Russell's Criticisms of Christianity & Jesus

5wize

Well-known member
I just caught that little dig on the rest of Jesus' disciples.

Does that apply to Jesus as well?

John 7:14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
And I am catching your evasion again, and again, and again.

so.....

Given that you think Paul talked directly with Jesus for 3 years in Arabia (nonsense - even given the Biblical account) do you have a view as to why a Hellenistic educated Jew that can read and write, (edited here as you are so easily distracted) came out of Arabia without a chronicle of the most important interface to humanity or himself that will ever be?
 

AV1611VET

Well-known member
And I am catching your evasion again, and again, and again.

so.....

Given that you think Paul talked directly with Jesus for 3 years in Arabia (nonsense - even given the Biblical account) do you have a view as to why a Hellenistic educated Jew that can read and write, (edited here as you are so easily distracted) came out of Arabia without a chronicle of the most important interface to humanity or himself that will ever be?

Can you run that question through Google translate for me, so I can understand it please?
 

5wize

Well-known member
Can you run that question through Google translate for me, so I can understand it please?
Sure.... This what came out:

Given that you think Paul talked directly with Jesus for 3 years in Arabia (nonsense - even given the Biblical account) do you have a view as to why a Hellenistic educated Jew that can read and write came out of Arabia without a chronicle of the most important interface to humanity or himself that will ever be?
 

stiggy wiggy

Well-known member
Sure.... This what came out:

Given that you think Paul talked directly with Jesus for 3 years in Arabia (nonsense - even given the Biblical account) do you have a view as to why a Hellenistic educated Jew that can read and write came out of Arabia without a chronicle of the most important interface to humanity or himself that will ever be?

If I "interfaced" with Jesus for 50 YEARS, whether in Malibu or Siberia, you'd be the last person I'd want to share "a chronicle " with, so my guess is he knew there were guys like you out there who would be too shallow to comprehend and would twist his pearls and then recast them before even more swine.
 

Beloved Daughter

Super Member
Not on the day God said.

No, he didn't.

"Mortal" does not mean "died".

You don't have an understanding of English which is why you make these mistakes. If you took the time to learn, I daresay you might be able to address objections better. But you won't.

Neither says nor implies that Adam died on the day God said he would.

Personally, I couldn't give a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys for how you see it.

When you can't provide a Biblical response, you resort to name calling.

This is your standard response. You aren't engaged in discussion, it looks like a school yard interaction.
 
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5wize

Well-known member
If I "interfaced" with Jesus for 50 YEARS, whether in Malibu or Siberia, you'd be the last person I'd want to share "a chronicle " with, so my guess is he knew there were guys like you out there who would be too shallow to comprehend and would twist his pearls and then recast them before even more swine.
He travelled the Hellenized world looking for money in the Christian enclaves and spending it looking for converts in the others. No chronicle, no diary, no ledger of sayings, no scrolls, no message from Jesus to the church of Jerusalem.... nothing. He didn't even have the Gospels to go by. Just wandering here and there talking about stuff Jesus never said and telling scared gentiles "don't worry... I'll talk to the boys and see if we can't get you out of having to chop the tip of your tally-whacker" Big stuff.
 

stiggy wiggy

Well-known member
He travelled the Hellenized world looking for money in the Christian enclaves and spending it looking for converts in the others. No chronicle, no diary, no ledger of sayings, no scrolls, no message from Jesus to the church of Jerusalem.... nothing.

Correct. I too have been lots of places, more than Paul, but no diary. Tell us about your diary. Let me guess:

"Dear Diary: Today I made a CARM post in which I concluded that if a guy didn't keep a diary, he never went anywhere."
 

5wize

Well-known member
Correct. I too have been lots of places, more than Paul, but no diary. Tell us about your diary. Let me guess:

"Dear Diary: Today I made a CARM post in which I concluded that if a guy didn't keep a diary, he never went anywhere."
I didn't say he didn't go to Arabia. I said he didn't tarry with Jesus there for 3 years and receive any instruction from him.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
This is primarily for @cjab, though of course anyone can participate. I will start by summarizing the main points Russell raises in his well-known short essay Why I am not a Christian. The full text can be read here or here. It should be noted that this was originally delivered as a speech to a general audience, and is accordingly often humorous in tone and not as philosophically rigorous or technical as a written article might be.

