Tag Archives: Frank Wilczek

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 UU Sir Bertrand Russell, Lenin’s meeting with Russell and WHY Communism fails EVERYTIME!!!!!

Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Image result for harry kroto

I 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.

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Today I am not going to attack this quote above from Russell. I have done that enough in the past. Today I am going to look at Russell’s notes on communism and also examine his personal meeting with Lenin. Lenin just laughed when Lenin said that it was the plan for the poor peasants to hang the peasants that were a little better well off. This comment caught Russell off guard. Russell had already noted that Lenin was a “great man.” However, this embracing of violence caught Russell by surprise.

Then I will look at an examination of communism by Francis Schaeffer who will tell us why Communism ALWAYS fails to give the freedoms that it says it will and why so many young people are caught up in its idealistic promises.

“Why I am Not a Communist”
by Betrand Russell

“I am completely at a loss to understand how it came about that some people who are both humane and intelligent could find something to admire in the vast slave camp produced by Stalin.”

      I n relation to any political doctrine there are two questions to be asked: (1) Are its theoretical tenets true? (2) Is its practical policy likely to increase human happiness? For my part, I think the theoretical tenets of Communism are false, and I think its practical maxims are such as to produce an immeasurable increase of human misery.

      The theoretical doctrines of Communism are for the most part derived from Marx. My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddle-headed; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred. The doctrine of surplus value, which is supposed to demonstrate the exploitation of wage-earners under capitalism, is arrived at: (a) by surreptitiously accepting Malthus’s doctrine of population, which Marx and all his disciples explicitly repudiate; (b) by applying Ricardo’s theory of value to wages, but not to the prices of manufactured articles. He is entirely satisfied with the result, not because it is in accordance with the facts or because it is logically coherent, but because it is calculated to rouse fury in wage-earners. Marx’s doctrine that all historical events have been motivated by class conflicts is a rash and untrue extension to world history of certain features prominent in England and France a hundred years ago. His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology. His theoretical errors, however, would not have mattered so much but for the fact that, like Tertullian and Carlyle, his chief desire was to see his enemies punished, and he cared little what happened to his friends in the process.

      Marx’s doctrine was bad enough, but the developments which it underwent under Lenin and Stalin made it much worse. Marx had taught that there would be a revolutionary transitional period following the victory of the proletariat in a civil war and that during this period the proletariat, in accordance with the usual practice after a civil war, would deprive its vanquished enemies of political power. This period was to be that of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It should not be forgotten that in Marx’s prophetic vision the victory of the proletariat was to come after it had grown to be the vast majority of the population. The dictatorship of the proletariat therefore as conceived by Marx was not essentially anti-democratic. In the Russia of 1917, however, the proletariat was a small percentage of the population, the great majority being peasants. it was decreed that the Bolshevik party was the class-conscious part of the proletariat, and that a small committee of its leaders was the class-conscious part of the Bolshevik party. The dictatorship of the proletariat thus came to be the dictatorship of a small committee, and ultimately of one man – Stalin. As the sole class-conscious proletarian, Stalin condemned millions of peasants to death by starvation and millions of others to forced labour in concentration camps. He even went so far as to decree that the laws of heredity are henceforth to be different from what they used to be, and that the germ-plasm is to obey Soviet decrees but that that reactionary priest Mendel. I am completely at a loss to understand how it came about that some people who are both humane and intelligent could find something to admire in the vast slave camp produced by Stalin.

      I have always disagreed with Marx. My first hostile criticism of him was published in 1896. But my objections to modern Communism go deeper than my objections to Marx. It is the abandonment of democracy that I find particularly disastrous. A minority resting its powers upon the activities of secret police is bound to be cruel, oppressive and obscuarantist. The dangers of the irresponsible power cane to be generally recognized during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but those who have forgotten all that was painfully learnt during the days of absolute monarchy, and have gone back to what was worst in the middle ages under the curious delusion that they were in the vanguard of progress.

      There are signs that in course of time the Russian régime will become more liberal. But, although this is possible, it is very far from certain. In the meantime, all those who value not only art and science but a sufficiency of bread and freedom from the fear that a careless word by their children to a schoolteacher may condemn them to forced labour in a Siberian wilderness, must do what lies in their power to preserve in their own countries a less servile and more prosperous manner of life.

      There are those who, oppressed by the evils of Communism, are led to the conclusion that the only effective way to combat these evils is by means of a world war. I think this a mistake. At one time such a policy might have been possible, but now war has become so terrible and Communism has become so powerful that no one can tell what would be left after a world war, and whatever might be left would probably be at least as bad as present -day Communism. This forecast does not depend upon the inevitable effects of mass destruction by means of hydrogen and cobalt bombs and perhaps of ingeniously propagated plagues. The way to combat Communism is not war. What is needed in addition to such armaments as will deter Communists from attacking the West, is a diminution of the grounds for discontent in the less prosperous parts of the non-communist world. In most of the countries of Asia, there is abject poverty which the West ought to alleviate as far as it lies in its power to do so. There is also a great bitterness which was caused by the centuries of European insolent domination in Asia. This ought to be dealt with by a combination of patient tact with dramatic announcements renouncing such relics of white domination as survive in Asia. Communism is a doctrine bred of poverty, hatred and strife. Its spread can only be arrested by diminishing the area of poverty and hatred.

from Portraits from Memory published in 1956

http://skepticva.org/excerpt-Lenin.html

Bertrand Russell on Lenin

excerpted from
LENIN, TROTSKY AND GORKY

itself an excerpt from
“The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism” By Bertrand Russell.

Webmaster’s note

The last paragraph (especially) shows that Russell’s atheism has nothing in common with Marxist-Leninism. It refutes the idea that the USSR is a lesson against the rejection of religion, because it had exactly the faults that mar any dogmatic belief.

Soon after my arrival in Moscow I had an hour’s conversation with Lenin in English, which he speaks fairly well. An interpreter was present, but his services were scarcely required. Lenin’s room is very bare; it contains a big desk, some maps on the walls, two book-cases, and one comfortable chair for visitors in addition to two or three hard chairs. It is obvious that he has no love of luxury or even comfort. He is very friendly, and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur.

If one met him without knowing who he was, one would not guess that he is possessed of great power or even that he is in any way eminent. I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance. He looks at his visitors very closely, and screws up one eye, which seems to increase alarmingly the penetrating power of the other. He laughs a great deal; at first his laugh seems merely friendly and jolly, but gradually I came to feel it rather grim. He is dictatorial, calm, incapable of fear, extraordinarily devoid of self-seeking, an embodied theory.

The MATERIALIST conception of history, one feels, is his life-blood. He resembles a professor in his desire to have the theory understood and in his fury with those who misunderstand or disagree, as also in his love of expounding, I got the impression that he despises a great many people and is an intellectual aristocrat.

When I suggested that whatever is possible in England can be achieved without bloodshed, he waved aside the suggestion as fantastic. I got little impression of knowledge or psychological imagination as regards Great Britain. Indeed the whole tendency of Marxianism is against psychological imagination, since it attributes everything in politics to purely  MATERIAL causes.

I asked him next whether he thought it possible to establish Communism firmly and fully in a country containing such a large majority of peasants. He admitted that it was difficult, and laughed over the exchange the peasant is compelled to make, of food for paper; the worthlessness of Russian paper struck him as comic. But he said—what is no doubt true—that things will right themselves when there are goods to offer to the peasant. For this he looks partly to electrification in industry, which, he says, is a technical necessity in Russia, but will take ten years to complete. He spoke with enthusiasm, as they all do, of the great scheme for generating electrical power by means of peat. Of course he looks to the raising of the blockade as the only radical cure; but he was not very hopeful of this being achieved thoroughly or permanently except through revolutions in other countries. Peace between Bolshevik Russia and capitalist countries, he said, must always be insecure; the Entente might be led by weariness and mutual dissensions to conclude peace, but he felt convinced that the peace would be of brief duration. I found in him, as in almost all leading Communists, much less eagerness than existed in our delegation for peace and the raising of the blockade. He believes that nothing of real value can be achieved except through world revolution and the abolition of capitalism; I felt that he regarded the resumption of trade with capitalist countries as a mere palliative of doubtful value.

He described the division between rich and poor peasants, and the Government propaganda among the latter against the former, leading to acts of violence which he seemed to find amusing. He spoke as though the dictatorship over the peasant would have to continue a long time, because of the peasant’s desire for free trade. He said he knew from statistics (what I can well believe) that the peasants have had more to eat these last two years than they ever had before, “and yet they are against us,” he added a little wistfully. I asked him what to reply to critics who say that in the country he has merely created peasant proprietorship, not Communism; he replied that that is not quite the truth, but he did not say what the truth is.

 

The last question I asked him was whether resumption of trade with capitalist countries, if it took place, would not create centres of capitalist influence, and make the preservation of Communism more difficult? It had seemed to me that the more ardent Communists might well dread commercial intercourse with the outer world, as leading to an infiltration of heresy, and making the rigidity of the present system almost impossible. I wished to know whether he had such a feeling. He admitted that trade would create difficulties, but said they would be less than those of the war. He said that two years ago neither he nor his colleagues thought they could survive against the hostility of the world. He attributes their survival to the jealousies and divergent interests of the different capitalist nations; also to the power of Bolshevik propaganda. He said the Germans had laughed when the Bolsheviks proposed to combat guns with leaflets, but that the event had proved the leaflets quite as powerful. I do not think he recognizes that the Labour and Socialist parties have had any part in the matter. He does not seem to know that the attitude of British Labour has done a great deal to make a first-class war against Russia impossible, since it has confined the Government to what could be done in a hole-and-corner way, and denied without a too blatant mendacity.

I think if I had met him without knowing who he was, I should not have guessed that he was a great man; he struck me as too opinionated and narrowly orthodox. His strength comes, I imagine, from his honesty, courage, and unwavering faith—religious faith in the Marxian gospel, which takes the place of the Christian martyr’s hopes of Paradise, except that it is less egotistical. He has as little love of liberty as the Christians who suffered under Diocletian, and retaliated when they acquired power. Perhaps love of liberty is incompatible with whole-hearted belief in a panacea for all human ills. If so, I cannot but rejoice in the sceptical temper of the Western world.

I went to Russia a Communist; but contact with those who have no doubts has intensified a thousandfold my own doubts, not as to Communism in itself, but as to the wisdom of holding a creed so firmly that for its sake men are willing to inflict widespread misery.

Almanac: Bertrand Russell on Lenin’s sense of humor

INK BOTTLE“When I met Lenin, I had much less impression of a great man than I had expected; my most vivid impressions were of Mongolian cruelty and bigotry. When I put a question to him about socialism in agriculture, he explained with glee how he had incited the poorer peasants against the richer ones, ‘and they soon hanged them from the nearest tree—ha! ha! ha!’ His guffaw at the thought of those massacred made my blood run cold.”

Bertrand Russell, “Eminent Men I Have Known” (courtesy of Richard Brookhiser)

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Communism catches the attention of the young at heart but it has always brought repression wherever it is tried. “True Communism has never been tried” is something I was told just a few months ago by a well meaning young person who was impressed with the ideas of Karl Marx. I responded that there are only 5 communist countries in the world today and they lack political, economic and religious freedom.
Tony Bartolucci noted that Schaeffer has correctly pointed out:
Hope in Marxism-Leninism is a leap in the area of nonreason. From the Russian Revolution until 1959 a total of 66 million prisoners died. This was deemed acceptable to the leaders because internal security was to be gained at any cost. The ends justified the means. The materialism of Marxism gives no basis for human dignity or rights. These hold to their philosophy against all reason and close their eyes to the oppression of the system.

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

WHY DOES COMMUNISM FAIL?
Communism has always failed because of its materialist base.  Francis Schaeffer does a great job of showing that in this clip below. Also Schaeffer shows that there were lots of similar things about the basis for both the French and Russia revolutions and he exposes the materialist and humanist basis of both revolutions.

Schaeffer compares communism with French Revolution and Napoleon.

1. Lenin took charge in Russia much as Napoleon took charge in France – when people get desperate enough, they’ll take a dictator.

Other examples: Hitler, Julius Caesar. It could happen again.

2. Communism is very repressive, stifling political and artistic freedom. Even allies have to be coerced. (Poland).

Communists say repression is temporary until utopia can be reached – yet there is no evidence of progress in that direction. Dictatorship appears to be permanent.

3. No ultimate basis for morality (right and wrong) – materialist base of communism is just as humanistic as French. Only have “arbitrary absolutes” no final basis for right and wrong.

How is Christianity different from both French Revolution and Communism?

Contrast N.T. Christianity – very positive government reform and great strides against injustice. (especially under Wesleyan revival).

Bible gives absolutes – standards of right and wrong. It shows the problems and why they exist (man’s fall and rebellion against God).

WHY DOES THE IDEA OF COMMUNISM CATCH THE ATTENTION OF SO MANY IDEALISTIC YOUNG PEOPLE? The reason is very simple. 

In HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, the late Francis A. Schaeffer wrote:

Materialism, the philosophic base for Marxist-Leninism, gives no basis for the dignity or rights of man.  Where Marxist-Leninism is not in power it attracts and converts by talking much of dignity and rights, but its materialistic base gives no basis for the dignity or rights of man.  Yet is attracts by its constant talk of idealism.

To understand this phenomenon we must understand that Marx reached over to that for which Christianity does give a base–the dignity of man–and took the words as words of his own.  The only understanding of idealistic sounding Marxist-Leninism is that it is (in this sense) a Christian heresy.  Not having the Christian base, until it comes to power it uses the words for which Christianity does give a base.  But wherever Marxist-Leninism has had power, it has at no place in history shown where it has not brought forth oppression.  As soon as they have had the power, the desire of the majority has become a concept without meaning.

Is Christianity at all like Communism?

Sometimes Communism sounds very “Christian” – desirable goals of equality, justice, etc but these terms are just borrowed from the New Testament. Schaeffer elsewhere explains by saying Marxism is a Christian heresy.

Below is a great article. Free-lance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

This article was published January 30, 2011 at 2:28 a.m. Here is a portion of that article below:
A final advantage is the mutation of socialism into so many variants over the past century or so. Precisely because Karl Marx was unclear as to how it would work in practice, socialism has always been something of an empty vessel into which would be revolutionaries seeking personal meaning and utopian causes to support can pour pretty much anything.
A desire to increase state power, soak the rich and expand the welfare state is about all that is left of the original vision. Socialism for young lefties these days means “social justice” and compassion for the poor, not the gulag and the NKVD.
In the end, the one argument that will never wash is that communismcan’t be said to have failed because it was never actually tried. This is a transparent intellectual dodge that ignores the fact that “people’s democracies” were established all over the place in the first three decades after World War II.
Such sophistry is resorted to only because communism in all of those places produced hell on earth rather than heaven.
That the attempts to build communism in a remarkable variety of different geographical regions led to only tyranny and mass bloodshed tells us only that it was never feasible in the first place, and that societies built on the socialist principle ironically suffer from the kind of “inner contradictions” that Marx mistakenly predicted would destroy capitalism.
Yes, all economies are mixed in nature, and one could plausibly argue that the socialist impulse took the rough edges off of capitalism by sponsoring the creation of welfare-state programs that command considerable public support.
But the fact remains that no society in history has been able to achieve sustained prosperity without respect for private property and market forces of supply and demand. Nations, therefore, retain their economic dynamism only to the extent that they resist the temptation to travel too far down the socialist road.

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer notes:

At Berkeley the Free Speech Movement arose simultaneously with the hippie world of drugs. At first it was politically neither left nor right, but rather a call for the freedom to express any political views on Sproul Plaza. Then soon the Free Speech Movement became the Dirty Speech Movement, in which freedom was seen as shouting four-letter words into a mike.  Soon after, it became the platform for the political New Left which followed the teaching of Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse was a German professor of philosophy related to the neo-Marxist teaching of the “Frankfurt School,” along with...Jurgen Habermas (1929-). 

Herbert Marcuse, “Liberation from the Affluent Society” (1967)

Brannon Howse talks some about the Frankfurt School in some of his publications too. 

During the 1960’s many young people were turning to the New Left fueled by Marcuse and Habermas but something happened to slow many young people’s enthusiasm for that movement.

