Why I am Not a Christian.doc

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<ul><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 1/26</p><p>Why I am Not a ChristianBertrand RussellMarch 6, 1927</p><p>Why I Am Not a ChristianAn Eamination o! the "od#Idea andChristianity</p><p>As your chairman has told you, the su$%ecta$out &amp;hich I am 'oin' to s(ea) to youtoni'ht is *Why I Am Not a Christian+* erha(s</p><p>it &amp;ould $e as &amp;ell, -rst o! all, to try to ma)eout &amp;hat one means $y the &amp;ord *Christian+* Itis used in these days in a .ery loose sense $ya 'reat many (eo(le+ /ome (eo(le mean nomore $y it than a (erson &amp;ho attem(ts to li.ea 'ood li!e+ In that sense I su((ose there&amp;ould $e Christians in all sects and creeds0</p><p>$ut I do not thin) that that is the (ro(er senseo! the &amp;ord, i! only $ecause it &amp;ould im(lythat all the (eo(le &amp;ho are not Christians ## allthe Buddhists, Con!ucians, Mohammedans,and so on ## are not tryin' to li.e a 'ood li!e+ Ido not mean $y a Christian any (erson &amp;hotries to li.e decently accordin' to his li'hts+ I</p><p>thin) that you must ha.e a certain amount o!de-nite $elie! $e!ore you ha.e a ri'ht to callyoursel! a Christian+ he &amp;ord does not ha.euite such a !ull#$looded meanin' no&amp; as ithad in the times o! /t+ Au'ustine and /t+homas Auinas+ In those days, i! a man saidthat he &amp;as a Christian it &amp;as )no&amp;n &amp;hat he</p><p>meant+ 3ou acce(ted a &amp;hole collection o!creeds &amp;hich &amp;ere set out &amp;ith 'reat</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 2/26</p><p>(recision, and e.ery sin'le sylla$le o! thosecreeds you $elie.ed &amp;ith the &amp;hole stren'tho! your con.ictions+</p><p>What is a Christian4</p><p>No&amp;adays it is not uite that+ We ha.e to $e alittle more .a'ue in our meanin' o!Christianity+ I thin), ho&amp;e.er, that there aret&amp;o di5erent items &amp;hich are uite essential</p><p>to anyone callin' himsel! a Christian+ he -rstis one o! a do'matic nature ## namely, that youmust $elie.e in "od and immortality+ I! you donot $elie.e in those t&amp;o thin's, I do not thin)that you can (ro(erly call yoursel! a Christian+hen, !urther than that, as the name im(lies,you must ha.e some )ind o! $elie! a$out</p><p>Christ+ he Mohammedans, !or instance, also$elie.e in "od and immortality, and yet they&amp;ould not call themsel.es Christians+ I thin)you must ha.e at the .ery lo&amp;est the $elie!that Christ &amp;as, i! not di.ine, at least the $estand &amp;isest o! men+ I! you are not 'oin' to$elie.e that much a$out Christ, I do not thin)</p><p>that you ha.e any ri'ht to call yoursel! aChristian+ ! course, there is another sense&amp;hich you -nd in Whita)ers Almanac) and in'eo'ra(hy $oo)s, &amp;here the (o(ulation o! the&amp;orld is said to $e di.ided into Christians,Mohammedans, Buddhists, !etish &amp;orshi(ers,and so on0 $ut in that sense &amp;e are all</p><p>Christians+ he 'eo'ra(hy $oo)s counts us allin, $ut that is a (urely 'eo'ra(hical sense,</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 3/26</p><p>&amp;hich I su((ose &amp;e can i'nore+ here!ore Ita)e it that &amp;hen I tell you &amp;hy I am not aChristian I ha.e to tell you t&amp;o di5erentthin's8 -rst, &amp;hy I do not $elie.e in "od and in</p><p>immortality0 and, secondly, &amp;hy I do not thin)that Christ &amp;as the $est and &amp;isest o! men,althou'h I 'rant him a .ery hi'h de'ree o!moral 'oodness+</p><p>But !or the success!ul e5orts o! un$elie.ers inthe (ast, I could not ta)e so elastic a</p><p>de-nition o! Christianity as that+ As I said$e!ore, in the olden days it had a much more!ull#$looded sense+ or instance, it includedthe $elie! in hell+ Belie! in eternal hell -re &amp;asan essential item o! Christian $elie! until(retty recent times+ In this country, as you)no&amp;, it ceased to $e an essential item</p><p>$ecause o! a decision o! the ri.y Council, and!rom that decision the Arch$isho( o!Canter$ury and the Arch$isho( o! 3or)dissented0 $ut in this country our reli'ion issettled $y Act o! arliament, and there!ore theri.y Council &amp;as a$le to o.erride their "racesand hell &amp;as no lon'er necessary to a</p><p>Christian+ Conseuently I shall not insist that aChristian must $elie.e in hell+</p><p>he Eistence ! "od</p><p>o come to this uestion o! the eistence o!