Friday, April 18, 2008

God and Religion

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

In chapter 15 "The Value of Free Thought" Russell gives a sort of "free thinker manifesto". It provides a couple of talking points.

Page 239, "he must be free of two things: the force of tradition, and the tyranny of his own passions." I basically agree, however as Oden says; while the modernist must reject any notion of wisdom from prior generations, the orthodox Christian has the freedom of integrating wisdom distilled by nearly two thousand years of "free thinkers".

On pages 240-241 and 248, Russell poo-poos any influence of fear. He has a point, 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear". But he is missing a crucial point, Proverbs 1:7 (among others) "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge" (emphasis added, also as "wisdom" in Proverbs 9:10, and the Psalms).

Chapter 16, "Sin". We obviously disagree here :) Interestingly, Russell believes the notion of sin (and therefore, the conscience) to be an entirely learned thing...

Chapter 17, "Are the World's Troubles Due to a Decay of Faith?". I actually agree with Russell, somewhat. "Christian nations" (if such a thing is even possible) have a pretty poor record for eliminating humanity's problems (and a pretty good record for making some facets better). Of course, the problem is not lack of "Christian nations", or even lack of reasonable people (as Russell contends). The problem is sin.

Chapter 18, "Ideas that Have Harmed Mankind". Meh.

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