It was 1890 and Bertrand Russell was Reading from John Stuart Mill


Article #378

by Bill Nugent


In 1890, a young man, about 18, is reading in a philosophy book. The book he’s reading was written by none other than the famous utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).


The young man is not deeply religious but he believes God is the first cause of all things. He reads a passage in the book by J. S. Mill which discusses the law of causality. The passage says that the law of causality claims that every thing must have a cause. It goes on to say that if there is a God, then even God must have a cause.


The young man was immediately persuaded by the clever words of John Stuart Mill. If God was caused by something or brought into being by something then that something is supreme over God. He was convinced that God is not the supreme being.


The young man went from being a believer in God to becoming an atheist. He went from belief in God as the supreme being to being persuaded that God is just one of any number of things that are caused by something else.


However, John Stuart Mill was wrong in his summation of the law of causality. The law of causality as understood by virtually every philosopher, is that every effect must have a cause. Mill wrote that every thing must have a cause. Mill made a serious error. God is not an “effect.” I’ll explain more on this later in this article.


There’s an expression that says “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” The young man was truly bent that day. That bending of his mind, his brilliant mind, changed the whole direction of his life.


One of the Most Influential Philosophers of Our Time


The young man was none other than Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). He would move on from that day in 1890, to eventually become one of the most influential British philosophers of the 20th century. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Russell’s writings had a profound impact on the whole direction of Western Civilization.


Bertrand Russell was a mathematician, philosopher, logician and public intellectual. He wrote scholarly works for those in high academic circles and he also wrote for the layman. His writings for the layman are perhaps where he did the greatest destructive work on the faith of millions of people all over the world.


Among Russell’s many writings was an essay titled “Why I am Not a Christian,” published in 1927. It was later re-published in 1957 as part of a book containing many other essays by Russell on religion and philosophical matters. “Why I am Not a Christian” is a devastating, blasphemous attack on the Christian faith that led multitudes of people astray.


In his personal life, Russell was married four times. He had three children. His oldest was born when Russell was 49. His youngest was born when he was 65. He was a pacifist during the first world war and was imprisoned for 6 months for sharing his pacifist beliefs. The British government regarded his activism as undermining the war effort.


Russell won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1950. Though Russell was born and died in Wales, he always identified as being English.


Einstein’s Greatest Mistake


God is not an effect. Let me prove this. Let me start by discussing the concept of a static universe. In 1917, Albert Einstein wrote an article in which he affirmed the concept of a static universe. Later in life he would say that it was his greatest blunder to believe in a static universe.


The static universe is the claim that the universe has always existed. It claims the universe existed a trillion years ago, even a quadrillion and more years ago. Most philosophers, PhD scientists and people of many persuasions and intellectual habits believed in a static universe in the early part of the 20th century. Einstein certainly was not alone in his belief in a static universe.


In the late 1920s, Edwin Hubble (1889-1953), an American scientist, gave details on the observational evidence showing that the universe is expanding and that the universe had a beginning. The space telescope is named after Edwin Hubble.


A Belgian Catholic priest and scientist named Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966) did pioneering scientific work on the universe’s beginnings before Hubble. However, since Lemaitre wrote in French, his work was not widely known.


The static universe is disproven by the second law of thermodynamics.  The second law of thermodynamics is very well established in science. It’s believed by all scientists. “The second law states that as energy is transferred or transformed, more and more of it is wasted” (livesciencedotcom). Scientists predict that our own universe will suffer, what they call “heat death.” Heat death will be the time when all the energy in the universe is totally dissipated.


If the universe always existed then it would have suffered heat death trillions of years ago. Since the universe is not in heat death now, we have proof that the universe did not always exist. Therefore the universe had a beginning point. The static universe is disproven.


The Universe Had a Beginning; What Caused it to Begin?


As time went on, the concept of the universe having a beginning was accepted by all scientists. The universe is expanding. To explain the expansion, scientists developed, over the 1930s and 40s, the concept of the “Big bang” of which, no doubt, you are familiar.


The fact that the universe had a beginning is proof positive that something brought the universe into being. The universe had a cause. The universe is an effect. This is very important for us to understand.


Scientists and philosophers have an expression: “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” In Latin it is “Ex nihilo, nihilo fit.” It’s the belief that if anything exists today something always existed. The something which always existed is the cause of all things but that something is not caused by anything.


If ever there was a time when nothing existed then nothing would exist today.


Let me introduce you to the term “aseity.” Aseity refers to a thing that is self-existent and has a self-derived state of being. It’s a being with the source of it’s existence totally of and within itself. It is not dependent on anything else for its existence.


Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? Yes that being, whoever or whatever it is, is the supreme being. I’m convinced that the supreme being is is none other than God!


Is the Causeless Cause an Intelligent Being?


The concept of aseity and the existence of a being that is self-existent is the cosmological proof of the existence of God.


Now we come to the question: “Is this supreme being an intelligent being or is it really just a Star Wars primal force?” I can prove that the supreme being is an intelligent being by using the teleological proof of the existence of God.


“Teleological” is a term derived from the Greek word “telos” which means goal or purpose. When we do a teleological analysis we look at the design of an object and discern if it has a purpose or goal.


For instance, you’re walking on the beach and you happen to stumble on a cell phone in the sand. You pick it up and you see that it’s an immensely complex piece of machinery. You examine it and see that it has a purpose. You can use it to communicate with others. Now, do you think that it formed randomly by the crashing of the waves on sand which gathered minerals and built a sophisticated cell phone, complete with battery and processor and screen?


No, you come to the immediate conclusion is that some sort of an intelligent being, a human being, designed and built the cell phone for a purpose. This is the teleological proof of the existence of an intelligent designer.


Evidence of the Intelligent Designer of Living Things


Now when we look all around us on planet earth we see life forms such as trees, shrubs, reptiles, mammals and all creatures large and small. We look at the simplest living things which are single-celled life forms, such as E-Coli bacteria. When we examine an E-Coli bacterium, we see that it is immensely complex and can reproduce by cell division. A bacterium is more complex than a cell phone or even the computer you’re using to read this.


The fact that life has mind-boggling complexity and purpose for existence is proof of the existence of an intelligent designer of life. God is the intelligent designer and creator of life. This is the teleological proof of the existence of the creator God.


If only Bertrand Russell had a right understanding of the law of causality, perhaps he never would have become an atheist. He could have become a good Christian philosopher and taught biblical truths to generations of young people. But because he was deceived by J.S. Mill’s twisting of the law of causality, he was steered down the path of atheism. John Stuart Mill, ironically, was Bertrand Russell’s godfather.


God has given us abundant proof of His existence. We are literally surrounded by proof of the existence of God. Even our own bodies are proof of the existence of God. Creation itself is a miracle of God. God proves His existence by miracles. Jesus proved that He’s the Son of God by His miracles. Jesus worked miracles in front of the people of ancient Judea and Galilee. Miracles of supernatural healing still occur today in answer to Christian prayer.


Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah of Israel


Jesus came in fulfillment of hundreds of Messianic prophecies that were written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. This too is miraculous.


The prophets foretold that the Messiah of Israel would come to die for the sins of the people. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). This was written in the 53rd chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah more than 700 years before Jesus Christ was born. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Jewish people.


Christ suffered and died for our sins. He took the penalty of our sins upon Himself so that we can receive forgiveness of sins. He was raised from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who repent and call upon Him. I invite you to turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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