There can be no doubt that the world around us is descending into ever increasing spiritual decline and darkness. Jesus promised as much in the Gospels. As such, one of the iconic heroes among secular skeptics is the late British philosopher, Bertrand Russell. Russell was born in 1872 and was a one-man performance of intellectual brilliance and social action. Russell was a social critic, a Nobel laureate and is considered to be one of the founders of analytic philosophy. With A.N. Whitehead, Russell wrote Principia Mathematica, which is an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics, the quintessential work of classical logic. In short, Russell is nothing short of a classic genius. He was also an atheist; he didn’t believe in a God in any way.

Russell participated in a famous public debate with the well-known Jesuit priest, Father Frederick Copleston. The Copleston-Russell debate was an exchange concerning the existence of God that took place in a 1948 BBC radio broadcast. To listen to it today is to be reminded that the general public’s ability to follow complex discussions—as also seen in the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates—has certainly declined.

Russel is also famous for a book he published in 1957 with the provocative title, Why I Am Not a Christian. One of the main reasons Russell cites for rejecting Christianity is that he finds Jesus to be…well, not very nice. In short, Russell says that because Jesus believed in Hell, he finds Him guilty in the court of public opinion. Russell writes,

There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in Hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment…it is quite manifest to the reader [of the Gospels] that there is a certain pleasure in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth, or else it would not occur so often…I think I should put Buddha or Socrates above Jesus in this respect.

At least Russell is honest with what the text of Scripture says. Jesus did believe in Hell, and everlasting punishment. He spoke openly about God’s love and His judgment. And, Jesus’ descriptions of Hell were vivid and terrifying, so we at least have to give Russell that much. The question then becomes this: Who are you going to believe, Bertrand Russell or Jesus of Nazareth? It’s your call. Just make sure you realize the implications of your decision. Jesus said that our eternal life was contingent upon confessing Him as Lord. He claimed that we can either bow the knee, voluntarily in this life, and find forgiveness with God, or we can bow the knee in the next life, involuntarily, and die in our sins. Clearly, according to Jesus, the choice we make as to whom we believe is massive.