The video: Last week, former British prime minister Tony Blair squared off against renowned atheist and author Christopher Hitchens in a high-profile debate over the value of religion. Blair, a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, argued that "religion is a force for good in the world," while Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said it is the world's "main source of hatred." (Watch part of the debate below)
The reaction:
Hitchens had the less demanding side of the debate, says David Usborne at Britain's Independent. "It is just much easier to highlight all the bad things humans have done in the name of religion" than to "explain the good faith can do, to individual souls as well as the world." Blair lost, says David Cairns at The First Post, but he got in plenty of licks, as when he pointed out that "bigotry and prejudice are not 'wholly owned subsidiaries' of religion." In the end, the "true winner of the debate was most likely the organizers," says Paul Harris in The Guardian. A debate about God is a tough sell, but they sold out the hall and got tons of publicity. As for the question of whether religion is a force of good or evil — that will never "be settled with a single night's debate." View a clip: