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Bertrand Russell on God and Religion (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – June 1, 1986


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Bertrand Russell on God and Religion (Great Books in Philosophy) + Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects + The History of Western Philosophy
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879753234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879753238
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
+++++

This book consists of twenty-one essays written by Bertrand Russell (1872 to 1970) between 1912 and 1961. They were compiled and edited by Al Seckel, a member of the Bertrand Russell Society and one who has lectured extensively on Russell's life and work. According to Seckel, "the purpose of this collection is to bring together in one...volume some of Russell's most delightful thought-provoking essays on [organized] religion."

Some topics discussed are agnosticism, atheism, rationalism, churches, God, the soul, science, free thought, sin, and faith. He examines these and other topics with "rational skepticism" which is "withholding judgment where the evidence is not sufficient, or, even more so, when there is contrary evidence."

This collection of essays definitely captures the scope and depth of Russell's thinking on religion. His logic and reasoning are impeccable. I now understand why he was called "the world's most famous atheist."

The book is divided into five parts. Here are the titles of my favorite essays taken from each part:

I. (6 essays)

(1) Why I am not a Christian.
(2) The faith of a rationalist. (No supernatural reasons are needed to make humans kind.)

II. (5 essays)

(1) A debate on the existence of God. (Between Russell and a Father of the church.)

III. (2 essays)

(1) Science and religion.

IV. (6 essays)

(1) An outline of intellectual rubbish.
(2) The value of free thought. (How to become a truth-seeker and break the chains of mental slavery.)
(3) Ideas that have harmed mankind (and womankind).
(4) Ideas that have helped mankind (and womankind).

V. (2 essays)

(1) The theologian's nightmare.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca R. Wake on June 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading 'Why I am not a christian', I was excited to find that there existed an even larger collection of Mr. Russells essays. Some of the essays in this book are already in 'Why I am not a christian', including that particular essay. The others I had not read before were informative, well-structured, and balanced. He was truly a man ahead of his time.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
It appears in these selections that Russell was a very complex person who thought a great deal about religion. His views are not always consistent and they are pervaded by emotion. His general tendency is against religion. He especially hates Christianity as it has been practiced throughout history and the idea of Christian faith. He takes faith to be a set of related beliefs, on substantial issues, for which one has no good reasons. This selection is light reading, but it is too unfair to be used as an introduction to the philosophy of religion. Of course, this is one of the features of Russell's thought on religion that makes him psychologically interesting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Al Seckel's "Bertrand Russell on God and Religion" is easily the best collection of Russell's writings on religion, as it contains all the most important and best ones: "Why I Am Not a Christian", "What Is An Agnostic", "The Theologian's Nightmare" and his memorable debate with Frederick Copleston SJ on the existence of God, in addition to a good introduction on the life and work of Russell and a complete Russellian bibliography. I also have the volume "Russell on Religion" edited by Andersson & Greenspan and it's also a good one, but the Russell vs. Copleston debate is surprisingly missing in that one, and I think that's a big omission. Both books share some of the most important essays, but in terms of completeness if I were to choose between both, I'll keep this one. Nice essays such as "The Value of Free Thought" and "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" are also missing in the Andersson & Greenspan anthology but are included in Al Seckel's one. Another nice essay which, perhaps due to its extension, is missing in both anthologies but should have been included is "What I Believe". This book is a must-have in the library of any skeptic and freethinker.
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