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

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Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects by Bertrand Russell
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Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects Quotes (showing 1-30 of 75)
“I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.

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.

You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.

That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Religion is based primarily upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly as the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Conquer the world by intelligence, and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The world that I should wish to see would be one freed from the virulence of group hostilities and capable of realizing that happiness for all is to be derived rather from co-operation than from strife. I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than imprisoning the minds of the young in rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them through life against the shafts of impartial evidence.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The Church no longer contends that knowledge is in itself sinful, though it did so in its palmy days; but the acquisition of knowledge, even though not sinful, is dangerous, since it may lead to pride of intellect, and hence to a questioning of the Christian dogma.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Collective wisdom, alas, is no adequate substitute for the intelligence of individuals. Individuals who opposed received opinions have been the source of all progress, both moral and intellectual. They have been unpopular, as was natural.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“When you come to look into this argument from design, it is a most astonishing thing that people can believe that this world, with all the things that are in it, with all its defects, should be the best that omnipotence and omniscience has been able to produce in millions of years.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Moreover, the attitude that one ought to believe such and such a proposition, independently of the question whether there is evidence in its favor, is an attitude which produces hostility to evidence and causes us to close our minds to every fact that does not suit our prejudices.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than at imprisoning the minds of the young in a rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them through life against the shafts of impartial evidence.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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. That is the argument from design. It sometimes takes a rather curious form; for instance, it is argued that rabbits have white tails in order to be easy to shoot. I do not know how rabbits would view that application.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“There are a great many ways in which, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The Victorian Age, for all its humbug, was a period of rapid progress, because men were dominated by hope rather than fear. If we are again to have progress, we must again be dominated by hope.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The question is how to arrive at your opinions and not what your opinions are.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“If everything has a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just be the world as God...”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“The essence of the conception of righteousness, therefore, is to afford an outlet for sadism by cloaking cruelty as justice.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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...
... There are other things of less importance. There is the instance of the Gadarene swine where it certainly was not very kind to the pigs to put devils into them and make them rush down the hill to the sea. You must remember that He was omnipotent, and He could have made the devils simply go away; but he chooses to send them into the pigs. Then there is the curious story of the fig-tree, which always rather puzzled me. You remember what happened about the fig-tree. 'He was hungry; and seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, He came if haply He might find anything thereon; and when He came to it He found nothing but leaves, for the time for figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it: "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever,"...and Peter... saith unto Him: "Master, behold the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away".' This is a very curious story, because it was not the right time of year for figs, and you really could not blame the tree. I cannot myself feel that either in matter of wisdom or in matter of virtue Christ stands quite as high as some other people known to history. I think I should put Buddha and Socrates above Him in those respects.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“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 or the Fascists?”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Those who have a scientific outlook on human behaviour, moreover, find it impossible to label any action as ‘sin’; they realise that what we do has its origin in our heredity, our education, and our environment, and that it is by control of these causes, rather than by denunciation, that conduct injurious to society is to be prevented.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“I do not think there can be any defense for the view that knowledge is ever undesirable.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Neither love without knowledge nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects

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