Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Why I am not a Christian - Bertrand Russell

Half way though this book and it is AWSOME! I had read quotes by Russell and knew of his reputation but had never read anything by him.  This is a collection of diverse pieces by Russell about religion, written at various stages of his life.  Even though the earliest pieces were written nearly 100 years ago, it still seems very fresh, and he clearly anticipated much that has since come to pass.

Recently there has been much talk of defending Christianity against the onslaught of atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  The idea is that overt and uncompromising expressions of atheism are a new development.  I think these people should read what Russell wrote in the 1930's.  It's a clinical and intellectual demolition of belief in God and organised religion, such as Dawkins (though not perhaps Hitchens or Grayling) could not hope to match.

I recommend you read it, whether you are confirmed Christian or Atheist.  It's surely beneficial to be well informed, whatever your personal views...

There's a synopsis on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_I_Am_Not_a_Christian


  1. You know more about him than I do, but it struck me how at the end of his life in the face of human extinction from atomic and hydrogen bombs he felt compunction and even began to plead for the same thing, in not the same words, that we call Christian love. It's almost like he wanted it both ways...the ideas of Christian love but with no Christ. Yes, no, maybe? What do you think?

  2. I'll hold off a definitive response until I've finished the book Stacy. I have a bad habit of reading several books at once which means that it takes longer to finish any of them!
    But my initial thoughts on your question regarding Christian Love - I think we look at this question from different ends of the telescope Stacy. To my mind, the Abrahamic religions have endured precisely because they have tapped so well into pre-existing human traits and made them their own. It's no wonder that so many people find resonance in the Christian doctrine. It appears to me that they are really holding up a mirror to their own minds. I don't have to be a Christian to understand why a nuclear holocaust is a really bad idea for the future of our species, and neither did Bertrand Russell.