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Portal Site for Russellian in Japan


Bertrand Russell's Best; Silhouettes in Satire,
selected and introduced by Robert E. Egner.
(London; Allen & Unwin, 1958. 113 p. 20 cm.)

An essay introducing the section 'Religion'

With the publication in 1903 of Lord Russell's often quoted essay, 'A Free Man's Worship,' his views on religion have been closely followed by most writers on this subject. His position on religion has changed little since this time, but the evidence for belief in traditional religious dogma has not undergone any great change either. Lord Russell has never been opposed to those for whom mythology is a cultural characteristic; he has been opposed, however, to those who adopt persecution as a means of propagating their beliefs.(挿絵出典:B. Russell's The Good Citizen's Alphabet, 1953)
The history of organized religion in the West affords a number of instances in which religion has opposed humanitarian and scientific progress. A number of advances in medicine, for example, would have been achieved sooner if free inquiry had been common, and orthodox thinking habits had been rare. Only a century ago there were many who believed that certain diseases were caused by sin, and that it was good that the wicked should suffer for their sins. Anyone who dared suggest some other cause of these diseases was subject to various forms of censorship. People in Western countries are not burned at the stake for disagreeing with prevailing religious dogma as they were in former times, but they are still subject to other, more refined, forms of unkindness. The psychological impact on religious minorities (especially the younger members of these groups ) of being merely 'tolerated' by the majority group is a case in point. Agnostics, for instance, are not entirely free to admit their beliefs publicly without suffering some kind of unpleasant consequences.(松下注:これは欧米での話であり、日本では無神論者に対してもっと寛容ですが・・・。) In some cases this may mean discrimination in obtaining employment by one who is otherwise fully qualified, while in other cases it may mean loss of standing in a community if it were known that one confessed not believing in God. Those who claim that religious freedom is a necessary condition for a democratic society sometimes forget that tolerance means more than a concordat between the adherents of rival creeds. Religious liberty implies equal tolerance towards those who profess no dogma whatever.
Religion, if it is not to be harmful, must be free of dangerous elements - suspicion, fear, and hate- which lead step by step to organized persecution.(例:異教徒の文化に対する無理解、自らの価値観の押しつけ) The selections which follow illustrate again that serious thought and keen humour make an excellent partnership; seldom in the history of letters does one find such amazing fusion of insight and wit.