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Is There A God? Essay

1868 words - 7 pages

Bertrand Russell, a renowned analytic philosopher, argues about the existence of God in his article “Is there a God?” (1952). For most of his life Russell held the opinion that religions are meant to instill distress and helplessness into people’s minds and belief in religion is the major cause for all the deadly conflicts that have occurred in the past. In his article “Is there a God?” Russell discusses how theologians have been presenting their arguments to prove God’s existence and then gives his own reflection on their thoughts. Questioning God’s existence and giving arguments that refute such beliefs could turn into a controversial discussion and many theists, who have blind faith in God’s existence, find such arguments offensive to their beliefs. Taking the sensitive nature of this subject into account, Russell’s article does not display any offensive characteristics and the way he dealt with this issue by taking a neutral stance should be appreciated. Most of his arguments are remarkably convincing, even for theists, and make the reader think about God’s existence rationally. His way of dealing with the issue through rational means is what makes this article suitable for both theists and atheists. However, at some instances, Russell’s bias towards atheism can be observed by pointing out fallacies in his arguments.
Russell starts off by stating how polytheistic views turned into monotheistic views. Throughout his article, Russell considers theologians’ unaided reasoning and then refutes their arguments through rational means. In the end Russell concludes, on the basis of his response to many theological arguments, that he could not find any valid reason to believe in God’s existence.
The first argument, considered by Russell to reflect upon, is of the First Cause. This argument states that everything present in the universe has a cause, an infinite regress of causes is impossible and that there must be a unique entity that created everything and didn’t require any cause. But there is a huge problem with this argument. If everything has a cause and the First Cause doesn’t require any cause for it to be present, how can this unique entity be identified as God? And even if one assumes that God is present, then what was God’s cause? Was it another God? This starts a series of infinite regress of gods and one cannot reach any reasonable conclusion regarding uniqueness of God. To make it more understandable, one has to think about the chain of causes starting from present and going back to the past. Eventually, one would be lost in an infinite series of causes that doesn’t have any terminal. To elaborate further, Russell made a very effective use of an example regarding First Cause: “a certain Hindu thinker believed the earth to rest upon an elephant. When asked what the elephant rested upon, he replied that it rested upon a tortoise. When asked what the tortoise rested upon, he said, "I am tired of this. Suppose we change the subject."” (2)....

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