflicts which are clearly religious whereas the Nationalist/Unionist conflict in Ireland isn't. Good debate on both sides but at the risk of sounding rude, how much of an arrogant dick is David Silverman?
memisemyself (4 years ago)
+Beno Will H Perhaps you're the one who doesn't understand Irish history. The conflict in Ulster wouldn't and couldn't exist without religion. All the other ingredients exist in the rest of Ireland, all except the religious divide and there is no conflict. It is not a Nationalist/Unionist conflict, it is a Catholic/ Protestant conflict and it goes back to the plantation of Ulster. Unionism wouldn't exist without Protestantism, Northern Ireland wouldn't exist without Protestantism. The Protestants would not have resisted independence if the rest of Ireland was Protestant. instead of mostly Catholic. Of all the conflicts in the world today, it is the most obviously religious.
Drudenfusz (6 years ago)
He shows in his speech that he doesn't need religion to put others for their worldviews down, defeating is argument by doing so. Secular ideologies are no better than religious ones, so why doing the same then that you accuse religions of?  Honestly, how can anyone miss that hypocricy?
Drudenfusz (3 years ago)
Well communism was a secular ideology and it send plenty of people to death camps. sorry, but the lack of any deities or supernatural don't make any ideology inherently any better than any other. So, religion is not the problem, but how fanatic people become with their ideologies is.
Drudenfusz (4 years ago)
@KeiRaRaRa Look, you just ahve proven that you don't need relihgion to be intolerant towards other people, with or without religion we would have exactly the same abount of war here. So, stop barking at the wrong tree and start to think about solutions that are actually helpful.
KeiRaRaRa (4 years ago)
@Drudenfusz secular issues can still be settled in reality if people are willing enough to end conflict, but religious issues, there is no resource of truth or reason to back anything up, so the conflict gives no room to stop until enough people are hurt. Besides, every non religious war we've ever had still took place in a world highly influenced by religion, so we have no reason to believe that secular thinking can't work. God isn't the opposite of reality, he is one ideology among thousands of agents of varying vagueness, reality has no opposite that we are aware of. Most people don't want to fight when they are comfortable enough, take out the main reason to hate your neighbor, which is your neighboring religions, and mankind has far less reason to segregate itself. Even oceans can't stand between human cooperation and empathy, both things that were given to us through evolution.
Drudenfusz (4 years ago)
@Yasha Unknown Sure, and if you read me carefully again, I never said that this would be. I am saying that how it is handled in the video is an ideological approach that is quite bigot. That he criticise religion for something he as a secular person does too, and by doing so shows that the problem is obviously not within religion, but has to be something else... and like I said, I think that something else is part of human nature.
Yasha Unknown (4 years ago)
That's not a secular ideology. It's not a requirement of secularism.
AmunRaRocks (6 years ago)
Sit down you idiot woman.
AGNOSSI (6 years ago)
Hear, Hear!!
Luo Weiyang (6 years ago)
If I may digress a bit,Prof Millican's accent is so beautiful!
mariam Sh (6 years ago)
I want to be one of these people standing there and debating! I really want to do that so bad!
mariam Sh (6 years ago)
why do they read from papers? that's boring it kills the excitement of the debate.
shawn Oneil (1 year ago)
mariam Sh In order to state your case effectively, you have to be willing to put forth a lot of information. My guess is that if you write down a small outline , you'll be able memorize and present the information, and in it's correct order. Not looking down at your outline comes only with practice as well as familiarity with the subject matter at hand.
Decimo Trillonesimo (1 year ago)
mariam Sh Its best to make sure that what you're saying is correct
DragonCharlz (6 years ago)
After watching Tariq Ramadan and then this guy, you can clearly see who has a real argument and a real case. Millican has examples and evidence, and Ramadan just kinda rambled on about nothing specific. No contest.
MrNckissfan (6 years ago)
I completely agree with everything you've just said.
FinaleGoofups (6 years ago)
"Religions often paint an idealized picture of society, and where everyone has the same religion it might indeed foster social harmony and inclusion." Held, religion is harmful, we must all convert to atheism which claims no standards, ideology, moral standpoint, or ethos.  This is the only way to usher in a new utopia for the areligious.
memisemyself (4 years ago)
+FinaleGoofups "The United States is a secular country"? So why is it that any declared Atheist can not be elected to even the lowest office? There is a separation of church and state but that doesn't mean it is secular. It's the general population and their attitudes and beliefs that make a country secular.
El Gibralter (6 years ago)
thank you for the kind reply!  I believe you to be a very intelligent individual even after your mockery of me.  Spread love my friend :)
FinaleGoofups (6 years ago)
@El Gibralter You're an idiot then.
El Gibralter (6 years ago)
@FinaleGoofups totalitarian have been instituted by religion in the past and continue to justify the evolution of it today. i dont wish for despotism. I wish for a free society. I believe that we have lived long enought and become intelligent enough to develop a "utopia". We will not be able to do so unless we release all of the belief systems, isms and ideologies holding us back.
FinaleGoofups (6 years ago)
@El Gibralter That's just an excuse to institute totalitarian ideology.  There is no excuse for oppression in that manner.
Evgeny Mironov (6 years ago)
All these have been spoiled by some idiots coughing all along
cbrusharmy (6 years ago)
@***** probably have 8-10 times since it was posted.  It was well and succinctly done.  
cbrusharmy (6 years ago)
All these have been ruined by the Sajjad woman interrupting.