[FoRK] Anything to be learned from religion?

Albert S. albert.scherbinsky
Thu Aug 11 19:30:01 PDT 2005

It's kind of scary the way you folks are listing off
the books on my bookshelf. I read the compilation of
essays with the same title a long time ago, I should
read it again.

--- Damien Morton <fork at bitfurnace.com> wrote:

> http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html
> some extracts from "Why I am not a Christian" by
> Bertrand Russel.
> Fear, the Foundation of Religion
> Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly
> upon fear. It is partly 
> the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have
> said, the wish to feel 
> that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand
> by you in all your 
> troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the
> whole thing -- fear of 
> the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear
> is the parent of 
> cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty
> and religion have gone 
> hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of
> those two things. In 
> this world we can now begin a little to understand
> things, and a little 
> to master them by help of science, which has forced
> its way step by step 
> against the Christian religion, against the
> churches, and against the 
> opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help
> us to get over this 
> craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many
> generations. Science 
> can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach
> us, no longer to look 
> around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent
> allies in the sky, 
> but rather to look to our own efforts here below to
> make this world a 
> better place to live in, instead of the sort of
> place that the churches 
> in all these centuries have made it.
> What We Must Do
> We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and
> square at the world 
> -- its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and
> its ugliness; see 
> the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Conquer
> the world by 
> intelligence and not merely by being slavishly
> subdued by the terror 
> that comes from it. The whole conception of God is a
> conception derived 
> from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a
> conception quite unworthy 
> of free men. When you hear people in church debasing
> themselves and 
> saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the
> rest of it, it seems 
> contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human
> beings. We ought to 
> stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We
> ought to make the 
> best we can of the world, and if it is not so good
> as we wish, after all 
> it will still be better than what these others have
> made of it in all 
> these ages. A good world needs knowledge,
> kindliness, and courage; it 
> does not need a regretful hankering after the past
> or a fettering of the 
> free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by
> ignorant men. It 
> needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It
> needs hope for the 
> future, not looking back all the time toward a past
> that is dead, which 
> we trust will be far surpassed by the future that
> our intelligence can 
> create.
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