Without the support of comforting fairy tales

Sin is geographical


Bertrand Russell

"The whole conception of "Sin" is one which I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nature. If "Sin" consisted in causing needless suffering, I could understand; but on the contrary, sin often consists in avoiding needless suffering. Some years ago, in the English House of Lords, a bill was introduced to legalize euthanasia in cases of painful and incurable disease. The patient's consent was to be necessary, as well as several medical certificates. To me, in my simplicity, it would seem natural to require the patient's consent, but the late Archbishop of Canterbury, the English official expert on Sin, explained the erroneousness of such a view. The patient's consent turns euthanasia into suicide, and suicide is sin. Their Lordships listened to the voice of authority, and rejected the bill. Consequently, to please the Archbishop—and his God, if he reports truly—victims of cancer still have to endure months of wholly useless agony, unless their doctors or nurses are sufficiently humane to risk a charge of murder. I find difficulty in the conception of a God who gets pleasure from contemplating such tortures; and if there were a God capable of such wanton cruelty, I should certainly not think Him worthy of worship. But that only proves how sunk I am in moral depravity." ― Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish: A Hilarious Catalogue of Organized and Individual Stupidity

"All the labours of the ages,all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievementmust inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins" ― Betrand Russell

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"I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting. Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold; surely the same pride should teach us to think truly about man's place in the world. Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a splendour of their own." ― Bertrand Russell
"In the outworks of our lives, we were almost strangers, but we shared a certain outlook on human life and human destiny, which, from the very first, made a bond of extreme strength . . . . At our very first meeting, we talked with continually increasing intimacy. We seemed to sink through layer after layer of what was superficial, till gradually both reached the central fire. It was an experience unlike any other that I have known. We looked into each other's eyes, half appalled and half intoxicated to find ourselves together in such a region. The emotion was as intense as passionate love, and at the same time all-embracing. I came away bewildered, and hardly able to find my way among ordinary affairs." ― Bertrand Russell, Portraits From Memory and Other Essays
"If men were rational, they would take a more correct view of their own interest than they do at present; and if all men acted from enlightened self-interest the world would be a paradise in comparison with what it is. I do not maintain that there is nothing better than self-interest as a motive to action; but I do maintain that self-interest, like altruism, is better when it is enlightened than when it is unenlightened." ― Bertrand Russell, The Will to Doubt
"If any one asks: 'Why should I accept the results of valid arguments based on true premisses?' we can only answer by appealing to our principle. In fact, the truth of the principle is impossible to doubt, and its obviousness is so great that at first sight it seems almost trivial. Such principles, however, are not trivial to the philosopher, for they show that we may have indubitable knowledge which is in no way derived from objects of sense. The" ― Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy

"If the law of gravitation be regarded as universal, the point may be stated as follows. The laws of motion require to be stated by reference to what have been called kinetic axes: these are in reality axes having no absolute acceleration and no absolute rotation. It is asserted, for example, when the third law is combined with the notion of mass, that, if m, m' be the masses of two particles between which there is a force, the component accelerations of the two particles due to this force are in the ratio m2 : m1. But this will only be true if the accelerations are measured relative to axes which themselves have no acceleration. We cannot here introduce the centre of mass, for, according to the principle that dynamical facts must be, or be derived from, observable data, the masses, and therefore the centre of mass, must be obtained from the acceleration, and not vice versâ. Hence any dynamical motion, if it is to obey the laws of motion, must be referred to axes which are not subject to any forces. But, if the law of gravitation be accepted, no material axes will satisfy this condition. Hence we shall have to take spatial axes, and motions relative to these are of course absolute motions. 465. In order to avoid this conclusion, C. Neumann* assumes as an essential part of the laws of motion the existence, somewhere, of an absolutely rigid "Body Alpha", by reference to which all motions are to be estimated. This suggestion misses the essence of the discussion, which is (or should be) as to the logical meaning of dynamical propositions, not as to the way in which they are discovered. It seems sufficiently evident that, if it is necessary to invent a fixed body, purely hypothetical and serving no purpose except to be fixed, the reason is that what is really relevant is a fixed place, and that the body occupying it is irrelevant. It is true that Neumann does not incur the vicious circle which would be involved in saying that the Body Alpha is fixed, while all motions are relative to it; he asserts that it is rigid, but rightly avoids any statement as to its rest or motion, which, in his theory, would be wholly unmeaning. Nevertheless, it seems evident that the question whether one body is at rest or in motion must have as good a meaning as the same question concerning any other body; and this seems sufficient to condemn Neumann's suggested escape from absolute motion." ― Bertrand Russell, Principles of Mathematics

"The above proposition is occasionally useful." ― Bertrand Russell