1970 bombing took away righteous standing of Anti-War movement

Francis Schaeffer mentioned the 1970 bombing in his film series “How should we then live?” and I wanted to give some more history on it. Schaeffer asserted:

In the United States the New Left also slowly ground down,losing favor because of the excesses of the bombings, especially in the bombing of the University of Wisconsin lab in 1970, where a graduate student was killed. This was not the last bomb that was or will be planted in the United States. Hard-core groups of radicals still remain and are active, and could become more active, but the violence which the New Left produced as its natural heritage (as it also had in Europe) caused the majority of young people in the United States no longer to see it as a hope. So some young people began in 1964 to challenge the false values of personal peace and affluence, and we must admire them for this. Humanism, man beginning only from himself, had destroyed the old basis of values, and could find no way to generate with certainty any new values.  In the resulting vacuum the impoverished values of personal peace and affluence had comes to stand supreme. And now, for the majority of the young people, after the passing of the false hopes of drugs as an ideology and the fading of the New Left, what remained? Only apathy was left. In the United States by the beginning of the seventies, apathy was almost complete. In contrast to the political activists of the sixties, not many of the young even went to the polls to vote, even though the national voting age was lowered to eighteen. Hope was gone.

After the turmoil of the sixties, many people thought that it was so much the better when the universities quieted down in the early seventies. I could have wept. The young people had been right in their analysis, though wrong in their solutions. How much worse when many gave up hope and simply accepted the same values as their parents–personal peace and affluence. (How Should We Then Live, pp. 209-210

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Sunday, August 28th, 2011, 11:11pm

Aug. 24 marked the 41st anniversary of the Sterling Hall bombing on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Four men planned the bomb at the height of the student protests over the Vietnam War. Back then, current Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was one of the leaders of those student protests in the capitol city. This weekend, Soglin recalled the unrest felt by UW-Madison students.

“The anti-war movement adopted a lot of its tactics and strategies from the civil rights movement which was about ten years older,” said Soglin. “It was one of picketing, demonstration, and passive resistance.”

The four men who planned the bombing focused on the Army Mathematics Research Center housed in Sterling Hall because it was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and therefore, worked on weapons technology. Karl Armstrong was one of the four men and he recently spoke with CBS News in his first television interview detailing the moments right before the bomb was set off.

“He asked me, he says, ‘Should we go ahead? Are we gonna do this?’ I think I made a comment to him about something like, ‘Now, I know what war is about,'” remembered Armstrong. “And I told him to light it.”

The bomb killed one researcher and father of three, 33-year-old Robert Fassnacht, although Armstrong maintains they planned the attack thinking no one would get hurt. The four men heard about the death as they were in their getaway car after the bomb went off.

“I felt good about doing the bombing, the bombing per se, but not taking someone’s life,” recalled Armstrong.

The researcher’s wife told CBS News that she harbors no ill will toward Armstrong and the other bombers. Three of the four men were captured and served time in prison. Armstrong served eight years of a 23-year sentence.

The fourth man, Leo Burt, was last seen in the fall of 1970 in Ontario and is to this day, still wanted by the FBI, with a $150,000 reward for his capture.

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 TT Bertrand Russell’s View of Jesus Christ

 

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Image result for bertrand russell

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Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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Harold W. Kroto (left) receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, in 1996.

Soren Andersson/AP

Image result for harry kroto nobel prize

 

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Image result for harry kroto

I 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,

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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._

Below is article I found on internet:

Bertrand Russell’s View of Jesus Christ

From the first century up to the present day, the Sonship and divinity of Jesus have been attacked with amazingly and seemingly unending vigor and venom. One of the modern-day leaders in this attack against Christianity would certainly be Bertrand Russell, who was one of the most influential, and often outspoken, philosophers of the twentieth century. He was born in England in 1872 and continued to write and lecture in both Europe and the United States until not long before his death in 1970. His parents were freethinkers and close friends with John Stuart Mill, a pioneer in modern scientific thinking who devised rules for inductive scientific reasoning and was a leader of ethical utilitarianism (“Russell” 235). For the purposes of this article, Russell and his criticisms will be used as a model for skeptics in general. First, it will be succinctly shown that this discussion is still relevant and important as popular culture continues to disseminate false information concerning Christ and Christianity. Second, Russell’s arguments presented in Why I Am Not A Christian will be examined and then exposed as being untenable and false. Third, some basic proofs and evidences will be given in support of the claim that Jesus is divine.

Even while Jesus walked this Earth, many of His contemporaries refused to acknowledge the fact that He was divine. Consider, for example, the account of the blind man who was given his sight by Jesus (cf. John 9). The attitude displayed by the Pharisees is quite remarkable. For some, their first reaction upon hearing about the miracle was disbelief (John 9:16, 18). They had reached agreement that anyone confessing Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue (John 9:22). Even after the man’s parents confirmed the fact that he was indeed born blind they still refused to believe. They even went so far at to attack his character as they claimed to “know” that Jesus was a sinner (John 9:24, 29).

The attitudes displayed by the Pharisees in the first century can be easily seen and readily recognized as attitudes that are popular today. Take for example the commotion stirred up by the book by Simcha Jacobovici and the subsequent film on the Discovery Channel by James Cameron. In The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence that Could Change History, the claim is made that a tomb in Jerusalem has been found that not only contains the bones of Jesus, but also proves that He was married and had children. If such were to be the case, Christianity would be a sham to be avoided. As evidence to the contrary is presented, showing the tomb to be a hoax, the scholars who appeared in the film are backing off of the strong comments they made (Habermas). Then there is Dan Brown and his best-seller The DaVinci Code. Among other claims, such as Christ being married to Mary Magdalene, it is asserted that the Council of Nicea in AD 325 was used to invent the reality that Jesus was divine. It is further stated that everyone knew Jesus was just a “great and powerful man” at this point and it took a vote by contemporaries of Constantine to “make” Jesus the Son of God (Brown 253). Though damage has been done, scores of books and papers have been written which clearly refute the erroneous claims made by Brown (cf. “Truth”).

Skeptics such as Brown and Jacobovici stand in a long line of those seeking to discredit the claims that Jesus was divine. Eighty years ago, Bertrand Russell mounted a head-on attack of the existence of God and the divinity of Jesus in his speech that was later published under the title, Why I Am Not A Christian. This lecture was delivered on March 6, 1927, at Battersea Town Hall, under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society (Egner 585). This particular work has been highly influential since the day it was presented and continues to be so. Proof of its continued influence is found in the numerous websites that persist in lauding the efforts of Russell as they discuss the merits of his work. Typing, “Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian” on any internet search engine will literally return hundreds of thousands of hits. From research papers to personal blogs, this important work remains a serious topic for discussion and consideration.

The lecture/essay by the famous skeptic is divided into two parts: first, an attack against God and second, an attack against Jesus. Russell begins by giving his own definition of a Christian. He contends that to be a Christian one must believe in God and immortality and then also have some kind of belief about Christ (Egner 585). This two-part definition for a Christian leads Russell to say, “Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian I have to tell you two different things; first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and, secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant Him a very high degree of moral goodness” (586).

Discussion about the traditional arguments for the existence of God (cosmological, teleological, et. al.) and Russell’s attack on them is outside the scope of this article. Our task is limited to Jesus being the Christ. Specifically concerning Jesus, Russell attacks two things: His teaching and His moral character. It is easy to see how Russell, just like the Pharisees of John 9, has chosen to be blind to the evidence and available information. For example:

. . . I do not believe that one can grant either the superlative wisdom or the superlative goodness of Christ as depicted in the Gospels; and here I may say that one is not concerned with the historical question. Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him, so that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one. I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels, taking the Gospel narrative as it stands, and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. (qtd. in Egner 592)

It seems hard to believe that a man as intelligent as Russell, with all of his academic credentials and obvious ability to do research, would choose to be blind to the overwhelming facts. He believes the “historical question” is difficult to answer and that Christ probably never existed. What about the testimony of ancient writers who were antagonistic to the Christian faith such as Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, Cerinthus, Celsus, Porphyry, Thallaus, and Josephus (just to name a few)? Each of these men, in different ways and for different reasons, all offer proof that Jesus was a real man and an historical figure. Often they were attempting to prove that Christ was not divine, but in so doing, proved that He was historical. How could Russell have missed such compelling evidence? Obviously, if he can be wrong about the historicity of Christ, he can be wrong about the divinity of Christ.

First, Russell attacks the wisdom and teaching of Christ. Russell contends that Jesus taught that the Second Coming would “occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time” (593). In fact, Jesus explicitly said that no one knew the time of His coming back (Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7). Thus, it is contrary to His very teaching to understand Him as telling an audience when He would return.

By saying Jesus predicted He would return within forty years (one generation) indicates at least two major problems. One, Jesus was ignorant (not superlatively wise). Two, Jesus was a false teacher. Neither one of these ideas is compatible with the idea that Jesus was God on Earth (John 1:1, 14; Matthew 1:23; etc.). On the contrary, the Bible portrays Jesus as one who was omniscient by such statements as He, “needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25). Even the Samaritan woman recognized His amazing knowledge when she proclaimed, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). And, being God on Earth, it would be impossible for Jesus to tell a lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

One major factor contributing to the misunderstanding is that Russell confuses the coming of  the kingdom (the church) with the second coming and judgment. Only a basic understanding of the Bible is needed to clearly see Russell’s blunder. Just prior to His death on the cross, Jesus stated that His kingdom, the church, would be established very soon. “And I also say to you that you art Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). To which He further stated, “And He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God present with power’” (Mark 9:1). These statements are completely and perfectly fulfilled on the first Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, “[P]raising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Thus Christ was predicting that the church would be established in the very near future, not when He would return.

To claim the Christ had a “defect” in his teaching is quite disturbing. Some Bible scholars have studied the available evidence and come to the conclusion that Jesus was unmatched and should be considered the greatest teacher of all time. Consider the thoughts of Thomas B. Warren who wrote that Jesus was the incomparable teacher because:
1. The circumstances of His teaching.
2. His perfect knowledge of the subject matter He taught.
3. He had perfect knowledge of the people whom He taught.
4. His methods were clear and concrete.
5. The overall purpose of His mission to the Earth.
6. He practiced perfectly what He taught.
7. His attitude toward truth.
8. The breadth of His vision.
9. No teacher could ever compare with Jesus in the moral standard He set out.
10. No teacher ever taught a message which could have as far-reaching effects for good as that taught by Jesus.
11. No one ever loved his students as Jesus loved His.
12. He spoke with incomparable authority. (108-13)

Warren concludes the section of Jesus as a teacher by saying, “Jesus was the incomparable teacher. This fact is compelling evidence in favor of the conclusion that He is the Son of the only true God. He was so marvelously unique as a teacher that He simply could not have been merely a human being. We are driven to the conclusion that He was Divine” (114).

Second, Russell attacks the morality and character of Christ. He says, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell” (Egner 593). Does belief in hell constitute a moral defect? Note the comparison between Hell and the Jewish holocaust by Norman Geisler who said, “The fact that Jesus believed in hell does not make him any more inhumane than someone who believes in the Jewish holocaust. Certainly, if the holocaust happened, then it is not inhumane to believe in it. Likewise, if hell is real, then one is not inhumane for believing it is real. The question is one of truth, not of humanity” (679).

Russell feels that no humane individual can believe in everlasting punishment, but how can one who advocates moral relativity make such a claim? When the standard of authority is subjective in nature (feelings, emotions, majority, situations, et. al.) it is very easy to say, “I don’t see how such a thing as hell could be possible.” Subjectivity leads to inconsistency and Russell had an inconsistent view of sin. He denied its validity, reducing everything to the desirable or undesirable. Yet he seemed to have no doubt that belief in hell was really and truly cruel, unmerciful, and inhumane. Such are moral absolutist positions. If morality is merely the desirable or undesirable, then there are no real moral grounds to say anything is cruel or wrong. It is counter intuitive to say that God is unjust in punishing the unjust. Thus one can see that when the standard of authority comes from outside of your personal beliefs or feelings, the situation is much different. The basis for religious knowledge is stated as such: (1) If God exists, (2) The Bible is the inspired word of God, (3) The Bible teaches that there is a place of eternal life as well as a place of eternal punishment, then (4) I can know that there is a place of eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 25:46; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; John 8:31-32; et al.).

R. C. Oliver has made note of the fact that both friends and enemies alike attested to the perfect moral character of Jesus: “The character of Jesus is revealed in the first four books of the New Testament by: (1) what he did, (2) what he said, and (3) what others said about him. And in all of this evidence not the least flaw can be found against him. Even the testimony by his enemies, by which they were hoping to show a fault, revealed instead a virtue, one example of which is their accusation that Jesus was ‘a friend of publicans and sinners’ (Luke 7:34)” (5).

A logical inconsistency arises from one saying about Jesus on the one hand, “I grant Him a very high degree of moral goodness,” but on the other hand, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character.” Can both statements be rationally made? It would appear to be illogical to say someone held a high degree of moral goodness if they claimed to be the Son of God when, in fact, they were not the Son of God. Jesus certainly made such claims (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:61-2). As Josh McDowell has written, “You cannot put him on the shelf as a great moral teacher. That is not a valid option. He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God. You must make a choice” (34). Echoing the thoughts of McDowell, Peter Kreeft has written:

Nearly every non-Christian who ever lived has believed that Jesus was neither God nor a bad man but just a good man. But just a good man is the one thing he could not possibly have been. If he was the God he claimed to be, then he was not just a good man but more than a man. And if he was not the God he claimed to be, then he was not a good man at all but a bad man. A man who claims to be God and is not cannot be called “a good man.” He is either insane (if he believes that he is God) or a blasphemous liar (if he does not believe he is God but claims that he is). (229)

Russell also accuses Jesus of being vindictive and intolerant (Egner 593). Did Christ simply wish for the punishment and destruction of any and all who would not listen to Him and accept His teaching? Yes, according to Russell. No, according to the Bible. “. ..God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6). Jesus specifically taught His followers not to be vindictive (Matthew 5:39, 44). What objective student of the Bible could describe the attitude displayed on the cross as vindictive? After a brutal beating and cruel mocking, Jesus still displayed amazing love and mercy from the cross. Notice the Scriptures say, “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots” (Luke 23:33-34). It broke Jesus’ heart when His audiences would refuse to hear the truth (Matthew 23:37; Mark 6:34). He wanted their loving obedience. He drew no pleasure from the punishment of others.

Russell further accuses Jesus of using fear tactics to force people into following him. Referring to Hell and the sin against the Holy Spirit, he said, “I really do not think that a person with a proper degree of kindliness in his nature would have put fears and terrors of that sort into the world” (qtd. in Egner 594). Is the person who warns the residents of a seacoast town that a hurricane is coming guilty of using fear tactics? The key lies in the truth of the statement. Fear can be perfectly rational if the thing to be feared is real. If hell is real, as Jesus says that it is
(Matthew 25:41), then the only loving and kind thing to do would be to warn others of its existence so that all who listen might avoid such a destination.

Almost in passing, Russell mentions the account of demons being cast into swine and that of Jesus cursing the fig tree as further evidence of character flaws (594). These biblical accounts are found in Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-17; Luke 8:27-34 and Matthew 21:18-20; Mark 11:12-22,
respectively. What is significant about these stories? Was Jesus unkind to animals? Was Jesus unkind to the tree and the environment? Of course not. As God, Jesus was sovereign over all life. He created it, and He had the right to take it (Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 1:21). The key is to look for the lesson being taught. The fig tree illustrates the fact that Israel’s rejection of the Messiah will lead to disaster. Casting the demons into the swine proved that Jesus was more powerful than Satan and his angels.

Finally, some basic proofs and evidences will be given in support of the claim that Jesus is Divine. If the particular characteristics of the person and work of Jesus Christ are such as to be beyond those of mere men, then Jesus is the Son of God and those like Russell will have been defeated. Such will be proven when it is shown that Jesus fulfilled prophecy, performed miracles, and was raised from the dead (Gardner 55-70).

