July 24, 2013
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With the headlines covering fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance, religion is getting a bad press these days. And much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion.
But how are things from a different perspective? Some defenders of religion claim Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb.
A critic of religious dogmatism, Professor Richard Dawkins revolutionised genetics in 1976 with the publication of The Selfish Gene. He has since written 12 more bestsellers, including The God Delusion which sold millions of copies, was translated into more than 30 languages, and catapulted him to the position of the world’s foremost atheist.
Mehdi Hasan challenges evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union in front of a varied and lively audience.
In a frank and at times heated exchange, they discuss: Is religion a force for good or evil? Can it co-exist with science? Is science the new religion? And why if god does not exist, is religion so persistent?