Hitchens/Blair Debate

December 1st, 2010

Just finished watching the Hitchens/ Blair Debate for the second time.  I may have to put together a Barbie theater to depict the finer points of this debate because it really was somewhat ridiculous.  Hitchens was in his usual fine form while Blair, the ever affable politician, continually re-adjusted his position to attempt to accommodate Hitchens and his beautifully crafted, crowd pleasing, quick witted arguments.  Can anyone beat Hitchens in a religious debate?

My favorite quote from the debate is this one from Hitchens…

“Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects in a cruel experiment whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well.  Over us, to supervise us, there is installed a celestial dictatorship… a kind of divine North Korea… greedy for uncritical praise from dawn to dusk and swift to punish the original sins with which it so tenderly gifted us in the very first place.

However!

Let no one say there is no cure!

Salvation is offered!

Redemption is promised!

At the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.”

My favorite quote of Tony Blair’s was something along this line….

“Yes, religions has created these problems and yes religion is also trying to solve these problems.”

In a nutshell this debate had Blair declaring over and over again that religion helps people to do good things while Hitchens insisted that religion creates most of the problems that it also attempts to solve.  Hitchens’ most eloquent example of this is how  the catholic church decrees that women may not use birth control and thereby must be enslaved to the animal cycle of continuous pregnancy throughout the prime of their lives creating more children than they can support, feed, or care for in the poorest parts of the world.  If instead the church empowered women in the poverty stricken parts of the world to control their reproductive capabilities and gave them the skills to earn a living, plant a crop, manufacture a product, or get an education, poverty would be largely and swiftly eliminated.

At the very end of the debate a woman from the audience asked both Hitchens and Blair which of each other’s arguments they found the most convincing.

Blair said that the literal interpretation of sacred texts is truly what seems to lead to religious fanaticism, oppression and violence.  He seemed to think that in order for religion to regularly function as a instrument for good in the world, the bible, the Koran, and all other ancient holy writ really should be distilled to an essence of love your neighbor and everything else in those gilded pages be utterly ignored.

Hitchens was willing to admit that Blair’s insistence that religion is not the root of all evil and that if religion was wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow, we would still have plenty of problems with which to deal, was largely true.

Off to find some nice blue Ken doll suits on Ebay so that I can turn my barbie cowboys into world class debaters.

Comments

  • Elaine:

    This is a bit off topic, but have you ever read Mark Twains “Letters From the Earth”? He has the archangel, Satan, describe how humans view God. He explains Adam/Eve, Noah, the OT, etc. It’s priceless.

    • Rechelle:

      No – but it sounds really good and I love Twain’s wit.

  • Brianv.:

    Listened to key points of Thompson Hall debate in Toronto. HItchens was in fine form… later I listened to a rightwingnut Adler (Charles Adler) radio show in B.C. and laughed all the way to the bank. Adler will spend days now trying to counter Hitchen’s knockout of Blair. It was truly a pleasure to listen to Hitchens, his crystal clear reason and caring for humanity. Adler took about three phone calls after sharing some of the debate on his radio show. They were SURPRISE all in favor of Blair but shite, Rechelle! We must root for the underdogs in all things and Blair was bloodied and down, almost on a British Christian Cross, I think. Hell, I feel so sorry for him I’m going to join the Baptist Church again… Transcript of knockout here:
    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/11/christopher-hitchens-tony-blair

  • Ryan:

    This doll thing is getting unhealthy, but since it amuses me, keep going.
    I must warn you that I have nearly a bottle Of scotch n me so my judgements may be clouded!

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Blair is unusual in the UK in having moved from being the most popular leader we ever had, to just about the least popular. He is generally considered to be a war criminal. He is a total liability to his party. And his Christian credentials are well supported by his unbelievable commerciality. All he does these days is chase cash…

    His horrible wife, some kind of judge, recently failed to send a convict to prison because he was ‘a religious man’. And she is drawing a public salary…

    What a pair of wankers.

    • I'm Rhonda and I'm here to help:

      Okay, this is totally off-topic, but I must tell you that I just LOVE the word “wankers”. For me it’s right up there with “whilst” and the addition of the “u” – colour, favour, etc.

      You made my day, if that tell you at all how bad a day it’s been! :-)

      • Kait:

        Some people have to use a “U”. I am Canadian and “u” is a must in many words. My fingers cramp if I try to Americanize it.

        • Jimmy-boy:

          Wanker is very useful – and expressive (specially when spitting about the likes of Blair). Bollocks is up there too…

          Always wondered how the spelling differences occurred across the atlantic. No idea how that came about?

  • Clay:

    I hope Hitchens is recovering from his illness. He is such a clear thinker and great debater. We need him.

    I have to agree with one of the debate commenters at BrianV’s link:

    “Speaking as someone who has been a very good one, I blame salesmen for the woes of the world, because at some point someone realised if he could convince someone else it would be to his advantage to share his food/accomodation/wife etc. with him it was realised that a living , and a very good one, could be made from it. From this point there was no going back even though at no point since the start of this slave market has any one of the salesmen ever delivered the goods. Oh that it was that easy in commercial sales !”

    Everything is a sell job now – goods and ideas and faith. It runs politics, religion and most of the public dialog, and a lot of it is independent of truth or compassion, or of any sense of civic responsibility or attempt at real understanding of the issues involved. The salesmen are winning because they care more about how to convince people than the value of the product.