What I Believe

What I Believe

What I Believe

What I Believe

Synopsis

Along with Why I Am Not a Christian , this essay must rank as the most articulate example of Russell's famed atheism. It is also one of the most notorious. Used as evidence in a 1940 court case in which Russell was declared unfit to teach college-level philosophy, What I Believe was to become one of his most defining works. The ideas contained within were and are controversial, contentious and - to the religious - downright blasphemous. A remarkable work, it remains the best concise introduction to Russell's thought.

Excerpt

Fifty years after reading Bertrand Russell for the first time, I read him today with mixed feelings. in the middle 1950s, his History of Western Philosophy was a treat to teenage schoolboys bored to death with the slog of O Level. It gave us all the weapons we needed to torment the school chaplain when he tried to explain to agnostic teenagers Aquinas's Five Ways to the knowledge of God's existence. Why I am not a Christian was an even more valuable weapon against authority. My housemaster's belief that Russell's four marriages discredited his views on sex, God and nuclear warfare only confirmed my view that most holders of authority were bigoted, illogical and not to be taken seriously.

I have not wholly changed my mind. Russell's four marriages are irrelevant to his views on sex, God and nuclear warfare; I now think that his marital difficulties should have made him more wary about making the pursuit of happiness

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