- Unknown Binding: 208 pages
- Publisher: Allen & Unwin (1967)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0006BSLV8
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (290 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,669,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why I am not a Christian, and other essays on religion and related subjects Unknown Binding – 1967
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'Devastating in its use of cold logic.' - The Independent
'The most robust as well as the most witty infidel since Voltaire and he can not fail to sharpen men's sense of what is entailed both in belief and unbelief.' - The Spectator
'What makes the book valuable is life-long uncompromising intellectual honesty.' - Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, Viscount Amberley, born in Wales, May 18, 1872. Educated at home and at Trinity College, Cambridge. During World War I, served four months in prison as a pacifist, where he wrote Introduction To Mathematical Philosophy. In 1910, published first volume of Principia Mathematica with Alfred Whitehead. Visited Russia and lectured on philosophy at the University of Peking in 1920. Returned to England and, with his wife, ran a progressive school for young children in Sussex from 1927-1932. Came to the United States, where he taught philosophy successively at the University of Chicago, University of California at Los Angeles, Harvard, and City College of New York. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Has been active in disarmament and anti-nuclear-testing movements while continuing to add to his large number of published books which include Philosophical Essays (1910); The ABC of Relativity (1925); A History of Western Philosophy (1946); Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (1948); and The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1967). For a chronological list of Russell's principal works see The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (Simon and Schuster).
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Top Customer Reviews
“Why I Am Not a Christian” is a very representative book of essays of the great British philosopher and man of many talents, Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). This book includes the following essays: 1. Why I AM Not A Christian, 2. Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?, 3. My Religious Reminiscences, 4. A Free Man’s Worship, 5. Religion and Metaphysics, 6. Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?, 7. How I Came by My Creed; Or, What I Believe, and 8. Why I Am a Rationalist.
1. Well-written collection of essays despite the fact that these essays were written decades ago.
2. The lucid thoughts of the great British philosopher Bertrand Russell.
3. Eight essays that cover a wide-range of Russell’s lifetime.
4. Destroys the first-cause argument. “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.”
5. A look at the argument from design. “You all know the argument from design: everything in the world is made just so that we can manage to live in the world, and if the world was ever so little different, we could not manage to live in it.”
6. Gives reasons on why people believe in “God”.
7. The main reason to doubt Christ’s moral character. “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”
8. Religion and fear. “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.”
9. Defender of science as the best tool to find out the truths of our world. “To my mind the essential thing is that one should base one's arguments upon the kind of grounds that are accepted in science, and one should not regard anything that one accepts as quite certain, but only as probable in a greater or a less degree. Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.”
10. He provides insights into his evolution from a believer to an atheist. : During the four following years I rejected, successively, free will, immortality, and belief in God, and believed that I suffered much pain in the process, though when it was completed I found myself far happier than I had been while I remained in doubt.”
11. A look at the contributions of religion to society. “The churches, as everyone knows, opposed the abolition of slavery as long as they dared, and with a few well-advertised exceptions they oppose at the present day every movement toward economic justice.”
12. The objection to religion. “The intellectual objection is that there is no reason to suppose any religion true; the moral objection is that religious precepts date from a time when men were more cruel than they are and therefore tend to perpetuate inhumanities which the moral conscience of the age would otherwise outgrow.”
13. Find out the three human impulses embodied in religion.
14. Explains the desires of religion to be in control. “Men desire to be in control because they are afraid that the control of others will be used unjustly to their detriment.”
15. Eye-opening factoid. “I expect you know that in America men are still sent to prison for Atheism, not only in Fundamentalist States, but even in States of the East, and altogether there is in that part of the world an enormous need of propaganda on these matters.”
1. The book wasn’t professionally edited for the Kindle.
2. There are much better and sophisticated arguments today but in Russell’s defense he inspired a lot of the great thinkers of today.
In summary, this is a wonderful and cogent introduction to atheism. The great British philosopher Bertrand Russell passed away in 1970 and I would urge readers to view some of talks online. The essays are uneven; some are much better than others. Philosophy has evolved a lot since the times of Russell and there are much better and sophisticated arguments made today but the book is still a worthwhile read. I recommend it.
Further suggestions: “How to Defend the Christian Faith” and “The Christian Delusion” by John Loftus, “God: The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger, “Natural Atheism” and “Atheism Advanced” by David Eller, “Soul Fallacy” by Julien Musolino, “Free Will? By Jonathan M.S. Pearce, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghosian, “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer, “Faith vs. Fact” and “Why Evolution Is True” by Jerry A. Coyne, “Nonbeliever Nation” by David Niose, “Trusting Doubt” by Valerie Tarico, “Nailed” by David Fitzgerald, “Think” by Guy P. Harrison, and “The Science of Miracles” by Joe Nickell.
Though the book certainly falls into the category of "philosophical," it is not bogged down by the specialized jargon that so epitomizes many people's experience with philosophy. Russell had a way of articulating his arguments without burying them beneath excessive wordplay; this has made and continues to make his work accessible to a broad audience of interested readers.
The book's arguments, in turn, are not only articulated clearly, but are a fantastic exercise in the critical evaluation of the world around us. This honest and fearless look at the universe is one of Russell's hallmarks, and it has since inspired many people to question the current order of our world and seek to make it better. In addition, as an uncompromising analysis of religion, this collection of Russell's arguments has become a popular touchstone for the atheist/skeptic/freethinker community, containing in it many morsels of godless wisdom.
I highly recommend this book to any interested reader; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.