What is a Christian?
Russell begins by defining terms, and concludes that three things are minimally necessary for qualifying as a Christian: Belief in God and immortality, and that Jesus was at least the best and wisest of all men. These therefore will be the targets of his criticism..
Seems like he's stretching here.


The Existence of God
While acknowledging that the list is not complete, Russell considers 5 classical arguments for God.
Classical....
Meaning dated, no longer carrying the weight they did/could have in earlier, more naive times.


The first is The First Cause Argument which he argues cannot have any validity on account of begging the question of what caused God. He says "There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all."
Keeping in mind that he's been dead for almost 42 years now.... and the views of the cosmos are a lot more advanced now, but still quite limited, I don't see this carrying much value anymore.
Especially since the James Webb Space Telescope is due to be launched in two months. And then another month later, it'll reach it's new home.

He next considers The Natural Law Argument, which is the idea that God is revealed by the regularity of nature. Russell notes that the simple laws of Newton have been replaced by the less intuitive theories of Einstein and the statistical averages of QM, less suggestive of design vs chance, and then explains the difference between prescriptive human laws and descriptive natural laws, where only the former imply a law-giver. He also points out that God's choice of laws would be either arbitrary or subject to laws independent of God.
The existence of law is evidence that laws have a cause.

What makes murder, murder?
Why is adultery, adultery?
Why is theft, theft?
What defines them as being wrong?
Why aren't they right?


The third argument considered is The Argument from Design, and Russell argues that evolution has largely undercut this by showing how organisms have adapted to fit their environment rather than having the environment tailored to fit them. He also observes that this world is far from the perfection unlimited omniscient design could be expected to produce, especially given that the solar system and the universe itself will eventually tend towards conditions making life impossible.

This just tells me that as long as you have an imagination, you can imagine whatever causes you want.
Why not farting fairies, and magical leprechauns as the cause?



Fourth is the category of Moral Arguments for Deity, which Russell attributes primarily to Kant and rebuts with Euthyphro's Dilemma, arguing that either God's moral dictates are arbitrary meaning God cannot be non-trivially 'good', or God is himself subject to morality and therefore not the source of it.
Fits the description given by Paul in Romans 1.

They change the incorruptible God with the corruptible ideas of men.


The final considered argument is what he calls The Argument for the Remedying of Injustice, which is the idea that justice requires an afterlife where the injustices of our known world can be redressed. Russell rebuts this by saying it is as illogical as seeing rotten apples at the top of a crate and assuming there must be lots of good ones underneath to redress the balance.
He also observes that these arguments are rarely what actually motivates belief in God, which is more often due to childhood indoctrination and the desire for there to be someone powerful looking out for us.
I see a lot of his imposing his own ideas and beliefs on YHVH, instead of simply using what the bible says.



The Character of Christ
Russell points out that few Christians take Christ's maxims seriously, such as turning the other cheek, which predates Christ anyway; his injunction against judgement, which hardly any Christian follows; and his command to give away one's belongings to the poor. These points Russell commends as good, if hard to live up to, before moving on to those teachings from Christ which he cannot agree with.
The quantity or lack of quantity of people who actually follow Jesus isn't a very good way to judge the character of Jesus.
Especially when he said that very few people would follow him.
Especially when Jesus said that there are people who refuse to come to the light that their deeds may be shown that they are done in God.

Defects in Christ's Teaching
Russell observes that we cannot know that Christ as depicted in the Gospels ever really existed, but argues that if he did then he cannot be considered the best and wisest of all men.
Not by the ungodly.


The first reason given is that Christ appeared to believe, quite wrongly, that his second coming was imminent and would occur within the lifetimes of those he addressed.
A curious excuse.
Jesus was quite clear about the timing of his second coming.
In Matthew, he says that he doesn't know when his return will be, only the Father knows.
In Acts 1, he reiterates the point, stating-- it's not for us to know the timing of things kept in the Father's hands.




