Teapots and Spaghetti Monsters: Why atheists aren’t off the (proof) hook
by Steve Wilkinson
A common challenge Christian apologists face concerns the atheist’s claim that God doesn’t exist. A more specific variety of this challenge was recently posed by a TilledSoil.org reader concerning an atheist’s use of Russell’s teapot analogy for the non-existence of God.
“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.” -Bertrand Russell
One point to keep in mind is how similar this analogy is to the now infamous Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) used by the “new atheists.” They essentially push Russell’s teapot to the absurd and apply it in a very irreverent way, which seems to be one of the chief hallmarks making the new atheists, new. (Note: It originally served as a kind of mocking rebuttal to the intelligent design movement when the trials were underway in Kansas. The idea was to give an example considered analogous to what ID proponents were proposing. As William Lane Craig points out, this is interesting because William Dembski shot down such a concept over a year before the FSM was proposed by Henderson. He notes that Dembski might have used something like the FSM to support the non-religious nature of ID, had he thought of it first.) By the way, the FSM is pretty easy to defeat, should anyone push it staying in character as a follower, if for no other reason than its originator says he made it up.
First, consider the way in which the question is being posed…
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