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Portal Site for Russellian in Japan


Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? 1930


 宗教についての私自身の意見は,ルクレティウス(注:Lucretius)の意見(と同じ)である。私は,宗教恐怖(心)から生まれた病気として,また人類への計り知れない惨めさの根源であると考えている。けれども,宗教がある程度文明に貢献したことは否定できない。宗教は(宗教が起こった)初期の時代にあっては,暦を定着させる助けをし,エジプトの僧侶たちに,日食月食を極めて注意深く記録させたので,後に,彼らは日食月食を予言することができるようになった。私はこれらの二つの功績(two services)をいつでも認める用意があるが,その他の功績については,私は知らない。
 キリスト教について真理であることは,仏教においてもひとしく真理である。仏陀は気立てが優しく,悟っていた。臨終の床において,仏陀は,(弟子たちが)自分を不滅だと想像したことについて,弟子たちを笑った。しかし坊主(Buddhist priest 仏教徒僧)は−たとえば,チベットに存在しているように−,反啓蒙主義者であり,専制的で,これ以上ないほど残酷であった。

My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others.
The word religion is used nowadays in a very loose sense. Some people, under the influence of extreme Protestantism, employ the word to denote any serious personal convictions as to morals or the nature of the universe. This use of the word is quite unhistorical. Religion is primarily a social phenomenon. Churches may owe their origin to teachers with strong individual convictions, but these teachers have seldom had much influence upon the churches that they have founded, whereas churches have had enormous influence upon the communities in which they flourished. To take the case that is of most interest to members of Western civilization: the teaching of Christ, as it appears in the Gospels, has had extraordinarily little to do with the ethics of Christians. The most important thing about Christianity, from a social and historical point of view, is not Christ but the church, and if we are to judge of Christianity as a social force we must not go to the Gospels for our material. Christ taught that you should give your goods to the poor, that you should not fight, that you should not go to church, and that you should not punish adultery. Neither Catholics nor Protestants have shown any strong desire to follow His teaching in any of these respects. Some of the Franciscans, it is true, attempted to teach the doctrine of apostolic poverty, but the Pope condemned them, and their doctrine was declared heretical. Or, again, consider such a text as "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and ask yourself what influence such a text has had upon the Inquisition and the Ku Klux Klan.
What is true of Christianity is equally true of Buddhism. The Buddha was amiable and enlightened; on his deathbed he laughed at his disciples for supposing that he was immortal. But the Buddhist priesthood -- as it exists, for example, in Tibet -- has been obscurantist, tyrannous, and cruel in the highest degree.