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Hitchens Dawkins Grayling '07: "Strict Materialists?"

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Published on Apr 30, 2012

FULL DEBATE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfix_...
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27th March 2007, debate: "We would be better off without religion" Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH

PROPOSING THE MOTION: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins & A.C. Grayling.

Christopher Hitchens begins by making the case for religion being at the root of many conflicts that have shaped the 20th-21st century world, citing the current situations in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. Here, it has been intra-faith disputes that have caused or aggravated the conflicts and slowed political and social progress.

Richard Dawkins focuses his support for the motion on the blind faith that leads even intelligent people to deny key scientific principles, citing many American students' opposition to the theory of evolution as an example.

Anthony Grayling illustrates how the Bible's view of what constitutes a good person is at odds with the modern Western view of what constitutes a good person, arguing that it is possible to appreciate the natural world and feel such emotions as empathy, sympathy, and love without holding religious views.

OPPOSING THE MOTION: Dr Nigel Spivey, Roger Scruton & Rabbi Julia Neuberger.

Dr Nigel Spivey opens the opposition by offering an archaeological and anthropological perspective. Pointing to the "Creative Explosion" of 40,000 years ago, he suggests that religion is a concept that is part of the human nature, and that a world without religion would be one without such fruits of human creativity as Venice, the Taj Mahal and King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger argues that, whilst atheism preaches certainty and disrespect of other religions, religion preaches uncertainty and tolerance. She suggests that it is certainty and conviction -- not religion -- that produced the Crusades, fascism, and Jewish, Christian, and Islamic fundamentalism.

Roger Scruton argues that rejecting religion on some of its irrational principles does not make sense, and that science is just as capable of producing disasters as religion. Religion, he says, offers help to people who are affected by man-made or natural disasters, and provides "why" answers -- the reason why things happen and what life is for -- whilst science can only provides causal explanations.

First Vote: 826 For, 681 Against, 364 Don't Know
Final Vote: 1205 For, 778 Against, 103 Don't Know

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