28 February 2010

BERTRAND RUSSELL #4 - Progress






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.


How the Churches Have Retarded Progress

You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, "This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children." Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.
That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. "What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy."
(from Bertrand Russell's lecture
Why I Am Not A Christian, March 6, 1927,
later published with other essays in 1957)

Find the full text of Why I am Not a Christian HERE.

3 comments:

Tor Hershman said...

"How the Churches Have Retarded Progress"

Ya know, when moi needed a
quintuple bypass there 'tweren't any Darwin Hospitals to check-in @ but the Catholics had one.

Now moi's a TOTAL ATHEIST
but.....I'm just sayin'.

What moi 'tis completely sayin' is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LubuSAgB5s

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

C Woods said...

Tor,
I understand you are an atheist, but I get this from lots of believers.

I wonder how many secular scientists helped to perfect bypass surgery or the equipment, technology, and medications that are necessary for heart surgery. And how many nonbelievers have donated money for medical research? Just because we don't have a hospital doesn't mean we haven't been a part of medical progress.

I have donated time to many non-profit organizations. I donate money to medical research organizations every year in memory of family members who suffered from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and I hope some of that money helped develop the technology that saw you through successful surgery.

Bill Gates, one of the world's biggest philanthropists is an atheist, as is his pal Warren Buffet. One of the Gates Foundation's progressive programs is a global health initiative which (according to its website) "harnesses advances in science and technology to save lives in poor countries."

Nonbelievers are generally independent thinkers. Many are not joiners. So, yes, we have not joined together to establish special atheist hospitals ---and if we did, considering how few believers trust atheists, few would trust us with their health and possibly their lives. I'm sure many a Catholic has been unknowingly treated by a superb non-believing doctor. I'm sure I've been successfully treated by Catholic doctors, too. (I'm not in the habit of asking my doctors their religious preferences.)

I've had a dream of setting up a private secular school or college ---but considering how atheists have been treated in the past, would I not be putting students in jeopardy? Some nut case, like those who bomb abortion clinics or synagogues, might target students, faculty, or school property. (Staffs of the American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation receive numerous threats from "good" Christians.) So, even if we had the means of setting up schools or hospitals, would it be a prudent thing to do? Or can we be satisfied donating time or money to already-established organizations which have no particular religious agenda, knowing our time and dollars are working toward a better world?

Snowbrush said...

I will just say that the less dogmatic a church is, the better able its members are to think for themselves. Of course, a person can become undogmatized right out of religion once he sees it as an option rather than a requirement by a pissed-off god.

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