Videos of TB vs. CH debate

They’re already on YouTube, in eight parts (thanks to Lee for the notification). HINT: Watch these as quickly as you can! Commenters note below how to skip the introduction.

Here’s the first:

To get the rest, just do this search.


  1. beechnut
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Totally brilliant. Thanks ever so.


  2. Physicalist
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    To skip through the 19 minutes (!) of introduction and get right to the speakers’ opening remarks, you want to go to 4 minutes into the second video.

    Or click here.

    • Marella
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Thx for that, saved 19 minutes of my life!

    • MadScientist
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Oh, OK. I only read the transcript. Now I get Hitchens’ joke about the audience’s patience.

  3. bhoytony
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I’d imagine these will be taken down pretty quickly, they are supposed to be Pay-For-View. I’ve got them lined up in my download manager to grab them before they are removed.

    • Marella
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Thx for the heads-up.

    • articulett
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Me too.

      And I downloaded them in reverse order– last time the debate was pulled (Hitchens vs. Dembski) as I was watching– grrrr!

  4. Posted November 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I was only able to find the first two parts. I assume the rest is no longer available? Any suggestions?

    • Lee
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      They are all still up, knock on wood. Search as Jerry has suggested or just go into the YT user’s channel to get them all.

    • articulett
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Yes, they are there– I suggest downloading the latter ones, while watching the first ones….

      • Posted December 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        They’re still there (I just watched them all yesterday)–but you have to scroll down into the comments where he’s posted the next segment as a “video response”. The succeeding segments are down there in the comments, not over in the side bar as usual.

        *Loved* the last question they took from the audience. Good answers from both, too. I did think that the adjudicator wasn’t paying very close attention to how Mr. Hitchens was feeling when he asked Hitch to get up and give his closing remarks immediately after giving a lengthy answer to a question. Given the state of his health, though, it’s amazing to watch him debate–fire coming out of his eyes, smoke coming out his nose… ;-))

  5. Posted November 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Hitchens smoked the opposition.

    Blair was clearly a longstanding member of the department of redundancy department.

  6. Doc Bill
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, duh, Blair performed much better than Dembski. Think of the years of training Blair went through during Prime Minister’s Question Hour. He had to learn to think on his feet and speak clearly.

    I was not swayed by Blair’s arguments and, clearly, Hitchens had the upper hand intellectually. I suspect a great part of Blair’s “conversion” was at the hand, so to speak, of his nutball, new age,Catholic wife, Cherie.

    • Marella
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, he didn’t sound like he was really convinced that it was true, only that it was an effective vehicle for getting stuff done.

  7. Sam
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I like Blair. If all religious apologists were like him, this whole thing would be much better.

    But he did seem quite stuck on the peculiar notion that critics of religion believe religion to be saying 1) religious people have never done any good whatsoever, and 2)religion is the source of ALL suffering and bigotry and prejudice in the world. He poured quite a lot of energy into rebutting points that no sane critic of religion has ever made.

    • Sam
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Correction, ‘…the peculiar notion that critics of religion *are* saying…’

    • MadScientist
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

      “He poured quite a lot of energy into rebutting points that no sane critic of religion has ever made.”

      Welcome to religious apologetics. It’s easy stuff – you only need the following argumentative skills:
      1) straw men
      2) argument from authority
      3) argument from exceptions
      4) argument from emotions
      5) “you too!” (which is why Hitler is so popular in discussions of religion, even though religion was one of his greatest allies)
      6) proof by verbosity

      Oh gee, the list goes on and on. From that short list, Blair had used all but the argument from authority. (Or at least I don’t recall him using an argument from authority.) Now keep in mind that Blair’s unsubstantive and puerile method of argumentation is the most common form of argumentation in parliaments around the world. We apes have put idiots in charge of the world.

  8. Posted November 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I do wish debate organizers would choose a religious expert, someone well versed in religion in toto, not some celebrity like Tony Blair, Karen Armstrong or Deepak Chopra.
    Dianae Eck, head of The Pluralism Project at Harvard. See at http://www./ which provides links and references to a wide range of religious traditions including atheism/humanism.

