RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 HH Sir Bertrand Russell’s paper A FREE MAN’S WORSHIP reviewed by Douglas Groothuis

Image result for bertrand russellOn November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.Harry KrotoImage result for harry krotoI have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,In  the first video below in the 14th clip in this series are his words and I will be responding to them in the next few weeks since Sir Bertrand Russell is probably the most quoted skeptic of our time, unless it was someone like Carl Sagan or Antony Flew.  

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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Quote from Bertrand Russell:

Q: Why are you not a Christian?Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favor of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite… at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true.__

Bertrand Russell – Biographical

Bertrand Arthur William Russell was born at Trelleck on 18th May, 1872. His parents were Viscount Amberley and Katherine, daughter of 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley. At the age of three he was left an orphan. His father had wished him to be brought up as an agnostic; to avoid this he was made a ward of Court, and brought up by his grandmother. Instead of being sent to school he was taught by governesses and tutors, and thus acquired a perfect knowledge of French and German. In 1890 he went into residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, and after being a very high Wrangler and obtaining a First Class with distinction in philosophy he was elected a fellow of his college in 1895. But he had already left Cambridge in the summer of 1894 and for some months was attaché at the British embassy at Paris.In December 1894 he married Miss Alys Pearsall Smith. After spending some months in Berlin studying social democracy, they went to live near Haslemere, where he devoted his time to the study of philosophy. In 1900 he visited the Mathematical Congress at Paris. He was impressed with the ability of the Italian mathematician Peano and his pupils, and immediately studied Peano’s works. In 1903 he wrote his first important book, The Principles of Mathematics, and with his friend Dr. Alfred Whitehead proceeded to develop and extend the mathematical logic of Peano and Frege. From time to time he abandoned philosophy for politics. In 1910 he was appointed lecturer at Trinity College. After the first World War broke out, he took an active part in the No Conscription fellowship and was fined £ 100 as the author of a leaflet criticizing a sentence of two years on a conscientious objector. His college deprived him of his lectureship in 1916. He was offered a post at Harvard university, but was refused a passport. He intended to give a course of lectures (afterwards published in America as Political Ideals, 1918) but was prevented by the military authorities. In 1918 he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for a pacifistic article he had written in the Tribunal. His Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919) was written in prison. His Analysis of Mind (1921) was the outcome of some lectures he gave in London, which were organized by a few friends who got up a subscription for the purpose.In 1920 Russell had paid a short visit to Russia to study the conditions of Bolshevism on the spot. In the autumn of the same year he went to China to lecture on philosophy at the Peking university. On his return in Sept. 1921, having been divorced by his first wife, he married Miss Dora Black. They lived for six years in Chelsea during the winter months and spent the summers near Lands End. In 1927 he and his wife started a school for young children, which they carried on until 1932. He succeeded to the earldom in 1931. He was divorced by his second wife in 1935 and the following year married Patricia Helen Spence. In 1938 he went to the United States and during the next years taught at many of the country’s leading universities. In 1940 he was involved in legal proceedings when his right to teach philosophy at the College of the City of New York was questioned because of his views on morality. When his appointment to the college faculty was cancelled, he accepted a five-year contract as a lecturer for the Barnes foundation, Merion, Pa., but the cancellation of this contract was announced in Jan. 1943 by Albert C. Barnes, director of the foundation.Russell was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1908, and re-elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1944. He was awarded the Sylvester medal of the Royal Society, 1934, the de Morgan medal of the London Mathematical Society in the same year, the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950.In a paper “Logical Atomism” (Contemporary British Philosophy. Personal Statements, First series. Lond. 1924) Russell exposed his views on his philosophy, preceded by a few words on historical development.1

Principal publications
German Social Democracy, 1896
Foundations of Geometry, 1897
A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz, 1900
Principles of Mathematics, vol. 1, 1903
Philosophical Essays, 1910
(with Dr. A. N. Whitehead) Principia mathematica, 3 vols, 1910-13
The Problems of Philosophy, 1912
Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy, 1944
Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916
Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, 1918
Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism, 1918
Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919
The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 1920
The Analysis of Mind, 1921
The Problem of China, 1922
The ABC of Atoms, 1923
(with Dora Russell) The Prospects of Industrial Civilisation, 1923
Logical Atomism, 1924
The ABC of Relativity, 1925
On Education, 1926
The Analysis of Matter, 1927
An Outline of Philosophy, 1927
Sceptical Essays, 1928
Marriage and Morals, 1929
The Conquest of Happiness, 1930
The Freedom and Organisation 1814-1914, 1934
In Praise of Idleness, 1935
Which Way to Peace?, 1936
(with Patricia Russell editor of) The Amberley Papers, 2 vols, 1937
Power: a new Social Introduction to its Study, 1938
An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, 1941
History of Western Philosophy, 1946
Human Knowledge, its Scope and Limits, 1948
Authority and the Individual, 1949
Unpopular Essays, 1950

1) The matter for this sketch is taken from general English reference books.From Les Prix Nobel en 1950, Editor Arne Holmberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1951This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/ Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.For more updated biographical information, see:
Russell, Bertrand, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell. (3 vols.) Allen & Unwin: London, 1967-1969.

