Why I am Not a Christian
is a popular essay of Bertrand Russell. This essay has been published along with other essays on Religion and related subjects (edited by Paul Edwards and published by Simon and Schuster). The essay is actually a lecture delivered by Russell on March 6, 1927, at a program organized by South London branch of the National Secular Society.
Russell was a Christain by birth. While explaining why he was not a Christian, Russell has pointed out two things: first, that he did not believe in God and immortality, and secondly, he did not think that Christ was the best and wisest of man.
Russell has discussed various arguments for the existence of God, such as, the first-cause argument, the natural-law argument, the argument from design, the moral argument and the argument for the remedying of injustice. According to Russell, none of these arguments are valid. In words of Russell, "most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it" and not because of any intellectual argument.
Russell has shown several defects in the character of Jesus. Jesus is quite intolerant and vindictive towards those who do not agree with his preaching. He uses words like "serpents" and talks of "everlasting damnation in hell". According to Russell, Buddha and Socrates were much better than Jesus in this regard.
Russell categorically says that "the Christian religion, as organized in its churches has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world". Russell critcizes church for identifying morality with a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness. Russell has given examples to make his point that church has retarded progress of human society. According to Russell, religion is primarily based on fear. Instead of searching for imaginary support, human beings should stand upon their own feet and depend on science and their own efforts for solving their problems.