Why Bertrand Russell Was Not A Christian
by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
If Christianity is true, then it is reasonable for Russell to appeal
to logic, for Christianity teaches that a rational God created the world
as a rational system and that He also created man with a capacity to understand
both God and the world. Christians do not believe that man's understanding
can ever be exhaustive. Man can never perfectly understand himself, the
world, or God. But man can have true understanding because God has created
the world in such a way that the world reveals truth to man, and God has
given man special revelation, especially in Holy Scripture, to teach man
what he could not learn from the creation and guide man in the correct
interpretation of the creation. In short, knowledge is possible if the
world is what the Bible defines it to be. Russell rejects the Biblical
view, but at the same time, he attempts to graft the fruits of this worldview
onto his irrational view.
Again, if Christianity is true, then it is reasonable for Russell to
appeal to ethical norms, for Christianity teaches that there are ethical
absolutes which transcend time and place. God is a righteous God. Whatever
contradicts His will is sinful and evil, in any generation, in any place
in heaven or on earth. Russell rejects this view of ethics, but in its
place he has nothing to offer that can serve as a standard to criticize
Christ or anyone else.
In other words, Russell argues with principles that can only come from
the worldview he is trying to refute. Without those principles, operating
strictly on the presuppositions of his own worldview, Russell would be
reduced to incoherent babble. A man who views the world either as an ultimately
deterministic system or as an ultimate chaos cannot appeal to logic. Nor
can a man who believes that each man is king in the realm of ethics denounce
a fellow despot.
This fundamental contradiction reveals Bertrand Russell to be the quintessential
atheist. He claimed to reject Christianity on intellectual grounds, but
the facts that his own philosophy cannot meet the conditions he demands
of Christianity, that his metaphysics, if taken seriously, would preclude
all knowledge, and that his ethical philosophy provides no standards for
the judgment he pronounced against Christ suggest that his philosophical
arguments were mere rationalizations for his rejection of Christianity
rather than reasons.
His lifestyle, of course, is not necessarily typical. Not all atheists
are immoral. Not all atheists resort to lying when they face difficult
problems. Not all atheists are so blatantly irrational in their everyday
life. But Paul Johnson's Intellectuals shows that Rousseau, Marx, and
Sartre, to name only a few, fit the pattern seen in Bertrand Russell --
a pattern of lying, immorality, and both philosophical and personal self-contradiction.
What is important about this pattern of perversity, apart from the fact
that the heroes of atheism include so few who are worthy of respect as
individuals, is that it reveals clearly that atheists are not the kind
of thinking machines that they often picture themselves to be. Personal
factors play a far larger role in their lives and philosophies than strict
philosophical logic. This is not contrary to what one normally expects,
but it is contrary to what Western atheists typically believe and profess
to the world about themselves.
Russell himself has fallen into the blind cave of eternal night. He is
no longer an atheist. Hell and judgment, the fear of which motivated Russell
to deny God and to seek to escape from the truth that he knew only too
well, are no longer mere religious ideas which he can deny. But the intellectual
hypocrisy of Russell's denial of God and the absurdity of his attempted
condemnation of Christ remain as a warning for us living, who still have
time to turn from the folly of pretended wisdom and embrace the God who
offers us everlasting life as a gift of His grace:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
[ Table of Contents | Preface
| Introduction | Chapter One
| Chapter Two | Conclusion ]