Image result for Douglas Groothuis,

Douglas Groothuis

01.24.13 | Denver Journal, Apologetics and Ethics, Douglas Groothuis | by Alain de Botton

A Denver Journal Review by Denver Seminary Professor Douglas Groothuis.

Alain de Botton Religion for Atheists: A Nonbelievers Guide to the Uses of Religion. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. Hardback. $26.95. 320 pages. ISBN-10: 0307379108; ISBN-13: 978-0307379108.

ReligionforAtheistsCultural critic and popular atheistic philosopher, Alain de Botton, has a new angle on religion. Instead of denouncing religion as having no objective value (the modus operandi of “the new atheists”), de Botton scavenges for atheist blessings among the institutions, practices, and history of the (philosophically benighted) believers. No, there is no God. That, he thinks, is settled—although he gives no arguments to that effect. But why be so hostile to man’s religiosity—his sense of wonder, mystery, fellow-feeling, and the sacred? After all, a lot of religious things are pretty interesting and even inspiring (although there is no Spirit behind any of it). And even though the cognoscenti have outgrown any religious metaphysics (“God is dead,” as Nietzsche pontificated), there may be cultural and psychological gems mixed into the metaphysical manure of empty concepts such as God, angels, providence, prayer, prophets, miracles, saints, salvation, and final judgment.

This ambitious (or quixotic) endeavor has exposed de Botton some savage criticism from fellow God-bashers. Although he didn’t live long enough to excoriate Religion for Atheists, it is certain that Christopher Hitchens, the author of the vitriolic God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, would have denounced it as sentimental, unreasonable, and finally absurd. The entire new atheist movement distinguishes itself precisely by not tolerating religion (and particularly Christianity, which is routinely treated with enormous scorn) and for wanting to exorcise all things religious from culture. Instead of saying that religion is false, but we have to put up with superstition in a free society, the New Atheists claim that religion is the source of all manner of evil. It must be expunged from any rational society. No pats on the head for religion; rather, bring the hammer.

But de Botton who has several popular books under his belt, including Proust Can Change Your Life, attempts to articulate a kinder, gentler atheism. He even proposes a religious atheism. This is not new. The founder of sociology, August Comte (1798–1857), proposed an atheist “religion of humanity” in the nineteenth century, and de Botton draws some secular inspiration from his fatuous and failed endeavor. Moreover, The Secular Humanist Manifesto I, (1933), spoke of secular humanism as a religious endeavor—sans God, however. In The Secular Humanist Manifesto, II (1973), any positive reference to religion was fumigated. In the famous Torcaso vs. Watkins Supreme Court decision of 1963, “Secular Humanism,” was declared to be a “religion.” Sadly, this ruling was never applied to mandatory state education, which is dominated by this secular humanism in every subject and which will not even allow scientific evidence to be brought against aspects of Darwinism. (On this, see Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto [Crossway, 1981].)

There is no need to describe much of de Bottons project (as witty as some of it may be; he is British, after all), since it rests on an abject absurdity—or more than one, as we will see. On this, I side with the new atheists (“take no prisoners”), and with their grand and eloquent precursor, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). Consider this soliloquy from “The Madman” parable in The Gay Science (“gay” is taken in the older sense).

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Atheism, or philosophical materialism, bequeaths to us a “world without windows” (Peter Berger), a closed system of cause and effect (Francis Schaeffer), which is all reducible to brute natural laws, matter and energy, chance, and a heck of a lot of (meaningless) time. Death is the end of the individual and of the entire cosmos eventually. That is the implacable narrative of naturalism, like it or not.

We cannot “comfort ourselves” by appropriating from religion what only religion can provide: divine revelation, a supernatural kingdom and worldview, providential history, real redemption from a source outside ourselves, and the life everlasting, either in the New Creation or in hell.

One may put the argument against de Bottons’s daft idea formally:

  1. X (religious meaning) requires Y (the truth of religion) for its existence.
  2. Y does not exist.
  3. Therefore: X does not exist.

Or it can be put thus:

  1. If and only if Y, then X.
  2. Not X.
  3. Therefore: not Y.

Or:

  1. If there is no religious truth, there is no religious meaning.
  2. There is no religious truth, since atheism is true.
  3. Therefore, there is no religious meaning.

