Hitchens and Fry v the Catholic Church

Hitchens and Fry v the Catholic Church November 8, 2009

ON October 20 Freethinker representative Peter Brietbart reported on an historic debate in London organised by Intelligence Squared, which resulted in a crushing defeat for the Catholic Church.
The motion – The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world – was resoundingly defeated. The final vote was 268 in favour, 1,876 against – and the don’t knows totalled 34.

The debate is now on YouTube, and can be seen in full. It really is a “must-watch” says Russell’s Teapot, who kindly sent us the links.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvZz_pxZ2lw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFTj9n40rNo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-q8US0QRs4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQRkfZzyfcU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i391gBoEo58

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  • David Lawson

    So glad the bbc broadcast this. Just started watching it. Been looking forward to watching it ever since I heard about it.

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  • David Lawson

    Was not disappointed at all. Stephen Fry seemed to get physically angry at some points.
    Widdie and the Bishop didn’t stand a chance. Did anyone else notice how patronizing Widdie was? Effectively saying at one point that the ittellectuals don’t need religion but the dumb un-educated masses do. Her voice is perhaps the most irritating sound I have ever heard.
    Great post Barry!

  • mikespeir

    Of course we cheer this time. But when William Lane Craig did about the same thing to Hitchens we made excuses. The bottom line is that debates really don’t prove anything but who’s the better debater–no matter which side wins.

  • Thank you for the links. I too have been waiting for them to be posted somewhere. Does anybody know why Russell’s Teapot is on break? I really miss the cartoons.

  • Stonyground

    Mikespeir has a point but I think that it helps if you are in the right. AW laid great stress on charity work that is done by Catholics but her argument only stands if you believe that non Catholics do no charity work whatsoever, she seemed to be trying to imply that without Catholics doing charity work there would be none at all. She also forgot to mention that many countries are desperately poor mainly because they are predominantly Catholic. I would be interested to know what her sources were for her claims that lots of Catholics helped out Jews during the Holocaust. If they did so, they probably did it because of their basic humanity and in spite of the Catholic Church which was too busy cosying up to Hitler to be bothered.
    The Bishop’s contribution was particularly vacuous, he seemed to think that all he had to do was repeatedly assert that the Catholic Church was a force for good and everyone would just take his word for it. His statement that his father had a moral framework before becoming a Catholic, someone in the audience shouted “exactly”, must have had AW thinking “whose side are you on?” It shows some naivety to bring up the Ten Commandments anyway, even as a child I though that they were a pretty feeble set of rules, almost anyone can come up with a better set of ten with a minimum of thought.
    I do find the obstinate refusal of Catholic apologists to accept that the many and varied crimes that have been commited by the Catholic Church are anything to do with the Catholic Church Interesting. I find it hard to understand how anyone can be in such a complete state of denial.

  • Harry D

    Many thanks for the links. It’s great to see a kicking like this (because it’s more than deserved).
    How passionless and anemic the archbishop and Widdie were. They didn’t stand a chance really.

  • David Lawson

    Good point on the charity work. As for Catholics helping Jews; the Vatican did actually help Jews escape the onslaught of Nazism, but only if they converted to Catholicism, which seems to me to be simply another form of persecution against Jews.

  • William Harwood

    I can understand why the Catholic organized crime syndicate would choose to be represented by a low-ranking archbishop. The Vatican knew that Hitchins would pound the shit out of ANY defender of the god perversion, and since they dared not refuse to debate, they did the next best thing and threw a nobody from nowhere under the bus so that his annihilation could be attributed to his personal inadequacy rather than the bankruptcy of the position he was defending.

  • Brian Brown

    If this was a boxing match it would have been stopped very early on.
    A knocked for the Hitchens/Fry corner.

  • Stonyground

    Dr. Harwood, I find your comment to be most interesting. I have long thought that every move and every utterance by the Catholic Church is very carefully calculated, the only consideration being the expansion of the Vatican’s power and wealth. The Bishop in this debate did come across as a simple and honest man who really believed in the proposition, in fact the ideal sheep for the vatican to throw to the wolves, or should that be lions?
    On the subject of Catholics helping Jews to escape the Nazis, once the game was up, weren’t they quite active in helping Nazis escape justice?

  • rog

    4/5 so far, those Catholics look creamed 🙂
    I’m thinking about entering the world of Blogging* http://flanfiction.blogspot.com/ this is my fist attempt so feel free to leave a comment, even if it is hateful… or not it’s up to you.
    * I’m not really very verbose….

  • William Harwood

    The deal Pope Peter XII made with Hitler was that, in exchange for the pope forbidding German Catholics from speaking out against the Final Solution, Hitler agreed to act as the pope’s tax collector. That concordat remains part of German law to this day. In recent years the only way tennis player Steffi Graf was able to avoid having a disproportionate share of her earnings seized and paid into the Vatican’s coffers, was to officially cease to be a Catholic.
    The present German government calls itself “Christian Democrat”, as if the two parts of its name were not mutually exclusive.

  • Thank you for that. I really wanted to see it.

  • pablo

    I would at least say the Christians are engaging in a debate, however one sided. Somehow I don’t see other notable religions doing the same thing.

  • I was there on the night. It’s a shame that we are only treated to edited highlights for now. This was one of the best performances I’ve seen Hitchens give. And Stephen Fry was an utter revelation. I never knew he had it in him.
    However, the event’s page at the Intelligence Squared website does imply that a DVD will be released, so hopefully we’ll be treated to the Full Hitchy soon rather than later:
    In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with my totally objective, unbiased report: