Christopher Hitchens 1-0 Tony Blair.

myhonorisloyalty666

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Entertaining religious debate between the very eloquent speakers - Hitchens and Blair.

Both men were unabashedly stalwart in their positions. Hitchens, one of the leading "new atheists" and author of the hit book God Is Not Great, slammed religion as nothing more than supernatural gobbledegook that caused untold misery throughout human history. "Once you assume a creator and a plan it make us subjects in a cruel experiment," Hitchens said before causing widespread laughter by comparing God to "a kind of divine North Korea".

Blair, perhaps not surprisingly, was a little less forthright. On the backfoot for much of the debate he kept returning to his theme that many religious people all over the world were engaged in great and good works. They did that because of their faith, he argued, and to slam all religious people as ignorant or evil was plain wrong. "The proposition that religion is unadulterated poison is unsustainable," he said. Blair called religion at its best "a benign progressive framework by which to live our lives".
Christopher Hitchens 1-0 Tony Blair | World news | guardian.co.uk

YouTube - Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair - Munk Debates 1
 


SevenStars

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Ugh....
 

johnfás

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Christopher Hitchens is a poster boy for a certain form of atheism... I don't think any Christian denomination (Catholicism including) would claim Blair as a poster boy. Odd pair to invite for debate then.
 

myhonorisloyalty666

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H.R. Haldeman

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I don't think any Christian denomination (Catholocism including) would claim Blair as a poster boy. Odd pair to invite for debate then.

I don't think that's true JF. Blair has been very vocal (evangelical?) about his faith and the role of faith in society in recent years. And don't forget he's got this:

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation

He is setting himself up as a semi-professional person of faith these days.
 

johnfás

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I don't think that's true JF. Blair has been very vocal (evangelical?) about his faith and the role of faith in society in recent years. And don't forget he's got this:

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation

He is setting himself up as a semi-professional person of faith these days.
Indeed - he has set himself up as. But I don't know any Christians (and I know an awful lot of very involved Christians of all denominations) consider Blair to be an inspirational figure. Therefore I wouldn't have necessarily thought that it was a very good pairing in a debate. Obviously it grabs headlines and sells tickets - which is what they wanted to achieve. But put him up against somebody like Stanley Hauerwas (or hundreds of others) and it would be a much better debate.
 

nozzferrahhtoo

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My own review of the debate could be summed up in two words “Let down”.

One allows oneself to expect a certain level of intellectualism from the elected leaders of the free world, even if their work and competence when in the role was horrific at best. This indulgence comes despite being consistently shown that it is a link that does not hold up. It would be too easy to insert Bush and Palin jokes at this juncture to serve as an example for relative intelligence of the elect, or nearly elected.

Yet I have not learned and I went into this debate hoping for an intellectual powerhouse of arguments to be made such as are rarely seen in Hitchens’ opponents. At the very least I expected Blair to have done his homework and actually learned what Hitchens’ arguments were before going into the room with him.

Alas it was not to be so, and it was apparent from the start that Blair is another in a long line of opponents who read the subtitle “how religion poisons everything” on Hitchens’ book and assume to know the premise behind their meaning. As such Blair was happy to build up an argument based entirely on the premise that “Religion moves people to do good things” and assume this was enough.

As usual from opponents who make this mistake, when the actual premise behind the title “how religion poisons everything” became clear Blair was instantly put on the retreat as he realised how horribly unprepared he now was. Had he done so little as to read the first chapter of the book he would have been forewarned but instead Hitchens was left sitting on his chair swinging his legs like a young girl on a wall, safe in the knowledge his opponent was so unprepared that he would hardly have to break a sweat.

Yet as emotional as he clearly got Blair’s entire argument was the claim that we should imagine a world without religion where people do not do good things inspired by it. Very little else he said deviated from this core yet he says this in a world punctuated by non-religious people doing just those very things, for secular reasons, with no requirement to appeal to a higher power in order to achieve them.

The newspapers called this “Hitchens 1 – 0 Blair” and I hope that keeping a score indicates that a re-match is on the books because I, for whatever reason I do not know, hold on to the hope that now being better informed could lead to Blair making a better case that actually proves relevant to the points Hitchens is making even if he insists on making it clear he has read little more than the title of Hitchens books. Until then the only thing of relevance and truth Blair said in the 90 minutes was when he declared “My point that I am making is incredibly simple”.
 

ballot stuffer

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A clip from Hitchens speaking to Paxman during the week:

BBC News - Newsnight - Christopher Hitchens talks to Paxman about his cancer

The full interview is on a Newsnight Special tomorrow, but the listing suggests not on BBCNI, which most of us receive. Annoying, but it may appear or be available on YT at some point:

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Newsnight, Paxman Meets Hitchens: A Newsnight Special
Here you go.

Here: Part1
YouTube - Paxman Meets Hitchens: A Newsnight Special (1/2)

Here: Part2
YouTube - Paxman Meets Hitchens: A Newsnight Special (2/2)

Go Hitch!
 

nozzferrahhtoo

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Not just less confident but he gave a lot of ground too. He started espousing the idea that religion inspires people to do good, then he spent half his time saying "Yes I know non religious people do the same good" until finally he was backed into a corner of saying saying religion doesn't tell you or inspire you to do good, but gives you the strength to do it....

had there been more time I am sure he would have realised that that new position suffers from all the same arguments that made him shift to it in the first place... starting with his own point that non religious people also find the strength to do good.... and so on...

I think he was left entirely deflated however when Hitchens made the point later on in the debate, during Q&A I think, that (paraphrased) "So what if religious people do good? I have heard it said that Hamass provides social services in gaza... but this does not mean they are not a militarised terrorist organisation with a fanatical antisemitic ideology.... and I have heard it said that Louis Farrakan spends a lot of time getting young black men off drugs.... but this does not change the fact that this happens through a racist crackpot cult".

Essentially what he is saying there, and what Blair fails to recognise, is that if all the good things done in the name of religion are also done without it then Religion is essentially superfluous to any requirements. And it is, given there is not a moral action performed that can not also be performed by the non-religious. And if X is entirely superfluous then only ONE bad effect of it is required to put it into negative equity on usefulness. Yet we are far from limited to just one as many of us could spend a week listing such bad effects.
 


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