Or, to put it yet another way for hardheaded atheists who wants to steal from religion what atheism itself can never provide:

  1. The truth of religion is a necessary condition for religious meaning.
  2. Religion is factually false (atheism).
  3. Therefore, there is no religious meaning.
  4. Therefore, all is meaningless (nihilism), whatever pseudo-religious games we play.

(This argument restates the first one given, but with a different form.)

I need not go on with this logical theme, lest I suffer the charge of pedantry. But another absurdity needs a tongue-lashing. While de Botton’s illicit existential booty largely comes from Christianity, he samples and mixes in bits from other religions as well. Thus, Buddhism can teach us about tranquility through meditation, and so on. But the problem mentioned above, with respect to Christianity, arises here as well. One cannot find Buddhist meaning without Buddhist truth. If “The Four Noble Truths” are not true, why meditate? But that is not all. Buddhism and Christianity affirm different and antithetical worldviews at their very core. They both cannot be true, since they disagree on minor things like the existence of the soul, the afterlife, and the ultimate reality (God or Nirvana). So, the absurdities multiply for de Botton who obliviously marches from chapter to chapter cherry- picking likeable aspects of false religions—whose meaning depends on their mutually-exclusive truths. Oh, my! How bad can it get? One must invoke the Apostle here:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:21-22).

In looting from the biblical ideal of fellowship, de Bottom imagines an “Agape Restaurant, a secular descendent of the Eucharist and of the tradition of Christian communal dining” (45). But later in the chapter, he invokes the debauched tradition of “the feast of fools,” in which normal social relations are skewed to let off the steam built up through good behavior. This means a lot of debauchery.  Of course, there is nothing like a “feast of fools” in the Bible, but no matter. For de Botton the “feast of fools” turns into a sexual orgy, which is pornographically depicted on page 67. Stunned, I ripped it out and disposed of it immediately after briefly seeing it. So, in the irresponsibly eclectic and illogical mind of Alain de Botton one can equally draw from the practice of Holy Communion and from the unholy pagan bacchanalia, the likes of which the Apostle Paul explicitly condemns.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

But mixing communion with “acts of the flesh” for his atheist religion is quite convenient for de Botton and entirely unjustified by any consistent set of godless principles.

Not only is de Botton’s program for religious atheism absurd on several levels, it also testifies to the paucity of atheism qua atheism to deliver any objective or lasting human meaning based on transcendent truths. As astronomer Carl Sagan asserted without argument in Cosmos in 1980: “The universe is all that is, was, or ever will be.” As such atheism fails a necessary test for the truthfulness of a worldview. This is how I articulated it in Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity, 2011) when discussing the rational tests for a worldview.

Criterion 5a: For a worldview to be a likely candidate for truth, its essential propositions must be existentially viable.

Criterion 5b: If a worldview leads habitually to philosophical hypocrisy, it is rationally disqualified, since this indicates that it does not correspond to reality.

Image result for francis schaeffer

Atheism is not existentially viable (or livable), since we are meaning-seeking beings supposedly lost in a meaningless world. As Francis Schaeffer said in The God Who is There, this would be like a fish developing lungs in a world without an oxygen atmosphere. It is beyond pointless. This reality leads atheists such as de Botton to commit philosophical hypocrisy by vainly trying to purloin ideas from antithetical religious worldviews to give some meaning to an ultimately meaningless world. It melts down to these two logically incompatible propositions:

  1. There is no objective meaning in the world, because there is no God to bestow it.
  2. Religion, while false, gives us objective meaning.

But obviously, if (1) is true, then (2) must be false. One must engage in vicious mystification to try to think otherwise. A logically consistent set of two propositions for the atheist is as follows:

  1. There is no objective meaning in the world, because there is no God to bestow it.
  2. Therefore: all religious practices based on the idea of God’s existence lose their meaning and should be shunned, since God does not exist.

Image result for bertrand russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), perhaps the leading philosophical atheist of the twentieth century, put it unforgettably in his often anthologized essay, “A Free Man’s Worship.”

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

Russell, who drank the cup of atheism to the dregs, realized his godless fate. The “worship” of which he speaks later in the essay is simply the refusal to engage in the worship of power. It has nothing to do with de Bottom’s hopeless program of ontologically empty activities.

Image result for bertrand russell

However, the Christian can offer a “religion for atheists” — Christianity itself. But that, of course, requires the abandonment of atheism, the embrace of theism and the Incarnation, and the end of pretending otherwise. Only then, will religious meaning become a reality for the thirsty soul. As Jesus put it at the beginning of his world-changing ministry, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Denver Seminary
January 2013

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