The Moral Problem
A more significant failing in Christ's teachings is his belief in hell (Matt 23:33, Matt 12:32, Matt 13:41-42), and Russell compares his indignation towards doubters unfavorably with the calmer attitude of Socrates. He says "I think all this doctrine, that hell fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty" and one which has caused a lot of unnecessary suffering.
Oh... well then. I suppose if Socrates didn't like the idea of eternal judgment on sin, why would you?
I find that a pretty piss poor justification for having a moral problem with Jesus.
As well as a really bad comprehension of why Jesus came, and what he achieved for people.

Let's see if I can summarize what I'm seeing about Russell's view here.

Jesus said that unless we turn to YHVH from our sin and place our trust in Jesus we will go to hell when we die. Gee... I don't like this idea. Hell sucks, no matter whose description given is used. So, I'd rather go to hell so I don't have to deal with the cause of my going to hell. In spite of the fact that Jesus said he's authorized to save us from hell, and make me an adopted child of God, and will spend eternity in paradise with him.
Naw! That'd make too much sense, so hell it is!
 

SteveB

Well-known member
The Emotional Factor
Russell then considers the claim that we must refrain from criticizing religion because people would become evil and immoral without it, against which he argues that the religious have been equally cruel, that the cruelty of a society has tended to correlate with its religiosity, and that almost all moral progress has been made against the opposition of organized religion.
I criticize atheism all the time and it hasn't prevented atheists from being atheists one bit.


How the Churches have retarded Progress
Russell further argues that this is still the case today, as religion continues to cause suffering and impede progress by choosing "to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness", focusing instead on making people fit for heaven - and thereby quite unfit for the real world.
I often find myself wondering if we stepped back and let atheists have what they want.
Aside from the fact that Russell was alive during the worst and most gruesome era of atheist governance, he obviously didn't learn anything.

There's a scene in a movie which always comes to mind when I think about this claim...

Ah... the scene in the Indiana Jones movie, where the nazi's get everyone back to allow Jones to blow up the ark.

It doesn't happen of course, but I often wonder.... just how stupid will they be.

And then I'm reminded of the fact that Jesus said, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would survive. But for the sake of the elect, they will be cut short.

So, it's quite clear that when you're finally given what you really want-- a world without God-- you'll destroy your entire civilization in less than 7 years.

It is indeed a curious thing.

Jesus said that we who follow Jesus are the light of the world, and salt of the earth.
Salt apparently has this rather curious attribute that acts as a preservative of everything it interacts with.

In using it over the years, I've noticed that it stings when applied to a wound. As a young boy in elementary school, ranchers in my town used salt rock to dissuade boys from fence-hopping, and running through their ranches. I never got shot, but my friends had, and every single instance of description given was that salt in an open wound hurts like the Dickens.

So.... we as salt act to slow the decay of society and human civilization down, giving enough time for people to be saved from their sin before the end actually comes. We do read in a few places that the time of the end is for a time yet appointed.

So... I don't think we're going to just walk away until we're snatched up by God in the great harpadzo.


Fear for the Foundation of Religion
Russell diagnoses religion as founded upon fear - of death and the unknown - which explains why it so often leads to cruelty. He instead advocates science as a foundation for overcoming fear and making the world a better place.
Which is exactly why we don't buy man's ideas of religion.

Biblical religion is about living a life unspotted by the world and caring for the needs of orphans and widows.
If he has a problem with this, it seems a sad testimony to his humanity.


What We Must Do
Russell concludes on a positive note: "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... 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."
If only.
He must have worked really really really hard to ignore the only attempts at government without God during his lifetime.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
Seems like he's stretching here.
How so? You haven't explained.

Classical....
Meaning dated, no longer carrying the weight they did/could have in earlier, more naive times.
Some are a bit dated now, but not at the time of his writing. Many are still used today.

