T Nation

Russell's Teapot

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.

Well thats a real thinker you got going there.

What could this possibly be directed toward?

Do you have something against teapots?

I donno man, they got some pretty high powered telescopes. You just gotta have faith I guess!!

What can’t a person who wants proof understand about faith?

Faith is belief in the absence of proof. In some religious denominations seeking proof of the existance of what they believe in is realy considered a lack of faith.

You can design any hypothet, as articulately as you like, but it realy doesn’t mean two shits to someone who believes in something.
It’s faith man, what the hell is so hard to understand about that?

How much sense does it make to challenge the belief of something that one does not believe in?

Yes, religion is bullshit that’s fed to children like suckatash and it’s a shame… But we are all long aware of that, why the thread?

It’s an anology i came across whilst reading, just thought i’d share.

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:

What can’t a person who wants proof understand about faith?

Faith is belief in the absence of proof. In some religious denominations seeking proof of the existance of what they believe in is realy considered a lack of faith.

You can design any hypothet, as articulately as you like, but it realy doesn’t mean two shits to someone who believes in something.
It’s faith man, what the hell is so hard to understand about that?

How much sense does it make to challenge the belief of something that one does not believe in?
[/quote]

What’s the difference in believing in an improbable god and believeing in the improbable celestial teapot or the improbable flying spaghetti monster?

The only difference between the teapot and the abrahamic god, is a book, noone knows where the original is and there is no evidence verifying who wrote it.

Elaine Pagels writes: “Although the gospels of the New Testament-- like those discovered at Nag Hammadi-- are attributed to Jesus’ followers, no one knows who actually wrote any of them.” [Pagels, 1995]

Why have faith in the improbable?

[quote]superscience wrote:
SkyzykS wrote:

What can’t a person who wants proof understand about faith?

Faith is belief in the absence of proof. In some religious denominations seeking proof of the existance of what they believe in is realy considered a lack of faith.

You can design any hypothet, as articulately as you like, but it realy doesn’t mean two shits to someone who believes in something.
It’s faith man, what the hell is so hard to understand about that?

How much sense does it make to challenge the belief of something that one does not believe in?

What’s the difference in believing in an improbable god and believeing in the improbable celestial teapot or the improbable flying spaghetti monster?

The only difference between the teapot and the abrahamic god, is a book, noone knows where the original is and there is no evidence verifying who wrote it.

Elaine Pagels writes: “Although the gospels of the New Testament-- like those discovered at Nag Hammadi-- are attributed to Jesus’ followers, no one knows who actually wrote any of them.” [Pagels, 1995]

Why have faith in the improbable?

[/quote]

Because your Daddy told you when your brain was wired to believe everything he told you.

[quote]superscience wrote:
Why have faith in the improbable?

[/quote]

If something is probable, or easy to understand, no faith is required.

The orbiting teapot- Easy to concieve. An observable concept.

A higher power that controls the universe, or what ever a person believes in- That requires some faith.

How about imaginary numbers and complex conjugates? Those are prety difficult to concieve, but with some indoctrination to algebraic thinking and process, they become easy enough to work with and believe in.

Try explaining them to someone who has never cracked a book on arithmatic though, and they WILL think you are fucking nuts.
(hows that for an analogy?)

[quote]superscience wrote:
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.[/quote]

Are you talking about evolution?

[quote]Razorslim wrote:
Are you talking about evolution?[/quote]

Na, that is way to complicated to indoctrinate children with.

Get them while thei`re young and keep it simple:

Invisible Alpha Male in the sky, heaven , hell fire…

You might want to add values later, but really, instill fear as early as possible.

This thread again? You can find about 200 similar ones using the search function. I really doubt new facts have come to light that will change anyone’s opinion.

Kudos for the original title, though.

If your analogy wasnt taken out of context from whatever you read, your point would be certainly clearer.

[quote]pookie wrote:
This thread again? You can find about 200 similar ones using the search function. I really doubt new facts have come to light that will change anyone’s opinion.

Kudos for the original title, though.
[/quote]

Ya, but I still have fond memories of the cosmic train wreck that the ‘Evolution’ thread became.

There’s the same potential here…

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
superscience wrote:
Why have faith in the improbable?

If something is probable, or easy to understand, no faith is required.

The orbiting teapot- Easy to concieve. An observable concept.

A higher power that controls the universe, or what ever a person believes in- That requires some faith.

How about imaginary numbers and complex conjugates? Those are prety difficult to concieve, but with some indoctrination to algebraic thinking and process, they become easy enough to work with and believe in.

Try explaining them to someone who has never cracked a book on arithmatic though, and they WILL think you are fucking nuts.
(hows that for an analogy?)
[/quote]

You forgot the teapot can not be observed nor can the flying spaghetti monster, just like a deity.

