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 BERTRAND RUSSELL:  AGNOSTIC OR ATHEIST?

     Atheists would like to believe that Bertrand Russell was a "totally" convicted atheist. What follows below is evidence, straight from the source, that the man clearly entertained "some doubt." Just consider: The High Priest of Atheism admits to not really being a totally convinced atheist. This ought to make his atheist followers think, but do they?


       Bertrand Russell is an icon among unbelievers worldwide. Some atheists believe that he was a "totally" convicted atheist, and he openly professed that he was -- but they are wrong. What follows is evidence, straight from the source, that Russell was not as convinced of his Atheism as his followers would like to believe. In the following statement, extracted from his essay, "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?" Russell acknowledges that his views about God were not as solid as his followers wished to believe. He, in fact, admits that if he were to be in front of a rational, “philosophical” audience, he could only go as far as to assert being an "agnostic."

"I never know whether I should say "Agnostic" or whether I should say "Atheist". It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God."[i]

 

     In the same work he then proceeds to attempt to limit the impact of  the above admission by reassuring his faithful followers that he is agnostic about the Bible God as he is agnostic of Zeus and other mythological gods; thus implying that his agnosticism was next to insignificant.  But Russell knew that a "philosophical" audience would not be concerned about "which" god exists, but whether or not there is a "Creator." Before such a "thinking" group he would not dare use the cavalier and sarcastic approach he used with his fanatical followers, lest he look un-intellectual; thus he admitted that before such an "enlightened" audience he would only go as far as to declare himself an agnostic.

     This admission reveals where he stood "intellectually," and this is what atheists should seriously consider. Clearly he knew that the arguments against the existence of a Creator were insufficient, and admitted so publicly.

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[i] Russell, Bertrand. “Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic? A Plea For Tolerance In The Face Of New Dogmas.” Positive Atheism Web Site. <http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell8.htm> (9 July, 2008).

 

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