First, Jesus uniquely fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

From Genesis through Malachi, the history of Jesus is foretold in minute detail. Bible critics who wish to disprove Christ’s deity must refute fulfilled prophecy. To accomplish this, one would have to contend that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies genuinely; rather, He only appeared to fulfill them. Yet with over 300 prophecies relating to Christ–none of which can be dismissed flippantly–this is an impossible task. (Thompson 254-55)

Just a few of the more notable fulfilled prophecies would be: the Messiah would be conceived of a virgin and called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23); He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2.1); would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60); would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15); and His side would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34, 37).

Second, Jesus proved He was the Son of God by the miracles He performed. This is exactly the point Peter was driving home to the Jewish audience in Acts 2:22, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” The evidence that Jesus authenticated His claim to being God by performing miracles can be demonstrated through six points: (1) the reliability of the New Testament, (2) the inclusion of historical details lends credibility, (3) Jewish leaders and Jesus’ opponents admitted He performed miracles, (4) antagonistic sources outside the Bible confirm Jesus’ miracles, (5) the miraculous resurrection is one of the best-attested events in the ancient world, and (6) alternative explanations fall short (Zacharias 89-93). Jim McGuiggan has suggested three positive reasons for holding that the miracles of Jesus Christ really happened: 1) the reputation of Jesus Christ, 2) the powerful testimony of history, and 3) the subsequent miracles of the apostolic group (63-73).

Third, Jesus proved He was the Son of God when He walked out of the tomb on the third day after He was nailed to the cross. John Stott points out that this event was both dateable and physical (46-8). In other words, it was testable. It was a dateable historical event and actually
involved the body of Jesus. In The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel records Craig’s affirmative case for the empty tomb:
1. The empty tomb is definitely implicit in the early tradition that is passed along by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, which is a very old and reliable source of historical information about Jesus.
2. The site of Jesus’ tomb was known to Christian and Jew alike.
3. We can tell from the language, grammar, and style that Mark got His empty tomb story from an earlier source.
4. The simplicity of the empty tomb story in Mark.
5. The unanimous testimony that the empty tomb was discovered by women argues for the authenticity of the story, because this would have been embarrassing for the disciples to admit and most certainly would have been covered up if this were a legend.
6. The earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the historicity of the empty tomb. (220-21)

Thus it has been shown that Jesus fulfilled prophecy, performed miracles, and was raised from the dead. Based upon the evidence, it is therefore clear that the particular characteristics of the person and work of Jesus Christ are such as to be beyond those of mere men. Therefore, Jesus is the Son of God.

Whether it be the Pharisees, Dan Brown, or Bertrand Russell, one can see that from AD 30 to the present day, the divinity of Jesus has been attacked repeatedly. However, time and time again the biblical claims are vindicated. Jesus is always proven to be the Divine Son of God. Such is the case because we have the evidence upon which to build our faith and can be assured that Jesus is who He claimed to be (Hebrews 11:1; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Peter 3:15). Shall we choose to be blind or shall we choose to see clearly (cf. John 9:35-39)?

 

Works Cited

Brown, Dan. The DaVinci Code. New York: Anchor, 2003.

Egner, Robert E. and Lester E. Denonn, eds. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell. New York: Touchstone, 1961.

Gardner, Lynn. Christianity Stands True: A Common Sense Look at the Evidence. Joplin: College, 1994.

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.

Habermas, Gary. “12 Major Problems for the ‘Jesus Tomb’ Theory.” GaryHabermas.com 20 June 207. Web. 19 April 2010.

Jacobovici, Simcha and Charles Pellegrino. The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence that Could Change History. San Francisco: Harper, 2007.

Kreeft, Peter. “Why I Believe Jesus is the Son of God.” Why I Am A Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe. Eds. Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001.

McDowell, Josh. More Than A Carpenter. Wheaton: Living, 1985.

McDowell, Josh and Bart Larson. Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity. San Bernardino: Here’s Life, 1983.

McGuiggan, Jim. If God Came. Lubbock: Montex, 1980.

Oliver, R. C. “The Perfect Character of Christ.” The Spiritual Sword 1.3 (1970): 4-8.

“Russell, Bertrand Arthur William.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 7. New York: Macmillan, 1972.

Stott, John R. W. The Authentic Jesus: The Certainty of Christ in a Skeptical World. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1985.

Strobel, Lee. The Case For Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.

Thompson, Bert. Rock-Solid Faith: How to Build it. Montgomery: Apologetics Press, 2000.

Truth About DaVinci.com. 20 June 2007 < http://www.thetruthaboutdavinci.com/resources/&gt;.

Warren, Thomas B. Jesus: The Lamb Who Is a Lion. Jonesboro: National Christian, 1988.

Zacharias, Ravi and Norman Geisler, eds. Who Made God? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.

Image result for bertrand russell

Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:

Image result for francis schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 II Sir Bertrand Russell:We may define “faith” as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.

Bertrand Russell:We may define “faith” as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.

Well Bertie, we got some evidence for you below from Sir William Mitchell Ramsay who was your contemporary.

Image result for bertrand russell
320 × 168Images may be subject to copyrightLearn More

Bertrand Russell as a child.

Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Image result for harry kroto

I 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.

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Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

Related posts:

 

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Pausing to take a look at the life of HARRY KROTO Part C (Kroto’s admiration of Bertrand Russell examined)

Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 52 The views of Hegel and Bertrand Russell influenced Gareth Stedman Jones of Cambridge!!

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto _________________ Below you have picture of Dr. Harry Kroto:   Gareth Stedman […]

WOODY WEDNESDAY John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

Top 10 Woody Allen Movies __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were  atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 (More On) Woody Allen’s Atheism As I wrote in a previous post, I like Woody Allen. I have long admired his […]

John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

______ Top 10 Woody Allen Movies PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 01 PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 02 __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 QQ Sir Bertrand Russell is critical of the view that Jesus was Moral Paragon

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Image result for bertrand russell

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Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Image result for harry kroto

I 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.

Nathan Ketsdever

Defining Terms:

Russell’s definition of Christian is helpful because its an improvement from one which only looks at people who label themselves Christian. Unfortunately, the second component of the definition deals with the issue of religiousity or adherence to creeds.

Even if Russell is Nearly 100% Correct–Christianity is True:

Russell really doesn’t answer the core two arguments for faith, and as such doesn’t do what He sets out to do:

  1. Historical Jesus http://www.garyhabermas.com/
  2. Sin and Redemption and Heaven

His answer to Thomas Aquinas doesn’t recognize the definition of God, so basically strawpersons his argument (ergo not refuting it).

Moreover, most people find evidence in their own lives, the lives of their friends. And faith is experiential and relational in nature–not a math problem or a spreadsheet.

Neglecting these four arguments is a T.K.O. to his argument.

Jesus as Moral Paragon:

He contradicts himself on the ethics of Jesus, at the beginning saying he was a good person and then later saying he wasn’t. In fact at one place Russell claims to be a Christ follower in terms of his behavior, so this would seem to be the acid test on this question.

Skepticism as Methodology vs True Critical Thinking:

This is not critical thinking….this is skeptical thinking. Skeptical thinking doesn’t help us to act or lead. It helps us justify our inaction.

True critical thinking takes place by:
1) precision and specificity
2) representivieness
3) comparison and context
Comparison and context are almost always lacking in his arguments. And there is no evidence to suggest his examples are representative. Merely asserting examples is not enough. So on both of these accounts as well as that skepticism will never lead to action, but paralysis, the Russellian case falls and falls hard.

Abuse of Ideology/Abuse of Christian Values

People abusing “religion” in pursuit of their own personal idols is an argument for faith and humility. This captures the vast majority of Russell’s true criticisms of Christianity. However, again…this would (often) get back to a question of what is Christian behavior. All ideologies in the history of men and women have had to deal with this issue (security, human rights, democracy…the list goes on). Why should ideologies have to justify themselves in the face of people abusing their texts and ideas to do the exact opposite of intended.

Christianity, Fear, and Grace

Russell’s other problem with religion deals with fear, but fails to take into account actual credible arguments for the Christian faith which mean those fears are rational. For instance, denying all fears, denial of sin, denial of death–all seem to be bad denials. Second, I think the notion of grace and forgiveness–something I’m not sure Russell is entirely acquainted with is a way in which his argument about fear falls apart. Third, atheists play both sides of this coin (ie Christianity is comforting), so I’m not sure of these arguments it true. The real scientific evidence, however, says that Christians are more mentally fulfilled and balanced than atheists. [sorry there are multiple citations here from meta-studies of peer reviewed science]

The Rest of Russell’s Mixed Bag of Arguments:

Russell’s attempted refutation of natural law seems stressed given he runs up against the laws of science. But attempts to deny causality undermine science as much as they do Christianity. Plus, even Quantum Mechanics didn’t end the laws in various disciplines of science or change causality in social science. We live in a world of cause and effect, although not a perfect one. If you want more nuggets to chew on in this regard, you might check out Penrose on the failure of physics: Discover Interview: Roger Penrose Says Physics Is Wrong, From String Theory to Quantum Mechanics [note: I’m suggesting here a criticism of physicalism or perhaps rather the limits of physicalism]

Russell plays to the issue of bad design with rabbits tails being an easy target, but this is a question of mutualism, food chains, and much bigger systems than Russell analyzing.

Russell also makes an argument for steady state, but given his time of speaking, I’m going to assume he didn’t know the Big Bang would win out–which further suggested the Universe needed a cause or prime mover.

Russell at one point inserts “its all just probabilities” (not exact quote) for an argument that needs much more development. At best this seems like a weak application of perhaps Quantum Mechanics (although I think his speech predates its discovery and popularity I believe). Fred Hoyle’s (and others) mathematical analysis of probabilities stands as mathematical evidence. And there are a number of these probabilities in terms of fine tuning in the universe, the Penrose number, the evolution information, and not to mention scientific laws themselves as well as math, geometry, and the periodic chart.

Finally, many of Russell’s arguments amount to name-calling and assertions rather than arguments that have both claims and warrants. For instance, Russell mentions dogma, but never defines it or contrasts it versus principle or explains why dogma is a bad thing.

At the end of the day….when you miss the message of Christ…..you miss the message of Christianity. By failing to do so…..Russell ends up criticizing a straw-person of Christianity rather than the Risen Savior from Nazareth.

Source:
Evidence for Its Fine Tuning

Sorry I don’t have a link for the Penrose number or the peer reviewed literature link soon hopefully. Here is one of those mega-studies however:

A 2012 review of more than 326 peer-reviewed studies of mainly adult populations found that out of those 326 studies, 256 (79%) found only significant positive associations between religiosity/spirituality and well-being. The author postulated that the positive influence of religion or spirituality on well-being can be explained through a few key mechanisms, such as religion’s role as a coping strategy and as a support system for prosocial behaviors. In addition, religious beliefs can potentially alter the way individuals cognitively react to stressors, and often, the regulations of most faiths decrease the likelihood of individuals experiencing particularly stressful life events (such as divorce or incarceration) (2).

Source: Spiritual Engagement and Meaning

We need a transcendent ontic point of reference which only God can provide. Naturalism doesn’t provide a transcendent ontic point of reference.

Nietzshce proves atheism to be wrong, not the other way around.

This is Ravi Zachrias, who is an amazing thinker explaining, “Why I’m Not an Atheist” Zacharias has an acute and on-point understanding of the human experience, history, and philosophy. He is simply an intellectual force to be listened to and experienced. He weaves quite a case for Christianity:

Ravi at Princeton University – Why I’m Not an Atheist

Published on Apr 17, 2013

SUBSCRIBE 213K
Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale spoke an overflow crowd at Princeton University titled, “Why I’m Not An Atheist.”

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Francis Schaeffer below:

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Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

____

Related posts:

 

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Pausing to take a look at the life of HARRY KROTO Part C (Kroto’s admiration of Bertrand Russell examined)

Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 52 The views of Hegel and Bertrand Russell influenced Gareth Stedman Jones of Cambridge!!

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto _________________ Below you have picture of Dr. Harry Kroto:   Gareth Stedman […]

WOODY WEDNESDAY John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

Top 10 Woody Allen Movies __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were  atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 (More On) Woody Allen’s Atheism As I wrote in a previous post, I like Woody Allen. I have long admired his […]

John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

______ Top 10 Woody Allen Movies PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 01 PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 02 __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149  PP Sir Bertrand Russell “There was never a cogent presentation of the Christian faith, for instance, from someone who really believed in it” 

 

 

 

 

Image result for bertrand russell
1148 × 470Images may be subject to copyrightLearn More
Image result for bertrand russell
200 × 255Images may be subject to copyrightLearn More

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

__

Harry Kroto

Image result for harry kroto
538 × 379Images may be subject to copyrightLearn More

I 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,

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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 and Christianity, Part 2

Bertrand Russell is perceived as one of the most formidable foes of the Christian religion that our century has known. In Part 1 we noted that Russell’s essay, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” offered two general reasons for his unbelief. The first of these we have considered already. The second was this: in order to be a Christian, one must have “some kind of belief about Christ.” He then added: “I do not think Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant him a very high degree of moral goodness” (1957, 5).

Belief in Christ

There are a few things that should be said about this statement before we address the philosopher’s specific objections to Christ and his teaching.

First, he ought to have identified his source of information regarding the Lord. Where did he learn about Christ? From the New Testament, of course. And yet he repeatedly impeaches this document as a reliable source of information. He simply wanders through the Gospel accounts, taking what he wishes to exploit and rejecting the rest. His approach to the New Testament was grossly dishonest. Russell’s daughter wrote about her exposure to Christian history at his feet: “[W]e heard ‘the other side’ only from people who disagreed with it. There was never a cogent presentation of the Christian faith, for instance, from someone who really believed in it” (1975, 94). Again she declared: “When [father] wanted to attack religion, he sought out its most egregious errors and held them up to ridicule, while avoiding serious discussion of the basic message” (Ibid., 188).

Second, do not forget Russell’s statement that he attributed to Christ “a very high degree of moral goodness.” That will ring quite phoney as he subsequently castigates the Lord for his alleged cruelty, etc.

Finally, how did the professor determine what constitutes “moral goodness”? He really had not a clue. In an essay titled, “What I Believe,” he penned this shocking statement: “Outside human desires there is no moral standard” (Ibid., 62). Could human conduct ever be judged immoral if “human desire” were the only standard? But let us consider some of Russell’s objections to Jesus and his teaching.

The Existence of Jesus

Incredibly, Mr. Russell wrote: “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him” (Ibid., 16). What shall we say of this?

  • It ignores a vast body of historical evidence which establishes the existence of Jesus. The New Testament documents, Jewish testimony (e.g., Josephus and the Talmud), and Roman history (Tacitus, Suetonius) all declare the historical existence of Christ (see Jackson 1986, 29ff).
  • It is impossible that a religion that has impacted humanity as Christianity has, was grounded in a man who did not even exist.
  • If Christ never existed, why do men like Russell consume so much time opposing him? Do they expend such energy on other “mythical” characters?
  • Most infidels are at least candid enough to concede the existence of Jesus (see Allen 1990, 229).

Defective Teaching

Ignoring his personal inclination—that Christ did not exist—Russell affirmed that Jesus “as He appears in the Gospels,” was quite defective in his teaching. For one thing, he argued, Christ “certainly thought His second coming would occur in the clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time” (Ibid., 16).

He is obviously alluding to Matthew 16:28. Having no concept at all as to how to interpret Scripture, Mr. Russell failed to recognize that the term “coming” is employed in several different senses in the New Testament (see Jackson 2005, 31ff), and that in the passage cited above, the Lord was not speaking of his Second Coming. Rather, he was alluding to a representative coming in his kingdom, which, in fact, occurred on the day of Pentecost (cf. Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:4).

The Moral Problem

Russell alleged that “a very serious defect” in “Christ’s moral character” was that “He believed in hell” (Ibid., 17). The professor declared that “any person who is really profoundly humane” could not believe in everlasting punishment. Hell, he asserted, is a doctrine of “cruelty” (Ibid., 18).

Does this objection have any real validity? It does not, and for the following reasons.

Elsewhere Russell argued that “outside of human desires there is no moral standard” (Ibid., 62), which means he had no business attempting to define what is “humane” or what is “cruel.”

