The Great Christian Debate

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Week 2 paper

Analysis of Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchins

The debate took place in Canada and it was called, “Is religion good for the world”?

It started with each of them giving an opening statement and Christopher Hitchins going first. He talks about how religion has made women to seem like we are unequal with men. He asked the question, Why does God allow disaster?, and he stated that we teach our children of a bad place called hell.

First, I would like to say that this debate was too vague. Each opponent had to talk about all of the religions in the world, not just one that they were particularly against. Therefore, when I review these two I will be coming from a Christian perspective.

When Christopher said that women are seen as unequal I believe this pertains more to the Muslim religion. In Christianity, the scripture says the women are the weaker vessel.  It states in1 Peter 3:7 “In the same way, husbands should understand and respect their wives, because women are weaker than men. Remember, both husbands and wife are to share together the gift of life that lasts forever. If this is not done, you will find it hard to pray.” I take this to mean this. Let us give an example of a woman moving into a new place. More than likely, she is going to have to ask a man to help her move. Also in a physical fight, most of the time the woman cannot hit as hard as the man. Therefore, what I believe God was saying here is to be careful with your wife because if you abuse her you will hurt her because I have given you strength that is more physical. I believe if the Muslims and other religions that see women as slaves would understand the scripture this way, many things would be different. Again, this is mostly for other religions.

Another thing Hitchins said was why does God allow disaster? When people ask this question I just smile, because I once used to ask this question  as well. Until I found out that, I was a part of the disaster. What do I mean? Let us go back to Genesis where God had to destroy the earth because there was so much sin. Genesis 6:5-8 “Then the Lord saw that man was very sinful on the earth. Every plan and thought of the heart of man was sinful always. The Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth. He had sorrow in his heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have made from the land, man and animals, things that move upon the earth and birds of the sky. For I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. You see when we ask God to destroy the sin in the world we have to first make sure that we are not a part of that sin or else we will be destroyed with everything else.  So it is not good to ask the question why have not God taken away the sin or disaster, because we would all probably be destroyed. There are not many Noah’s in today’s time.

The last and final statement he made in the opening was that religion teaches children about hell, scaring them I would assume was his underlining point.

When you are, a parent and you have children, you are constantly explaining to them the consequences of life. You tell your child things like, don’t talk to strangers, not to have them grow up to hate the world, but to protect them from kidnap and rape. You tell your child to obey whatever you tell them to do and if they don’t they have to be punished. It should be safe to say that God is our father, after all he created us. If we don’t obey him in this lifetime, we will be punished. Hell is God’s permanent time out. Yes, we teach our children that just as there are consequences for disobeying us, there are consequences for disobeying God. I personally grew up fine. I knew about hell at a very young age, yet it didn’t traumatize me in any way.

Now let’s go to Tony Blair and his opening remarks. He stated that religion is good for the world. When Mr. Hitchins stated that people do bad things in the name of religion, Mr. Blair said, don’t focus on the people who do bad things in the name of religion.  He also stated, He believes in a higher power and he believes that people would not have morals without religion.

Let’s start with religion is good for the world. Now right now I will say that Mr. Blair did not have a strong argument. The only thing he kept saying in different ways was that there are good and bad people that practice religion and that we should not focus on the bad people that practice religion. This was not a good argument. Anyhow he started with religion is good for the world. Yes, some religions are good for the world, others who treat women as slaves and who believe they are to kill for their god is not good.

 His other statement,Don’t focus on people who do bad things in religion. Well I understand the whole picture of this statement. What he is saying is, don’t allow the bad people of religion to stop you from practicing your religion. Well that is like saying don’t allow the bad people in the world to bother you. It bothers you. People have questions like,  You are supposed to be a religious person why are you promoting hate?. That fair question cannot be ignored.

Then the last statement he says in the opening is that people would not have morals without religion. Well again, it depends on what religion you are talking about. I feel the more civilized religions like Christianity if you will, can help a person with their morals. Others religions take away from the moral scale of a person.

Now I will get into round one of the debate starting with Mr. Hitchins.  In this round Mr. Hitchins points out that we don’t need divine intelligent to tell us right from wrong. We don’t need it written on tablets. He calls it dictatorship.

It is better to listen to the one who created you than to listen to the ones who were created. In Christianity, we teach that we can have a personal relationship with God, only because that voice what the world calls your instincts we call the Holy Spirit. We do need a divine power to tell us right from wrong we need perfect to teach imperfect. No human is perfect so how can we teach each other right from wrong unless we first hear it from the perfect one. The bible puts it this way Romans 10:17 “So then, faith comes to us by hearing the Good news. And the Good news comes by someone preaching it.” This brings me to his next statement, that we don’t need it written on tablets.  This takes me back to John 1:1 where it says, “The word was in the beginning. The word was with God. The word was God.” And in Genesis 1:3 God started to create the earth with words saying “Then God said, “Let there be light, and there was light”. So words in general are powerful coming out of our mouths. How much more powerful are they written on tablets? It says somewhere else in the bible when God was talking to Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:2 “Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write down the special dream on stone so that one may read it in a hurry.” Another translation says write the vision and make it plain.  How many of us know that passing down stories from generation to generation cannot be in its original form without the written word. So many of us go through hardship in life that if we go to try to remember something as it actually happened we will forget. Writing words down causes us to remember, it also causes things to happen. For some reason, there is power in the written word. I recently have started writing the things down that I want in life and half of the things on my list have happened. So yes we need things “Written on tablets, as he would say”, so that we can remember what it is that we are to do in life. And what he calls dictatorship I call guidance. I am learning the hard way that older people really can teach you some things. Just like a seasoned Christian who has been walking with God longer can teach a new Christian some things, so having a pastor it is not dictatorship it is guidance.

