Abandoning reason for authority

Abandoning reason for authority June 21, 2008

As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles. Whose authority? The Old Testament? The New Testament? The Koran?

In practice, people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the others. At one time, the most influential text in the Bible was: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Now-a-days, people pass over this text, in silence if possible; if not, with an apology.

And so, even when we have a sacred book, we still choose as truth whatever suits our own prejudices. No Catholic, for instance, takes seriously the text which says that a bishop should be the husband of one wife.

(Bertrand Russell, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish” (1943) in The Portable Atheist, p. 188)

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