Sunday 22 April 2018

Mark Tottenham: Abortion opponents must stand in each other's shoes

'The self-styled
'The self-styled "pro-life" and "pro-choice" movements must be encouraged to acknowledge the strength of the other's position'

Mark Tottenham

Five years ago, Tony Blair debated the late Christopher Hitchens in Toronto on the topic of whether religion was a force for good in the world. Towards the end of the debate, chairman Rudyard Griffiths asked: "A big part of this issue is our inability to stand in another's shoes with an open mind to understand a different world view. In this regard, can each of you tell us which of your opponent's arguments is the most convincing?"

Both participants acknowledged what a good question this was, and it prompted two of the more interesting answers of the evening. Tony Blair acknowledged Hitchens's argument that the bad that was done in the name of religion was intrinsically bound up in religious scripture.

Christopher Hitchens conceded Blair's point that, if religion ceased to exist, everything would not automatically be improved. In the modern media age, however, we increasingly find that the search for "good television" requires that only the extreme sides of a debate get heard.

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