How about natural laws, and the animals in it controlling a universe, what about your own brain controlling your actions not some imaginary thing.

The failed assassination attempt of pope john paul 2, he give credit to some saint for guiding the bullets away from his organs and for saving his life.

Why didn’t the saint guide the bullets away from him and why did he refer to one saint?

Is this polytheism from an monotheist?

Him giving credit to some saint is, to me, complete and utter ignorance to the good educated doctors who saved his life.

[quote]superscience wrote:
You forgot the teapot can not be observed nor can the flying spaghetti monster, just like a deity.[/quote]

It’s not whether or not the teapot can be observed, but whether or not the natural phenominon of orbit can be observed, which it can be.

Animals controlling the universe?
Are you trying to start your own unobservable system of beliefs?

[quote]
The failed assassination attempt of pope john paul 2, he give credit to some saint for guiding the bullets away from his organs and for saving his life.

Why didn’t the saint guide the bullets away from him and why did he refer to one saint?

Is this polytheism from an monotheist?

Him giving credit to some saint is, to me, complete and utter ignorance to the good educated doctors who saved his life.[/quote]

He can give credit to what ever he wants. Thats what he believed. Besides, there is a difference between giving credit to the doctors for fixing you, and giving credit to a saint for where the bullets hit.

Also, you haven’t answered my origional question-

How much sense does it make to challenge the belief of something that one does not believe in?

Cause thats what it appears you are doing. That looks like the act of someone who is either confused about his own belief, or practicing his own brand of hypocricy.

Ok, great notes but this sounds like philosophizing of a teenager.

Strong presence of beliefs is the monumental difference of early influence. By engaging a developing mind of their child, believers turn a nonexistent notion into a personal value associated with much good, interwoven with earliest of memories and held very dearly.

During all stages of life these beliefs are reaffirmed by the community, friends, family etc, as they are widely accepted pretty much everywhere. Faith becomes a fundamental notion, a common knowledge.

You cannot just talk them out of it, that’s a guaranteed failure. They will be in denial and do whatever it takes to protect something so deeply rooted within their psyche. And they will rationalize their actions as something done for a ‘greater good’.

It’s like all of a sudden one of your parents/friends/loved ones is being accused of being a serial killer. And you KNOW for sure that’s bullshit. Well, that’s how people feel about challenging their basic fundamental beliefs. They think they KNOW for sure that their beliefs are true.

Although, obviously, they have never honestly pondered the question(nor even questioned in the first place). It’s a long way of saying that the people are stupid in this regard, it becomes a mental gap.

The difference between the teapot and religion is that there is nothing to back up the teapot besides your assertion while there is an actual text and some proposed artifacts to back up religion.

If you’re going to say it all had to start somewhere, in other words that you are to the teapot what God or Jesus is to the bible or what have you, the trouble then becomes no one cares. You?re discovery that could possibly be true based on existing scientific principles (unlike the parting of the red sea etc… though correct me if there are other incidents-

I haven?t deeply researched these matters in religion) is something that doesn?t really affect people.

Now for discussions sake, if you refer to a teacup that happened to pass by planet earth doing loops (or whatever phenomenon you choose that science has never seen) you are now in the same cup with religion. And you search for evidence to prove your teacup as people search for evidence to prove or disprove their religion.

So essentially I?ve come to the conclusion that? the jury?s still out and religion will continue to have an effect on peoples lives because of its implications. It will be tough to ever find enough proof to disprove it well enough for everyone to agree.

This discussion has been done a hundred times before on this site.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who wouldn’t mind discussing their faith, but if you begin the discussion with the premise that theists are stupid for believing what they believe, then you’re not going to get very far.

Also remember that whichever side of the fence you sit on, brilliant people, people far smarter than you, have come down on the other side.

This should tell you that trying to equate faith with intelligence (or lack of it) is a foolish mistake. Believing that faith arises from a lack of intellect actually reflects more on your own lack of intellect than the other way around.

The theory that religious beliefs originate from brainwashing is also the lazy and incorrect answer. Who are you to decide who is or isn’t brainwashed regarding a matter that has no presentable evidence for either side? Why is it that atheists are ‘enlightened’ instead of brainwashed? They have as much proof for their side as the theists do.

The “evidence for/evidence against” argument is an endless loop that can be argued till the sun burns out, and as of right now, both sides are equally valid. That’s why it’s called faith.

Now, I don’t particularly care what you believe, but if you’re going to get all high and mighty and look down your nose at the other side (whether that’s theists OR atheists), you’d better present some proof as to why your side is correct.

Otherwise, pull the stick out of your ass, sit down and shut up.