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on September 16, 2014
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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on August 31, 2015
great topic.haven't started yet.interesting man
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on November 20, 2015
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on September 17, 2005

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.

Before the first essay begins, there is a brief biography of Bertrand Russell (later Lord Russell) by Seckel. It is very thorough as evidenced by the more than 55 footnotes at its end.

Finally, the only problem I had with this book is with regard to referencing. All essays are not referenced or inadequately referenced. I know that Russell in his other works extensively referenced. Thus, I'm not sure if Seckel edited out references to save space and assumed that the reader would believe everything Russell said due to his reputation. On a subject like this, I think references should have been kept in. Also, there is a bibliography at the end of the book. But it is really just a list of books written by Russell.

In conclusion, this is a fascinating collection of essays by one of most prolific and brilliant thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. Now I understand why Russell won the 1950 Nobel Prize in literature!!

**** 1/2

(essay collection published 1986; acknowledgements; biography of Bertrand Russell; 5 parts or 21 chapters; main narrative 300 pages; "bibliography;" name index; subject index)

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on January 7, 2000
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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on June 18, 2003
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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on July 15, 1998
When I picked up Bertand Russell's "THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY" I was very impressed. It gave me a comprehensive overview of basic questions of philosphy that was very accessible for the beginner such as myself. But I must say that I thought "BERTRAND RUSSELL ON GOD AND RELIGION" was a disappointment. It almost seemed too simplistic and his tone was almost indignant at times. The best section of the book was the preface. Other than those twenty or so pages, the book seemed over-generalized and self-serving. More thoughful books for agnostics and atheists deserve your money.
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on May 2, 2008
Bertrand Russell's thoughts upon religion are often very interesting and exciting to read. I particularly enjoyed reading a theologian's nightmare. However hardly any of this book is philosophy on par with Russell's work in other subjects. Most of what appears to be valid in the book amounts to a critique of Christians. Very little of what Russell says is relevant to contemporary Christian philosophy in that his arguments are outdated. Very interesting but hardly any truth and substance against Christian thought.
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on March 10, 2000
As a Christian who has studied math and philosophy, I am quite familiar with Bertrand Russell's contributions to logic and philosophy, I am quite impressed with his brilliance. When I first got this book, I was afraid of what kind of powerful arguments he might present against my beliefs, instead I was shocked to find his arguments poorly constructed, his premises, shoddy, his logic full of holes. I expect much better from a man of his genius. It is quite obvious that his atheism wasn't based on a reasoned analysis of philosophy, a rigorous deduction from the evidence, rather, it was the result of a strong emotional bias against Christian ethics, particularly sexual ethics, period. A disappointment through and through. Whether you are atheist or theist, if you are looking for a good, through, reasoned arguments against God, you should look elsewhere than the writing of Bertrand Russell.
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on June 17, 2013
I perused Russell's book. It is noteworthy he shies away from including Judaism in his list of religions that are anathema. This compromises his integrity in the name of political correctness.
Nowhere does he account for the ultimate basis of morality and the legitimacy of judging one act as right and another as wrong.
He attacks the design argument by a cursory assumption of the veracity of Darwinism.
He ignores the fact of human sin and whether or not there is a solution for it and whether or not sin incurs judgment on the other side of the grave.
He ignores the supernatural history and continuity of Christian revelation and its consummation in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
He criticizes Christ's character on the basis of the latter's pronouncements on sin, death, judgment and hell. If hell is real, Christ's adamant emotions on the subject are well warranted. But, Russell simply presumes against these teachings. He doesn't accomplish what he wishes by begging the question. By His resurrection, Christ is in a better position to decide the question concerning the existence of hell.
Unfortunately, great achievements in mathematical logic have proven, with Russell, that they are insufficient credentials for making a good theologian or a cogent apologist for the ungodly.
Russell, like John Stuart Mill or Charles Darwin, possessed an impressive mind. He was erudite in his professional career and a lucid and eloquent writer. But he was stillborn in his criticism of Christianity.
I think a pervasive Darwinist culture put the blinders on so that his horse could not take his carriage down the right path. Had he been exposed to modern results of Creationist researchers, his Darwinism would have fallen apart and the rest of his criticisms with it.
Fossilization has proven the catastrophic model of the biblical flood as against the uniformatarianism of Darwinism. Unfossilized dinosaur bones, including their fresh blood, has refuted the speculations and circular reasoning of the great ages of the dinosaurs posited arbitrarily by evolutionists. Paleontologist Mary Schweitzer's and others have verified this. Folklore, linguistics and artwork across the globe testify to the flood, the coexistence of dinosaurs (aka dragons) with man and such biblical narrations as the tower of Babel. Submerged civilizations such as off the coast of Cuba, Yamaguchi Japan, Lake Titicaca and so on confirms not only biblical accounts but a different geography and atmosphere of earth's past.
Russell reckons the universe too unjust for God to exist. But, he puts the cart before the horse. It would be more unjust for there to be no God to punish the wicked who have perpetrated so much harm to other people. And we know their number is plenty and their crimes horrific. Even the notion of law has no meaning unless there is a lawgiver. As a logician, familiar with the notions of sense and reference, Russell should know this . The primitive Aristotelian logic of the Scholastics he criticizes didn't blind the scholastics to this fact, but Russell missed the point.
The sophistries of the devil and human sin have proved more than a match for the intellectual acumen of Bertrand Russell. Ironically, in his last days he embraced the Sermon on the Mount as a model of morality.
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