Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am Not A Christian”

Actor Terrance Hardiman reads Bertrand Russell’s 1927 essay/lecture, “Why I Am Not a Christian,”

(via Open Culture, who add this to their free audio collection.

The full text was published and is available here. I think my favorite part is the ending, when Russell makes his appeal for a type of intellectual integrity. If you’d like, it’s “positive atheism” at it’s most basic:

The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.

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