Keeping in mind that he's been dead for almost 42 years now.... and the views of the cosmos are a lot more advanced now, but still quite limited, I don't see this carrying much value anymore.
Especially since the James Webb Space Telescope is due to be launched in two months. And then another month later, it'll reach it's new home.
You're not explaining how new knowledge of the universe is relevant to his analysis of the first cause argument.

The existence of law is evidence that laws have a cause.
How so? Is the existence of God evidence that God has a cause?

What makes murder, murder?
Why is adultery, adultery?
Why is theft, theft?
What defines them as being wrong?
Why aren't they right?
He was discussing natural law, not moral law.

This just tells me that as long as you have an imagination, you can imagine whatever causes you want.
Why not farting fairies, and magical leprechauns as the cause?
Why not? They'd make about as much sense as a supernatural unembodied mind. But of course your response here doesn't address his analysis of the design argument. You don't explain what imagination has to do with his point.

Fits the description given by Paul in Romans 1.

They change the incorruptible God with the corruptible ideas of men.
This doesn't address his point about Euthyphro's Dilemma.

I see a lot of his imposing his own ideas and beliefs on YHVH, instead of simply using what the bible says.
This doesn't address his point about the argument from justice.

The quantity or lack of quantity of people who actually follow Jesus isn't a very good way to judge the character of Jesus.
Which is why he goes on to directly address the character and teachings of Christ.

A curious excuse.
Jesus was quite clear about the timing of his second coming.
In Matthew, he says that he doesn't know when his return will be, only the Father knows.
In Acts 1, he reiterates the point, stating-- it's not for us to know the timing of things kept in the Father's hands.
Jesus wasn't really clear about it though, given the many ambiguous things he says that have led to centuries of disagreement and dispute about it.

Oh... well then. I suppose if Socrates didn't like the idea of eternal judgment on sin, why would you?
I find that a pretty piss poor justification for having a moral problem with Jesus.
You are of course entitled to your opinion, but I think teaching harmful doctrines is a very good basis for having a problem with Jesus.

Let's see if I can summarize what I'm seeing about Russell's view here.

Jesus said that unless we turn to YHVH from our sin and place our trust in Jesus we will go to hell when we die. Gee... I don't like this idea. Hell sucks, no matter whose description given is used. So, I'd rather go to hell so I don't have to deal with the cause of my going to hell. In spite of the fact that Jesus said he's authorized to save us from hell, and make me an adopted child of God, and will spend eternity in paradise with him.
Naw! That'd make too much sense, so hell it is!
That is a terrible and inaccurate summary. His point wasn't just that "Hell sucks" but rather that teaching the doctrine of hell - whether true or not - has led to a great deal of unnecessary suffering here on Earth.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
I criticize atheism all the time and it hasn't prevented atheists from being atheists one bit.
How is that relevant to his point? He's saying that it is wrong to argue that we should avoid criticizing religion out of fear of what people may do without it.

I often find myself wondering if we stepped back and let atheists have what they want...

So, it's quite clear that when you're finally given what you really want-- a world without God-- you'll destroy your entire civilization in less than 7 years.
You were kind of rambling in this section, and it was hard to find anything to actually respond to. But I'll note that your claim above is neither clearly true nor supported in any way.

Which is exactly why we don't buy man's ideas of religion.

Biblical religion is about living a life unspotted by the world and caring for the needs of orphans and widows.
If he has a problem with this, it seems a sad testimony to his humanity.
Russell would say that Christianity is just as rooted in fear of death and the unknown as any other religion. Of course Christians do good and charitable things, but then so do atheists.

If only. He must have worked really really really hard to ignore the only attempts at government without God during his lifetime.
Most modern governments are secular. We've worked out that religion has no place in politics. Russell was an historian and keen observer of contemporary political developments. He was one of the first westerners to directly observe and criticize the direction of early communism.
 

AV1611VET

Well-known member
I didn't say he didn't go to Arabia. I said he didn't tarry with Jesus there for 3 years and receive any instruction from him.

Damascus was in Arabia at the time.

