I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. Bertrand Russell comes up time and time again in a whole host of Christian, Agnostic & Atheist literature. He seems to have led a very thoughtful life and come to strong moral decisions based on rationality, which affected his day to day life. For example, Mr Russell was a pacifist and as such during the First World War. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.
Bertrand Russell very famously did not believe in the claims of the Judeo-Christian God within the pages of the Bible. He explains this within this book, which is a collection of essays and thoughts that have been put together for us to read and think about.
I found the first third of this book extremely engaging and felt like I was enraptured by his style and process of thinking. You can tell others felt the same. The only part of this book that has ‘popular highlights’ is the first third and I found I personally only highlighted sentences within this section as well.
The other two-thirds are somewhat more intense. I found I kept having to go back and re-read whole chunks and even then, struggled to be engaged with the thoughts he was dissecting and sharing.
The final section is similar to another bit in the middle in which he goes into detail about how he began to question the existence of God and follow the logical fallout of that process over the coming years and decades.
Both times it starts much like an autobiography and then slowly gets side-lined by a tangent or thought. When that essay ends you are left wondering if he finished where he thought he would have when he started to retell his life to start with.
It felt like a forerunner for or at least a huge influence on Mr Hitchen’s work ‘God Is Not Great’. Some of the statements and his turn of phrase resonated with Mr Hitchens style and temperament throughout the book. I guess we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
Here are some of the quotes I found really interesting:
‘You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.’ Does this not strike a chord with Mr Hitchen’s work? Does it not sound like the rallying cry and arterial beat that is within his work? I really feel that it does.
‘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.’ I have heard this argument hundreds of times on podcasts and within books, not once I have heard it explained so clearly in so few words.
‘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.’ Does that not inspire you? It inspires me.
In short, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever been intrigued with Mr Russell’s quotes as they appear throughout the modern books that we turn to and devour today. He clearly had a massive impact and I will do my best to read more of his work in the future.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. Dave and I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂
When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly – When Belief Dies
- When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly
- When Belief Dies #67 – 'Psychedelics, History & Hope' with Pat Smith
- When Belief Dies #66 – 'Social Contracts' with Kane B
- When Belief Dies #65 – 'History for Atheists' with Tim O'Neill
- When Belief Dies #64 – 'The morality of an Infidel' with Simon Blackburn