Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens Debate: “Religion is a force for good in the world?”

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    Click on the image for the BBC article on this debate, held last night in front of an audience of 2,700 in Toronto, as well as for some video highlights from the forum. According to The Guardian, “The occasion was part of the Munk Debate series, organised by the Aurea Foundation group, and the motion was: ‘Be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world’.” Here are two representative quotes.

    Hitchens: “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: “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”.

    According to polls taken before and after the debate, it appears that Hitchens and Blair each won over about half the undecideds, with the final poll at a 32%-68% split for the proposition, “be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world.”  Whether you’re an atheist (as I am) or a believer, what’s your view of this question, empirically speaking?

    P.S. Also interesting, check out the global poll at the bottom of this article, asking people whether religion has a positive or negative impact.  Countries in which “negative” beat “positive” include Sweden, Belgium, France, Spain, Japan, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Canada, Poland, Turkey, Argentina and Hungary. Countries in which “positive” beat “negative” include Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India, Brazil, South Africa, the United States, South Korea, and Russia.

    UPDATE: The full transcript is here.