The “hell” of the Bible is eternal separation from the Creator (cf. Matthew 25:41,46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Would the popular philosopher contend that it is humane to force ungodly rebels to spend eternity in the presence of the God they have denied and despised?

Even Russell acknowledged that the punishment of criminals is necessary for the welfare of society (Ibid., 72). He just thinks he knows more than God about how to deal with criminals in eternity (see Jackson 1992, 55-62).

Mr. Russell found fault with Christ in connection with the destruction of the Gadarene swine (Matthew 8:28-34), and the “curious story of the [cursing of] the fig tree,” recorded in Matthew 21 (Ibid., 18-19). As to the narrative regarding the swine we must note: the Son of God, as sovereign over the creation (Colossians 1:16), has a right to use his creatures in any way that is consistent with his plan for the benefit of humanity.

The destruction of the swine was doubtless motivated by a desire to awaken the people of this region to a higher level of spirituality. A parallel narrative clearly indicates that the Gadarene citizens were more concerned with their animals than they were human beings (Mark 5:16-17).

Moreover, there is nothing at all difficult about the record concerning the fig tree. Christ did not blight the fig tree merely because it was not bearing fruit at a time in the year when figs were unavailable. Rather, the tree was one of nature’s oddities. It was leafed out, but without figs. The Palestinean order of a certain species was: figs first, then leaves. The tree gave the appearance of having fruit, but it had none.

It was thus a fitting illustration of the Jewish nation—a people professing fruit, but bearing none. The Savior destroyed the tree as a visual-aid lesson to proclaim the coming doom of national Israel. Of course men like Russell do not take the time to explore the background of a biblical context; they aim to discredit Christ no matter what it takes.

The Emotional Factor

Russell said that men do not accept religion as a result of intellectual argument; rather, they adopt it on “emotional grounds” (Ibid., 19). He illustrated this by suggesting that society is told that if it does not accept Christianity, wickedness will reign. Since most folks do not want a world of this nature, they emotionally embrace the Christian system without carefully analyzing the facts.

We must say two things in response to this.

  1. The same charge could be made regarding unbelief. Atheism is accepted emotionally rather than intellectually. Dr. Joshua Liebman declared that much of atheism has “roots” in the “soil of emotion” long before the unbeliever has been exposed to philosophy or science. Aldous Huxley openly admitted that his rejection of religion was due to the fact that he did not want his sexual freedom hindered! (Jackson 1974, 3).
  2. Christianity is a great deterrent to evil, and no person, who has any respect for the facts of history, will deny this.

Hindrance to Progress

Repudiating history, Russell callously wrote: “I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principle enemy of moral progress in the world” (Ibid., 21). That is a strange statement indeed—particularly in view of other things the philosopher said. For example, elsewhere he wrote: “In antiquity, when male supremacy was unquestioned and Christian ethics were still unknown, women were harmless but rather silly, and a man who took them seriously was somewhat despised” (1950, 101; emphasis added). Again:

Christianity, as soon as it conquered the state, put an end to gladiatorial shows. . . . Christianity also did much to soften the lot of slaves. It established charity on a large scale, and inaugurated hospitals . . . . In a new form, it passed over into modern Liberalism, and remains the inspiration of much that is most hopeful in our somber world (Ibid., 137).

The philosopher was hopelessly confused!

Many of the moral objections the professor entertained against Christianity were really not directed against its pristine form, but rather against modern abuses of the system (e.g., the perversions of the Roman Catholic Church).

Bertrand Russell’s charges against Christianity were without merit. The religion of Jesus Christ shines brighter after every critic’s attack.

REFERENCES
  • Allen, Steve. 1990. Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 1974. Fortify Your Faith. Stockton, CA: Apologetics Press.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 1986. What Think Ye Of Christ? Essays in Apologetics. Vol. 2. Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 1992. The Goodness of God And An Eternal Hell. Essays in Apologetics. Vol. 5. Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 2005. The A.D. 70 Theory—A Review of the Max King Doctrine. Stockton, CA: Courier Publications.
  • Russell, Bertrand. 1950. Unpopular Essays. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Russell, Bertrand. 1957. Why I Am Not a Christian and other essays on religion and related subjects. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Tait, Katharine. 1975. My Father Bertrand Russell. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8, 2:4; Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 8:28-34; Matthew 21; Colossians 1:16; Mark 5:16-17
CITE THIS ARTICLE
Jackson, Wayne. “Bertrand Russell and Christianity, Part 2.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: July 7, 2018. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/16-bertrand-russell-and-christianity-part-2

Image result for bertrand russell

Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:

Image result for francis schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Related posts:

 

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Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 52 The views of Hegel and Bertrand Russell influenced Gareth Stedman Jones of Cambridge!!

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto _________________ Below you have picture of Dr. Harry Kroto:   Gareth Stedman […]

WOODY WEDNESDAY John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

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John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

______ Top 10 Woody Allen Movies PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 01 PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 02 __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 NN Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan discussed by Peter Singer!!!

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British philosopher and social activist Bertrand Russell talking to actress Vanessa Redgrave at a literary luncheon Image result for bertrand russell Bertrand Russell as a child.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 Kroto

Image result for harry kroto

I 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)

__

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.__ Image result for bertrand russell__

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 MM Sir Bertrand Russell’s writings make me think of Norman Geisler’s comment “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist!”

 

I recently read the book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist,” by Norman Geisler. I think of the title of that book when I think about what Francis Schaeffer said about the nature of Bertrand Russell’s faith discussed later in this blog post.

(William Ramsay pictured below and more about him later in this post)

Image result for william mitchell ramsay

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Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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Harold W. Kroto (left) receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, in 1996.

Soren Andersson/AP

Image result for harry kroto nobel prize

 

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Image result for harry kroto

I 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)

__

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._

 

Image result for bertrand russell

Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:

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Francis Schaeffer noted concerning the IMPLICIT FAITH of Bertrand Russell:

I was lecturing at the University of St. Andrews one night and someone put forth the question, “If Christianity is so clear and reasonable then why doesn’t Bertrand Russell then become a Christian? Is it because he hasn’t discovered theology?”

It wasn’t a matter of studying theology that was involved but rather that he had too much faith. I was surrounded by humanists and you could hear the gasps. Bertrand Russell and faith; Isn’t this the man of reason? I pointed out that this is a man of high orthodoxy who will hold his IMPLICIT FAITH on the basis of his presuppositions no matter how many times he has to zig and zag because it doesn’t conform to the facts.

You must understand what the term IMPLICIT FAITH  means. In the old Roman Catholic Church when someone who became a Roman Catholic they had to promise implicit faith. That meant that you not only had to believe everything that Roman Catholic Church taught then but also everything it would teach in the future. It seems to me this is the kind of faith that these people have in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system and they have accepted it no matter what it leads them into. 

I think that these men are men of a high level of IMPLICIT FAITH in their own set of presuppositions. Paul said (in Romans Chapter One) they won’t carry it to it’s logical conclusion even though they hold a great deal of the truth and they have revolted and they have set up a series of universals in themselves which they won’t transgress no matter if they conform to the facts or not.

Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is “the universe and it’s form.”

Romans 1:18-20 Amplified Bible :

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification].

We can actually see the two points makes playing themselves out in Bertrand Russell’s own life.

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[From a letter dated August 11, 1918 to Miss Rinder when Russell was 46]

It is so with all who spend their lives in the quest of something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite. One seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets; at times I have seemed very near it in crowds when I have been feeling strongly what they were feeling; one seeks it in love above all. But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found.
The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact. Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God and to refuse to enter into any earthly communion—at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd isn’t it? I care passionately for this world, and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted—some ghost, from some extra-mundane region, seems always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand the message. 

There was evidence during Bertrand Russell’s own life that indicated that the Bible was true and could be trusted.

 

There was an archaeologist by the name of William Mitchell Ramsay and he had written extensively about the accuracy of the Bible. These books were available to Russell.  Francis Schaeffer discusses William Ramsay’s life below:

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnotes #97 and #98)

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

 

(Under footnote #98)

Acts is a fairly full account of Paul’s journeys, starting in Pisidian Antioch and ending in Rome itself. The record is quite evidently that of an eyewitness of the events, in part at least. Throughout, however, it is the report of a meticulous historian. The narrative in the Book of Acts takes us back behind the missionary journeys to Paul’s famous conversion on the Damascus Road, and back further through the Day of Pentecost to the time when Jesus finally left His disciples and ascended to be with the Father.

But we must understand that the story begins earlier still, for Acts is quite explicitly the second part of a continuous narrative by the same author, Luke, which reaches back to the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all [a]the inhabited earth. [b]This was the first census taken while[c]Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a [d]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the opening sentences of his Gospel, Luke states his reason for writing:

Luke 1:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things[a]accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those whofrom the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellentTheophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.

In Luke and Acts, therefore, we have something which purports to be an adequate history, something which Theophilus (or anyone) can rely on as its pages are read. This is not the language of “myths and fables,” and archaeological discoveries serve only to confirm this.

For example, it is now known that Luke’s references to the titles of officials encountered along the way are uniformly accurate. This was no mean achievement in those days, for they varied from place to place and from time to time in the same place. They were proconsuls in Corinth and Cyprus, asiarchs at Ephesus, politarches at Thessalonica, and protos or “first man” in Malta. Back in Palestine, Luke was careful to give Herod Antipas the correct title of tetrarch of Galilee. And so one. The details are precise.

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W.M. Ramsay

British archaeologist and New Testament scholar

Biography

William Mitchell Ramsay was born on the 15th of March 1851. He was educated at the universities of Aberdden, Oxford and Gottingen, and was a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford (1882; honorary fellow 1898), and Lincoln College (1885; honorary 1899). In 1885 he was elected professor of classical art at Oxford, and in the next year professor of humanity at Aberdeen. From 1880 onwards he traveled widely in Asia Minor and rapidly became the recognized authority on all matters relating to the districts associated with St Paul’s missionary journeys and on Christianity in the early Roman Empire.

He received the honorary degrees of D.C.L. Oxford, LL.D. St Andrews and Glasgow, D.D. Edinburgh, and was knighted in 1906. He was elected a member of learned societies in Europe and America, and has been awarded medals by the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the University of Pennsylvania.

His numerous publications include: The Historical Geography of Asia Minor (1890); The Church in the Roman Empire (1893); The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (2 vols., 1895, 1897); St Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen (1895; Germ. trans., 1898); Impressions of Turkey (1897); Was Christ born at Bethlehem? (1898); Historical Commentary on Galatians (1899); The Education of. Christ (1902); The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (1905); Pauline and other Studies in Early Christian History (1906); Studies in the History and Art of the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire (1906); The Cities of St Paul (1907); Lucan and Pauline Studies (1908); The Thousand and One Churches (with Miss Gertrude L. Bell, 1909); and articles in learned periodicals and the 9th, 10th and 11th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His wife, Lady Ramsay, granddaughter of Dr Andrew Marshall of Kirkintilloch, accompanied him in many of his journeys and is the author of Everyday Life Turkey (1897) and The Romance of Elisavet (1899) .

Works by W.M. Ramsay

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In the Book of Revelation, we find John’s letters to the seven churches of first century Asia Minor, written during the era of the Roman Empire. The seven churches correspond to the seven congregations found in these cities: Ephesus, City of Change; Smyrna, City of Life; Pergamum, City of Authority; Thyatira, City of Weakness Made Strong; Sardis, City of Death; Philadelphia, Missionary City; and Laodicea, City of Compromise. William Ramsay presents these letters to help readers better understand their content as well as the historical context surrounding their authorship.Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia is filled with facts regarding the general importance of letter writing in the Early Church, the mobility of letters during this time period, John’s intentions in writing the Seven Letters, and the influence of religion in the development of first century cities. John’s letters provide historical insight into Greco-Roman culture and geography. They also serve to guide Christians in their spiritual development. Ramsay’s book brings John’s letters into a useful contemporary light.

Ramsay wrote this book to tell the story of Paul’s life as it was documented in the Book of Acts. Before Ramsay begins his study of Paul’s life, he discusses the date, composition, and authorship of Acts. “The first and the essential quality of the great historian is truth,” says Ramsay. Of the four types of historical writing, namely, romance, legend, second rate history, and first rate history, Ramsay classifies the Book of Acts as first rate historical writing. The characterization of Paul found in Acts contains such individualized detail that the author could not have gathered this information by any means other than personal acquaintances and original sources. As such, Ramsay believes that the author of Acts has attained a superior mark of historical accuracy and literary trustworthiness.St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen contains an excellent study of the Book of Acts as well as of Paul’s life and travels in first century Asia, Greece, and Rome.

In 19th century schools of theology in Continental Europe, it had become fashionable to be skeptical about any traditional doctrine about the Bible. Many academic theologians denied the divinity of Christ, and others claimed that Paul’s letters were forgeries. Ramsay, while he used some of the same critical methods as his academic peers, was nevertheless able to counter their arguments effectively. Having spent years in Asia Minor studying the missionary journeys of Paul and the Apostles, Ramsay had become an expert on the New Testament’s historical documents. He argues that Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke, was as reliable an historian as any other in the first century. Thus in answer to the question, “Was Christ born in Bethlehem?” Ramsay answers: “Yes. We can trust Luke’s Gospel.”

Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

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John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

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THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

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On 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 Kroto__

Harold W. Kroto (left) receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, in 1996.

Soren Andersson/APImage result for harry kroto nobel prize __Image 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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Bertrand Russell sobre Dios (1959) subtitulado

Link:

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 favour 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.Q: I was thinking of those people who find that some kind of religious code helps them to live their lives. It gives them a very strict set of rules, the rights and the wrongs.Russell: Yes, but those rules are generally quite mistaken. A great many of them do more harm than good. And they would probably be able to find arational morality that they could live by if they dropped this irrational traditional taboo morality that comes down from savage ages.Q: But are we, perhaps the ordinary person perhaps isn’t strong enough to find this own personal ethic. They have to have something imposed upon them from outside.Russell: Oh, I don’t think that’s true, and what is imposed on you from outside is of no value whatever. It doesn’t count.Q: Well, you were brought up, of course, as a Christian. When did you first decide that you did not want to remain a believer in the Christian ethic?Russell: I never decided that I didn’t want to remain a believer. I decided… between the ages of 15 and 18, I spent almost all my spare time thinking about Christian dogmas, and trying to find out whether there was any reason to believe them. And by the time I was 18, I’d discarded the last of them.Q: Do you think that that gave you an extra strength in your life?Russell: Oh, I don’t… no, I should’t have said so, neither extra strength nor the opposite. I mean, I was just engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.Q: As you approach the end of life, do you have any fear of some kind of afterlife, or do you feel that that is just…Russell: Oh, no, I think that’s nonsense.Q: There is no afterlife?Russell: None whatever.Q: Do you have any fear of something that is common amongst atheists and agnostics, who have been atheists or agnostics all their lives, who are converted just before they die, to a form of religion?Russell: Well, you know, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as religious people think it does. Because religious people, most of them, think that it’s a virtuous act to tell lies about the death beds of agnostics and such. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t happen very often. ____________ SUMMER 2011

Can We Be Good Without God?

By Craig J. Hazen

It’s been fascinating to watch the very vocal and prolific new atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, make a case for objective morality. The phrase “objective morality” is a way of indicating that some behaviors are right (truth telling, kindness, tolerance) and some behaviors are wrong (rape, murder, racism) — for real. Morality is not just a matter of personal preference and choice (akin to liking peanuts better than almonds), but rather laws that are real and true and binding no matter what one thinks about them or whether one chooses to follow them.

The reason it has been fun to watch the new atheists defend this idea is because atheists of an earlier generation (such as J.L. Mackie and Bertrand Russell) thought it folly to do so. Classic atheists from the mid-20th century were very reluctant to grant that there was an objective moral law because they saw that it was just too compelling for believers to take the easy step from the moral law to God who was the “moral law giver.” Accepting a real objective moral law would be giving far, far too much ground to the Christians and other theists.

In my view, this shift in attitude toward moral values among the new atheists is an indicator that our work in Christian apologetics and philosophy has had an impact. I can’t count the times when in forums on various college campuses more traditional atheists and agnostics have had to squirm under the questioning from me or my colleagues about basic moral questions.

