Bertrand Russell on the Existence of God & the Afterlife (1959)

Bertrand Rus­sell, the Nobel Prize-win­ning philoso­pher, math­e­mati­cian and peace activist, died 40 years ago today. And so, above, we rewind the video tape to 1959, to Rus­sell explain­ing why he does­n’t believe in God. This was a view­point that he oth­er­wise elab­o­rat­ed upon in his well-known lecture/essay, Why I Am Not a Chris­t­ian. For more vin­tage Bertrand Rus­sell, you can check out anoth­er wide-rang­ing BBC inter­view with Rus­sell flagged by one of our faith­ful read­ers, Mike S. Find it in three parts here, here and here. To be sure, some read­ers won’t share Rus­sel­l’s views on reli­gion. But don’t take umbrage. Just remem­ber, we offer media from across the divide too..

Update: Anoth­er read­er sent us a nice addi­tion to the video above. Here, you can lis­ten to a famous 1948 debate between Bertrand Rus­sell and Father Fred­er­ick C. Cople­ston, Jesuit Catholic priest and pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy. It was orig­i­nal­ly aired on the BBC.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Bertrand Rus­sell Turned The Bea­t­les Against the Viet­nam War

Bertrand Rus­sell & Oth­er Big Thinkers in BBC Lec­ture Series (Free)

Bertrand Rus­sell Sends a Mes­sage to the Future


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Comments (7)
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  • Michael McDonald says:

    Stum­bled on this through a link in a news­pa­per edi­to­r­i­al today, while, by coin­ci­dence read­ing Cople­ston’s His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy sec­tion on Bertrand Rus­sell. Won­der­ful to hear the actu­al voic­es of these two men, and to hear how fun­da­men­tal dis­agree­ments can be dis­cussed in a dig­ni­fied and respect­ful man­ner.

  • Fernando1958 says:

    very sat­is­fy­ing for me to see that Bertrand Rus­sell and myself think almost exact­ly the same thing about Reli­gion :)
    Reli­gion sep­a­rates peo­ple in groups, and sad­ly one group wants to let the oth­er groups know how wrong they are.
    If every Reli­gion rec­og­nizes one day that they can’t proof that their God exists and reflect in the pos­si­bil­i­ty that maybe God does­n’t exists the way we think the exists, maybe that day Reli­gions will be more tol­er­ant to all the oth­er ones.

  • Bruce Long says:

    Excel­lent choice. It is easy to see why they tried to send him to the front lines in the war! He ditched the dog­mas by the time he was 18! He gives a superb and daunt­less response to the prag­mat­ic Jame­sian chal­lenge: hav­ing faith for “prac­ti­cal rea­sons”.

  • mahendra r awode says:

    Rus­sell was a true Christian,because he preached love which is the essence of Christianity.There was an impact of Bible on his human­i­tar­i­an thoughts.He dis­liked the dom­i­nance of Papa­cy, which retard­ed the progress of sci­ence.

  • Tom Chatburn says:

    Mr. Rus­sell was one of the great minds of his time, and any time, and was a pre­cur­sor to the likes of Richard Dawkins, Christo­pher Hitchens, Sam Har­ris and the whole gen­er­a­tion of anti-reli­gious thinkers who would make names for them­selves in the 20th and 21st cen­turies, with the sim­ple propo­si­tion that any and all “beliefs” require evi­dence or should be junked! Long pri­or to them all it was Emer­son who set my mind in that direc­tion and I am for­ev­er grate­ful to him.

  • d dine says:

    Spot on

  • Carol Hill says:

    My poor dears!
    How incred­i­bly amaz­ing that every time I come across this sub­ject of Chris­tian­i­ty in the hands of the ‘tol­er­ant’ move­ment, I have to shake my head. “Don’t cram your ‘reli­gion’ down my throat!” Or, “You Chris­tians are so intol­er­ant!” Seri­ous­ly. I have nev­er seen so much hate, absolute hate focused on one group of peo­ple.
    Yet, when Jesus Christ was being nailed to the Cross, while they drove the very crude and large nails into His hands and feet, He looked at them and said, “Father, for­give them for they know not what they do.” They were part of a larg­er plan.
    We as Chris­tians are com­mand­ed by our Sav­ior to love our ene­mies and pray for those who per­se­cute us.
    You preach tol­er­ance, yet you leave out this one group: Chris­tians. Why are we not part of the ‘tol­er­at­ed?’ We are not mean, we believe in the 10 Com­mand­ments, lov­ing our neigh­bors, treat­ing peo­ple with respect and love. What is it about us that makes you hate us?
    God bless you,
    Car­ol Hill

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