Hi Kevin. I’m glad you ask about Russell. He’s a good point of departure for a continuing discussion, and that’s why I started with him. There will be more to come, so stay tuned.

I have to say, I bristle at your suggestion that my worldview MUST answer your line of questioning. Christian teachers inevitably try to pigeon hole thought by pretending that if you don’t know ALL the answers to their narrow range of questions, then “Jesus” must be the solution. I don’t know if that’s what you’re up to, but my spidey-sense is tingling.

Since you ask, though, I’ll answer. Frankly, I don’t trust people who claim to KNOW what happens after we die. I don’t know the nature of the universe — neither do the top minds in theoretical physics, who debate each other endlessly on the subject. World religions contest each other on the matter, and Christian theologians don’t agree among themselves. I don’t know that there is a “problem with the world,” though people certainly have strife with one another, and people who insist that we must all subscribe to their answers to the questions on your list are the source of a great deal of that strife.

I definitely don’t feel like my worldview is fixed, nor do I see it as the “bottom line” on anything. Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism, however, have a long history of fanaticism and routinely use government power to control non-believers. Christians, therefore, invite us to scrutinize their worldview and expose their feeble logic.

To be sure, someone is always responding to Russell, but most of those responses are laughable and merely rehearse the same tired objections that other thinkers have refuted elsewhere. I won’t get into the details here — as I said before, I want to write more articles on this topic. My point, though, is that I find it a bit preposterous that you would label me a strawman for merely citing Russell’s most famous lecture, reviewing his thoughts, and showing how they support my own. You can’t have it both ways: if Russell is “useful” and “worth the read,” then he is also worth discussion. If he somehow distorts mainstream Christian “philosophy” to make of it an easily discarded strawman, then it’s up to Christians to show how — merely leveling the accusation is itself a strawman argument.

Thanks for the discussion, Kevin. It has inspired some new ideas for future posts, and for that I am grateful. I hope you’ll weigh-in again soon.

Dustin

I write about movies, books, culture, politics, and the intersection between them. MA in English, words in The Ascent, PSILU, The Writing Cooperative, and more.

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