“Is it wrong to torture babies for fun?” “Is it wrong to treat a person as subhuman because she has darker skin?” As you can imagine, if an atheist were to answer “no,” or “well, it depends,” or “I prefer not to do these things, but how can I judge others,” to these questions he would be running into some real trouble with the audience. Whether the audience is filled with conservative Christians or radical unbelievers, people in our culture have an aversion to those who waffle or dodge on such fundamental and obvious moral values.

I think the new atheists got tired of being in such a public relations conundrum, so they began embracing basic morality as some sort of natural feature of the physical universe. They now tend to maintain that there are objective morals, but that these morals did not come from God. Is it wrong to torture babies for fun? Of course it’s wrong, says the new atheist. Goal accomplished. No more looking like an uncaring monster on stage in debates with Christians.

On the one hand, I think the new atheists have been helped in public discourse by their recent adoption of rudimentary moral values. One rarely feels now like one is being addressed by an amoral scoundrel when a new atheist is speaking in public. On the other hand, the new atheist now suffers from a problem that the old atheists would have quickly warned them about: How in the world are we going to explain where these objective moral values came from?

The primary technique the new atheists have adopted for dealing with the issue of the origin or grounding of the moral law is obfuscation. The new atheists are very fond of saying, “We don’t need God to be good.” Indeed, they often say that atheists, agnostics and skeptics often lead more wholesome lives than lifelong professing Christians. Now, theists should not be fooled by this. Our response should be, “Of course you don’t need God to be good — we’ve never claimed that you do.” You see, it is not knowledge (epistemology) of the moral law that is a problem — after all, the Bible teaches that this law is written on every human heart. Rather, the daunting problem for the new atheist is the nature and source (ontology) of the moral law. Here are some questions you can ask Richard Dawkins the next time you sit next to him on a bus:

• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?

The old atheists did not want to have to face questions like these, so they simply denied the reality of objective moral values. The new atheists have thrown the door open. Let’s not make it easy for them. Let’s ask the hard questions in a winsome and engaging way.

Craig J. Hazen is the director of Biola’s M.A. in Christian apologetics and M.A. in science and religion programs. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.”_______________Let me challenge these NEW atheists to watch the film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS by Woody Allen.

DISCUSSING FILMS AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS
By Everette Hatcher III

“Existential subjects to me are still the only subjects worth dealing with. I don’t think that one can aim more deeply than at the so-called existential themes, the spiritual themes.” WOODY ALLENEvangelical Chuck Colson has observed that it used to be true that most Americans knew the Bible. Evangelists could simply call on them to repent and return. But today, most people lack understanding of biblical terms or concepts. Colson recommends that we first attempt to find common ground to engage people’s attention. That then may open a door to discuss spiritual matters.Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is an excellent icebreaker concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt MaySol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)The secularist can only give incomplete answers to these questions: How could you have convinced Judah not to kill? On what basis could you convince Judah it was wrong for him to murder?As Christians, we would agree with Judah ‘s father that “The eyes of God are always upon us.” Proverbs 5:21 asserts, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Revelation 20:12 states, “…And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books” (Amplified Version). The Bible is revealed truth from God. It is the basis for our morality. Judah inherited the Jewish ethical values of the Ten Commandments from his father, but, through years of life as a skeptic, his standards had been lowered. Finally, we discover that Judah ‘s secular version of morality does not resemble his father’s biblically-based morality.Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS forces unbelievers to grapple with the logical conclusions of a purely secular morality. It opens a door for Christians to find common ground with those whom they attempt to share Christ; we all have to deal with personal morality issues. However, the secularist has no basis for asserting that Judah is wrong.Larry King actually mentioned on his show, LARRY KING LIVE, that Chuck Colson had discussed the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with him. Colson asked King if life was just a Darwinian struggle where the ruthless come out on top. Colson continued, “When we do wrong, is that our only choice? Either live tormented by guilt, or else kill our conscience and live like beasts?” (BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY, “Finding Common Ground,” September 14, 1993)Later, Colson noted that discussing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with King presented the perfect opportunity to tell him about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Colson believes the Lord is working on Larry King. How about your neighbors? Is there a way you can use a movie to find common ground with your lost friends and then talk to them about spiritual matters?

(Caution: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is rated PG-13. It does include some adult themes.)

Access this on the web at www.excelstillmore.com/html/beinformed/article1.shtml .(Originally published in December 2003 edition of Excel Magazine)______________[From a letter dated August 11, 1918 to Miss Rinder when Russell was 46]It is quite true what you say, that you have never expressed yourself—but who has, that has anything to express? The things one says are all unsuccessful attempts to say something else—something that perhaps by its very nature cannot be said. I know that I have struggled all my life to say something that I never shall learn how to say. And it is the same with you. It is so with all who spend their lives in the quest of something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite. One seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets; at times I have seemed very near it in crowds when I have been feeling strongly what they were feeling; one seeks it in love above all. But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found.
The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact. Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God and to refuse to enter into any earthly communion—at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd isn’t it? I care passionately for this world, and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted—some ghost, from some extra-mundane region, seems always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand the message. But it is from listening to the ghost that one comes to feel oneself a ghost. I feel I shall find the truth on my deathbed and be surrounded by people too stupid to understand—fussing about medicines instead of searching for wisdom. Love and imagination mingled; that seems the main thing so far._________________

Image result for bertrand russell

Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:Image result for francis schaefferFrancis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

_Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

____ Related posts:

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Pausing to take a look at the life of HARRY KROTO Part C (Kroto’s admiration of Bertrand Russell examined)

Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 52 The views of Hegel and Bertrand Russell influenced Gareth Stedman Jones of Cambridge!!

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto _________________ Below you have picture of Dr. Harry Kroto:   Gareth Stedman […]

WOODY WEDNESDAY John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

Top 10 Woody Allen Movies __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were  atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 (More On) Woody Allen’s Atheism As I wrote in a previous post, I like Woody Allen. I have long admired his […]

John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

______ Top 10 Woody Allen Movies PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 01 PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 02 __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 KK Sir Bertrand Russell on the Existence of God

Sir Bertrand Russell

Image result for bertrand russell
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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)

