Wednesday 5 December 2012

Degrees of Nonsense

In his article "Is there a God?" Bertrand Russell said:-

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

This was in answer to those theists who claim the burden is on atheists to prove the non-existence of their deity rather than on theists to prove his existence. This is notwithstanding that theists are fond of claiming their god is ineffable, mysterious, indefinable, beyond the human mind to understand. We would, in fact, be on much safer ground in searching for the elusive teapot. We know what a teapot looks like; its size, its material, its approximate weight. Scientists and engineers could, no doubt, if pushed, design a teapot scanner which, in operation over an indefinite length of time, push the probabililty that there is no orbiting teapot nearer & nearer to certainty.

1 comment:

  1. There could be a teapot out of space: humans could ship one there, if given the right ressources and time. We also create god(s), and it is much easier. it is to make god(s) real that is the difficult part.