Archive for the ‘general revelation’ Category

I can’t justify it, but it was a deep and sincere prayer – a prayer for strength to subdue my instincts

October 13, 2009

Despite being a critic of religion,  Bertrand Russell’s biographer, Ray Monk, writes that he once prayed on his knees to God in the San Zeno Maggiore, Verona. He was struggling to control his sexual passions. Russell wrote:

I can’t justify it, but it was a deep and sincere prayer – a prayer for strength to subdue my instincts.

Clearly his rationalism wasn’t of much help at that time.

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The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain – a curious wild pain – a searching for something beyond what the world contains

October 13, 2009

The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain – a curious wild pain – a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured and infinite – the beatific vision – God…I can’t explain it or make it seem anything but foolishness.

Bertrand Russell, in Bertrand Russell, Ray Monk, vol.1, p.317

There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is

October 13, 2009

Writing to Ottoline from prison, in 1918, (his punishment for his anti-war activity) Russell explained that one of his most important motivations in his work and life was “the quest for something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite: one seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets…But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found. The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact…There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is.

Bertrand Russell, in Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude, vol.1, Ray Monk, p.530

Or rather, he didn’t want a God who might tell him to leave a married woman alone (Ottoline) and be sexually faithful.

Turbulent, restless, inwardly raging – I shall always be – hungry for your God and blaspheming him. I could pour forth a flood of worship – the longing for religion is at times almost unbearably strong

October 7, 2009

I long to have the inward poise that you have,'( Bertrand Russell said to Lady Ottoline Morrell, his lover and a believer in God) but that is not for me. I shall never have it while I am alive. Turbulent, restless, inwardly raging – I shall always be – hungry for your God and blaspheming him. I could pour forth a flood of worship – the longing for religion is at times almost unbearably strong.

Bertrand Russell, in Ray Monk,Bertrand Russell: Spirit of Solitude, p.243

around half the adult population of Britain have had or have from time to time, religious experiences or awareness

October 7, 2009

…around half the adult population of Britain have had or have from time to time, religious experiences or awareness.

Usually people report themselves to be surprised by an unexpected awareness of God or some other sacred presence such as an angel or a saint…nearly half of them never attend a place of worship…People who experience this awareness are usually better educated and in a better psychological state than people who say they have no such experience. There is thus a striking paradox..since the popular stereotype of people reporting such experiences is that they are most probably stupid or slightly mentally unbalanced.

National Survey 1976, Gallup Poll, 1985, 1986

And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime

October 7, 2009

And I have felt 

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

 Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime 

 Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean, and the living air, 

 And the blue sky, and in the mind of man —

 A motion and a spirit that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 

 And rolls through all things.

Wordsworth, Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,
On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, 13 July 1798″
(Lyrical Ballads, 1798)

The fallen duplicity of man is that he simultaneously seeks after God his Maker and flees from God his Judge

October 7, 2009

…religious activity…gives us the illusion of having met and satisfied (God). (Man’s) religiosity is a subtle escape from the God he is afraid and ashamed to meet. The fallen duplicity of man is that he simultaneously seeks after God his Maker and flees from God his Judge.

Christopher J. H. Wright, “The Christian and Other Religions: The Biblical Evidence,” Themelios 9:2 (1984): 5

Yet there is, as the eminent pagan says, no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God

October 7, 2009

Yet there is, as the eminent pagan says, no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God…There is within the human mind, and by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity.

Calvin, Inst. 1:43-44

For what nation or what tribe of men is there but possesses untaught some ‘preconception’ of the gods?

Cicero, De Natura Deorum I. xvi.43

here is not one thing whatsoever more plain and manifest, and more demonstrable, than the being of a God. It is manifest in ourselves, in our own bodies and souls, and in every thing about us wherever we turn our eye, whether to heaven, or to the earth

October 3, 2009

…here is not one thing whatsoever more plain and manifest, and more demonstrable, than the being of a God. It is manifest in ourselves, in our own bodies and souls, and in every thing about us wherever we turn our eye, whether to heaven, or to the earth.

Jonathan Edwards, Works 2.252.

In his sermon on Rom 1:20, Edwards says that every blade of grass gives overwhelming testimony to the divine being. Elsewhere Edwards affirms,

Indeed, we every moment see the same proof of a God as we should have seen if we had seen [him] create the world at first.

Edwards, “Miscellanies #125,” 76 – source

It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant, one who would not attend his business by candlelight, to plead that he had not bright sunshine

September 24, 2009

It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant, one who would not attend his business by candlelight, to plead that he had not bright sunshine. The candle, that is set up in us, shines bright enough for our purposes…If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Introduction, 5

Whilst the light of nature does not give us all truth, yet it is sufficient to make to us our duty to others and God.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans. 1.20