Russell on religion: selections from the writings of by Bertrand Russell

By Bertrand Russell

Russell on faith provides a entire and available number of Bertrand Russell's writing on faith and similar subject matters from the flip of the century to the tip of his existence. The effect of faith pervades just about all Bertrand Russell's writings from his mathematical treatises to his early fiction. This accomplished number of writings deals a transparent evaluation of the advance of his considering faith.

Russell contends with faith as a thinker, historian, social critic and personal person. the choices papers are prepared chronologically, and span Russell's considering along with his own statements, and his perspectives on faith and philosophy, faith and technological know-how, faith and morality and faith and background. This assortment indicates the improvement and variety of Russell's pondering on faith and exposes the reader to all facets of his paintings in this topic.

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The spirit of tolerance which some modern Christians regard as essentially Christian is, in fact, a product of the temper which allows doubt and is suspicious of absolute certainties. I think that anybody who surveys past history in an impartial manner will be driven to the conclusion that religion has caused more suffering than it has prevented. What is the meaning of life to the agnostic? I feel inclined to answer by another question: What is the meaning of ‘the meaning of life? I suppose what is intended is some general purpose.

If Power is bad, as it seems to be, let us reject it from our hearts. In this lies Man’s true freedom: in determination to worship only the God created by our own love of the good, to respect only the heaven which inspires the insight of our best moments. In action, in desire, we must submit perpetually to the tyranny of outside forces; but in thought, in aspiration, we are free, free from our fellowmen, free from the petty planet on which our bodies impotently crawl, free even, while we live, from the tyranny of death.

If this is what is meant, an agnostic is not likely to believe that man has a soul. But I must hasten to add that this does not mean that an agnostic must be a materialist. Many agnostics (including myself) are quite as doubtful of the body as they are of the soul, but this is a long story taking one into difficult metaphysics. Mind and matter alike, I should say, are only convenient symbols in discourse, not actually existing things. Does an agnostic believe in a hereafter, in heaven or hell? The question whether people survive death is one as to which evidence is possible.

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