Why I Am Not a Christian – Bertrand Russell Damns Our Invented Allies in the Sky

You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress of 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 ever 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.

– Bertrand Russell, in a talk Why I am Not a Christian, March 6, 1927 at Battersea Town Hall, London

Whatever may have been the circumstances of its origins in the distant mists of history, instead of the promised Peace, Justice and Happiness, Religion has only wrought untold suffering on Mankind.

Countless millions have died on the rack and at the stake; and many a battlefield has turned crimson red on account of Religion.

The present clash between the West and Osama bin Laden’s acolytes may be seen at its basic level as a Crusade or Jihad between Christianity and Islam for religious supremacy.

Neither religion is winning this sanguinary fight although the toll has been high on both sides.

Under these depressing circumstances, it’s instructive to (re)hear the voice of a wise, sane man Bertrand Russell on the subject of Religion.

Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, mathematician, writer, pacifist and, above all, a great savant.

In a talk Why I am Not a Christian delivered 86 years ago, Russell delivered a devastating, stinging rebuke of Christianity and the notion of God on several levels.

While Russell’s talk focused exclusively on Christianity, his arguments may easily be extrapolated to other religions like Hinduism or Islam with the same potent effect.

Russell ends the talk with a strong plea to humanity to unyoke themselves from the myth of God and “not to invent allies in the sky.”

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 be not 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 a 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 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.

Yes, I know it’s hard to unshackle Indians from their insane, monomaniacal attachment to crappy Bollywood, Kollywood and Tollywood movies.

A lot of of my readers read nothing but the movie reviews on SI.

Undaunted, I still make the effort to strongly urge SI readers to click on the YouTube video and listen to Russell’s 38-minute speech.

If you’re hearing impaired, you may read Russell’s talk Why I Am Not a Christian here.

3 Responses to "Why I Am Not a Christian – Bertrand Russell Damns Our Invented Allies in the Sky"

  1. araj   February 15, 2013 at 12:30 am

    What beautiful words!!….

    Absolutely sane, clear and straight!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    As a (much less-known than Russell) wise-man once wrote:

    Our truths are worth no more than those of our ancestors….If we want to keep some intellectual decency, enthusiasm for civilization must be banished from our mind, as well as the superstition of History.

    Source: E.M.Cioran, A Short History of Decay, p.145

  2. DW-A(1/2)Dr.   February 18, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I’ve come to “appreciate” religion in many ways as I grow into adulthood.

    Of course, all the God thing is BS but there is I believe a fundamental need for spirituality in many (if not most) humans.

    So the question is what *kind* of religion fulfills it. I would prefer something along the lines of Buddhism or Jainism.

    Both are Godless religions, at least at the elite level and have strong pacifist/secular tendencies.

    Also, one thing often overlooked is the role of religion in opposition to eugenics (which was a progressive movement) in early 20th century.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: I’ve come to “appreciate” religion in many ways as I grow into adulthood.

    Although I occasionally fall off the atheist wagon and engage in fearful, repentant genuflections, I’ve come to detest religion a lot in my autumn years. Religion gnaws on the inherent baseness of humans and adds fuel to it.

    2. You write: I would prefer something along the lines of Buddhism or Jainism.

    I don’t know much about Buddhism but the little I’ve read about Jainism leads me to believe its adherents are no less whacko in their ‘beliefs’ and practices.


    3. If there’s any nation that’s sorely in need of an eugenic injection, it’s undoubtedly India!

    Why would we want to let these dimwits and crazies reveling in an orgy of Bollywood, Kollywood and Tollywood drivel litter like rabbits. Surely, that’s insanity.

    In my not-so-humble opinion, the virtues of Genetic diversity are greatly exaggerated!

    Between religion and eugenics, there’s as much choice as between Scylla and Charybdis!

  3. Ananthd   February 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Russell’s clarity is amazing.

    His conquest of happiness is still the best self help book I’ve ever read.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I’ve just reserved Conquest of Happiness at my local library…should get it in three or four days. I’ll read the book and maybe even write about it on SI.

    In a world of warmongers on an overdose of testosterone, I like that Russell was a pacifist long before it was fashionable to be so.

    Here are some of the other books/essays we’ve talked about – http://www.searchindia.com/category/books/

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