Friday, May 16, 2008

31in31 - May 16th -"Parable of the Celestial Teapot"

Quoting Bertrand Russell..


"Many orthodox people speak as though it were the
business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather
than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a
mistake. 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 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."

Thoughts?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to what kind of tea that pot might include. Would the world fight about their guesses as to the flavor?
miss

Alex said...

Oh most definitely. I mean, if you are going to choose to believe in this, and stretch your imagination that far, why not go one step further and say it's a Chinese green tea pot, or an Indian Oolong tea pot, or a Orange Pekoe Tea pot and believe it fully?

Anonymous said...

To me, the Celestial Teapot is nothing more than a theory. Sunday mornings have taught us more about feeling than theory. If your sunday mornings have not, i'm sad to say that you missed the mark on a major level. If we choose to believe the "Celestial Teapot Theory" as it has been taught to us by our teachers as fact, and we missed the sunday morning with it's 1500 pages of fact with faith and feeling, we have missed the mark.

Alex said...

So then do we await the feelings before we decide on the fact?

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

Bertrand Russell is an idiot and to draw a parallel between an Unmoved Mover, an Uncaused Cause, or an uncreated Creator shows him to be a fool.
There is no reason to believe in a teapot, nothing in logic or observation or rules of nature that indicates his existence, no laws of the universe that suggest that the teapot need exist.
But that is very different from a belief in God(whomever you decide he might be whether the God of the Bible or no). In fact, there are many reasons to believe in a God as opposed to a teapot. And getting taught about it from texts on Sunday has nothing to do with it except in so far as they are a response the the evidence that God exists.

Bertrand Russell not only ignores a large body or reasoning and philosophy and logic and science in his teapot analogy but he ridicules the religious experience of others that he has not experienced himself. So again, I say he is an idiot and a fool.

Actually, I am speaking tongue in cheek. Russell is no fool but a noted agnostic, mathematician, logician, and writer among other things. But, as I cannot post it all in a comment, you will have to wait for my blog to deal with all of the errors he makes in using this analogy.

Anonymous said...

Alex said...
So then do we await the feelings before we decide on the fact?

Yes and No. As kids we believe what we're told, so we decide on fact before feelings. When we come of age, we grope and grapple for truth, we remember the facts but we believe on feelings. In the case of devine intervention (if you chose to believe in this or not) we might first receive the feelings before learning the facts.
The human condition, in most cases, is to believe blind, relying on some other person's claims as truth without seeing it for ourselves. If we do this as adults, we are doomed.

Steely Dan said...

Responding to your comment Alex, do we wait for the feelings? If by "feelings" we mean the kind or "religious experience" i.e. a personal revelation of God that he exists, then no I don't think you wait, but neither should you ignore them if they come. I think you use whatever faculties of reason and observation you possess to find out what is or is not knowable in the meantime.

Here is a huge problem in my mind. People are unwilling to go where this kind of thought discovery leads them. They are not open to actually standing by their own reasoning and going with what they have discovered. They are unwilling to give up the comfort of what they think know for fear of discovering they are wrong.

And this goes for theists (of course) but just as much for agnostics and atheists. Like BR, they will latch on to their agnosticism or atheism and NOTHING will shake them off it, no matter how overwhelming the evidence. It is as scary for them to have to deal with an all-powerful being (it takes away their control) as it is for a believer to deal with the possibility God might not exist.

And so both sides have often put their heads in the sand and thrown pot shots at each other, never willing to actually consider moving off their staked out territory.

The only way that I can see past this MUST BEGIN with a willingness to change our beliefs, to be convinced of new things, or be disabused of our comfortable notions. If we are not truly at that point, no feelings or arguments or reasons will have any effect whatsoever. If we ARE at that point, then I think a systematic approach is best.

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