Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nathan on Hitchens and Blair

My buddy Nathan writes up his experience watching and listening to a recent debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens on the question of whether religion counts as a force for good in the world. Excellent post. A quick excerpt:

The central question, the subject of the debate was “Be it resolved that religion is a force for good in the world.” The Munk Centre held the event in a massive hall, and it polled its audience before and after the debate. Before the debate, 22% of the audience in Toronto had indicated agreement with this statement, while 57% were opposed. The others were undecided, and clearly, Tony Blair had his work cut out for him.

The debate was an inspired performance from both Hitchens and Blair. Each made good points, a fact that I as a formerly religious person can particularly appreciate.

So: what did the post-debate polling reveal? Did Hitchens, a staunch atheist, shrink the 22% down even lower, or did Blair manage to change some people's minds? Go to Nathan's blog and find out, and be sure to read his very thoughtful reaction to the debate.



Nathan B. said...

Thanks for the link and the kind words, Kevin! I was thinking of you as I wrote that post, actually.

By the way, I had to write that post today over a three hour period in which my delightful young son pestered me continually. I have just finished making over a dozen corrections, and a few other small changes as well. But the post is substantially the same. Anyway, after I finished writing, I spelled off my wife and played with the little guy until his bedtime.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Judaism is always characterized by the OT stories of ethnic cleansing and Christianity by Fundamentalism? I seriously doubt that any modern Jew would endorse the complete destruction of any people, and in fact, their current mode of operation in combat in civilian areas is to take harm rather than deliberately harm non-combatants. This is, of course, used as a tactical advantage by their enemies.

In the case of Christianity, most mainline Protestant groups, perhaps other than Southern Baptist, are open to the findings of science including evolution. There certainly are enough of them that they should not be ignored or included in those that don't.

As for the debate, I think there was a lot of talking past each other as well as a failure to identify what was being identified as religion and religious belief. Hitchens sounded like he was reciting talking points out of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion and Blair was nice, warm fuzzy "we do good works" without any real counters to Hitchens.

Like many of these exercises, I thought it was rather empty.