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Why I am not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (Routledge Classics) Paperback – 2 Feb 2004

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4.1 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (2 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415325102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415325103
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'Devastating in its use of cold logic.' - The Independent

'The most robust as well as the most witty infidel since Voltaire and he can not fail to sharpen men's sense of what is entailed both in belief and unbelief.' - The Spectator

'What makes the book valuable is life-long uncompromising intellectual honesty.' - Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was born in England and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. His long career established him as one of the most influential philosophers, mathematicians, and social reformers of the twentieth century.


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Format: Paperback
I first came across this book when I was at school. Our divinity teacher, a clergyman, was asked about it and he told us not to read it because it was wicked. The result was that most of the class read it and, in my case, it was the first step to becoming an atheist.
Russell, in his fifteen essays, is humane, rational and tolerant. Indeed, he exhibits many of the qualities his christian critics appear to lack. Anyone who approaches this book with an open mind will be encouraged to think about beliefs and superstitions which from childhood many of us were encouraged to accept uncritically. The result, for some readers, will be to discover a freedom of thought and action outside the stultifying, and often nonsensical, strictures of religious belief. This is a stimulating book which has the capacity, if approached with an open mind, to change your life for the better. In reading it you have nothing to lose except what William Blake descibed as "mind forged manacles." Russell is a helpful step towards intellectual freedom.
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Having read the reviews, I wonder what people thought they were buying. Obviously there are a few discomfitted Christians providing low votes, only to be expected, given the subject matter. What really surprises me are the reviews saying the book is mainstream or not a thorough philosophical tear-down of belief in God. The book is what it is, and a product of its time. The ideas have become mainstream, but at the time must have been radical and many modern atheists have adopted and expanded its ideas. The book is also a collection of essays, so a unified, coherent "tear-down" is unrealistic.
What shines throughout this book is Russell himself: the clarity of thought and expression is marvellous, complex ideas are expressed with seeming ease. Russell also doesn't shy away from the resulting (then controversial) outcomes of his reasoning.The sheer humanity of Russell's thinking is shot through this work.
The section about losing the position at New York college was fascinating, and should serve as a warning in our own time about the shutting down of academic freedom in our own times.
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Format: Paperback
A compilation of lectures and essays dating back to the 1920s, the contents of this book is liberating for any inquiring person feeling trapped in the nonsense of religious superstition. Years ago while attending college in the U.S., I came across this book and was captured by this quotation on the back cover:
"Religion, since it has its source in terror, has dignified certain kinds of fear and made people think them not disgraceful. In this it has done mankind a great disservice: all fear is bad..."
This book stripped the blindfold of religion from my eyes and opened the way toward rational thought. I never looked back. It's a good starting point for anybody wanting to step free of the muck that clutters too many minds, whether Christian or any other religion. Beyond this book are several others on a variety of subjects displaying Russell's compelling clarity of thought. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell is certainly one I can recommend. Give it a shot; you have nothing to lose but your chains.
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Format: Paperback
Bertrand Russell's greatest skill was to communicate complex and provocative ideas with clarity and logic. Why I Am Not A Christian includes a variety of essays, some more immediately accessible than others, but the title work is as calm and reasonable dismantling of Christianity as could possibly be written. There is no point me reiterating his arguments here, but Russell makes so persuasive a case that the only conclusion is thus: if you believe Christianity is what it claims to be, you clearly haven't given the subject proper consideration
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Format: Paperback
Bertrand Russell was all of the above, and more. A true polymath, who lived the very full life, to the age of 97. I first read this work when I was a freshman in college, and felt it was long overdue for a re-read. It is a collection of 15 essays that mainly address religious and moral issues, which were written over more than half a century, from 1899 to the mid-1950's. Many of them were talks that he had given, back in those pre-TV days when people went to listen to speakers in person. Russell's preface for this work is dated 1957.

The first two essays, including the one that was used for the collection's title are rather scathing denunciations of organized religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Russell presents his arguments against those arguments that "prove" the existence of God. He rightly points out the contradictions involved in those who purport to be Christians, but do not follow the teachings of the Bible. Most famously, and certainly one you do not hear in the mega-churches of today, concerns the chances of a rich man getting into Heaven... that is, the equivalent of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. And, of course, there is no comma after the straightforward commandment: Thou Shall Not Kill. Russell selects a few more, for example: Mathew 16:28: "There are some standing here who will not taste death till the Son of Man will come into his Kingdom." Thus, the "second coming" was predicted for the near future, in Biblical terms. He does note the comfort some congregational members derived from noting that their Minister, who was also preaching about an eminent "second coming" later that day was planting trees.

The collection includes an excellent essay "The Fate of Thomas Paine.
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