Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
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Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  9,766 ratings  ·  334 reviews
Originally published in 1927, this early work of philosophy is both expensive and hard to find in its first edition. It contains Russell s logical argument as to why the Christian religion is an indefensible philosophical position. This is a fascinating work and is thoroughly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of philosophy. Many of the earliest books,...more
ebook, 248 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Barlow Press (first published 1927)
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By the time I read this book, I was already not a Christian, but it was still hard for me to read. It was kinda like accidentally figuring out a magician's trick. You knew he wasn't *really* doing magic, but seeing how he did it somehow made the world less fun.

That said, this is a great book. It's not without bite, but it's also not bitter. Having been a big fan of Russell's epistemological books, I was impressed that this book displayed the same clarity of thought and communication. His logical...more
I love these essays! Russell never argues that faith is impossible, but makes it clear why he doesn't have it. (I cannot believe in a god who, given an infinite universe and millions of years in which to perfect it, can come up with nothing better than the nazis and the KKK) - paraphrase
After reading most of the "new Atheist" books -- I read the ones by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens -- this old one by Betrand Russell is still miles better than they. To be sure, I disagree with most of what he says, but his writing is much more clear-headed and articulate than the new ones. There really aren't many new arguments the new generation of atheists bring to the table, therefore I think it is reasonably fair to use Russell's as the standard bearer for them all.

Russell, Bertrand

Dedicated as few men have been to the life of reason, Bertrand Russell has always been concerned with the basic questions to which religion also addresses itself -- questions about man's place in the universe and the nature of the good life, questions that involve life after death, morality, freedom, education, and sexual ethics. He brings to his treatment of these questions the same courage, scrupulous logic, and lofty wisdom for which his other w...more
My downstairs roommates are away for a while, and I am catsitting. It just so happens that my downstairs roommates also have an extensive collection of books. Books that have been on my to-read list for YEARS. And here they are, in one location, with no chance of someone checking them out before I can get my hands on them. So every other day, I brave the cat (actually, a hellbeast), feed and water it, and select a new tome.

One of this week's selection was "Why I Am Not a Christian." I should ve...more
Disclaimer: My upbringing in a religious home and eventual rejection of religion certainly predisposes me to a book of this subject matter.

I have personally experienced the best and worst of religion as it functions both socially and personally. I find Russell's thoughts incredibly well articulated and very enlightening to me. "Why I Am Not a Christian" and "Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?" are must-reads for anyone, regardless of their religious or non-religious stance...more
P.J. Sullivan
Russell first defines what he means by a Christian: someone who believes in God, the immortality of the soul, and Jesus Christ. Then he explains why he does not believe. Step by step he dismisses as fallacious the arguments for the existence of God: the first cause argument, the argument from design, etc. Then he discusses whether we survive death. Then the character of Jesus, as presented in the Gospels. He agrees that Jesus was an admirable man, but not divine and not the best or wisest of men...more
This book had a truly profound impact on my teenaged life and principally my wholesale rebellion against God. At the behest of my older brother, I began devouring books on philosophy when I was 12, even though I noticed that I would often receive queer looks from my friends when I mentioned such or quoted from them. My favorite phrase from Russell of all time originates, I think, in this book, a typically snotty English phrase of superiority: "This strikes me as curious." I used this and other R...more
Διόνυσος Ψευδάνωρ
Mar 25, 2013 Διόνυσος Ψευδάνωρ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Διόνυσος by: Monica Morrison
As with every other time I have read Russell, I found Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects very pleasurable to read. Russell's clear and organized style of writing is somewhat of a rarity in philosophical writing. On the other hand—but also just like the other times I have read his work—he begins with a deep, but almost entirely tacit, faith in Reason's reason, a faith we can no longer seriously share with Russell in a post-Nietzschean world. For the task o...more
Nick Black
Russell "demolishes" the classic arguments (ontological, teleological, cosmological) in the quick, sweeping first few dozen pages, then digresses for the remainder, addressing vaguely the tenets of logical positivism he'd better develop in The Problems of Philosophy and The Conquest of Happiness. Overall, though, I can't help but think this is all a wanktastic waste of time. It's unknowable, and the important thing is not to kill God, but to annihilate the willingness to consider that which ca...more
As I read this, I just kept thinking, "Yes!" The essays are surprisingly easy to digest and use very basic, nearly irrefutable arguments. I was pleasantly surprised to find an essay on Thomas Paine and another on spirituality and sexuality. Both inspired and encouraged me to continue on my own spiritual quest. I'd recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike. It makes for very interesting reading.
A mediocre atheism. If you want the real stuff, read Nietzsche, Marx, or Freud. No one has said anything original on the subject since they.
Scott Hotes
Russell lays out in concise, unemotional fashion how organized religion and Christianity in particular is not only entirely irrational but also hugely destructive. This work could easily serve as the foundation of the "new atheism" movement, and is superior to works such as "The God Delusion" by Dawkins and "God is not Great" by Hitchens for its clarity of thought and lack of distracting vitriol.

