In addition to indoctrination, Russell offers one more reason why people might believe in God:
Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people’s desire for a belief in God.
I’ll skip over the inherent jugmentalism in this. I can’t, however, resist pointing out Russell’s lack of understanding of the subject of God. In telling religious people what we find attractive about our own belief, he is completely blind to such issues as spiritual experience, mortality, and the meaning of life.
In fact, Russell (like the New Atheists) never touches on any of most common reasons theists say they believe, even to disagree with those reasons. This strikes one as less like a rebuttal than a simple failure to address the topic.
If the most obvious problem with the New Atheists is their inability to present scientific data, the second (and more significant) issue is their inability to understand which questions Christianity is meant to answer. Listening to the New Atheists speak on religion, in fact, sounds more like how one might imagine a bat would describe a rainbow than anything like a real engagement with the concept of the divine.
It’s no wonder, then, that Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in the God he argues against. I don’t believe in that God either, and I don’t know anyone who does.
March 3rd, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Now dear friend, is Russell wrong? Are you saying Atheists are wrong because they do not cover all the reasons believers believe what they do?
And I will ask that as you make such blanket statements, you need to show some evidence or else it appears, at least to me, you are committing the mistake for which you accuse Atheists and besides you can’t take one paper and use it to reflect all Atheistic thought.
March 3rd, 2013 at 10:04 pm
I definitely did not mean to imply that atheists are wrong if they don’t cover all the reasons religious individuals believe.
In fact, I was not saying that atheism was wrong at all in this post. I was saying that this speech by Russell, and everything I’ve read from the New Atheists, shows no engagement with the main issues religion is actually meant to address. This does not make their position wrong but it does make (again, I emphasize, I’m speaking of these atheists alone) their arguments largely irrelevant to the topic.
Of course that doesn’t prove that God exists, but it is an important point that this particular group (which has gotten so much attention) is far off-base with a great deal about what they are saying.
So long as it is clear that I’m not applying this to all atheists (apologies if I’m sounding redundant with that stipulation), nor claiming that this shows us anything about whether God exists (except that certain arguments should be ignored), atheists and theists should be able to agree on this.