PROPOSING THE MOTION: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins & A.C. Grayling.
OPPOSING THE MOTION: Dr Nigel Spivey, Roger Scruton & Rabbi Julia Neuberger.
We would be better off without religion; In the words of Blaise Pascal, mathematician and Catholic, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” Does religion breed intolerance, violence, and the promotion of medieval ideas? Or should we concede that overall, it has been a source for good, giving followers purpose, while encouraging morality and ethical behavior?
Christopher Hitchens; To terrify children with the image of hell,
to consider women an inferior creation. Is that good for the world?....
Religion is not going to come up with any new arguments.
To 'choose' dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage
and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.
Richard Dawkins; I am against religion because
it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
Religious fanatics want people to switch off their own minds, ignore the evidence,
and blindly follow a holy book based upon private 'revelation'.
AC Grayling; Without freedom of thought expression I'm a slave to the demagogues, preachers, and ancient traditions, claiming the right to tell me what to think, how to live, what to believe, and that I must not question, but only obey. This isn't a full human existence, to be truly free to live, one must be free to think and speak.
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Belief in supernatural beings, miracles and the fantastical tales told in ancient scriptures is, at least, irrational and, at worst, pathological. The more earnest the belief, therefore, the less sane is it likely to be in its application to the real world. At the extreme, it not only prompts but also – from their own perspective – justifies believers in what they do. Unnatural lifestyles, self-harm, ritualistic repetitive behaviours, fantasy beliefs and the like – all of them the norm for religiously committed folk – might be harmless to others in most cases, but when they become annexed to hostility to others outside the faith, or to apostates within.