I was challenged with this quote, so I’ll do my best to knock it to the fences.
ImageOnly a small few people believe in something they know to be untrue. (This might sound strange, but I’ve seen it, at the very least in Catholics who continue with their religion but agree with the sciences that try to prove that the Bible must not be literally true.) For all the others, their belief creates for them, at the very least, a relative truth – it’s true for them. Whether it’s true for everyone, that’s a different story. However, if this relative truth cannot be 100% disproven by anyone, (as even the greatest minds of atheism and science have never been able to fully claim that God MUST not be real or Christianity MUST be false), then the relative truth at hand still has the possibility of being an absolute truth. I would argue that every relative truth that is not proven wrong has the possibility of being absolute truth, so that belief becomes…as Russell said, practical. Let’s logically reverse his statement: if there is no practical reason in believing something that isn’t true, then something being true gives practical reason for believing in it. As we live in a post-modern age that relies so heavily on relative truths versus absolute truths, then this reversal of Russell’s statement must apply to relative truths, or else no one on the Earth could believe in much of anything. And if Russell’s statement cannot be applied to possible truths or relative truths, then it can be ignored altogether.
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Now, the idea of me doing a “logical reversal” on a statement by Russell might seem hilariously ironic, since modern-day logical notation as we know it is essentially Russell’s creation. He was a massively intelligent man, the kind of Plato-type who liked to dabble in everything. And to his credit, although he was an outspoken atheist, his above quote was meant to be an attack toward the religious following of Communism as it was meant to be against anything else. When it came to math, logic, or fighting against Communists and Nazis, the man certainly knew what he was talking about.

Not all of Russell’s ideas were so great, though. He though a good idea would be to let younger folk engage in “trial marriages” to sexually experience their partners before actually committing to marriage. He also advocated open sex education as well as easy access to contraceptives and easy access to divorce – unless, of course, the couple has children: then the couple should stay married and just openly have affairs, as was the case  with Russell and his second wife.
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Now, I’m not meaning to make some ad hominem arguments against the man – which is why I addressed his ideas first – but it is also important to know where people come from. It seems to me like people’s ideas on sexuality are majorly important as to where they land spiritually. For people willing to agree that marriage is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman, then Christianity becomes an easier sell – in fact, agreeing with this idea of marriage is practically essential, as this picture of marriage is the Bible’s most prominent analogy for Christ’s relation to His followers. Most people who fall squarely into the sexual openness, sexual freedom, sexual equality areas almost always seem to be atheists. As far as church-going Christians are concerned, many young adults fall away because they are too busy pursuing their sexual desires every weekend. Many older adults leave the church because they too strongly feel the shame of affairs or multiple divorces.

Returning to my original argument, I’m not trying at all to say that all religions are right or any relative truth is good. What I’m saying is that we may never come to scientific truth as anything other than a relative truth. Some things appear to be (or may forever be) out of our ability to prove. Relative truth can be a very powerful thing in the hands of someone who has experienced salvation, heard from God, seen of God, or been used for the workings of miraculous healings and divine answers to prayer. Russell has also stated that, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” For the Christian, doubt is unnecessary in the hands of an all-knowing God, who through the Word has given us all we need to know. Does it not seem ironic that one of the most esteemed intellectuals of the 20th century considered himself to be ‘full of doubts.’ I’d rather follow a man who was sure of himself.
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As I establish this blog, I really want to always tie things to music. As this post has had a strictly philosophical bent up to this point, I’m going to end things off with some song lyrics, first from Thrice, then from Abel, who I am honoring especially for they had a great but short career which has now come to an end.
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Thrice, “Treading Paper”

All my life, I’ve been treading paper in the space between the words.
And there implied is that I’m but another body for the birds, 
carrion, absurd and accidental atoms – beating air, 
carrying on; unwitting orphan of an unyielding despair.

But linger on, just for a moment, until we can ascertain if something’s wrong with me –
Or the assumptions of these self-indicted brains.
Because I contend that all of this is more than just a meaningless charade,
That each and every moment is a bottle with a message hid away.

If anything means anything,
There must be something meant for us to be,
a song that we were made to sing.
There must be so much more than we can see.

But our hearts tell a different story; 
our hands feel a different pulse.

There must be so much more than we can see,
Something fathomless, deeper than our pride can dive;
numinous, higher than our hearts can rise,
transcendent, further than our thoughts can reach; 
immanent, closer than the air we breathe.
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Abel, “Fire Walk With Me”

White skin, black dress, take me to bed.
I thought the devil was a woman, but it’s all in my head.
I spent years as a sinner thinking I could make a case for holiness,
But I never did.

White hands, black wheels, taking me out.
Take me out of the fire and into the doubt.
I spent years as a coward thinking I could get away with promises.
That’s what I said.

Oh, the devil wants to drag my soul, drag my soul down to the lake of fire.

And I hate this town.
Everyone’s a liar and the men of God are busy sleeping around.
But they don’t want to hear it.
They don’t want to hear a sound.

Oh, the devil wants to drag my soul, drag my soul down to the lake of fire.

I’ll never change, no I’ll never change.
I play the lover, but I remain the same.
You’re not to blame, no you’re not to blame.
It’s just years of this battle’s been pulling me into the flame.