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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