This question of the value (and necessity?) of organized religion to society is both complex and fasc...more
Ioannis Savvas
Ο μεγάλος στοχαστής και φιλόσοφος Bertrand Russell σε αυτή τη συλλογή κειμένων (δοκίμια, ομιλίες, διάλογοι) μιλάει για τις θέσεις του περί θρησκείας και Θεού. Άθεος, ορθολογιστής, πραγματιστής, ειρωνικός, με το χαρακτηριστικό βρετανικό φλέγμα, στηλιτεύει τη θρησκεία, αλλά και άλλες αυθεντίες της κοινωνίας. Πολύ ωραίο και ενδιαφέρον κείμενο είναι το "Freedom and the Colleges", στο οποίο χλευάζει το πανεπιστημιακό κατεστημένο.
"Il mondo non ha bisogno di dogmi, ma di libera ricerca". Ecco quello che, ridotto ai minimi termini, pensava e scriveva Bertrand Russell. Un assunto che un secolo dopo, ahinoi, il mondo non ha ancora compreso.
متن سخنرانی‌ای است که «برتراند راسل» در ۶ مارس ۱۹۲۷ در انجمن ملی غیرمذهبیان در شمال لندن ایراد کرده که سپس به صورت جزوه‌ای در همان سال چاپ شد
Resulta difícil comentar obras de un filósofo tan trascendente como Bertrand Russell, y esto por varias razones: 1) no me considero ni remotamente capaz de entender toda su obra y pensamiento (principalmente porque no soy científico ni matemático como lo era él); 2) la ciencia y el conocimiento humano han vivido un salto tan importante y rápido desde la muerte de Russell a la actualidad, que resulta muy difícil situarse en el contexto del mundo de la primera mitad del siglo XX y darse cuenta de...more
ـ"لماذا لست مسيحياً" عبارة عن محاضرةألقاها بيرتراند راسل على الجمعية الوطنية العلمانية في بريطانيا. يُعَرِف راسل في البداية الديانة المسيحية ثم يقوم بتفنيد ما تقوم عليه من أركان. بعدها يتحدث الكاتب عن 5 براهين مشهورة لإثبات وجود الإله، ويقوم بإسقاطها واحدا تلو الآخر.

بيرتراند راسل فيلسوف عظيم وأنا من أشد المعجبين به، لكن هذا الكتاب كان بالنسبة لي سقطة لبيرتراند. ما يميز راسل عن غيره من المفكرين هو عمقه الفكري وقدرته التحليلية النقدية العالية، وهذا ما لم أجده في هذا الكتاب. كان راسل سطحياً جداً ف...more
My exposure to Russell started after reading contemporary critics of Religion like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris. I found myself finishing it pretty quick with the cerebral heavy highlighting and incessant note-taking. His arguments concerning the existence of God were discussed in a fashion which I consider a gem of a summary.

After thoroughly sifting through this quick read of Russell's sound of logic, I find the bright light of reason being triumphant over Christian dogma once again. He has dis...more
Bertrand Russell was a man ahead of his time. This book, first published in 1957 is one of the few philosophical books that has actually made it to some popular fame, as has Russell himself. Again, recent writers such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and earlier writers such as George Smith in the seventies have taken ideas that Russell was speaking and writing about decades before.
This book is a collection of essays, some are lectures, that deal with situations in which religion often tries to r...more
Initially, before reading this book, I perceived Russell as a graphomaniac, that is, someone who had some scarce but important contributions to mathematical logic (such as "On Denotation" and his (and his mathematics teacher Whitehead) "Principia Mathematica"). I believed the rest he wrote was populist in nature and philosophically un-professional or at least uninteresting. After reading this book (and possibly my views in general also changed in the last couple of years) I have come to develop...more
Jean Tessier
Christopher Hitchens references Bertrand Russell a lot. This books seems to be
a good place to start to understand Bertrand Russell.

