Bertrand Russell

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Bertrand Russell in 1907

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.

Russell's views on religion can be found in his popular book, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects.

"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.[1]"

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v · d Atheism
Terminology   Etymology of the word atheist · Weak atheism · Strong atheism · Agnosticism · Atheist vs. agnostic · Tenets and dogma
Contemporary literature   The End of Faith · The God Delusion · God: The Failed Hypothesis · Letter to a Christian Nation · God Is Not Great · Irreligion · 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
Classic literature   Why I Am Not a Christian
Atheist and secular groups   Atheist groups · Secular charities · How American Non-Atheists view Atheists
Contemporary authors   Richard Dawkins · Daniel Dennett · A. C. Grayling · Sam Harris · Guy P. Harrison · John Allen Paulos · James Randi · Victor Stenger
Internet non-believers   Reginald Vaughn Finley · PZ Myers
Writers and philosophers   David Hume · Robert Ingersoll · Friedrich Nietzsche · Bertrand Russell · Carl Sagan · Voltaire · Jean-Paul Sartre · John Stuart Mill · Karl Marx · Heraclitus
v · d Rationalism
Rationalist Ideas   Reason · Fundamental rights · Evidence · Freethought
History of rationalism   Pythagoras · Plato · Aristotle · Socrates · Avicenna · Maimonides · St. Thomas Aquinas · René Descartes · Baruch Spinoza · Gottfried Leibniz · Immanuel Kant · Søren Kierkegaard
Notable rationalists   Emile Zola · Bertrand Russell · George Eliot · E.M. Forster · Prabir Ghosh · Joseph Edamaruku · Narendra Dabholkar
Rationalist organizations   Rationalist Press Association ·