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

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NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Why I Am Not a Christian

Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects is a collection of essays and speeches given by philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, including the essay Why I Am Not a Christian.

Contents

Contents of Collection

Why I Am Not A Christian (1927)

Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (1930)

Differences Between Founders of Religions and Their Current Form

  • Russell details how many religions, including Christianity and Buddhism, do not follow the original teachings of their founders. Russell lists the ideas of Matthew 19:21 Bible-icon.png, Matthew 5:9 Bible-icon.png, Matthew 6:6 Bible-icon.png, and Matthew 7:1 Bible-icon.png as teachings that the Christian church does not follow. Russell then posits that religious leaders use their interpretations of the teachings of their founders to gain power and to stop truth. Examples of this include Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, and Sigmund Freud. Russell also notes that religion has done nothing to help with social problems such as slavery and economic justice.

Christianity and Sex

  • Russell notes that women have been held inferior due to religion's "Strict Moral Code". Examples include the teaching of virginity and prohibition of sex before marriage, no right to divorce, and no right to birth control. Russell then objects to the Church's stance on the spread of syphilis, stating that the religious believe that the sinful and even their spouses and children should be punished for their sexual practices. The Church's position as to sexual education also gives young people the idea of sex as sinful and goes against human nature. Russell then presents the Problem of evil and a form of the Euthyphro dilemma.

The Objections to Religion

  • Russell divides his arguments against religion into two groups:
    • Intellectual Objections
      • Russell notes the subjectivity of belief and that the morals of a religion are followed and preached by believers who get them from their beliefs; therefore, the truth of a religion is important to whether those morals are valid. Russell then notes that the definition of God is vastly different from different time periods, which is due to the expansion of scientific knowledge and "candor", which Russell espouses.
    • Moral Objections
      • Russell then dispenses with an argument from design, an rudimentary form of the argument of Irreducible complexity, providing the facts of human imperfections and the inevitability of human extinction as an argument against an omnipotent creator.

The Soul and Immorality

Sources of Intolerance

The Doctrine of Free Will

The Idea of Righteousness

What I Believe

Do We Survive Death?

Seems, Madam? Nay, It Is

A Free Man's Worship

On Catholic and Protestant Skeptics

Life in the Middle Ages

The Fate of Thomas Paine

Nice People

The New Generation

Our Sexual Ethics

Freedom and the Colleges

Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?

Religion and Morals

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