__

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.Review below I got off the internet:“Why I am not a Christian”
A little background
Bertrand Russell died on the 2nd February, 1970, aged 97. He led a long and active life, often controversial
in his attachments and commitments, and he has had a profound effect on the way we think about truth. He
is famous for his work on mathematics and philosophy, and was a pioneer of ‘logical positivism’. He was a
man who was certainly consistent in the outworkings of his beliefs – he argued that human beings are not
monogamous, opposed the laws against homosexuality (at the time) as well as endorsing sexual relations
between unmarried people. He was married four times, and engaged in several extra-marital liaisons, including
one with T. S. Eliot’s wife Vivien Haigh-Wood. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that Eliot
wrote so critically of Russell’s famous 1927 public lecture, “Why I am not a Christian”.
So why critique what is, after all, a rather old and dated public lecture?
The first reason for this paper is that there has been a resurgence of reprints of such material in recent times.
The version I am referring to here was reprinted under Routledge Classics in 2005, and has a preface by
Simon Blackburn, dated 2003 – it is very clear that as you read Blackburn’s introductory comments, and indeed
his attempted refutation of T. S. Eliot’s early criticism, that the atheist lobby regard this work as a significant
one.
The second reason occurred to me only as read through the lecture, having already become acquainted with
the writings of the ‘new atheists’ such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Dan Dennett.
These guys have clearly drunk deeply at the fountain of Bertrand Russell’s output – indeed one encounters
in their writings most of the ideas expressed in the 1927 lecture, albeit tweaked for a more modern
audience. Richard Dawkins’ insistence that religion is only perpetuated by beating it into the young minds
of children is a direct throwback to Russell who says, “Most people believe in God because they have been
taught from infancy to do it, and that is the main reason.”
So there is good reason for another look at Russell’s keynote speech. Because the ‘new atheists’ are running
out of new ideas, they are increasingly having recourse to the old ones – and you don’t get much more
trenchant than this example. And because the (flawed) new rhetoric for the new atheism is built upon the
(equally flawed) foundations laid by Russell, it surely is time for a fresh look.
And there is a third key reason for Christians to look at “Why I am not a Christian”. Many of us have lived
in awe of the great philosophers such as Bertrand Russell. Our default behaviour has often been to avoid
their writings, on the basis that these are going to be arguments that are too clever for us to engage with.
Our fear of these intellectuals probably does not go so far as to suspect that reading their writings might
damage our faith – but we certainly pull back from engaging with them on the assumption that we have little
to say in response. The reality is quite different. In Russell’s case, the brain capable of writing “Principia
Mathematica” is a daunting adversary to take on, but as you dig into his writings on faith and spirituality,
you suddenly realise that he is just like anyone else. Russell exhibits the same capacity for non-sequiturs, for
the substitution of sentiment or prejudice for logic, for fallacious argument as any other protagonist of a
keenly-held viewpoint.Methodology
It is impossible to reference page numbers in this critique – as it is quite likely that readers may not recognise
them, depending upon the reprint you may have access to. I have therefore taken steps to attach the complete
text of Russell’s public lecture, reproduced verbatim, at the rear of these notes. My intention is to reference
the relevant sections in my comment, and recommend that readers consult the original text. At the
very least you will be able to see that I am not treating Russell as he does the Bible – by wresting verses for
mistreatment out of their context, in order to present to us a parody of Christian truth that most of us would
rightly reject. You will therefore find my critique following the exact subject headings that appear in the
original lecture – hopefully this will help you marry up my comment with the original text. For any thoughtful
Christian, our engagement with this kind of material should be an absolute revelation – it opens the door
to understanding the thought-world and methodology of the writer, and this in turn lays bare his motivations
and intellectual honesty. Enjoy!
What is a Christian?
Russell’s comments here reveal quite a specific social context. Note his introductory phrase: “We have to be
a little more vague in our meaning of Christianity “ – he is writing at a time when the depredations of liberal
theology are beginning to exert their maximum critical effect on the public’s perception of Christianity. He
cannot bring himself to define his subject with the kind of objectivity that we might regard as essential – and
so he presents for our delectation a kind of watered-down, minimum requirement version of what it means
to be a Christian. Such ‘vagueness’ is a symptom of cultural conditioning.
There are two things we might say about this. Firstly, that Russell (like all of us) is to an extent a product of
his circumstances – it is not his fault that the established Christian church has succumbed to the ravages of
higher criticism, and clearly he cannot see into the future when more robust scholarship seeks to undo the
damage. It is therefore unfair to judge him too harshly on this point. But, more importantly (and secondly),
it is essential to understand that this famous speech of Bertrand Russell’s commences with his own, personal,
definition of what a Christian is. True Christians, who both know their Bibles, and also have a living
experience of Christ will be able to easily unpick Russell’s preliminary definition and find it lacking.
And, of course, it is worth pointing out the obvious: this is Russell’s starting point. If he manages to present
us with such a dodgy definition, upon which to base his successive arguments – then we can quite reasonably
question the validity of what follows.
The Existence of God
This is a brief section in the original, and merely prefaces Russell’s attempt to deal with the various arguments
for the existence of God. He starts by accepting that this is “a large and serious question, and if I were
to attempt to deal with it in any adequate manner I should have to keep you here until Kingdom Come…”
All well and good, but note the mental envelope which frames his consideration – “…the Catholic Church has
laid it down as a dogma that the existence of God can be proved by unaided reason.” It is clear that his pespective is that of the Catholic Church, which presupposes that human reason is adequate to this task on its
own. Catholicism has long endorsed the a priori beliefs of humanism, namely that the human intellect is free
and capable on its own to reason its way to a position of truth – and whilst I appreciate that this is likely to
raise as many questions as it solves, this is not what the Bible teaches.
It is not central to our consideration here to go off into what is a secondary issue, namely the natural ability
of the non-christian mind to reason accurately when it comes to the abiding truths about God. A quick review
of world religious views ought to encourage us away from such a belief – and, indeed, the Bible is entirely
clear and specific about the matter.
What is critical here is Russell’s assumption that human reason is enough. It is because of this that he now
engages in this brief review of a series of arguments which do, admittedly, often work in two directions at
once. And because it is all about unaided human reason, then he considers himself perfectly positioned to
trump these arguments – faith in God thereby becomes a casualty of the kinds of sleight of hand that subtle
words and rhetoric inflict upon us. Indeed, this is a common theme with the new atheists such as Hitchens –
where the clever sound-bite is designed to emasculate a more thoughtful consideration of the subject.
Again, as in the previous section, what is clear is that Russell’s target in this address is not that of biblical
Christianity. Readers would do well to recognise a straw man when it presented to us at the beginning of
this treatment.
The First-Cause Argument
Firstly, let it be said that I’ve never been entirely persuaded by this argument, and certainly don’t think it
should be placed central stage. Neverless, it does feel here as if Russell is dispensing just a little to casually
with the idea that things or events have causes. Not so long ago, popularist scientific publications were full
of concepts such as ‘chaos theory’ – where seemingly random events in one part of the world have their primary
or secondary causes elsewhere. More recently, there have been reputable attempts to establish ‘cause’
for human behaviour or morbidity within the genome – but of course a working model is never going to be
that simplistic. It does seem here as if Russell is falling into the trap of attempting a simplistic demolition of
the argument he purports to be addressing – “There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning
at all”.
Is the ‘first cause’ argument to be disposed of on the basis that there are, in fact, no causes? That would be
childish, but Russell’s argument is hinting at it here. What, however, is more to the core of the issue is to be
found in “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” Is this, I wonder, where unaided
philosophy gets us? Of course, the Bible states quite clearly that not only was God the ‘first cause’, but also
that he Himself had no cause. The proposition is advanced, not to prove the existence of God, but merely to
state the dogmatic nature of the facts. Russell’s phrase “everything must have a cause” implies that God is,
somehow, made of the same stuff as the universe He created. He is, according to this viewpoint, part of
“everything” – and yet biblical revelation makes it quite clear that he is ‘other’ from created things. He is
defined as the creator, rather than as a function or part of the created order. Thus the ‘first cause’ argument
does not entirely succumb to Russell’s attack here.It is not too difficult to anticipate the atheist response to what I have just said – it appears repeatedly in the
writings of Dawkins, Hitchens et al. They express varying degrees of protestation against this argument –
the statement that “God is” (and therefore has no beginning) is an ‘unfair’ trump argument. Interestingly,
the more convolutedly cerebral members of their fraternity have in recent years attempted a similar kind of
solution of their own – the multiverse, or megaverse, or ‘landscape’ posits a myriad of parallel universes
which constantly recycle into each other, thus avoiding the need for any kind of first cause (or at least deferring
the problem to some remote, invisible point). This, of course, involves a step of faith that makes Christian
belief look positively pedestrian in comparison. So, atheists are capable of the profoundest leaps of faith,
when needs must.
The Natural Law Argument
This is an intriguing section, as it is not at all clear whether Russell is simply engaging in a little humour,
simply to keep his audience entertained, rather than seriously engage with the subject. Again, this is not
that different to the ‘new atheists’ who frequently appear to be playing to the gallery (just watch Richard
Dawkins addressing the faithful). Sir Isaac Newton’s perspective on gravity is dispensed with somewhat
frivolously – “That was, of course, a convenient and simple explanation that saved them the trouble of looking
any further for explanations of the law of gravitation”. So trivially do we toy with past insights.
And indeed, the refutation of these ‘natural laws’ helps us to ignore that there are universal laws (such as
gravity), although our understanding of their complexity has altered over the years. Indeed, Russell in his
refutation takes us in a direction that I suspect would be shouted down by many modern neo-darwinists –
“…the laws at which you arrive are statistical averages of just the sort that would emerge from chance.” In
fact, he is so smitten by this exact phrase that he repeats it again for emphasis. Having participated in many
atheist forums over the years, I can only imagine the howls of outrage that would greet my interpretation of
natural selection (the new unquestionable mantra) that life evolved by chance. Many new atheists would
identify a high degree of determinism within the whole process of the evolution of life, which could not possibly
admit to ‘chance’. That is to say, they would argue that processes are deterministic and are governed,
effectively, by the very natural laws that Russell would deprecate. Just read the sneering reviews of Prof.
Stephen Meyer’s book “Signature in the cell” on Amazon or on atheist forums if you require further proof.
Russell’s approach with the ‘natural law argument’ is to seek to dig away at it, rather than demolish it entirely.
He raises a set of subsidiary quibbles (such as “Why did God issue just those natural laws and no
others?”), none of which are conclusive on their own, but when taken in the aggregate appear to negate the
argument. I would contend that this is dishonest strategy, as the implication is that he is well-aware that
each of these little digs are inadequate. Indeed, from a Christian perspective the one just cited in parentheses
is just such an argument. If God is creator and lawgiver, why should we deny Him the prerogative of
establishing only those laws that He wishes to? Why, as created beings, do we think we have the right to
suggest other laws that we think He should have included in the package? This is somewhat akin to a passenger
on a Boeing 747 criticising the designers for not including a nuclear-powered bidet in the washroom
(although this might be more capable of refreshing the mind than Russell’s rhetoric).Indeed, Russell’s migration towards this kind of bit-by-bit undermining strategy is persuasive proof of an
underlying intention to deceive, for we have already perceived, via his other writings, that he is clevererthan that. The critical reader would do well to read this section quite carefully, as it reveals a somewhat
fragmentary and intermittent use of logic – wherein the individual elements are far from naturally dependent
upon the preceding statements or arguments. We arrive at the astonishing conclusion that “…God Himself
was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary.”
One is left wondering, ‘Is this really the best that atheists can muster?” Perhaps it is, if one’s view of a Creator-God
is that he is small and insignificant enough to be entirely susceptible to finite human reason.
To Russell’s credit, it may be that he has become so used to dealing with the woolly liberalism of the established
church (at that time) that he has become lazy when constructing his arguments – “As we come to
modern times, they (intellectual arguments) become less respectable intellectually and more and more affected
by a kind of moralising vagueness.” What C. H. Spurgeon had described in the late 19th Century as
the ‘downgrade’ of Christian theology had led to an establishment that Russell could play with in this manner,
and convince himself that he was winning the argument.
The Argument from Design
As he addresses this issue, Russell says “It is an easy argument to parody”. And so he does. After all, it is
easy to do.
This section engages in a profound dishonesty with his listeners. His fundamental, underlying principle, is
that if something (in the natural world) looks designed, then it cannot be. The assumption is that the appearance
of design is merely that, an appearance. The argument against design presupposes that there cannot be
an intelligence behind it: it rests wholly on the a priori assumption of naturalism.
There is much we could say about this. We could say that, wherever else we look in the world, if something
looks designed, then it generally is. We could say that evolutionary theory does not yet provide us with a
scientific model of how organisms could evolve in the absolute sense to fit their (many, varied) environments
– merely that there is sufficient redundancy in our DNA to allow micro-adaptation to changes. We
could say that, at the molecular level, there is profound and convincing evidence of intelligent design (which
Russell did not have access to). What we can say, without much fear of contradiction, is that Russell’s confident
assertions are not justified by the state of the science at that time. This has been a constant theme with
the secularist establishment ever since Darwin – the public have the optimistic assumptions of future research
foisted on them as current fact.
And, we could say that Russell’s sneering view of the world (“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?”) works both ways – given natural selection’s pseudointelligent
control of organisms’ adaptation, plus millions and millions of years, is that the best it can do? Of
course my response is as much a non-argument as Russell’s – there are better things than the Ku Klux Klan or
Fascists, and many of them are denied by atheists! And, of course, Russell is neatly sidestepping the Christian
contention that the ‘best’ of this world is far from being what it ought to be, by reason of human sin.
This section highlights Russell’s use of unsupported assumptions – that the moon, for instance, is an example
of what the earth will end up like (does he believe that the moon once supported life?), and it also lays bare
his ultimate nihilism. For his view is that intelligent life is, ultimately, a transient thing. He sees a futureuniverse where the products of human civilisation lay cold and lifeless with mankind in its permanent
grave. But none of this matters, he says, because it will be so far into the future that nobody will care, no-one
will worry about it. Business as usual. As long as the buses keep running, that’s OK then.
Apparently, none of us will concern ourselves about this. Apparently, the certainty of oblivion will not
change our behaviour, and we will carry on regardless. Well, clearly, Russell had not at that stage anticipated
Global Warming – this is something which motivates people enormously, regardless of the robustness
of the science. Indeed, belief in Global Warming is, to all intents and purposes, the new religion of the early
21st Century: disagreeing with the whole concept is becoming the modern equivalent of holocaust-denial.
There is, incidentally, another aspect to this argument. We could contend that Russell’s nihilism has affected
us. We live in an age of greater futility and powerlessness than ever before. An increasing proportion of our
western population lives as if there were no real purpose for their lives. The obsession with entertainment
and with instant gratification, fed by the mushrooming of personal debt prove that, in a secular world, our
response to Russell’s pointless existence is to simply ignore the future and pretend that we don’t have one.
Why, otherwise, would we mortgage our futures for shiny trinkets?
The Moral Arguments for Deity
To my mind this is a relatively brief and insignificant section in the lecture. Certainly, Russell appears to
dispense with the issue with brevity and also with quite a bit of ambiguity. At root, this argument is about
our perception of ‘right and wrong’ – is there a difference between the two concepts? Russell keeps his own
counsel here, and goes on to consider the basis for discerning between right and wrong – but one is left with
the suspicion that, in practice, his solution was to either ignore such minor issues, or alternatively redefine
the concepts to suit whatever situation applied at the time.
And if there is a difference between right and wrong, then “..is that difference due to God’s fiat or not?” At
this point, the question forms the pivot between the two worldviews of the atheist and the theist. For the
former, if there is a difference, then it is of an entirely humanistic or situational nature. For the latter, such
concepts are rooted in the very being of a Creator God – and therefore at this juncture, Russell’s logic appears
to go hopelessly awry: “If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God Himself there is no difference between right
and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good.” Why on earth should that
be?
How can Russell actually argue that if God defines what is right or wrong, then He Himself must somehow
be indifferent to, or independent of the concepts? I suppose that this is only possible if one regards God as a
bit like us – a limited being, who decides on a moral issue either by reference to some external benchmark or
by reference to His own arbitrary preferences at the time. In fact, from a biblical perspective, neither is true.
The standards of moral behaviour, which He expects from us, flow out of his own moral nature. If God is, as
the Bible posits, an infinite and sovereign being, why should He not erect standards for His creation which
reflect His own being – why should not He be the ultimate benchmark? There is a difference between us being
subject to God’s moral laws, and for Him to act consistently with His own moral nature. The issue of
morality, in part, flows out of the concept of us, as created beings, bearing the ‘image’ of God – and the moral
laws are a restatement of what it means to share that image.The Argument for the Remedying of Injustice
It is not easy to discern in this section where Russell’s logic is taking him. One has to admit the possibility
that it is because his line of reasoning simply escapes me, although it is not inappropriate to interrogate his
position when it appears to crystallise into something that is malleable to critique. Hence, towards the end
of this (brief) section, Russell begins to wrap up with, “…that is really what a scientific person would argue
about the universe. He would say, ‘Here we find in this world a great deal of injustice and so far as that
goes that is a reason for supposing that justice does not rule in the world; and therefore so far as it goes it
affords a moral argument against deity and not in favour of one’.”
This is an intriguingly perverse line of argument. He commences with the observation that injustice is widespread,
and that in fact, justice is not the prevailing principle. This in fact is precisely what the Bible tells us
about a world where men choose their own versions of ‘justice’ rather than abiding by God’s standards of
integrity and uprightness. But rather than conclude that his observation is consistent with the biblical
proposition, Russell then apparently turns the argument on its head.
What Russell therefore appears to be saying is that a ‘scientific person’ would choose to ignore the precise
corroboration between the (biblical) data and the real world, and somewhat arbitrarily arrive at an alternative
conclusion. He ignores the fact that justice (and indeed injustice) is important to us, and yet despite the
priority we apparently assign to it, that there is still a predominance of injustice around us. Instead he prefers
to resolve the issue, from a religious perspective, in some kind of forlorn hope in an afterlife to remediate the
injustice experienced during this life – yet that is not (again) a representation of the Christian hope, where we
seek to establish similar standards of uprightness in this world to what God has declared in the Bible. And
of course, in Russell’s worldview, there is no ultimate arbiter of justice – the Hitlers and Pol Pots of this
world receive, in his eyes, exactly the same ultimate recompense as Mother Theresa or Thomas Barnardo.
The writer of Ecclesiastes would rightly declare this position as ‘futile’.
However, before he leads us into more crass conclusions consistent with a blind, pitiless universe where the
cries for justice are ignored, Russell is careful to terminate his argument by reminding us that most people
are not, in any case, motivated by intellectual argument (presumably, he means when they adopt a faith position),
but rather believe in God because they’ve been brainwashed from childhood. He sees that as the
“main reason” for religious belief.
It is difficult to determine whether this is a culturally-influenced perspective, rather than a considered reason.
Perhaps people back in 1927 were generally rather more ‘churchy’ than they are now? Judging by the
statistics relating to church attendance in the West, that certainly appears likely – but how then are we to
treat with the more modern regurgitations of this contention, in the writings of the ‘new atheists’ such as
Richard Dawkins. The latter makes a big deal of this argument in his polemic, ‘The God Delusion’. Apparently,
whilst children are quite capable of unlearning fictions such as Father Christmas, they do not possess
the capacity to repeat the exercise when it comes to God. And, of course, the whole argument depends upon
the notion that myriads of youngsters in the West are having faith beaten into them from a very early age –
and this, we know, is far from being true (if it ever was). The argument seems to me to be a convenient,
dismissive and entirely simplistic explanation for why people choose to believe what they do.
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Indeed, this brief paragraph towards the end of this section does raise as big a question for Russell. If people
choose to believe in (or not believe in) God for emotional, or reasons other than intellectual conviction,
would that principle apply equally well to the devout secularist? Presumably, in his thought-world, the
only people capable of intellectual argument are atheists.
The Character of Christ
Thus far we have seen that Russell’s rhetoric is very far from living up to all the hype. It is, predictably,
when he comes to more directly engage with the biblical data, that his treatment slips more ignominiously
into the mire. Firstly, he commits the vanity of concluding that he is more in agreement with Christ than
many Christians, and seeks to prove his point by mis-citing two sayings of Christ, using the a kind of preDawkinsian
disdain for context. Most Christians, who know their New Testaments will be able to interpret
Christ’s meaning simply by referencing the immediate context – and arrive at quite a different conclusion to
Russell.
A little later, he seizes on the encounter between Christ and the ‘rich young ruler’ where our Lord encourages
the latter to sell all that he has, give it to the poor…and follow Him. Except, of course, Russell completely
excises the last little bit, showing that he has utterly and completely failed to understand the passage in context
– I wonder if he has picked this example in order to remind his audience of the fact that he gave away
his own inheritance? Is Russell suggesting to us that he was able to do the one thing which the rich young
ruler could not, and therefore is more deserving of merit? For a man whose antics were subject to considerable
moral comment, this might well have been an important motivation.
This, of course, is merely a brief preliminary in order to educate his audience in…
Defects in Christ’s Teaching
Here we experience more of the same. There’s the odd little gem, such as “Historically, it’s quite doubtful
whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him…” Russell is something
of a victim of early higher criticism, which so confidently and with so little intellectual basis, excised
the significance of the historical content of the biblical narratives. Thankfully, we know a great deal more
now than we did in 1927, not that this prevents modern-day atheists from referencing the likes of Russell
when it suits them.
From this inauspicious start, he embarks on an exercise in obfuscation, seeking to interpret texts that Christ
uses of His resurrection, to apply to His second coming. Nobody denies how important it is to exegete such
passages carefully, but there’s not even a token effort here – thus Russell leaps to the conclusion that Christ is
simply wrong, or lacking in wisdom – if, of course, He even existed. Which He probably didn’t, because of
course there is no historical validity to the Gospel narratives…so why, then, is Russell even discussing the
wisdom of Christ’s teaching?
Yep, it beggars belief, doesn’t it? The very same sources which Russell would decry as being non-valid, are
the sources he uses to prove that there were defects in Christ’s teaching. This is the ‘penny and the bun’ method of argument, and one finds significant similarities between this and the writings of Christopher
Hitchens.
And, so we come to…
The Moral Problem
Interesting, isn’t it, that Russell is happy to raise the issue of the ‘moral problem’ in relation to the person of
Christ, when in the earlier section dealing with moral issues, he seems to affect more than a slight degree of
ambivalence about the topic? Somehow, all becomes black and white when it comes to pronouncing largely
baseless verdicts on the incarnate Son of God!
This is probably not the place to get embroiled in a lengthy treatment of the nature of hell, or its moral validity.
It is worth starting by understanding where Russell is coming from – note the following statement: “I do
not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in eternal punishment.” There
is a magic word in there which I want to underscore – “feel”. Whilst our ‘feelings’ are no doubt valid, hitherto
Russell appears to have been at great pains to emphasise the superiority of intellectual argument over
emotion or other bases for belief. Here, however, when he comes to treat with what is admittedly a very
challenging topic, what appears to be important is what he ‘feels’ about it.
I am not seeking to diminish the importance of whatever Russell did or did not ‘feel’ about the subject, but
in the context of this discourse, it is important to understand what he is saying. I do not, for instance, ‘feel’
that the speeding ticket I received on a straight stretch of road, where there has never been an accident, is
‘fair’ – but my ‘feelings’ on the matter are unlikely to alter the end result. I will receive a fixed penalty and
see three points on my licence: my ‘feelings’ have absolutely no relevance to the ultimate truth of the matter.
But let’s move on. Because we pass from the debatable issue of Russell’s ‘feelings’ to his treatment of
Christ’s words about hell in the Gospels. He (correctly) acknowledges that our Lord does, in several places,
issue warnings to His listeners about hell, but then (quite incorrectly) gives us the following gloss: “ ..and
one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching.”
Russell does not like the fact that Christ’s utterances about this subject are passionate, heartfelt, earnest and
brimming with conviction – he prefers the model of Socrates (who might not have existed by Russell’s own
standards) who is more “…bland and urbane towards the people who would not listen to him…”. He really
does not like the fact that Christ “…takes the line of indignation…”
This is really too much. If hell is real (and after all, if anyone would know the truth of the matter, it would
probably be the Son of God), then surely it needs to be spoken about with conviction and passion – not with
the kind of mealy-mouthed urbanity that Russell appears to applaud. He says, “I really do not think that a
person with a proper degree of kindliness in his nature would have put fears and terrors of that sort into the
world.” No, such a person, would presumably avoid warning people of their danger. Such a person, if he
was even aware of the existence of hell, would present the matter in the most neutral or non-alarmist way
possible. He would paint the moral options in pastel colours. And, of course, he would apply exactly the
same logic to every other danger that humanity might face – so no more road warnings, no more danger
signs on the railways or at electricity substations, no more government health warnings on ciggies – after all,
they might just engender fear and anxiety. And that would be wrong, right?
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Russell continues relentlessly with this kind of misrepresentation: “…and He goes on about the wailing and
gnashing of teeth. It comes in one verse after another, and it is quite manifest to the reader that there is a
certain pleasure in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth…” Well, it doesn’t occur to this reader! In
fact, when you read about Christ weeping over Jerusalem, the message is quite clear: Christ evinces no
pleasure in contemplating the end results of the moral choices we make for ourselves. Quite the reverse.
The repeated warnings are indeed a sign of great heartfelt concern and love towards a generation which
consistently, absolutely and irrevocably will not listen to Him.
Towards the end of this tortuous section, Russell parodies for us Christ’s encounter with the Gadarene
swine, when He sends the demons into the sea, and tops this feat with the judgment of the non-fruiting figtree.
Both parodies are heavily dependent upon a wholehearted disavowal of the role of either context of
cultural background. Just a little enquiry into the matter would have provided an entirely different insight
into the significance of the passages in question – I strongly suspect that Russell would be loathe to display
the same cavalier approach towards any other kind of literary source.
The Emotional Factor
This is a brief section within the whole, and is largely dependent upon the argument previously advanced,
which is reiterated here: “…I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion has anything to do
with argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds…”
This is altogether too simplistic a view to treat with much respect. As we have already seen, Russell himself
is as prone to deciding issues of religious truth based upon what he feels, and the canon of atheist literature
is littered with similar examples. Indeed a number of modern-day atheists have actually been remarkably
open about the matter – they acknowledge that the stance they take on science is entirely influenced by what
they feel about the nature of reality and purpose.
It is this aspect of the simplistic diagnosis that is perhaps the most frustrating when, as a Christian, one seeks
to engage effectively with the proponents of Russell’s style of atheism – for he continues the trend towards
the end of this brief section where he attributes all barriers to improvement or progress as deriving from organised
Christianity. One does not, for one moment, minimise the significance of nominal religion as a hindrance
to progress, but the reality is that our hospitals, hospices, schools, colleges, orphanages etc owe a
