my rough transcription of some of what Blair and Hitchens had to say (not necessarily in order):
Tony Blair: “Fanaticism is not confined to the sphere of religious life… My belief in Jesus Christ is not about oppression and servitude, but about finding the best way to express the human spirit… Faith is not about certainty, it is in part a reflection of my awareness of my own ignorance. Though life’s processes can be explained by science, the meaning and purpose of life cannot be. In that space lies not certainty in the scientific sense, but a belief that is clear and insistent and I’d even say rational, that there is a higher power than human power, and that higher power causes us to lead better lives, lives in accordance with a will higher than our own, not as if we were imprisoned by that higher will, but on the contrary so we can discipline and use our own will so as to represent the best of our humanity.”
Christopher Hitchens: “Religion is a real danger to the survival civilization… I come before you as a materialist. If we give up religion, we discover what we already know whether we are religious or not: we are somewhat imperfectly evolved primates on a very small planet in a very unimportant suburb of a solar system that is itself a negligible part of a very large, exploding cosmic phenomenon… The sense that there is something beyond the material, or not entirely consistent with it, is a very important matter. What you could call the numinous, transcendent, or ecstatic. I wouldn’t trust anyone in this hall who didn’t know what I mean…
Are you willing, for the sake of certain elements of the numinous, to say that you give your allegiance to a divine supernatural supervisor? Are you willing to admit that human beings can be the interpreter of this divine figure?”
I am not willing to give allegiance to, or even to believe in the existence of, a supernatural power capable of interrupting the causal course of the universe at a whim. I do think there is a God, but this God does not exist apart from the universe and so cannot reach in and alter its behavior from without. God works from within by persuasion, not from without by force. God is a living creature, just like human beings, though we are a microcosm. As for human beings being the interpreters of God, I think God exists in our heart and our breath, and so we are not so much God’s interpreters as God’s voices. God has no voice but ours.
What do you think?