Now we will look at round one for Mr. Tony Blair. He states that you don’t have to be of faith to do well, yet some people need their religion to be motivated to do well.  I can agree with this. There are many stories in the Christian faith of people who used to be on drugs, or have anger issues and they changed their behavior because of their faith. I also agree that there are many good people who don’t have a religion at all.

Now we will go toRound two starting with Mr. Hitchins. He says that for religion to work it would have to give up all supernatural claims. That Judaism is only exclusive to their people. They speak of God only having a covenant with them. And  He is against circumcision. His whole reason why he is against religion is that he feels you are following a man.

For religion to work it would have to give up all supernatural claims. Let’s go back to the beginning in Genesis when this very thing tried to happen. Eve was alone when she ate the apple that the snake convinced her to eat. Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper that is right for him.” When God said this, I don’t believe he was just saying that Adam needed to be in a relationship. I believe he was saying that it is not right for Adam(or any man) to not have another human being to talk to. Before Eve, all Adam could do was talk to God but he could not talk to the animals. Also, it is not good for man to be alone because this can caused you to be deceived as Eve was with the serpent.  So Eve through the deception of the serpent tried to get rid of supernatural claims that the fruit would not make you die. So in Genesis 3:6 “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and pleasing to the eyes, and could fill the desire of making one wise. So she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate.” Like I said earlier, we need the perfect to guide the imperfect. Having supernatural claims causes us to learn the truth from the perfect one. We cannot teach right and wrong ourselves we need God who is perfect to teach us.

His other statement that in Judaism people speak that their God is only for them. The thing about that is that the Jewish people have found the real God of all humanity and at that time, they were the only ones willing to follow God.  So it makes sense that God would set up a covenant with them.  People who are non-Jews were grafted into the faith because some of the Jews did not believe in Jesus so now God can go to other people of the world and make his covenant with them. Let’s read the whole of Romans 11:11-24 “I ask then, did the Jews fall so they would be lost forever? No, not at all! It means the people who are not Jews are able to be saved from the punishment of sin because the Jews sinned by not putting their trust in Christ. This made the Jews jealous of those who are not Jews. The world received good things from God because of the sin of the Jews. Because the Jews did not receive God’s free gift, the people who are not Jews received good things from him. Think how much more the world will receive when the Jews finish God’s plan by putting their trust in Christ. I am speaking to you people who are not Jews. As long as I am a missionary to you, I want you to know how important my job is. I do this so it will make my own people, the Jews, jealous. Then it may be that some will be saved from the punishment of sin. Because the Jews have been put aside, many other people in the world have been saved from the punishment of sin. Think what it will be like when they are also gathered in. it will be like the dead coming back to life. If the first loaf is holy, all the bread is holy. If the root is holy, all the branches are holy. But some of the branches (who are the Jews) were broken off. You who are not Jews were put in the place where the branches had been broken off. Now you are sharing the rich root of the olive tree. Do not be proud; remember that you do not hold the root. It is the root that holds you. You may say, Branches were broken off to make room for me. It is true. They were broken off because they did not put their trust in Christ. And you are there only because of your faith. Do not be proud. Instead, be afraid. God did not keep the first branches (who are the Jews) on the tree. Then watch, or he will not keep you on the tree. We see how kind God is. It shows how hard he is also. He is hard on those who fall away. But he is kind to you if you keep on trusting him. If you do not, he will cut you off. If the Jews would put their trust in Christ, God would put them back into the tree. He has power to do that. You people who are not Jews were cut off from a wild olive tree. Instead of being there, you were put into a garden olive tree which is not the right place for you to grow. It would be easy for God to put the Jews back onto their own olive tree because they are the branches that belong there.”

I don’t want to hold you all too long but I would like to bring up his other point  that he is against circumsion.  At cnn.com it mentions some of the health benefits of circumcision it says, “ The new stronger language is a result of emerging evidence that found links between circumcision and decreased risk of urinary tract infections, some kinds of cancer HPV, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.” It also increases sexual pleasure . At www.idebate.org they say, “ Circumcised men take slightly longer to reach orgasm after vaginal insertion, an effect considered to be advantageous. Longer and cleaner sex is better sex.”

Now for the last and final statement from Mr. Tony Blair where he says that the main reason for religious hate is politics. Politics is driving religious hate. If politics would stop trying to drive away religion, we would be better off. I agree, some examples include the hate crime laws. I feel these were passed to stop the Christians for saying that we don’t believe in gay  marriage. Also, the being searched before you get on the plane is directed toward the Muslim community because of the terrorist attacks.

Overall, I feel that Tony Blair needed a stronger argument and Mr. Hitchins needed the truth.




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Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 06, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Thank you April for this interesting and insightful article. Let me first say I agree with your overall point that religion is good for the world. A few points I will have to correct in gentle disagreement with you though: All religions, including Islam, teach of the sanctity and special station of women, in different ways. However not all religions, including Christianity, follow their teachings in this regard. Also, I object to your description of Christianity as the more civilized religion. To be fair, more atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity around the world and throughout history than all the other religions combined---including slavery, mass rapes, genocides, cannibalism, the inquisition, etc, etc.etc. While Christianity was in the dark ages, and Christians were killing each other in the most heinous ways throughout Europe, Islam was building universities and elevating people to heights that they had never been before, and it was not until the Christians came into contact with the Muslims and learned their ways that the Christian renaissance came about. (I am not picking on Christianity because I can say the same good and negative things about most any religion, but since you brought it up and elevated Christianity above the other religions, I am just saying, let's be fair.) If you are interested in discussing comparative religions more I would be happy to continue this discussion off-line at pilgrim1@mindspring.com.
april strozier February 07, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Thank you for your comment.


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