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Paperback Why I Am Not a Christian : And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects Book

ISBN: 0671203231

ISBN13: 9780671203238

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

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Book Overview

"Devastating in its use of cold logic," ( The Independent), the classic essay collection that expresses the freethinker's views to religion and challenges set notions in today's society from one of the most influential intellectual figures of the twentieth century. Dedicated as few men have been to the life of reason, Bertrand Russell has always been concerned with the basic questions to which religion also addresses itselfquestions about man's place...

Customer Reviews

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Unbelievable. That is the only word for the negative reviews....If you don't want anything other than a good laugh, sort these reviews with the most negative first. Who do these people think they are, calling Bertrand Russell a "fool" and a "hack"? And do those reviewers who cite to Acts of the Apostles and Paul's letter to Romans, the Epistles to Timothy et al, do they really think that is "evidence" to refute Mr. Russell's positions?Many years ago, during my first year in college, my humanities teaching assistant explained to our little section that there are basically two writing styles: Kant and Russell. Russell worked hard to write clearly, and consequently, readers of his works are able to chart the inconsistentcies and changes in his philosophy over time. Kant's style, on the other hand, was to write in such a manner that no one in their right mind could be certain what Kant was trying to say. As a result, everyone today still believes Kant to be brilliant. Our section was to strive to be Russell, and not Kant (The sucess of our striving was largely mixed and debatable, but that is beside the point).Russell is a good writer--and this book adresses the subject. For me (and I am speaking only for myself here--I'm not calling anyone a fool or a pervert or trying to create a strawman. If you think I am, my e-mail address is available, so please write me--if you care. I'll edit this review), this book addresses Blaise Pacal's rationale for "faith:" If you believe in the christian god, and there is no god--you really have not lost anything. But if you do not believe in the christian god (or whatever system of beliefs is at issue), and it turns out to be "true"--why, you've lost a whole big bunch, swimming around in that lake of fire.....I did have a brief discussion along these lines once with a family member. I suggested that such a "belief" sounded more like "hedging your bets" than "faith." A good deal of shouting by the family member followed my suggestion, and that was the end of the discussion.What is a "belief"? Kierkegaard talks about the "leap of faith:" Your reason will only take you so far, and then you must accept that "belief" is contrary to "reason." If your "belief" was supported by reason, then no "faith" or "belief" would be necessary. Russell eloquently points out the harm of both simple-minded beliefs, and "beliefs" that are really disguised superstition and fear.I enjoyed this book, and found it very helpful. I bought copies for my atheist friends--but I wouldn't bother buying the book for my christian friends (and certainly not christian family members). If you're interested in exploring these issues, buy the book. Or, if you're looking for an excuse to get angry, indignant, feel self-righteous--and have too much money in your pocket--then go ahead and buy the book. Otherwise, there are other ways to better spend your time and money............

Brilliantly written essays.....

......and I don't say that lightly. This collection contains 15 essays on religion and other closely related subjects, that will make you think differently about the conventional teachings of your religion, especially if you are Christian. This reading is essential,however, for anyone calling him/herself a "freethinker".Written without heavy philosophical jargon, Russell delves into the driving force behind the "success" of converting people to Christianity (which he says has its basis in fear, not love or reason). He argues that ethics do not have their basis in religious belief, and shows how damaging religious zealotry has proven itself to be throughout the history of man. His arguments, throughout, are compelling. If you are a Christian, who believes that he/she may be offended by Russell's ideas, I ask you to first read this book with an open mind before making a judgment. Russell does not attack all Christian ideas or all Christian people, but merely points out inconsistencies in our faiths. In doing so, I did not personally feel offended, but felt that Russell was opening my eyes, and ultimately showing me how to look at my faith more critically which allows me to better separate the good from the bad.The most compelling essays in this collection, by far are: "Why I Am Not a Christian", "Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?", and "What I Believe". Also enlightening were: "The Fate of Thomas Paine" and "Nice People". Overall I highly recommend this essay collection which, in my opinion, is written by a brilliant philosopher and very moral man.


This author's honesty recommends him highly. I found the same questions being brought to light by the book An Encounter with A Prophet however An Encounter with A Prophet answered the questions.

A great introduction

A lot of the arguments in this book could be, or have been, opposed by experienced and clever apologists. Nevertheless, this is the best book I have seen for the new, young, or lonely atheist.Mr. Russell writes with a great deal of simplicity and gentle British good humor. He attacks beliefs (especially the belief in God's and Christ's inherent goodness and in the sexual mores of his day) rather than people, by and large, which is the mark of a truly humane person. Unlike many modern philosophers his arguments do not require an advanced degree or even an advanced vocabulary to follow. And because the book is made up of fairly short essays on a variety of subjects rather than one long argument, it can be read at leisure without losing the thread of discussion.Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone with even a slight interest in the subject matter at hand.

A must read.

Unequivocally one of the premier philosophers of the 20th Century, Russell eloquently outlines the case against Christian dogma. While some of the chapters that deal with contemporary ethics are somewhat out of date due to their having been written in the 1920s and 30s, the vast majority of the book is as compelling today as it was several decades ago. Indeed, I believe that his argument for the persecutory nature of Christians toward others with differing belief systems is as evident today as it was in centuries past. His review of the relevant historical events which shaped Christian beliefs (as well as clearly elucidating the shaky foundation in which these beliefs have been built) are a welcome reprieve from much of the literature in this area that is so prevalent in our society. Perhaps if Russell's book, or others like it, were required reading in our nation's schools we would witness a society of free thinkers. That is, citizens which applied reason and rational argument toward the acceptance of beliefs instead of relying purely on emotions. I wish to conclude this review by stating that Russell's book did more for my understanding of Christian beliefs than did 8 arduous years in a parochial school system.
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