    Transcripts of her 2009 Gifford Lectures are also available at

    • Chris Slaby
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      I would love to hear Diana Eck in a “conversation” with Hitchens. I respect her greatly and think that such a discussion would really be thoughtful and insightful. I guess I don’t expect Hitchens to de-convert her, but I really want to hear from someone who has clearly thought about religion, especially in a pluralistic way.

      • Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Your point about “de-conversion” is a critical issue. For me, religion, while often (usually?) based on a formal teaching, in its better form is only a foundation informing personal behavior. To encourage Hitchens to change his religious view is to invite philosophical enslavement. Pluralism is about respect for honest views, not conversion.

        • MadScientist
          Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          And we have seen throughout history that pluralism at best only works for a short time – then the killing starts again. Even in the USA religion has been trying to subvert the laws of the land since the Declaration of Independence. Even the second president of the USA (J. Adams) pushed religious laws which were subsequently (and very quickly) revoked by Thomas Jefferson when he became president.

          • oldfuzz
            Posted November 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for your thoughts. If what I have been reading is correct, violence world wide is on the decline and has been for some time. With today’s media coverage into formerly unreported areas, this is an interesting phenomenon.

            I guess my question would be (And I’m serious, not a smartass): Is it possible to have a peaceful world without pluralism which is primarily a peaceful coexistence of different cultures, of which religion may or may not be a part?

            Pluralism is another slippery word. My usage of it comes straight from the Pluralism Project website which is too much to post here. It is at

  9. Marella
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Once again the religious apologist was reduced to the old ‘religious people are no worse than other people’ when of course they are meant to be so much better. If religious people are no better than the rest of us then what the hell is the point? Piss weak.

  10. Jessica
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    This was wonderful. I hope Christopher Hitchens gets better. He is simply brilliant. Thanks for the heads up about the video.

    • MadScientist
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately Hitchens will most likely not get better, and this is one reason why he’s pushing himself to go to all these events even though he’s very sick.

  11. KP
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    In the last debate with Dembski, Hitch did get burned a bit when Dembski answered his “born sick, ordered to get well” point with “the cure is there.” I was glad to see Hitch address that in his intro so he won’t get burned again. Interesting to see how Hitch does with a friendlier crowd.

  12. KP
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Blair is going NOMA now… Ugh. Oh well. He IS more tolerable to listen to than Dembski…

    • KP
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      Whoops… Blair let slip the “Hitler was an atheist” canard.

  13. Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Does anybody know what the vote was after the debate?

    • NakkiNyan
      Posted November 29, 2010 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      Sadly still PRO 32, Con 68 meaning they split the undecided almost evenly. At least reason got the bigger share over all.

  14. JMR
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    The problem I have with these “Has religion been a force for good in the world?” debates is that the religious side often tends to sidestep the issue.

    “Sure,” they say, “there were religious motivations at play in Rwanda, Northern Ireland, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and so on, and sure, religion has been used to divide and ostracize countless times, but that’s not what religion is ‘supposed’ to be about”.

    Well that’s great, but the question at hand is “Has religion been a force for good in the world?” not “Would your personal, idealized form of religion be a force for good in the world?”

    In other words, they need to remember their personal ideas on religion are irrelevant, what matters is how religion, as it has been practiced, has impacted the world.

  15. Kevin
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Of course, the question itself is just an extended fallacy of the excluded middle.

    Has religion “ever” been a force for good? Sure.

    Has religion “ever” been used to subjugate, coerce, maim, kill indiscriminately? Absolutely.

    So, what’s the point in even asking the question. Except if you really mean to ask a different question entirely.

    Mine would be: In modern society, is organized religion a dangerous anachronism that feeds smug, self-indulgent, arrogant ignorance?

  16. Greg Esres
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I thought Blair did as good a job as could be done, defending what is only marginally defensible. I found him engagingly open and honest.

    But Hitchens put in the best performance that I’ve ever seen from him. Although he’s always witty, this is the first time that I’ve seem him be cheerful.

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