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Stupid questions, brilliant answers.

”Q: Why are you not a Christian?

Bertrand Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favour of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.

Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?

Bertrand Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite… at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true.

Q: I was thinking of those people who find that some kind of religious code helps them to live their lives. It gives them a very strict set of rules, the rights and the wrongs.

Bertrand Russell: Yes, but those rules are generally quite mistaken. A great many of them do more harm than good. And they would probably be able to find a rational morality that they could live by if they dropped this irrational traditional taboo morality that comes down from savage ages.

Q: But are we, perhaps the ordinary person perhaps isn’t strong enough to find this own personal ethic. They have to have something imposed upon them from outside.

Bertrand Russell: Oh, I don’t think that’s true, and what is imposed on you from outside is of no value whatever. It doesn’t count.

Q: Well, you were brought up, of course, as a Christian. When did you first decide that you did not want to remain a believer in the Christian ethic?

Bertrand Russell: I never decided that I didn’t want to remain a believer. I decided… between the ages of 15 and 18, I spent almost all my spare time thinking about Christian dogmas, and trying to find out whether there was any reason to believe them. And by the time I was 18, I’d discarded the last of them.

Q: Do you think that that gave you an extra strength in your life?

Bertrand Russell: Oh, I don’t… no, I shouldn’t have said so, neither extra strength nor the opposite. I mean, I was just engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.

Q: As you approach the end of life, do you have any fear of some kind of afterlife, or do you feel that that is just…

Bertrand Russell: Oh, no, I think that’s nonsense.

Q: There is no afterlife?

Bertrand Russell: None whatever.

Q: Do you have any fear of something that is common amongst atheists and agnostics, who have been atheists or agnostics all their lives, who are converted just before they die, to a form of religion?

Bertrand Russell: Well, you know, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as religious people think it does. Because religious people, most of them, think that it’s a virtuous act to tell lies about the death beds of agnostics and such. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t happen very often.”


  1. says

    Something is true, or not true, or it’s necessary to add another axiom to set theory. Godel went on to add to Russel’s work on Logic (Principia Mathematica) by proving an ‘Incompleteness theorem’.

    • sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

      Russell did add another axiom- in lay terms: “And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment.”

      In fact, as Russell acknowledged elsewhere, we cannot just suspend judgment and have to assess the likelihood- the probability- of many things being true or not because we have to act as if they are true or false- One of the most obvious is economic theories. We cannot know which economic theories are true but whether and how the recession/depression ends- even whether it is a recession or a depression at all- depends on whether the ones out leaders think are true are true.

      There’s a fuller summary of his views here::

      The interesting thing is that christians often explain how simple and easily refutable Russell’s arguments are. In fact, they regard them as so easy to refute that they never bother to do so.

    • says

      The incompleteness theorem essentially says that there are things that are both true and unproveable in a symbol-manipulation system. Still true or false, though.

  2. AVIJIT DAS says

    All are fantastic replies with full intensity..& power..but I really liked the second Answer..most..I think sometime we need stupid questions to get those excellent replies like these..Those are stupid because most of us have stupid concepts regarding religions,God and different mystic things..we like to circulate around those, not all , but most are. Thanks দিদি..! thank you very much for this Article..!!


  3. Sarmistha says

    I wish everybody could fathom this fundamental thing & life could have been so much easier and beautiful. no religious conflict, caste problem, no subjugation of women in the name of culture & religion. we could have strive to be better human beings instead of some stupid things imposed by godly business.

  4. Richard Page says

    I so sick of stupid people who think they are atheists… waffling crap, trying to be “clever”

    Those questions weren’t stupid, they were excellent questions that prompted good answers of a mans shallow minded “opinion”.

    It is moronic to think that this interview is somehow an argument between theology and atheism, or that either ones argument is more substantial than the other, especially if you pre-select your winner based on your own beliefs.

    The interviewer never expressed her own belief, but simply asked valid questions from a inquisitive point of view that people with different beliefs may want to know about, to determine how this particular atheist would come to their point of view.

    It is typical of an Atheist (no doubt the originator of this page) to assume that a belief system is “stupid” because arrogantly most atheist believe that anyone who differs from their belief is wrong and therefore stupid. This stance in itself is the true stupidity.

    I find that atheists love nothing more than patting each other on the back, at how “scientific” and logical they are, while debasing people with, for lack of a better word “faith”. This is a bit pathetic if you ask me, and needy, like they get their assurance from others.

    Atheist are in their element “preaching” to “believers” how clever they are…and look I’ve got big friends to back me up, Bertrand Russel and Richard Hawkins. This preaching of belief is the opposing side of the very same “Dogma” they supposedly oppose, but with a different set of gullible monkeys hanging on to their every word.

    At this point I know doubt have some stupid Atheist foaming at the mouth aching to tirade me with reasons why my belief in God is flawed and how superior they are….Well bad luck sucker because I believe in no God figure, I do however study beliefs and philosophize . So can speak objectively, and from this point of view Atheists are just as bad as the bible bashes and their arguments are just as idiotic.

    If you truly believe in a futility of existence why aren’t you living in chaos? come on Dawkinites? Why are you subscribing to a rule system and Morals? We will all die in a very short universal time which on the grand scale of things is an instance…so why the hell are you living an imposed moral code, there is no consequence if you truly are atheist.
    If your argument is that you respect others lives then thats not athiesm as your respect of others life is bound to the common element of life energy being sacred, and if life energy is sacred then this is a GOD as thats what all Religious faiths are founded upon.

  5. says

    Russell unfortunately was a dupe of Jews. You can see from his answers that he made no attempt to retort to Jewish beliefs – for example, that they are ‘the chosen people’. Probably this is why he was publishable. In his later life he became progressively less publicised.

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