June 27th, 2005

Bertrand Russell : Why I Am Not A Christian

Bertrand Russell : Why I Am Not A Christian

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing — fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand.

2 Responses to “Bertrand Russell : Why I Am Not A Christian”

  1. Mary says:

    One person’s opinion.

  2. WWJD says:

    Bertrand is so… 10th grade philosophy class. so… early 1900… such a victim of time. To comment on his essay now does injustice to the things that have changed in the world. And does injustice to how much we have matured since then.

    Bertand started his essay by reacting to a philosophical challenge by the Catholic Church. He ended it by returning a Kantian challenge to the common man.

    He ended by saying:

    We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.

    In response to the issue of fear I would draw attention to the forefather of Christians, Abraham.

    “…’Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend ” James 2:23.” Abraham was not afraid any more than one would be afraid of a good friend. He did not share the fear which Adam and Eve felt in the garden of evil (either metaphorically or real). Nor did he share the fear which Moses felt when he saw the burning bush. And certainly there was no fear in another great forefather’s heart, when David stepped out in faith to confront Goliath. This fearlessness is an ideal to be sure, but an ideal most Christian’s aspire toward.

    Good luck on your journey. Let us know how it goes.

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