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Hitchens vs Blair
Hitchens vs Blair
Guess what

Quote:Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens to debate religion
Graphic showing religion poll results

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is to take on columnist Christopher Hitchens in a televised public debate for and against religion.

Mr Blair, a Catholic convert, will argue that faith is a force for good.

Mr Hitchens, terminally ill with cancer, is expected to argue it is the world's "main source of hatred", as he did in his 2007 book God is not Great.

A 23-country poll paid for by the debate's Canadian organisers suggests the world is evenly split on the issue.

Some 48% of the 18,192 people questioned by Ipsos took the view that "religion provides the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to the thrive in the 21st Century".

Fractionally more - 52% - supported the view that "religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions, and impede social progress in developing and developed nations alike".
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Blair v Hitchens on the BBC

* BBC World Service radio will air the Blair-Hitchens debate on 4 December, followed by Radio 4 on 11 December
* It can be viewed on BBC World News and the News Channel on 1 January 2011

Rich countries were less likely to see religion as a force for good than poor countries - the main exception being the United States, where 65% said it had a positive impact.

Ahead of the debate, which will take place in front of a sell-out audience of 2,700 people in Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall, Tony Blair said: "The good that people of faith all over the world do every day, motivated by their religion, cannot be underestimated and should never be ignored."
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Tony Blair
Tony Blair

* Fifty-seven-year-old former Labour prime minister
* Brought up in a Christian family, he says he became a practising Christian while studying at Oxford University
* Converted to Catholicism in 2007
* Launched Tony Blair Faith Foundation in 2008

It could, and should, be a force for progress, he said.

Christopher Hitchens - who has described Christianity, Judaism and Islam as the "real axis of evil" - has continued his outspoken attacks on religion in interviews as he is treated for cancer of the oesophagus.

He is scathing about those who suggest his illness might lead him to retract his atheism.

In a BBC Newsnight interview to be broadcast on 29 November, he says he is not afraid of death, but regrets the fact that it will cause distress to friends and family.

In comments released by the debate's organisers he said it was "bizarre" that Mr Blair, a Catholic since 2007, had converted "at one of the most conservative times for the Catholic Church, under one of the most conservative popes".
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Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens in 2004

* Sixty-one-year-old journalist, author and critic
* Went to Christian boarding schools but refused to take part in communal prayers
* Says his "bohemian and rackety" lifestyle may have caused his cancer of the oesophagus
* Regarded as a leader of the "New Atheism"

Both men have recently published autobiographies.

Tickets for the debate - the sixth in a semi-annual series of Munk Debates - sold out within hours of going on sale.

The event will also be available to watch online, on a pay-per-view basis, on the Munk Debates website.

The Ipsos poll, conducted in September, found that Europe was the region most doubtful about the benefits of religion, with just 19% in Sweden agreeing that it was a force for good.

At the other end of the scale, in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, it was seen as a positive force by more than 90% of those questioned.

Within North America there was a pronounced divide. In Canada only 36% agreed with the positive view of religion whereas 64% saw it as a negative force - figures almost exactly the reverse of those in the US.
Graphic showing religion poll results

[Image: _50157197_religion_good_bad_304.gif]
[Image: _50157199_religion_good_bad_464.gif]

Messages In This Thread
Hitchens vs Blair - by Ashendant - November 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by Minimalist - November 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by Skipper - November 27, 2010 at 11:16 am
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by gmjackson - November 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by downbeatplumb - November 27, 2010 at 5:29 am
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by Darwinian - November 27, 2010 at 6:06 am
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by Shinylight - November 27, 2010 at 9:35 am
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by Minimalist - November 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm
RE: Hitchens vs Blair - by technophobe - December 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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