Monday, April 14, 2008

God and Religion

(Continuing Bertrand Russell's "God and Religion")

Chapter 4 is "What Is an Agnostic?". Not much to say here. Nothing I haven't seen before.

Russell is most opposed to dogma. That is, a set of facts unquestionably accepted as true. I don't understand this stand. I wonder how much of the modern postmodern's "arrogance of certainty" has stemmed from this.

Everyone has a set of dogma. Russell believes his mind is sufficient for determining truth (Chapter 5, pg 84). He may claim this is "minimal" or "necessary", but it is dogma. The Christian dogma is that our reason is fallen, and fallible. God's revelation (for our generation, the Bible) is infallible, and totally sufficient. I'm not certain how Russell is equipped to judge between the two...

Chapter 5 is "Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?" Apart from the point above ("the supremacy of reason"), Russell acknowledges that "atheists" are technically "agnostics" as far as knowing whether God exists or not. Still, he prefers the term "atheist" to designate the vigor of his beliefs.

On page 85, he challenges the reader to disprove the existence of the Greek gods, believing it an impossible task. 1 Corinthians 8:4b "we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one".

Chapter 6 is "The Faith of a Rationalist". On page 89, Russell talks about the impact of Copernicus on belief in God. Here, I think, he makes the error of belief (or non-belief) in a "man-centered" universe. That is, creation for the purposes of men (whether it be happiness, fulfillment, glory, etc.).

Creation is "God centered" (aka "Christ centered").

I'll close with a quote from page 91, "Only kindly men believe in a kindly god, and they would be kindly in any case." This is perhaps the saddest thing I have read so far. Russell seems completely unaware of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes wicked, evil men; and makes them saints.

I know. I'm one :)

1 comment:

GCT said...

"Russell is most opposed to dogma. That is, a set of facts unquestionably accepted as true. I don't understand this stand."

Because unquestioning acceptance of dogma leads to things like the Inquisition, war in Iraq, etc. Science has progressed because it is open to new facts and data, which is something we should all be open to. Of course, I forgot that I'm speaking to someone who is proud of his intransigence.