Bertrand Russell was born May 18, 1872 in England. „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,“ Russell wrote. „Bertie“ to friends, Russell, during his 97 years, did all he could to add to human knowledge and to inspire kindness. His second wife, Dora Black, called him „enchantingly ugly.“ The New York attorney who won a suit to void Russell’s appointment to the philosophy department at the College of the City of New York in 1940 because of his liberal views, described Russell as „lecherous, libidinous, lustful, venerous, erotomaniac, aphrodisiac, irreverent, narrow-minded, untruthful and bereft of moral fiber.“ „What I wish at bottom is to become a saint,“ Russell once admitted, but he couldn’t help being pleased by the label „aphrodisiac.“ The mathematician (who called his first encounter with Euclid „as dazzling as first love,“ Autobiography), philosopher and social activist authored 75 books.
He launched headlong into a life of radicalism in his forties as a pacifist opposing World War I. He liked to recount his experience at prison, where he was sentenced for his pacifism: „I was much cheered on my arrival by the warden at the gate, who had to take particulars about me. He asked my religion, and I replied ‚agnostic.‘ He asked how to spell it, and remarked with a sigh: ‚Well, there are many religions, but I suppose they all worship the same God.‘ This remark kept me cheerful for about a week.“ (Autobiography) Russell spent his last years courageously working for nuclear disarmament. In „The Faith of a Rationalist,“ broadcast by the BBC in 1953, Russell observed: „Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God, and they would be kindly in any case.“ One of his maxims: „Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.“ Russell won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. D. 1969.
“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”
— Bertrand Russell, „What I Believe,“ 1925, reprinted in Why I Am Not a Christian (1957)
“The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.”
— Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British author, philosopher, „An Outline in Intellectual Rubbish,“ Unpopular Essays (1950)
“You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”
— Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian, 1927
“My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.”
— Bertrand Russell, „Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?“ (1930)
“I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian God may exist; so may the Gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.”
— Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), What I Believe,1925