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Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects Paperback – Oct 30 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 mens 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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was born in England and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. His long career established him as one of the most influential philosophers, mathematicians, and social reformers of the twentieth century.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Then, why read a collection of essays that are for the most part over 70 years old?
Firstly, for the clear style and the straightforward logic of Russell. He does not beat about the bush: "My own view on religion is that of Lucretius [a Roman philosopher of the first century BC, author of "On the Nature of the Universe"]. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race."(24). This statement sums it up nicely for Bertrand Russell; and as expected, Russell's answer to the questions in the titles of the essays "Has Religion made useful Contributions to Civilization?" (1930), "Do we survive Death?" (1936), and "Can Religion Cure our Troubles?" (1954) is a resounding NO.
Secondly, as a warning how overly optimistic we tend to be when it comes to improving human beings by scientific means. Today, some people think that humans can be genetically "improved". In the 1930s, some people - including Russell - thought "that hatred and fear can, with our present psychological knowledge and our present industrial technique, be eliminated altogether from human life."(45) Well, three quarters of a century later we still live in a time of hatred and fear.
Thirdly, for the often unusual and surprising angle from which Russell looks at the seemingly familiar. Take the Renaissance and the French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), for example.Read more ›
The Amazon review of this book mentioned that some of the essays included herein are outdated, since they deal with contemporary social and ethical concerns of the early twentieth century. That may be true, but I still found them to be very interesting reading. Reading about the social character of an age through the eyes of someone like Russell, rather than in a book of history, seems to make that part of our past all the more real. It's interesting to see what the world was like at the time, and where Russell thought it was going. Sometimes there are surprises about what's gotten better and what's gotten worse.
In addition to Russell's essays, the book includes an appendix which details the manner in which Russell was prevented from teaching philosophy at New York City College, which is also interesting reading, if rather disturbing. The number and the zealotry of those calumniators to whom the idea of a prominent atheist teaching philosophy was such anathema were simply disgusting.
If you're interested in reading the freethinker's point of view, you could do little better than Russell. He is far more engaging than most philosophers, and all of these essays are thoughtful and well worth your time.
Many years ago, during my first year in college, my humanities teaching assistant explained to our little section that there are basically two writing styles: Kant and Russell. Russell worked hard to write clearly, and consequently, readers of his works are able to chart the inconsistentcies and changes in his philosophy over time. Kant's style, on the other hand, was to write in such a manner that no one in their right mind could be certain what Kant was trying to say. As a result, everyone today still believes Kant to be brilliant. Our section was to strive to be Russell, and not Kant (The sucess of our striving was largely mixed and debatable, but that is beside the point).
Russell is a good writer--and this book adresses the subject. For me (and I am speaking only for myself here--I'm not calling anyone a fool or a pervert or trying to create a strawman. If you think I am, my e-mail address is available, so please write me--if you care. I'll edit this review), this book addresses Blaise Pacal's rationale for "faith:" If you believe in the christian god, and there is no god--you really have not lost anything. But if you do not believe in the christian god (or whatever system of beliefs is at issue), and it turns out to be "true"--why, you've lost a whole big bunch, swimming around in that lake of fire.....Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I admire Bertrand for his other volumes like "the history of Western Philosophy". I really wanted to hear his take on why he rejects Christianity and I was not... Read morePublished on Dec 7 2012 by Harold Wise
Bertrand Russell’s Why I am not a Christian is not as intellectually forceful as I expected it to be. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2012 by Gaboora
I first read this years ago, and it turned me from a christian plagued by doubts and maddened by my religion into a fufilled atheist. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2005 by Joshua
Russell's arguments have been refuted a long time ago by the likes of Greg Bahnsen, Gordon Clark, and Vincent Cheung. Read morePublished on July 15 2004
Very Saddened ....Bertrand Russell and Smith both now finding the truth in Hell :(
DONT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES AS THESE OTHERS HAVE MADE IN THEIR QUEST TO VANISH GOD FROM... Read more
Christianity or a belief in God has been doing so much harm to the world that one barely knows where to begin when discussing the issue. Read morePublished on April 19 2004 by Drew Hunkins
Although I don't agree with all of his points (calling Communism a religion in the preface!?!?), I still find Russell to be a very good writer. Read morePublished on April 19 2004 by Hunter H