The book is actually a collection of essays written by Russell over a 55 year
period. I will comment on each one separately.

Why I Am Not a Christian (1927)

Defines what is a Christian. More than just living a good life, it implies a
certain credo that begins with the existence of God. The piece then debunks
the various proofs for the existence of God that have been adv...more
It's official! Bertrand Russell has earned a place among the 4 people I would want to have dinner with (You know the old question: If you could have dinner with 4 people, living or dead, who would they be? There has been a vacancy at my table ever since Harrison Ford was ousted when he left his wife for Calista Flockhart. By the way, my guest list has evolved over the years as I have. Current guests, besides Bertrand Russell, include Pema Chödrön, historical Jesus, and Morgan Freeman). At any ra...more
"New hopes, new beliefs, and new thoughts are at all times necessary to mankind, and it is not out of dead uniformity that they can be expected to arise."
- from the essay 'Freedom and the colleges'

A brilliant but somewhat uneven and at times dated book (most essays were written around 1930 and while some transcend time others are more interesting from a historical perspective). This doesn't take away from the content of the book however - it starts out strong, lags a little and then picks right...more
"Why I Am Not a Christian" is a series of essays and speeches by Bertrand Russell, a famous philosopher. Russell's views were controversial in his time (he was famously denied a teaching position at the City College of New York after being railroaded by religious types), and are still controversial. I didn't read all of the pieces in the book, as my attention span just hasn't been in the right spot lately, but I was impressed by some of them, and disappointed in others.
Some of his arguments are...more
You just have to read this. Even if you're a Christian, you should read about every point of view, to form or change (or not) your own. Russell explains complicated things which such clarity, a little of humor... It doesn't get tedious, at all.
Take "The argument of design", for instance.
I really cannot believe it. Do you think that, if you were granted omnipotence and omniscience and millions of years in which to perfect your world, you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan, the F
Gregg Wingo
Feb 06, 2013 Gregg Wingo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gregg by: Chuck
Lord Russell is considered one of the great thinkers of the 20th century and this collection of articles illustrate how profoundly his thoughts have guide the evolution of our society. He was a major opponent of religion due to his opposition to irrational thought as a mechanism for ordering society. The following quote illustrates his thoughts on the subject:

‎"It would seem, therefore, that the three human impulses embodied in religion are fear, conceit, and hatred. The purpose of religion, one...more
This was an impressive book at the time I read it. This was the most potent statement of unbelief in print at the time and, until the latest swath of the "new atheism," was the most accessible to the philosophically untrained reader. My problem with Russell's thinking is that he essentially aped his arguments from Feuerbach, which were pretty much debunked from the get-go. Russell had three issues:

1. The God = Evil problem (borrowed extensively by Hitchens in his latest polemic)
2. The God as a w...more
This is a book of essays by Bertrand Russell that were written in the early part of the 20th century. I read them to compare them to more modern books/essays on atheism. In some ways these were chillingly accurate when read through a modern lens, in other ways disturbingly inaccurate (such as when Russell said something along the lines of "But surely no one 50 years from now would actually believe in the creation myth!"). Recommended for anyone who is, like me, doing a weird personal study into...more
Religion has nothing to do with morality. This is as difficult to accept for the Nietzschean, or any habitually evil person, as it is for the Pope, and because of this, Russell's book stands pre-eminent amongst other atheistic books that merely mean to antagonize. Russell, with the utmost fairness, unravels every rational or irrational convinction one may have concerning Christianity, or any religion, with clear logic and historical examples. Jesus is shown to be as cruel as he was kind, but muc...more
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Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, was a Welsh philosopher, historian, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, pacifist, and prominent rationalist. Although he was usually regarded as English, as he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 "in recognition of his var...more
More about Bertrand Russell...
A History of Western Philosophy The Problems of Philosophy The Conquest of Happiness Religion and Science In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays

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“We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world - its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and not be afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. 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 words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and 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.” 51 likes
“Science can teach us, and I think our hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supporters, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make the world a fit place to live.” 43 likes
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