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Why I Am Not a Christian

Why I Am Not a Christian

And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects

“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 itself—questions about man’s place in the universe and the nature of the good life, questions that involve life after death, morality, freedom, education, and sexual ethics. He brings to his treatment of these questions the same courage, scrupulous logic, and lofty wisdom for which his other work as philosopher, writer, and teacher has been famous. These qualities make the essays included in this book perhaps the most graceful and moving presentation of the freethinker's position since the days of Hume and Voltaire.

“I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue,” Russell declares in his Preface, and his reasoned opposition to any system or dogma which he feels may shackle man’s mind runs through all the essays in this book, whether they were written as early as 1899 or as late as 1954.

The book has been edited, with Lord Russell’s full approval and cooperation, by Professor Paul Edwards of the Philosophy Department of New York University. In an Appendix, Professor Edwards contributes a full account of the highly controversial “Bertrand Russell Case” of 1940, in which Russell was judicially declared “unfit” to teach philosophy at the College of the City of New York.

Whether the reader shares or rejects Bertrand Russell’s views, he will find this book an invigorating challenge to set notions, a masterly statement of a philosophical position, and a pure joy to read.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671203238 | 
  • October 1967
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Why I Am Not a Christian

This lecture was delivered on March 6, 1927, at Battersea Town Hail under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society.

As your Chairman has told you, the subject about which I am going to speak to you tonight is "Why I Am Not a Christian." Perhaps it would be as well, first of all, to try to make out what one means by the word Christian. It is used these days in a very loose sense by a great many people. Some people mean no more by it than a person who attempts to live a good life. In that sense I suppose there would be Christians in all sects... see more

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