</p><p>"od, it is a lar'e and serious uestion, and i! I&amp;ere to attem(t to deal &amp;ith it in any</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 4/26</p><p>adeuate manner I should ha.e to )ee( youhere until :in'dom Come, so that you &amp;illha.e to ecuse me i! I deal &amp;ith it in asome&amp;hat summary !ashion+ 3ou )no&amp;, o!</p><p>course, that the Catholic Church has laid itdo&amp;n as a do'ma that the eistence o! "odcan $e (ro.ed $y the unaided reason+ his is asome&amp;hat curious do'ma, $ut it is one o! theirdo'mas+ hey had to introduce it $ecause atone time the reethin)ers ado(ted the ha$it o!sayin' that there &amp;ere such and such</p><p>ar'uments &amp;hich mere reason mi'ht ur'ea'ainst the eistence o! "od, $ut o! coursethey )ne&amp; as a matter o! !aith that "od dideist+ he ar'uments and the reasons &amp;ere setout at 'reat len'th, and the Catholic Church!elt that they must sto( it+ here!ore they laidit do&amp;n that the eistence o! "od can $e</p><p>(ro.ed $y the unaided reason, and they had toset u( &amp;hat they considered &amp;ere ar'umentsto (ro.e it+ here are, o! course, a num$er o!them, $ut I shall ta)e only a !e&amp;+</p><p>he irst Cause Ar'ument</p><p>erha(s the sim(lest and easiest tounderstand is the ar'ument o! the irst Cause+It is maintained that e.erythin' &amp;e see in this&amp;orld has a cause, and as you 'o $ac) in thechain o! causes !urther and !urther you mustcome to a irst Cause, and to that irst Cause</p><p>you 'i.e the name o! "od+ hat ar'ument, Isu((ose, does not carry .ery much &amp;ei'ht</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 5/26</p><p>no&amp;adays, $ecause, in the -rst (lace, cause isnot uite &amp;hat it used to $e+ he (hiloso(hersand the men o! science ha.e 'ot 'oin' oncause, and it has not anythin' li)e the .itality</p><p>that it used to ha.e0 $ut a(art !rom that, youcan see that the ar'ument that there must $ea irst Cause is one that cannot ha.e any.alidity+ I may say that &amp;hen I &amp;as a youn'man, and &amp;as de$atin' these uestions .eryseriously in my mind, I !or a lon' timeacce(ted the ar'ument o! the irst Cause,</p><p>until one day, at the a'e o! ei'hteen, I read;ohn /tuart Mills Auto$io'ra(hy, and I there!ound this sentence8 *My !ather tau'ht methat the uestion, Who made me4 cannot $eans&amp;ered, since it immediately su''ests the!urther uestion, Who made "od4* hat .erysim(le sentence sho&amp;ed me, as I still thin),</p><p>the !allacy in the ar'ument o! the irst Cause+I! e.erythin' must ha.e a cause, then "odmust ha.e a cause+ I! there can $e anythin'&amp;ithout a cause, it may %ust as &amp;ell $e the&amp;orld as "od, so that there cannot $e any.alidity in that ar'ument+ It is eactly o! thesame nature as the </p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 6/26</p><p>reason to su((ose that the &amp;orld had a$e'innin' at all+ he idea that thin's mustha.e a $e'innin' is really due to the (o.ertyo! our ima'ination+ here!ore, (erha(s, I need</p><p>not &amp;aste any more time u(on the ar'umenta$out the irst Cause+</p><p>he Natural#=a&amp; Ar'ument</p><p>hen there is a .ery common ar'ument !rom</p><p>Natural =a&amp;+ hat &amp;as a !a.orite ar'ument allthrou'h the ei'hteenth century, es(eciallyunder the in&gt;uence o! /ir Isaac Ne&amp;ton andhis cosmo'ony+ eo(le o$ser.ed the (lanets'oin' around the sun accordin' to the la&amp; o!'ra.itation, and they thou'ht that "od had'i.en a $ehest to these (lanets to mo.e in</p><p>that (articular !ashion, and that &amp;as &amp;hy theydid so+ hat &amp;as, o! course, a con.enient andsim(le e(lanation that sa.ed them thetrou$le o! loo)in' any !urther !or anye(lanation o! the la&amp; o! 'ra.itation+No&amp;adays &amp;e e(lain the la&amp; o! 'ra.itation ina some&amp;hat com(licated !ashion that Einstein</p><p>has introduced+ I do not (ro(ose to 'i.e you alecture on the la&amp; o! 