Friday, March 30, 2007

Lack of Intelligent Debate

The Intelligence Squared moronic debate held on Tuesday was the greatest display of arrogance I have seen in a long, long time.

The motion, put forward: We'd be better off without religion.

My favorite part was when Rabbi Julia Neuberger was making a point about how scornful the "For" side was when Christopher Hitchens heckled her from the other side of the stage.

In reflecting after, I asked how they could pose such a provocative question and ask a self-professed liberal rabbi, an art historian and a philosopher to defend the value of religion's existence. I find this dangerous and disturbing. Neither side was convincing and after an initial interest in good debate, I just got bored. According to UK statistics, there are 41 million Christians and almost 1.6 million Muslims in the UK. There are 267,373 Jews in the UK. Not reinforcing any stereotypes there, are we?

The final vote - 57.8% For - 37.3% Against - 4.3% Don't Know - was a loss for tolerance and moderation, as well as a little gas on the fundamentalist fire. Just what we needed.

Here is The Times Religion Correspondent's post on the event and a really useful article for sparking reasoned debate.

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