March 9, 2010

On Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, by Bertrand Russell

I like Russell because he frames his morality structure from a null point. His work, especially on religion as is the focus here, is incredibly even-handed. If you compare this work to one of the more modern 'evangelical atheists' such as Dawkins, Harris, or Hitchens, what you will see is that Russell is not as antagonistic towards the received dogma that he is writing against. I don't know if this is a structure of the intellectual environment that he wrote in, or just part of Russell's own temperament and style. However, I feel that his dissent was somehow "braver" than the more modern contrarian freethinkers because of that same intellectual environment. Russell's writing is clear and considered and thoughtful. Even if you don't agree with his positions, he writes as the most reasonable person in the room. If you are an atheist or a doubter, I would recommend this book. If you are religious, I would recommend this book even more strongly. If you don't know the counter-arguments, your faith is not as like the little children, it is childish.