Bertrand Russell: ‘Why I am not a Christian: The Defects in Christ’s teaching’

I must admit that even as a Christian I was aware of these problems in Christ’s purported teaching – and I shuddered. Eventually I found refuge in Islam. Bertrand Russell did not and became an atheist.


Bertrand Russell was British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist and Nobel laureate. He wrote the essay Why I am not a Christian in 1927. Here is a small extract:

‘I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels, taking the Gospel narrative as it stands, and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, He certainly thought that His second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance: Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come. Then He says: There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of His earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of His moral teaching. When He said, Take no thought for the morrow, and things of that sort, it was very largely because He thought that the second coming was going to be very soon, and that all ordinary mundane affairs did not count.

I have, as a matter of fact, known some Christians who did believe that the second coming was imminent. I knew a parson who frightened his congregation terribly by telling them that the second coming was very imminent indeed, but they were much consoled when they found that he was planting trees in his garden. The early Christians did really believe it, and they did abstain from such things as planting trees in their gardens, because they did accept from Christ the belief that the second coming was imminent. In that respect clearly He was not so wise as some other people have been, and he was certainly not superlatively wise.’

Categories: Bible, Christianity, Gospels, Islam, Jesus

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3 replies

  1. Bad news for Muslim apologists too.

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