Bertrand William Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, and mathematician, working mostly in the 20th century. A prolific writer, Russell was a strong advocate of the creative and rational life, and he spoke passionately about his many controversial positions, including atheism.
"My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity."
- — Bertrand Russell, Is There a God?
Bertrand Russell was raised Unitarian, and remained a Unitarian until age 15, when he left the church over issues of theodicy and atheism. Amusingly, these same objections would eventually become mainstays of Unitarian thinking, such that modern Unitarian Universalists consider Bertrand Russell one of their own. In a sense, Lord Russell may have been more a Unitarian than the Unitarians of his time.
Russell formulated the idea of a celestial teapot to illustrate the unreasonableness of expecting skeptics to disprove God.
One of Russell's students was the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, although they came disagree about the role of logic and philosophy.
- "The Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants and then immediately dash their brains out: by this means they secured these infants went to Heaven. No orthodox Christian can find any logical reason for condemning their action, although all nowadays do so. In countless ways the doctrine of personal immortality in its Christian form has had disastrous effects upon morals."
- "Apart from logical cogency, there is to me something a little odd about the ethical valuations of those who think that an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent Deity, after preparing the ground by many millions of years of lifeless nebulae, would consider Himself adequately rewarded by the final emergence of Hitler, Stalin and the H bomb."
Ideas and concepts