'ra.itation, asinter(reted $y Einstein, $ecause that a'ain&amp;ould ta)e some time0 at any rate, you nolon'er ha.e the sort o! Natural =a&amp; that youhad in the Ne&amp;tonian system, &amp;here, !or somereason that no$ody could understand, nature</p><p>$eha.ed in a uni!orm !ashion+ We no&amp; -ndthat a 'reat many thin's &amp;e thou'ht &amp;ere</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 7/26</p><p>Natural =a&amp;s are really human con.entions+3ou )no&amp; that e.en in the remotest de(th o!stellar s(ace there are still three !eet to ayard+ hat is, no dou$t, a .ery remar)a$le</p><p>!act, $ut you &amp;ould hardly call it a la&amp; o!nature+ And a 'reat many thin's that ha.e$een re'arded as la&amp;s o! nature are o! that)ind+ n the other hand, &amp;here you can 'etdo&amp;n to any )no&amp;led'e o! &amp;hat atoms actuallydo, you &amp;ill -nd that they are much lesssu$%ect to la&amp; than (eo(le thou'ht, and that</p><p>the la&amp;s at &amp;hich you arri.e are statisticala.era'es o! %ust the sort that &amp;ould emer'e!rom chance+ here is, as &amp;e all )no&amp;, a la&amp;that i! you thro&amp; dice you &amp;ill 'et dou$le siesonly a$out once in thirty#si times, and &amp;e donot re'ard that as e.idence that the !all o! thedice is re'ulated $y desi'n0 on the contrary, i!</p><p>the dou$le sies came e.ery time &amp;e shouldthin) that there &amp;as desi'n+ he la&amp;s o!nature are o! that sort as re'ards to a 'reatmany o! them+ hey are statistical a.era'essuch as &amp;ould emer'e !rom the la&amp;s o!chance0 and that ma)es the &amp;hole $usiness o!natural la&amp; much less im(ressi.e than it</p><p>!ormerly &amp;as+ ?uite a(art !rom that, &amp;hichre(resents the momentary state o! sciencethat may chan'e tomorro&amp;, the &amp;hole ideathat natural la&amp;s im(ly a la'i.er is due to acon!usion $et&amp;een natural and human la&amp;s+</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 8/26</p><p>ho&amp; thin's do in !act $eha.e, and, $ein' amere descri(tion o! &amp;hat they in !act do, youcannot ar'ue that there must $e some$ody&amp;ho told them to do that, $ecause e.en</p><p>su((osin' that there &amp;ere you are then !aced&amp;ith the uestion, Why did "od issue %ustthose natural la&amp;s and no others4 I! you saythat he did it sim(ly !rom his o&amp;n 'ood(leasure, and &amp;ithout any reason, you then-nd that there is somethin' &amp;hich is notsu$%ect to la&amp;, and so your train o! natural la&amp;</p><p>is interru(ted+ I! you say, as more orthodotheolo'ians do, that in all the la&amp;s &amp;hich "odissues he had a reason !or 'i.in' those la&amp;srather than others ## the reason, o! course,$ein' to create the $est uni.erse, althou'hyou &amp;ould ne.er thin) it to loo) at it ## i! there&amp;as a reason !or the la&amp;s &amp;hich "od 'a.e,</p><p>then "od himsel! &amp;as su$%ect to la&amp;, andthere!ore you do not 'et any ad.anta'e $yintroducin' "od as an intermediary+ 3ou reallyha.e a la&amp; outside and anterior to the di.ineedicts, and "od does not ser.e your (ur(ose,$ecause he is not the ultimate la'i.er+ Inshort, this &amp;hole ar'ument !rom natural la&amp;</p><p>no lon'er has anythin' li)e the stren'th thatit used to ha.e+ I am tra.elin' on in time in myre.ie&amp; o! these ar'uments+ he ar'umentsthat are used !or the eistence o! "od chan'etheir character as time 'oes on+ hey &amp;ere at-rst hard intellectual ar'uments em$odyin'certain uite de-nite !allacies+ As &amp;e come to</p><p>modern times they $ecome less res(ecta$le</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 9/26</p><p>intellectually and more and more a5ected $y a)ind o! morali@in' .a'ueness+</p><p>he Ar'ument rom esi'n</p><p>he net ste( in the (rocess $rin's us to thear'ument !rom desi'n+ 3ou all )no&amp; thear'ument !rom desi'n8 e.erythin' in the &amp;orldis made %ust so that &amp;e can mana'e to li.e inthe &amp;orld, and i! the &amp;orld &amp;as e.er so little</p><p>di5erent &amp;e could not mana'e to li.e in it+hat is the ar'ument !rom desi'n+ Itsometimes ta)es a rather curious !orm0 !orinstance, it is ar'ued that ra$$its ha.e &amp;hitetails in order to $e easy to shoot+ I do not)no&amp; ho&amp; ra$$its &amp;ould .ie&amp; that a((lication+It is an easy ar'ument to (arody+ 3ou all )no&amp;</p><p>oltaires remar), that o$.iously the nose &amp;asdesi'ned to $e such as to -t s(ectacles+ hatsort o! (arody has turned out to $e not nearlyso &amp;ide o! the mar) as it mi'ht ha.e seemedin the ei'hteenth century, $ecause since thetime o! ar&amp;in &amp;e understand much $etter&amp;hy li.in' creatures are ada(ted to their</p><p>en.ironment+ It is not that their en.ironment&amp;as made to $e suita$le to them, $ut thatthey 're&amp; to $e suita$le to it, and that is the$asis o! ada(tation+ here is no e.idence o!desi'n a$out it+</p><p>When you come to loo) into this ar'ument</p><p>!rom desi'n, it is a most astonishin' thin'that (eo(le can $elie.e that this &amp;orld, &amp;ith</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 10/26</p><p>all the thin's that are in it, &amp;ith all its de!ects,should $e the $est that omni(otence andomniscience ha.e $een a$le to (roduce inmillions o! years+ I really cannot $elie.e it+ o</p><p>you thin) that, i! you &amp;ere 'rantedomni(otence and omniscience and millions o!years in &amp;hich to (er!ect your &amp;orld, you could(roduce nothin' $etter than the :u :lu :lan,the ascisti, and Mr+ Winston Churchill4 ReallyI am not much im(ressed &amp;ith the (eo(le &amp;hosay8 *=oo) at me8 I am such a s(lendid (roduct</p><p>that there must ha.e $een desi'n in theuni.erse+* I am not .ery much im(ressed $ythe s(lendor o! those (eo(le+ Moreo.er, i! youacce(t the ordinary la&amp;s o! science, you ha.eto su((ose that human li!e and li!e in 'eneralon this (lanet &amp;ill die out in due course8 it ismerely a &gt;ash in the (an0 it is a sta'e in the</p><p>decay o! the solar system0 at a certain sta'eo! decay you 'et the sort o! conditions andtem(erature and so !orth &amp;hich are suita$le to(roto(lasm, and there is li!e !or a short timein the li!e o! the &amp;hole solar system+ 3ou seein the moon the sort o! thin' to &amp;hich theearth is tendin' ## somethin' dead, cold, and</p><p>li!eless+</p><p>I am told that that sort o! .ie&amp; is de(ressin',and (eo(le &amp;ill sometimes tell you that i! they$elie.ed that they &amp;ould not $e a$le to 'o onli.in'+ o not $elie.e it0 it is all nonsense+No$ody really &amp;orries much a$out &amp;hat is</p><p>'oin' to ha((en millions o! years hence+ E.eni! they thin) they are &amp;orryin' much a$out</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 11/26</p><p>that, they are really decei.in' themsel.es+hey are &amp;orried a$out somethin' much moremundane, or it may merely $e a $ad di'estion0$ut no$ody is really seriously rendered</p><p>unha((y $y the thou'ht o! somethin' that is'oin' to ha((en in this &amp;orld millions andmillions o! years hence+ here!ore, althou'h itis o! course a 'loomy .ie&amp; to su((ose that li!e&amp;ill die out ## at least I su((ose &amp;e may sayso, althou'h sometimes &amp;hen I contem(latethe thin's that (eo(le do &amp;ith their li.es I</p><p>thin) it is almost a consolation ## it is not suchas to render li!e misera$le+ It merely ma)esyou turn your attention to other thin's+</p><p>he Moral Ar'uments or eity</p><p>No&amp; &amp;e reach one sta'e !urther in &amp;hat I shallcall the intellectual descent that the heistsha.e made in their ar'umentations, and &amp;ecome to &amp;hat are called the moral ar'uments!or the eistence o! "od+ 3ou all )no&amp;, o!course, that there used to $e in the old daysthree intellectual ar'uments !or the eistence</p><p>o! "od, all o! &amp;hich &amp;ere dis(osed o! $yImmanuel :ant in the Critiue o! ure Reason0$ut no sooner had he dis(osed o! thosear'uments than he in.ented a ne&amp; one, amoral ar'ument, and that uite con.incedhim+ </p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Why I am Not a Christian.doc</p><p> 12/26</p><p>illustrates &amp;hat the (sycho#analysts so muchem(hasi@e ## the immensely stron'er holdu(on us that our .ery early associations ha.ethan those o! later times+</p><p>:ant, as I say, in.ented a ne&amp; moral ar'ument!or the eistence o! "od, and that in .aryin'!orms &amp;as etremely (o(ular durin' thenineteenth century+ It has all sorts o! !orms+ne !orm is to say that there &amp;ould $e nori'ht and &amp;ron' unless "od eisted+ I am not</p><p>!or the moment concerned &amp;ith &amp;hether thereis a di5erence $et&amp;een ri'ht and &amp;r...</p></li></ul>