[HQ] Christopher Hitchens vs Tony Blair – Religion is a force for good in the world

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Discussion by: woody68

I know most would have seen this but from what I can gather all version on YT are poor quality with very poor – out of sync – audio. Here is a beautiful version in high quality with excellent audio!

About:

In a world of globalization and rapid social change does religion provide the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to thrive in the 21st century? Or, do deeply held religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions, and impede social progress in developing and developed nations alike? The Motion: Be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world.

25% For – Pre Debate Results – Against 55%

20% Undecided

32% For – Post Debate Results – Against 68%

Hitchens wins… again:)

15 COMMENTS

    • Yes, that’s the only argument for religion that he had. Truly pathetic from this new-to-religion-pathetic Christian but pathetic only because that’s a’ they got.

      In reply to #4 by MilitantNonStampCollector:

      It took Blair an hour to say “but religion sometimes does good” in a hundred different ways. Pathetic.

    • In reply to #5 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      The part where Blair claimed religion had done good by healing the (religious!) divide in Northern Ireland was hilarious, as pointed out by Hitch.

      Yes. I remember that one very well. So funny. I was watching a live retransmission that night…

  1. I thought Tony Blair was quite good in this debate. He was right about Northern Ireland. The conflict was over land, political power and deeply ingrained ideas of national identity.It wasn’t a conflict over theological differences. Religion’s role was to segregate traditionally Catholic Irish republicans and traditionally Protestant British unionists.

  2. Blair was on a hiding to nothing- but (disturbingly) the 25% ‘for’ increased to 32%! Do these people understand the concept of rational thought? Disappointing.
    Many flaws in Blair’s argument- tu quoque being most obvious. Surely, if a belief system includes ANY cruel, inhuman elements then these negate the ‘good’ parts and therefore, the entire dogma completely?

    Hitchens- what a loss, irreplaceable in my view…

    • In reply to #10 by 1bewildered1:

      Blair was on a hiding to nothing- but (disturbingly) the 25% ‘for’ increased to 32%! Do these people understand the concept of rational thought?

      I think the only valid point Blair made was that religion is not going away, so it is important, even for its opponents, to try to understand it better – by implication including better understanding of why it gets support.

      Presuming that the rise in the ‘for’ religion vote was from the large number of pre-debate undecided, this suggests considerations as to what happened in the debate to effect that shift (while noting the 7% increase was less than the 13% rise for the ‘against’).

      Maybe Blair was using his political experience – speak slowly and keep to one main message, to persuade the undecided, ie those not clearly inimical to religion. Maybe some didn’t respond to Hitchens’ brilliance or his multitude of points, preferring Blair’s focus on human stories of religious compassion, rather than Hitchens’ metaphysics.

      Or, maybe there was no great shift. Without doing the maths it could be that the pre- and post – debate votes both reflected a broad position that slightly more than twice as many people interested in such a debate are against as are for religion – and that the ‘undecided’ had chosen not to give their opinion beforehand, but had a pre-existing opinion all the same (ie, just over 2:1 against), which they revealed in the second vote.

  3. Sigmund Freud said it well.. “Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. [...] If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.” –Sigmund Freud

    This I believe is the only way religion can be looked upon as ‘doing good’

  4. Someone who ‘preaches’ one thing and ‘practices’ exactly the opposite is called a ‘hypocrite’

    Where does the ‘religion’ he preaches fit in with the ‘ terrible war’ he supported and conducted in Iraq?

    • In reply to #12 by cmirana:

      Someone who ‘preaches’ one thing and ‘practices’ exactly the opposite is called a ‘hypocrite’

      Where does the ‘religion’ he preaches fit in with the ‘ terrible war’ he supported and conducted in Iraq?

      To be fair, both of the debaters supported the war in Iraq for different reasons, which are a matter of public record. In this debate Tony Blair even says that the decision had nothing to do with his religion.

  5. The religious are always telling me that their religion tells them what is moral or not. Blair did the opposite, using morality to define what is religious, and he did it eleven times in the debate! (I analysed the transcript and counted them.) Like a bad magician, he brands only the moral behaviours as religious, then points out how religion “when defined in this way” (his words) is a force for good. We can see how you did the trick, Tony, and it doesn’t work.

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