2 Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

From Adam Clarke's Commentary:

But it is a question of some importance, How could Damascus, a city of Syria, be under the government of an Arabian king? It may be accounted for thus: Herod Antipas, who married the daughter of Aretas, divorced her, in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Aretas, on this indignity offered to his family, made war upon Herod. Herod applied to Tiberius for help, and the emperor sent Vitellius to reduce Aretas, and to bring him alive or dead to Rome. By some means or other Vitellius delayed his operations, and in the meantime Tiberius died; and thus Aretas was snatched from ruin. What Aretas did in the interim is not known; but it is conjectured that he availed himself of the then favourable state of things, made an irruption into Syria, and seized on Damascus.
 

Tiburon

Well-known member
Damascus was in Arabia at the time.

2 Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

From Adam Clarke's Commentary:

But it is a question of some importance, How could Damascus, a city of Syria, be under the government of an Arabian king? It may be accounted for thus: Herod Antipas, who married the daughter of Aretas, divorced her, in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Aretas, on this indignity offered to his family, made war upon Herod. Herod applied to Tiberius for help, and the emperor sent Vitellius to reduce Aretas, and to bring him alive or dead to Rome. By some means or other Vitellius delayed his operations, and in the meantime Tiberius died; and thus Aretas was snatched from ruin. What Aretas did in the interim is not known; but it is conjectured that he availed himself of the then favourable state of things, made an irruption into Syria, and seized on Damascus.
"Damascus was in Arabia at the time." Did they move it?
 

5wize

Well-known member
Damascus was in Arabia at the time.

2 Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

From Adam Clarke's Commentary:

But it is a question of some importance, How could Damascus, a city of Syria, be under the government of an Arabian king? It may be accounted for thus: Herod Antipas, who married the daughter of Aretas, divorced her, in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Aretas, on this indignity offered to his family, made war upon Herod. Herod applied to Tiberius for help, and the emperor sent Vitellius to reduce Aretas, and to bring him alive or dead to Rome. By some means or other Vitellius delayed his operations, and in the meantime Tiberius died; and thus Aretas was snatched from ruin. What Aretas did in the interim is not known; but it is conjectured that he availed himself of the then favourable state of things, made an irruption into Syria, and seized on Damascus.
"I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus." By the scriptures themselves, in Paul's day, and to Paul himself, Damascus was different from Arabia if only for the distinction of his experience. But I agree that what Arabia was back then is not what Arabia is now. It more than likely did include parts of the Syro-Arabian desert if not all of it.

But that's not the point. The point is that one of the excuses early Christianity made for not having a contemporary written historical account of Jesus is that he chose the poor to follow him and preached to the poor leaving no literate witness of His life. All reflections on Jesus were an oral tradition. Despite Jesus himself being a practicing Jew familiar with Hebrew scriptures, the only thing we know he ever wrote down was something (of which we do not know the contents of) in the sand when the woman was brought before him for stoning in John.... which is as scholars agree, probably never happened as it resembles other myths of the day that early Christians had to compete with, so some stories were late century additions added for the growing effect of the mythos. The entire book of John is a late century fabrication of who Jesus was that was written as the oral mythos grew from the humble beginnings in Mark to the supernatural super-hero Jesus of John. And no, the gospels were NOT written by eyewitnesses of any of it. The titles Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are just titles, not apostolic authorship.

Now we have Paul, an educated Hellenized Jew who could read and write, and he tarries with Jesus for 3 years without writing a single thing down he is being taught? Bull.
 
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AV1611VET

Well-known member
Now we have Paul, an educated Hellenized Jew who could read and write, and he tarries with Jesus for 3 years without writing a single thing down he is being taught? Bull.

Wow.

That's some scholarly biography you presented there.

However, I'm afraid they're profiling the wrong guy.

Either that, or they've stolen His identity.

2 Corinthians 11: 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
 

5wize

Well-known member
Wow.

That's some scholarly biography you presented there.

However, I'm afraid they're profiling the wrong guy.

Either that, or they've stolen His identity.

2 Corinthians 11: 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Wouldn't writing down 3 years of Jesus's direct teaching help prevent such identity theft? As we have it now, the entire thing could be the grand theft of Paul....

.... and it is.
 
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