fundamental debt to principled and convinced Christians. Thomas Barnado set up his orphanages despite
the opposition of secular authorities – and the same is true in respect of those engaged in the abolition of
slavery or child exploitation. No, the picture is not absolutely black and white – but we live in a messy
world where people’s motives and actions are at times confused and counterproductive. Unfortunately, Bertrand
Russell appears to wish to live in a world of simplistic caricatures.
How Churches Have Retarded Progress
Russell’s explanation of how Christian belief may (or may not) have been an obstacle to progress again centres
on the Roman Catholic church. I really have no basis for determining the matter one way or another,
since my purpose here is not to defend the actions or inactions of the Roman Catholic approach to religion -as Russell would have been aware, culturally Protestantism is an entirely different animal, having formed
the intellectual basis for democracy in the West.
Of course, whether or not we wish to interpret Christianity solely from the perspective of Roman Catholic
dogma, is immaterial. What is more significant is the fact that Russell’s approach is to take an absolutely
worse-case scenario (the dilemma of an “inexperienced girl married to a syphilitic man”) in order to score
another one of his rather simplistic points. He justifies this in the following way: “It is not a pleasant fact,
but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant”. This is specious. No-one is compelling
him to mention anything, least of all a transparently-concocted case-study, warped in such a way to influence
a non-discriminating audience.
There are plenty of ‘difficult questions’ in life – for believers, atheists and agnostics – but these kinds of mindgames,
where the extreme severity of the example is clearly intended to ‘prove’ a somewhat debatable point,
are not a serious contribution. This simply smacks of the desire to ‘win’ the argument, irrespective of the
significance of the issue, and is in many ways simply symptomatic of a strategy which trivialises serious dilemmas
in order to rubbish the opposition.
Fear, the Foundation of Religion
Russell believes that “Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear”. To emphasise the point,
he repeats the word ‘fear’ time and time again in the next few sentences. In Russell’s mind, ‘fear’ is a bad
thing. He sees it as inappropriate that people should be motivated by it, so lets explore this concept for a
moment.
Why do I avoid changing lightbulbs with wet hands whilst the electricity is switched on? Probably a perfectly
justifiable fear of getting electrocuted may have something to do with it. Why do I not smoke, when
actually in the past I’ve quite enjoyed the odd cigar? Perhaps fear of the health consequences may have
something to do with it. You see, there are things about which it is perfectly reasonable and healthy to exercise
a degree of fear. Do I fear the oncoming juggernaut? I should do. Do I deliberately wind up the sevenfoot
thug employed as a bouncer at the local night-club? No, I have a healthy respect – or fear – of this person.The issue then is not fear itself, but rather whether or not it is misplaced. If God is the sovereign Creator of
the universe, who holds my puny life in His hands, should I at least respect Him? You bet!
Of course, for the Christian, his relationship with his God is based primarily on love not fear – so again, Russell’s
argument almost completely misses the mark.
What We Must Do
And so we reach our conclusion. Where Russell ends up has been determined by (a) his opening gambit and
(b) his assumptions. He exhorts us to look at the world as it is – which is precisely the hard realism that the
Bible encourages us to adopt, but this is not the way he sees it at all. He comments upon people debasing
themselves in Church, reflecting some version of Christianity that thankfully I’ve never experienced. He
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suggests that “We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face.” as if this is something that only
atheists can do, and which Christians are incapable of. On the ground, the reality is far from conforming to
his viewpoint – we see Christians giving up well-paid, high-profile jobs in order to serve the homeless, or
work in leprosy missions and AIDS hospitals, rather than devote their lives to the somewhat arid and futile
arguments about God’s existence, or parroting Dawkins, which appear to swallow up disproportionate
amounts of time and space on the atheist webforums. Of course, it’s important to avoid the same kinds of
stereotypes that rejoice the hearts of Russell and his cohorts – we need to recognise that it’s not just Christians
who behave selflessly in the most challenging circumstances.
I do, however, want to close exactly where Russell does: “It needs hope for the future, not looking back all
the time towards a past that is dead…” Which is precisely where the New Testament leaves us. Paul exhorts
Christians not to be constantly looking behind them, but to focus on the future goal of the life of faith. John
anticipates a beautiful, remade world where the consequences of human sin and rebellion are finally dealt
with – one which fulfils the ultimate purpose of its Creator. Russell, by contrast (see earlier) shows us a future
which is cold and lifeless, where the products of intelligent life wither and decay, ultimately without
any lasting purpose. Christians believe in a bigger, better future, whereas Russell, for all his fine rhetoric,
can actually supply us with no real basis for optimism – in his future, the traffic lights continue to switch,
automatically, between green, amber and red, long after the cars have ceased to drive on the roads, as a dying
sun consigns our world to permafrost.
In Closing
This speech is not the only item Bertrand Russell produced on the subject, but it is certainly the best known – and without
doubt it continues to be a core text that the modern atheist camp relies on and looks back to. You will, for instance,
find the text of the speech as a free download on the Secularist Society and other atheist websites. So many of Russell’s
themes and assumptions emerge later on in the writings of Richard Dawkins and his happy band.
In his recourse to the misuse and misrepresentation of Scripture, Russell demonstrates clearly that his dogma determines
the way he will treat the data and sets a standard that others will emulate.
In his use of fallacies and simplistic arguments, Russell demonstrates that purely humanistic philosophy does not necessarily
result in intellectually honest or dependable conclusions.
And, with his recourse to his own feelings as a basis for argument, Russell shows us that philosophy is ultimately dependent
upon the fickleness of our whims and emotions – and that therefore even the most strident declarations of intellectual
objectivity should be taken within context.
Kevin Moss
January 2010 Why I Am Not A Christian
by Bertrand Russell
Introductory note: Russell delivered this lecture on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society,
South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall. Published in pamphlet form in that same year, the
essay subsequently achieved new fame with Paul Edwards’ edition of Russell’s book, Why I Am Not a
Christian and Other Essays … (1957).
As your Chairman has told you, the subject about which I am going to speak to you tonight is “Why I
Am Not a Christian.” Perhaps it would be as well, first of all, to try to make out what one means by
the word Christian. It is used these days in a very loose sense by a great many people. Some people
mean no more by it than a person who attempts to live a good life. In that sense I suppose there would
be Christians in all sects and creeds; but I do not think that that is the proper sense of the word, if only
because it would imply that all the people who are not Christians — all the Buddhists, Confucians,
Mohammedans, and so on — are not trying to live a good life. I do not mean by a Christian any person
who tries to live decently according to his lights. I think that you must have a certain amount of
definite belief before you have a right to call yourself a Christian. The word does not have quite such
a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the times of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In those
days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant. You accepted a whole
collection of creeds which were set out with great precision, and every single syllable of those creeds
you believed with the whole strength of your convictions.
What Is a Christian?
Nowadays it is not quite that. We have to be a little more vague in our meaning of Christianity. I
think, however, that there are two different items which are quite essential to anybody calling himself
a Christian. The first is one of a dogmatic nature — namely, that you must believe in God and
immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call
yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief
about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and in immortality, and yet they
would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ
was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about
Christ, I do not think you have any right to call yourself a Christian. Of course, there is another sense,
which you find in Whitaker’s Almanack and in geography books, where the population of the world is
said to be divided into Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, fetish worshipers, and so on; and in that
sense we are all Christians. The geography books count us all in, but that is a purely geographical
sense, which I suppose we can ignore.Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian
I have to tell you two different things: first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and,
secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant him a very
high degree of moral goodness.
But for the successful efforts of unbelievers in the past, I could not take so elastic a definition of
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Christianity as that. As I said before, in olden days it had a much more full-blooded sense. For
instance, it included he belief in hell. Belief in eternal hell-fire was an essential item of Christian
belief until pretty recent times. In this country, as you know, it ceased to be an essential item because
of a decision of the Privy Council, and from that decision the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
Archbishop of York dissented; but in this country our religion is settled by Act of Parliament, and
therefore the Privy Council was able to override their Graces and hell was no longer necessary to a
Christian. Consequently I shall not insist that a Christian must believe in hell.
The Existence of God
To come to this question of the existence of God: it is a large and serious question, and if I were to
attempt to deal with it in any adequate manner I should have to keep you here until Kingdom Come,
so that you will have to excuse me if I deal with it in a somewhat summary fashion. You know, of
course, that the Catholic Church has laid it down as a dogma that the existence of God can be proved
by the unaided reason. That is a somewhat curious dogma, but it is one of their dogmas. They had to
introduce it because at one time the freethinkers adopted the habit of saying that there were such and
such arguments which mere reason might urge against the existence of God, but of course they knew
as a matter of faith that God did exist. The arguments and the reasons were set out at great length, and
the Catholic Church felt that they must stop it. Therefore they laid it down that the existence of God
can be proved by the unaided reason and they had to set up what they considered were arguments to
prove it. There are, of course, a number of them, but I shall take only a few.
The First-cause Argument
Perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is the argument of the First Cause. (It is maintained
that everything we see in this world has a cause, and as you go back in the chain of causes further and
further you must come to a First Cause, and to that First Cause you give the name of God.) That
argument, I suppose, does not carry very much weight nowadays, because, in the first place, cause is
not quite what it used to be. The philosophers and the men of science have got going on cause, and it
has not anything like the vitality it used to have; but, apart from that, you can see that the argument
that there must be a First Cause is one that cannot have any validity. I may say that when I was a
young man and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the
argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill’s
Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: “My father taught me that the question ‘Who made
me?’ cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question `Who made god?'” That
very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If
everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it
may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is
exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the
elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, “How about the tortoise?” the Indian said,
“Suppose we change the subject.” The argument is really no better than that. There is no reason why
the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason
why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at
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all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination.
Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.
The Natural-law Argument
Then there is a very common argument from natural law. That was a favorite argument all through the
eighteenth century, especially under the influence of Sir Isaac Newton and his cosmogony. People
observed the planets going around the sun according to the law of gravitation, and they thought that
God had given a behest to these planets to move in that particular fashion, and that was why they did
so. That was, of course, a convenient and simple explanation that saved them the trouble of looking
any further for explanations of the law of gravitation. Nowadays we explain the law of gravitation in a
somewhat complicated fashion that Einstein has introduced. I do not propose to give you a lecture on
the law of gravitation, as interpreted by Einstein, because that again would take some time; at any
rate, you no longer have the sort of natural law that you had in the Newtonian system, where, for
some reason that nobody could understand, nature behaved in a uniform fashion. We now find that a
great many things we thought were natural laws are really human conventions. You know that even in
the remotest depths of stellar space there are still three feet to a yard. That is, no doubt, a very
remarkable fact, but you would hardly call it a law of nature. And a great many things that have been
regarded as laws of nature are of that kind. On the other hand, where you can get down to any
knowledge of what atoms actually do, you will find they are much less subject to law than people
thought, and that the laws at which you arrive are statistical averages of just the sort that would
emerge from chance. There is, as we all know, a law that if you throw dice you will get double sixes
only about once in thirty-six times, and we do not regard that as evidence that the fall of the dice is
regulated by design; on the contrary, if the double sixes came every time we should think that there
was design. The laws of nature are of that sort as regards a great many of them. They are statistical
averages such as would emerge from the laws of chance; and that makes this whole business of
natural law much less impressive than it formerly was. Quite apart from that, which represents the
momentary state of science that may change tomorrow, the whole idea that natural laws imply a
lawgiver is due to a confusion between natural and human laws. Human laws are behests
commanding you to behave a certain way, in which you may choose to behave, or you may choose
not to behave; but natural laws are a description of how things do in fact behave, and being a mere
description of what they in fact do, you cannot argue that there must be somebody who told them to
do that, because even supposing that there were, you are then faced with the question “Why did God
issue just those natural laws and no others?” If you say that he did it simply from his own good
pleasure, and without any reason, you then find that there is something which is not subject to law,
and so your train of natural law is interrupted. If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all
the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others — the reason, of
course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it — if there
were a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you
do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and
anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate
lawgiver. In short, this whole argument about natural law no longer has anything like the strength that
it used to have. I am traveling on in time in my review of the arguments. The arguments that are used
for the existence of God change their character as time goes on. They were at first hard intellectual
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arguments embodying certain quite definite fallacies. As we come to modern times they become less
respectable intellectually and more and more affected by a kind of moralizing vagueness.
The Argument from Design
The next step in the process brings us to the argument from design. 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. It is an easy argument to
parody. You all know Voltaire’s remark, that obviously the nose was designed to be such as to fit
spectacles. That sort of parody has turned out to be not nearly so wide of the mark as it might have
seemed in the eighteenth century, because since the time of Darwin we understand much better why
living creatures are adapted to their environment. It is not that their environment was made to be
suitable to them but that they grew to be suitable to it, and that is the basis of adaptation. There is no
evidence of design about it.
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 have been able to produce in millions of years. 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 or the Fascists?
Moreover, if you accept the ordinary laws of science, you have to suppose that human life and life in
general on this planet will die out in due course: it is a stage in the decay of the solar system; at a
certain stage of decay you get the sort of conditions of temperature and so forth which are suitable to
protoplasm, and there is life for a short time in the life of the whole solar system. You see in the moon
the sort of thing to which the earth is tending — something dead, cold, and lifeless.
I am told that that sort of view is depressing, and people will sometimes tell you that if they believed
that, they would not be able to go on living. Do not believe it; it is all nonsense. Nobody really
worries about much about what is going to happen millions of years hence. Even if they think they are
worrying much about that, they are really deceiving themselves. They are worried about something
much more mundane, or it may merely be a bad digestion; but nobody is really seriously rendered
unhappy by the thought of something that is going to happen to this world millions and millions of
years hence. Therefore, although it is of course a gloomy view to suppose that life will die out — at
least I suppose we may say so, although sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with
their lives I think it is almost a consolation — it is not such as to render life miserable. It merely makes
you turn your attention to other things.
The Moral Arguments for Deity
Now we reach one stage further in what I shall call the intellectual descent that the Theists have made
in their argumentations, and we come to what are called the moral arguments for the existence of God.
You all know, of course, that there used to be in the old days three intellectual arguments for the
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existence of God, all of which were disposed of by Immanuel Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason;
but no sooner had he disposed of those arguments than he invented a new one, a moral argument, and
that quite convinced him. He was like many people: in intellectual matters he was skeptical, but in
moral matters he believed implicitly in the maxims that he had imbibed at his mother’s knee. That
illustrates what the psychoanalysts so much emphasize — the immensely stronger hold upon us that
our very early associations have than those of later times.
Kant, as I say, invented a new moral argument for the existence of God, and that in varying forms
was extremely popular during the nineteenth century. It has all sorts of forms. One form is to say there
would be no right or wrong unless God existed. I am not for the moment concerned with whether
there is a difference between right and wrong, or whether there is not: that is another question. The
point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong,
then you are in this situation: Is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat,
then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant
statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you
must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God’s fiat, because
God’s fiats are good and not bad independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to
say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into
being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God. You could, of course, if you liked,
say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God that made this world, or could take up
the line that some of the gnostics took up — a line which I often thought was a very plausible one —
that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God was not
looking. There is a good deal to be said for that, and I am not concerned to refute it.
The Argument for the Remedying of Injustice
Then there is another very curious form of moral argument, which is this: they say that the existence
of God is required in order to bring justice into the world. In the part of this universe that we know
there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows
which of those is the more annoying; but if you are going to have justice in the universe as a whole
you have to suppose a future life to redress the balance of life here on earth. So they say that there
must be a God, and there must be Heaven and Hell in order that in the long run there may be justice.
That is a very curious argument. If you looked at the matter from a scientific point of view, you would
say, “After all, I only know this world. I do not know about the rest of the universe, but so far as one
can argue at all on probabilities one would say that probably this world is a fair sample, and if there is
injustice here the odds are that there is injustice elsewhere also.” Supposing you got a crate of oranges
that you opened, and you found all the top layer of oranges bad, you would not argue, “The
underneath ones must be good, so as to redress the balance.” You would say, “Probably the whole lot
is a bad consignment”; and that is really what a scientific person would argue about the universe. He
would say, “Here we find in this world a great deal of injustice, and so far as that goes that is a reason
for supposing that justice does not rule in the world; and therefore so far as it goes it affords a moral
argument against deity and not in favor of one.” Of course I know that the sort of intellectual
arguments that I have been talking to you about are not what really moves people. What really moves
people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because
they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason.
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Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a
big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people’s desire for
a belief in God.
The Character of Christ
I now want to say a few words upon a topic which I often think is not quite sufficiently dealt with by
Rationalists, and that is the question whether Christ was the best and the wisest of men. It is generally
taken for granted that we should all agree that that was so. I do not myself. I think that there are a
good many points upon which I agree with Christ a great deal more than the professing Christians do.
I do not know that I could go with Him all the way, but I could go with Him much further than most
professing Christians can. You will remember that He said, “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” That is not a new precept or a new principle. It
was used by Lao-tse and Buddha some 500 or 600 years before Christ, but it is not a principle which
as a matter of fact Christians accept. I have no doubt that the present prime minister [Stanley
Baldwin], for instance, is a most sincere Christian, but I should not advise any of you to go and smite
him on one cheek. I think you might find that he thought this text was intended in a figurative sense.
Then there is another point which I consider excellent. You will remember that Christ said, “Judge
not lest ye be judged.” That principle I do not think you would find was popular in the law courts of
Christian countries. I have known in my time quite a number of judges who were very earnest
Christians, and none of them felt that they were acting contrary to Christian principles in what they
did. Then Christ says, “Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn
not thou away.” That is a very good principle. Your Chairman has reminded you that we are not here
to talk politics, but I cannot help observing that the last general election was fought on the question of
how desirable it was to turn away from him that would borrow of thee, so that one must assume that
the Liberals and Conservatives of this country are composed of people who do not agree with the
teaching of Christ, because they certainly did very emphatically turn away on that occasion.
Then there is one other maxim of Christ which I think has a great deal in it, but I do not find that it is
very popular among some of our Christian friends. He says, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that
which thou hast, and give to the poor.” That is a very excellent maxim, but, as I say, it is not much
practised. All these, I think, are good maxims, although they are a little difficult to live up to. I do not
profess to live up to them myself; but then, after all, it is not quite the same thing as for a Christian.
Defects in Christ’s Teaching
Having granted the excellence of these maxims, I come to certain points in which I do not believe that
one can grant either the superlative wisdom or the superlative goodness of Christ as depicted in the
Gospels; and here I may say that one is not concerned with the historical question. Historically it is
quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about him, so
that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one. I am concerned with
Christ as He appears in the Gospels, taking the Gospel narrative as it stands, and there one does find
some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, he certainly thought that His second
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coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time.
There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance, “Ye shall not have gone over the
cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come.” Then he says, “There are some standing here which shall
not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom”; and there are a lot of places where it is
quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then
living. That was the belief of His earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of His moral
teaching. When He said, “Take no thought for the morrow,” and things of that sort, it was very largely
because He thought that the second coming was going to be very soon, and that all ordinary mundane
affairs did not count. I have, as a matter of fact, known some Christians who did believe that the
second coming was imminent. I knew a parson who frightened his congregation terribly by telling
them that the second coming was very imminent indeed, but they were much consoled when they
found that he was planting trees in his garden. The early Christians did really believe it, and they did
abstain from such things as planting trees in their gardens, because they did accept from Christ the
belief that the second coming was imminent. In that respect, clearly He was not so wise as some other
people have been, and He was certainly not superlatively wise.
The Moral Problem
Then you come to moral questions. 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. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels
did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those
people who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers,
but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that
attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to
him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of
indignation. You probably all remember the sorts of things that Socrates was saying when he was
dying, and the sort of things that he generally did say to people who did not agree with him.
You will find that in the Gospels Christ said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape
the damnation of Hell.” That was said to people who did not like His preaching. It is not really to my
mind quite the best tone, and there are a great many of these things about Hell. There is, of course, the
familiar text about the sin against the Holy Ghost: “Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost it
shall not be forgiven him neither in this World nor in the world to come.” That text has caused an
unspeakable amount of misery in the world, for all sorts of people have imagined that they have
committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and thought that it would not be forgiven them either in
this world or in the world to come. I really do not think that a person with a proper degree of
kindliness in his nature would have put fears and terrors of that sort into the world.
Then Christ says, “The Son of Man shall send forth his His angels, and they shall gather out of His
kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire;
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”; and He goes on about the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
It comes in one verse after another, and it is quite manifest to the reader that there is a certain pleasure
in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth, or else it would not occur so often. Then you all, of
course, remember about the sheep and the goats; how at the second coming He is going to divide the
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sheep from the goats, and He is going to say to the goats, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire.” He continues, “And these shall go away into everlasting fire.” Then He says again, “If thy hand
offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into
Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where the worm dieth not and the fire is not
quenched.” He repeats that again and again also. I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire
is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave
the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take Him asHis
chroniclers represent Him, would certainly have to be considered partly responsible for that.
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 the devils into them and make them rush down the hill
into the sea. You must remember that He was omnipotent, and He could have made the devils simply
go away; but He chose 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 of 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 the matter of wisdom or in the 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. The Emotional Factor
As I said before, I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion has anything to do with
argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds. 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. You
know, of course, the parody of that argument in Samuel Butler’s book, Erewhon Revisited. You will
remember that in Erewhon there is a certain Higgs who arrives in a remote country, and after spending
some time there he escapes from that country in a balloon. Twenty years later he comes back to that
country and finds a new religion in which he is worshiped under the name of the “Sun Child,” and it is
said that he ascended into heaven. He finds that the Feast of the Ascension is about to be celebrated,
and he hears Professors Hanky and Panky say to each other that they never set eyes on the man Higgs,
and they hope they never will; but they are the high priests of the religion of the Sun Child. He is very
indignant, and he comes up to them, and he says, “I am going to expose all this humbug and tell the
people of Erewhon that it was only I, the man Higgs, and I went up in a balloon.” He was told, “You
must not do that, because all the morals of this country are bound round this myth, and if they once
know that you did not ascend into Heaven they will all become wicked”; and so he is persuaded of
that and he goes quietly away.
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
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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.
How the Churches Have Retarded Progress
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.”
Fear, the Foundation of Religion
Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and
partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in
all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing — 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 Christian religion, against the churches, and 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 better place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the
churches in all these centuries have made it.
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What We Must Do
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 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.
Electronic colophon: This electronic edition of “Why I Am Not a Christian” was first made available
by Bruce MacLeod on his “Watchful Eye Russell Page.” It was newly corrected (from Edwards, NY
1957) in July 1996 by John R. Lenz for the Bertrand Russell Society.__Schaeffer noted:In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. _Related posts:

