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Why I am not a Christian

November 24, 2009
Bertrand Russell

Why I am not a Christian-

And other essays on Religion and related subjects.

From the essay “A New Generation”

“The gain to the human race to be expected from a rational psychology in the handling of children is almost unlimited. The most important sphere is, of course, that of sex. Children are taught a superstitious attitude about certain parts of the body, about certain words and thoughts, and about certain kinds of play to which nature prompts them. The result is that when they become adult they are stiff and awkward in all matters of love. Throughout the English-speaking world most people while still in the nursery are rendered incapable of satisfactory marriage. There is no other adult activity for which children are forbidden to prepare themselves by play, or in regard to which there is expected to be a sudden transition from absolute taboo to perfect competence.

The sense of sin which dominates many children and young people and often lasts on into later life is a misery and a source of distortion that serves no useful purpose of any sort or kind. It is produced almost entirely by conventional moral teaching in the sphere of sex. The feeling that sex is wicked makes happy love impossible, causing men to despise the women with whom they have relations and often to have impulses of cruelty toward them. Moreover, the indirection which is forced upon the sexual impulse when it is inhibited, leading it to take the form of sentimental friendship or religious ardor or what not, causes a lack of intellectual sincerity which is very inimical to intelligence and to the sense of reality. Cruelty, stupidity, incapacity for harmonious personal relation, and many other defects have their source in most cases in the moral teaching endured during childhood. Let it be said with the utmost simplicity and directness: there is nothing bad in sex, and the conventional attitude in this matter is morbid. I believe that no other one evil in our society is so potent a source of human misery, since not only does it directly cause a long train of evils but it inhibits that kindliness and human affection that might lead men to remedy the other remediable evils, economical, political, and racial, by which humanity is tortured.”

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One Comment
  1. OK, here’s your first comment – you inspired me to sigh up here also but I still like xanga’s ease of blogging, commenting, and I know here are still plenty of (fairly) serious discussions there.

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