Majesty, sorry for the delay. I wrote up something earlier and had to put it aside just before I completed it.
So, I propose a question that is more practical;
* Is theism -- or a specific type of theism -- better for the members of a society than non-theism?
[ ... SNIP! ... ]
Tell me EXACTLY what we will be debating and i will be more than happy to accept your challenge to a debate
Better. In the common usage of the word. You know; happier, healthier, longer lives, better pay, higher education, fewer crimes, ... . Better.
If you want to go over the details on what specific 'better' categories you want to limit the conversation to or expand the conversation to cover, I'd be glad to.
Otherwise, I'll consider 'better' to be a loose category that we can agree on a case by case basis. Let's go with the rule that any 'better' category is first proposed before it is used and that reasons must be given for why it is being proposed. If the other person in the debate rejects that new 'better' category, they have to say why or ask for more details from the person proposing the new category.
For starters, I recommend the following as allowable but not required
* Marriage and divorce rates (first better, second worse)
* Crime (various categories including rape, murder, violent assaults, theft (including white collar)) (lower is better)
* Infant mortality rates (lower is better)
* Abortion rates (lower is better)
* Life expectancy rates (higher is better)
* STD rates (lower is better)
* Education level (more years formal education is better)
* Literacy levels (higher is better)
* Pay rates (based on buying power, not just raw pay) (higher is better)
* Employment rates (higher is better)
* Happiness (more is better)
I realize that each of the above basic categories have specific issues. For example, often divorce is a good thing for the specific individuals involved, yet I think we can agree that divorce is something to avoid in general. As such, lower divorce rates are considered 'better'.
As I can see that there may be a variety of ways to frame the basic question, I'll be precise on what the scope is.Societies as a whole, not as individuals
As I stated earlier, the debate covers societies.
This is not a cheerleading exercise where we each promote 'the best heroes' or 'the worst villians' and then compare our bias-reinforced favorite choices. What is 'best' in individuals varies on who does that evaluation.
Unlike individuals, the general 'health' of societies on specific issues should be discoverable and unambiguous, and will also tell us more about how the basic question applies.Pre-capita health of societies
Going with the idea of societies as a whole, a pre-capita average is a good measure. As an example, if Flippenstan has a lower infant mortality rate and higher education level than Burgenstan -- (0.03% vs. 4% and 99% vs. 9% grade school graduation rate), it would rank higher (better) for those two categories.Cross-society comparisons - national and regional
I recommend we limit comparisons of whole societies to chunks that are either whole countries or are clearly defined unambiguous regions (such as states in the United States).Western democracies only
If we limit the discussion to 'Western democracies' -- democratic societies that have private property and private business ownership rights -- we can see how free people make a difference to the societies they are in. We also eliminate any apples to hand grenade differences found when comparing closed dictatorial societies like North Korea and open societies like South Korea.
Note that geographically eastern nations such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, ... are included in this category. China, even though they have introduced limited private ownership and democracy, still have substantial limitations on those and as such are not included. Note that all countries have some governmental or quasi-governmental companies and government protected monopolies. Because of that, a country should not be eliminated because of those specific monopolies if the market is otherwise free and open.Compare as many similar societies to other similar societies when possible
There are geographic and other advantages and disadvantages that some countries and regions have that others do not. These should be accounted for and identified when possible.Avoid cherry picking in general
Using the previous example of Flippenstan and Burgenstan, it is likely that Flippen does rank lower than Burgen in some categories. Yet if many countries or societies are included in our evaluation, a trend of 'better societies' apply to the question should be clear. In that context, the societies that Flippen and Burgen represent can be shown to be in general 'better' or 'worse' than other societies. There may be a correlation between societies that are theistic or non-theistic and societies that are in general 'better' or 'worse'.