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Pausing to take a look at the life of HARRY KROTO Part C (Kroto’s admiration of Bertrand Russell examined)

Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 52 The views of Hegel and Bertrand Russell influenced Gareth Stedman Jones of Cambridge!!

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said: …Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975 and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them. Harry Kroto _________________ Below you have picture of Dr. Harry Kroto:   Gareth Stedman […]

WOODY WEDNESDAY John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

Top 10 Woody Allen Movies __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were  atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 (More On) Woody Allen’s Atheism As I wrote in a previous post, I like Woody Allen. I have long admired his […]

John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

______ Top 10 Woody Allen Movies PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 01 PBS American Masters – Woody Allen A Documentary 02 __________ John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!! Monday, August 06, 2012 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT ACADEMICS!! Part 149 JJ Bertrand Russell’s wholehearted, implicit faith in an uniformity of natural causes in a closed system

 

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149Z Sir Bertrand Russell

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On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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Harold W. Kroto (left) receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, in 1996.

Soren Andersson/AP

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I 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,

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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._

 

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Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:

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Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Francis Schaeffer noted concerning the IMPLICIT FAITH of Bertrand Russell:

I was lecturing at the University of St. Andrews one night and someone put forth the question, “If Christianity is so clear and reasonable then why doesn’t Bertrand Russell then become a Christian? Is it because he hasn’t discovered theology?”

It wasn’t a matter of studying theology that was involved but rather that he had too much faith. I was surrounded by humanists and you could hear the gasps. Bertrand Russell and faith; Isn’t this the man of reason? I pointed out that this is a man of high orthodoxy who will hold his IMPLICIT FAITH on the basis of his presuppositions no matter how many times he has to zig and zag because it doesn’t conform to the facts.

You must understand what the term IMPLICIT FAITH  means. In the old Roman Catholic Church when someone who became a Roman Catholic they had to promise implicit faith. That meant that you not only had to believe everything that Roman Catholic Church taught then but also everything it would teach in the future. It seems to me this is the kind of faith that these people have in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system and they have accepted it no matter what it leads them into. 

I think that these men are men of a high level of IMPLICIT FAITH in their own set of presuppositions. Paul said (in Romans Chapter One) they won’t carry it to it’s logical conclusion even though they hold a great deal of the truth and they have revolted and they have set up a series of universals in themselves which they won’t transgress no matter if they conform to the facts or not.

Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is “the universe and it’s form.”

Romans 1:18-20 Amplified Bible :

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification].

We can actually see the two points makes playing themselves out in Bertrand Russell’s own life.

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[From a letter dated August 11, 1918 to Miss Rinder when Russell was 46]

It is so with all who spend their lives in the quest of something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite. One seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets; at times I have seemed very near it in crowds when I have been feeling strongly what they were feeling; one seeks it in love above all. But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found.
The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact. Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God and to refuse to enter into any earthly communion—at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd isn’t it? I care passionately for this world, and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted—some ghost, from some extra-mundane region, seems always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand the message. 

There was evidence during Bertrand Russell’s own life that indicated that the Bible was true and could be trusted.

Here is some below:

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnotes #97 and #98) written by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

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A Brief Sample of Archaeology Corroborating the Claims of the New Testament

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A Brief Sample of Archaeology Corroborating the Claims of the New TestamentSir William Mitchell Ramsay, a 19th Century English historian and prolific writer, held a pervasive anti-Biblical bias. He believed the historical accounts in the Book of Acts were written in the mid-2nd Century. Ramsay was skeptical of Luke’s authorship and the historicity of the Book of Acts, and he set out to prove his suspicions. He began a detailed study of the archaeological evidence, and eventually came to an illuminating conclusion: the historical and archaeological evidence supported Luke’s 1st Century authorship and historical reliability:

“(There are) reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank” (Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, p. 4).

Ramsay became convinced of Luke’s reliability based on the accurate description of historical events and settings. Ramsay wasn’t the only scholar to be impressed by Luke’s accuracy:

“One of the most remarkable tokens of (Luke’s) accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned . . . Cyprus, for example, which was an imperial province until 22 BC, became a senatorial province in that year, and was therefore governed no longer by an imperial legate but by a proconsul. And so, when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus about AD 47, it was the proconsul Sergius Paullus whom they met . . .’ (F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, p. 82).

Luke’s narratives include detailed and specific descriptions related to the locations, people, offices and titles within the Roman Empire. In fact, many of Luke’s claims were eventually confirmed by archaeological discoveries:

Related to Quirinius
Luke wrote that Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem because a Syrian governor named Quirinius was conducting a census (Luke 2:1–3). Archaeological discoveries in the nineteenth century revealed Quirinius (or someone with the same name) was also a proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 BC to the death of Herod. Quirinius’s name has been discovered on a coin from this period of time, and on the base of a statue erected in Pisidian Antioch.

Related to Erastus
In Romans 16:23, Paul wrote, “Erastus, the city treasurer greets you.” A piece of pavement was discovered in Corinth in 1929 confirming his existence.

Related to Lysanias
Luke described a tetrarch named Lysanias and wrote that this man reigned over Abilene when John the Baptist began his ministry (Luke 3:1). Two inscriptions have been discovered that mention Lysanias by name. One of these, dated from AD 14–37, identifies Lysanias as the tetrarch in Abila near Damascus.

Related to Iconium
In Acts 13:51, Luke described this city in Phyrigia. Some ancient writers (like Cicero) wrote that Iconium was located in Lycaonia, rather than Phyrigia, but a monument was discovered in 1910 that confirmed Iconium as a city in Phyrigia.

Related to the Pool of Bethesda
John wrote about the existence of a pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9) and said that it was located in the region of Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, surrounded by five porticos. In 1888, archaeologists began excavating the area near St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem and discovered the remains of the pool, complete with steps leading down from one side and five shallow porticos on another side.

Related to Politarchs
For many centuries, Luke was the only ancient writer to use the word Politarch to describe “rulers of the city.” Skeptics doubted that it was a legitimate Greek term until nineteen inscriptions were discovered. Five of these were in reference to Thessalonica (the very city in which Luke was claiming to have heard the term).

Related to the Pool of Siloam
John wrote about the “Pool of Siloam” (John 9:1–12) and described it as a place of ceremonial cleansing. Archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun excavated the pool and dated it from 100 BC to AD 100 (based on the features of the pool and coins found in the plaster).

Related to Pontius Pilate
For many years, the only corroboration we had for the existence of Pontius Pilate (the governor of Judea who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus) was a very brief citation by Tacitus. In 1961, however, a piece of limestone was discovered bearing an inscription with Pilate’s name. The inscription was discovered in Caesarea, a provincial capital during Pilate’s term (AD 26–36), and it describes a building dedication from Pilate to Tiberius Caesar.

Related to the Custom of Crucifixion
While thousands of condemned criminals and war prisoners were reportedly executed in this manner, not a single one of them had ever been discovered in any archaeological site. In 1968, Vassilios Tzaferis found the first remains of a crucifixion victim, Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol, buried in a proper Jewish “kôkhîmtype” tomb.

Related to Sergius Paulus
In Acts 13, Luke identified Sergius Paulus, a proconsul in Paphos. Skeptics doubted the existence of this man and claimed that any leader of this area would be a “propraetor” rather than a proconsul. But an inscription was discovered at Soli in Cyprus that acknowledged Paulus and identified him as a proconsul.

In addition to these archaeological discoveries, there are many other details recorded in the Book of Acts corroborating its historical accuracy. Luke describes features of the Roman world corroborated by other non-Christian historians:

Luke includes a correct description of two ways to gain Roman citizenship (Acts 22:28)

Luke includes an accurate explanation of provincial penal procedure (Acts 24:1-9)

Luke includes a correct depiction of invoking one’s roman citizenship, including the legal formula, de quibus cognoscere volebam (Acts 25:18)

Luke includes a accurate description of being in Roman custody and the conditions of being imprisoned at one’s own expense (Acts 28:16 and Acts 28:30-31)

Archaeology is a discipline of “fractions”. Given the nature of archaeology, we shouldn’t expect to find corroboration for every claim of history, regardless of historic author.  But in spite of the inherent difficulties and limitations of the discipline, the archaeological evidence supporting the claims of the New Testament is incredibly robust (refer to the Biblical Archaeology Society for additional evidence). As a detective, I’ve also come to respect and recognize the limits of corroborative evidence. Archaeology sufficiently corroborates the history of the New Testament, providing us with “remarkable tokens of (Luke’s) accuracy”.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.

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Today we look at the 3rd letter in the Kroto correspondence and his admiration of Bertrand Russell. (Below The Nobel chemistry laureates Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) It is with sadness that I write this post having learned of the death of Sir Harold Kroto on April 30, 2016 at the age of […]

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John Piippo makes the case that Bertrand Russell would have loved Woody Allen because they both were two atheists who don’t deny the ramifications of atheism!!!

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 1)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]