Introduction: Bertrand Russell as a Devoted Rationalist
Bertrand Russell was a famous British philosopher, historian, writer, social critic, and activist, who fought for the idea of agnosticism and became a father of analytic philosophy. The philosopher was a member of a noble family, which professed liberal views. Russell’s godfather was an influential British political economist John Mill and his grandfather, John Russell, used to serve as a Prime Minister of Britain. Thus, Bertrand Russell often claims that his qualities of individualism were inherited from his kin, which was not afraid of open disputes.
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This work refers to one of the strongest rationalism contradictions, which was initiated by Bertrand Russell. Specifically, the paper dwells on the origins Russell’s agnosticism as well as the major arguments that were provided by the philosopher in support of his theory. Through the study, one can trace the relations between science and theology that were formed in the first half of the 20th century.
The Conflict between Science and Religion
Russell’s Theory of God Existence
In his political writings, Bertrand Russell often refers to religious beliefs as to mere superstitions. Moreover, the philosopher claims that church dogmas were the main stimulators of all wars and oppositions. Due to Russell, religion was the issue, which shaded the common sense of multiple nations. Therefore, one may conclude that his opposition stemmed from his political ideals and rationalist opinions.
As a philosopher, Bertrand Russell was an initiator of separating philosophy from religion. Despite many philosophical and moralistic works were based on theological views, Russell considered it unacceptable to compare the science, which aimed at finding the logical explanations of world processes with dubious prejudices of church (Carlisle, 2013).
A firm belief in scientific knowledge was another reason for Russell’s antagonistic approach to religion. In this respect, the philosopher is often compared to Nietzsche, who proclaimed a death of God as a starting point of scholarly progress. Thus, Bertrand Russell considered that every event or activity could be explained by the means of scientific theories.
A consistent explanation of the dispute may be found in Russell’s book on religion and science. In this work, the philosopher states that science represents the aspect of social life, which possesses an eternal history and a number of supporting implications. In contrast to it, theology, due to Russell, evolved from separate beliefs of Greeks and Arabs, which did not provide any facts or evidence that could have proven the real existence of a godly entity (Russell, 1997).
Despite the philosopher aimed at disrupting the connection between religion and the objective reality of knowledge and facts, Russell never denied the idea of theology as a social issue. On the opposite, he provided a complex description of constituent parts of the notion, which are a creed, Church, and a code of morality. The author believed that the existence of personal ethics that stemmed from religion could survive in a global society unless it interfered with science. Furthermore, Russell considered that the adoption of creeds was a vital part of social life. The only aspect of theology, which was fiercely disapproved by the philosopher, was the concept of Church. According to Russell, this institution was created as an artificial reflection of theological morality. Therefore, one may conclude that Bertrand Russell did not interfere with religion as a notion. Still, he regarded it as a failing part in the opposition between science and theology.
The central issues of the dispute that was offered by Bertrand Russell are recounted in his Why I Am Not a Christian. The work had a significant influence on the development of British secularization and was quite popular in the leading academic settings of the world. It is acknowledged that the book could have been found in every library that functioned in the first part of the 20th century (Herrick, n.d.). The tendency symbolizes the relevance of the philosopher’s views and the weakening of the control of a church.
Moreover, Russell’s book Relation and Science addressed the concept of compatibility and provided a consistent description of the writer’s philosophy (Nickerson, 2015). Bertrand Russell, however, does not dwell on any descriptive peculiarities of the contradiction. As a pure rationalist, he rather explains the logical foundation of the reality and does not directly disrupt the dogmas of theology. The critics often state that it seemed quite unusual not to use the principles of demythologization and existential theory as the subjects for religion rebuttal. However, Russell’s position is explicitly justified by his sayings, according to which he never fought against religion, but rather expressed his approval of science.
The Overview of the Cause Arguments
Despite Bertrand Russell did not justify his apathy to God worshipping, the critics outline several consistent arguments that provide a logical explanation of the philosopher’s views.
The first statement that support’s the rationalism of Bertrand’s position accounts for the direct reference to the facts. Thus, Bertrand Russell, states that one can believe exclusively in the things, which may be seen. Since the power of God can not be perceived by any of physical senses, the idea of religious belief failed. Moreover, due to the philosopher, every event had to be inflicted by a certain cause. The church, on the opposite, promoted blind believing without any consistent grounding. Therefore, Bertrand Russell could not support the idea of God existence.
The second argument extends from the dogma of perfect design. Thus, according to the teachings of the church, everything that is created by God has its complete form. In other words, there is neither material thing nor a human being that could have been brought into the world in an altered design. This theory is often explained through the instances of primary natural suitability. For example, it is often claimed that white bears received its color from God so that to be indistinguishable on the background of snow. The opinion, however, may be quickly disapproved. Mainly, it may be claimed that rabbits, apparently, were created with white tails so that to be easily noticed and caught.
Thus, on the basis of this contradiction, one distinguishes a discrepancy in the intentions of God. Furthermore, with the evolvement of Darwin’s theory, the studies of nature were elaborated and it was acknowledged that any peculiarities of biological constitution are revealed as the signs of adaptability to the conditions of the surrounding environment (Seckel, 2006). Therefore, in this context, the theory of Russell was once more reiterated. According to this statement, the design of the world is not the creation of one power but rather a congregation of joint projections that shape the rational reality.
The third argument concerns the process of injustice treatment from the religious perspective. Thus, the official church often dwells on the idea of Godly punishment, which comes to the offenders and treats wickedness. Nevertheless, the world history contains a vast number of instances, which disclose the nature of inferiority and maltreatment that remained unpunished. Therefore, the authority of God is, to a great extent, doubted since there is no evidence of injustice remedies that could prove the existence of the highest creature.
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Finally, the fourth statement that addresses the compatibility is the historical factor, which partly coincides with the aspect of justice. Thus, in his works, Bertrand Russell claims that every prominent activist that fought for the well-being of the global society stood in a straight opposition to the church. In contrast to it, it is acknowledged that those periods, which were marked with a straight anti-secularism, recount multiple acts of violence and cruelty. These signs revealed itself in the processes of Inquisitions and tortures. Thus, one may conclude that people, who were extremely pious, could not find peace on the earth and were often harshly mistreated. Consequently, the logical facts disarray the church as a source of blessing and justice.
Conclusion: Bertrand Russell as a Founder of Religious Dispute
In this work, the contribution of Bertrand Russell to the theory of rationalism is regarded. In the context of the philosopher’s scientific ideas, his major views on religion are revealed. The theory of Russell provides a cause-effect statement, which proves that the existence of God is illogical since it dwells on no rational theory. In this respect, the author states that every world religion is harmful to the views of the global citizens since it promotes vain ideals, which fail to improve the objective reality (Weigel, 2002).
Carlisle, C. (2013). Bertrand Russell on the Science vs. Religion Debate [Press release]. Web.
Herrick, J. (n.d.). Bertrand Russell: A Passionate Rationalist. Web.
Nickerson, S. (2015). Why I am not a Christian: Bertrand Russell on science and religion [Press release]. Web.
Russell, B. (1997). Religion and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seckel, A. (2006). Bertrand Russell on God and Religion. New York: Prometheus Books.
Weigel, A. (2002). A critique of Bertrand Russell’s religious position. The Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society, 2(1), 139-158.