Not A Christian Fallacies Essay, Research Paper
Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become one of the prophets of your age. Bertrand Russell wrote this controversial statement in his essay, How to Become a Man of Genius. Bertrand Russell was a man who some deemed one of the most provocative philosophers of his time. Other people would say that he was just a man who hated Christians. He spent his life writing and philosophizing about religion and faith. He opposes Christian views and states his own beliefs through essays and other works throughout his life.
In his essay Why I Am Not a Christian , Bertrand Russell expresses his views on Christianity and faith in general. He is very adamant about opposing traditional Christian views. He states at the beginning of the essay: Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian I have to tell you two different things: first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and, secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men These views of Christianity and eternal life come up in the essay many times. He writes to both Christians and non-Christians in this essay. As a Christian reading this essay, I was both offended and intrigued at the same time. Russell uses Scripture in his essay to waiver the Christian reader s views and faith. To the non-Christian or the Atheist, Russell s essay could be interesting in the fact that it is contrary to all the views previously heard about Christianity. On the other hand the essay could be persuasive to atheism. He doubts the fact that there is eternal life or hell. The worldly man could see this as a way out of his sin. As long as a man believes with passion and is dedicated to whatever it may be that he believes in, he is in the right according to Russell. The fact that Russell s essay is based mainly upon his personal beliefs and not on any solid factual arguments can, to the average reader, seem very persuasive and truthful. The intellectual reader can spot the misrepresentation of the Bible and faith in general that Russell portrays. Bertrand Russell states in the essay I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. To the shrewd eye the fallacies that he states could be easily picked out, but to the untrained eye the opinions of Russell could be taken as fact. This statement of falsehood toward the Christian beliefs may sway an uneducated reader to believe that Christians are responsible for the moral downfall of the world. This is just one example of how Russell uses personal opinion to force the reader into siding with him.
Stemming from his hatred for Christians, Russell interchanges Protestants and Catholics. He relates Protestants and Roman Catholics as being one in the same. He refers to the Catholic belief that there isn t necessarily a hell or place of damnation as a Christian belief. This Catholic standard was set forth by the Archbishop of Canterbury, not adopted by Protestants. He leads the reader to assume that both Catholics and Christians have the same viewpoints across the board. This just isn t true. As Protestants, we believe that there are repercussions for our earthly actions and that there are eternal consequences, mainly hell. This generalization makes the intelligent reader realize that Russell failed to research the beliefs of the religion that he is attempting to disprove.
Russell depicts Christ throughout his essay as being a man who preached hell and damnation. He says There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. His theory was that Christ was immoral because he believed in suffering. What Russell fails to mention is that Christ came to die so that no man would have to endure that pain and torture. Christ came to preach everlasting life not eternal damnation however he did tell people that the only way to heaven is through Him and without him there is only hell and suffering. Russell does not mention the positive side to the pain and suffering and because of this he misinterprets the Christian viewpoint.
Bertrand Russell, if nothing else, had a passion for his opinions. His effort to express his opinions to his audience, after careful examination, was in vain. Anyone who reads his essay with any kind of religious background can tell immediately that he is inserting his opinions instead of facts. This brings me to the conclusion that Russell, although well opinionated, failed to be consistent or persuasive in his essay, Why I Am Not a Christian.