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Thread: How Do Christians View Russell's Teapot?

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    Senior Member Horagalles's Avatar
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    I've already said that Russels teapot is a red herring. But it is also revealing for the mindset many atheists have.

    If one wants a specifically Christian response to that. One can simply google for apologetics and keywords like Russel/teapot, etc.

    However I think this isn't actually just a question for Christians. It is rather a question for any non-pantheist theists regardless whether they are monotheistic or polytheistic doesn't matter. As long as they believe in (an) intelligent supreme being(s) with superhuman powers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernhard View Post
    ...It says "specifically in the case of religion", but religion doesn't claim to be scientific so this argument doesn't apply to religion. Comparing the concept of God (or any divine concept) to a material object (the teapot) shows a lack of understanding of theological ideas. Russell either willingly ignores or hasn't read anything theology or even philosophy has to say about God. The comparison would only be valid if Christians would view God literally as some old man with a beard sitting on a cloud, which no sincere Christian does. The only person I can think of who would have to defend his position against this argument is Democritus of Abdera, the Atomist who thought that even the Gods were material beings hanging around somewhere in the universe. Others need not bother to defend temselves against Russell.
    I do agree with most what you say and would add a few things. There are several other problems with the teapot analogy. I.e.:
    - The existence of the teapot is inconsequential. As the teapot is neither the creator of the Universe nor the redeemer of mankind (a more christian concern) and there isn't really a tradition or established institution in which that teapot has any meaningful role to play.
    - Russel forgets that ANY truth statement does bear some burden of proof. And the postulate that "God doesn't exist" is still a positive truth statement.

    Another issue is of course that despite being common and popular statements "there is no proof for the existence of God" or "God can not be proven" are simply false. In fact there are several proofs for the existence of God and using logic and introspection and what we know about nature and the universe one can pretty easily proof the existence of God. The tricky part is rather to attribute this supreme Being to be the God revered by any of the existing religions.
    Proofs for the existence of God have been made by a number of philosophers and theologians examples are Paulus, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Leibniz, Paley, Duns Scotus and many others. The arguments they made are the ontological argument, argument from design, moral argument, inner sense argument, omnipresence of tradition, transcendence of fundamental principles and the first causes argument. Actually the scientific world view was only possible due to the believe into one coherent supreme creator of the universe that gave it some comprehensible underlying principles and laws on whose basis this universe did function. It is quite ironic that atheists try to employ science as a means to disprove the existence of God, when science is actually something that could never been an outgrowth of any fully atheistic society (in which nihilism would prevail) and where there would be no confidence into any generally transcendent principles.
    "And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which they should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should observe what elements mingle in their offspring;..." Plato Politeia

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    Basing everything on rationality or trying to live in pure objectiveness is just stupid. It'd be more rational for me, if I were in a situation where I had to choose between who would live out of my best friend and my little shit of a sister, that I would choose my best friend, but really I would choose my sister every time because certain experiences call for emotion and not rationality, and these certain irrational bonds that people have.

    So there's a poor peasant working a farm, can barely afford to live, absolutely destitute; please tell me what benefit it is to him, to tell him that when he dies that's it, all over, and there's no point to anything that happens in this universe.

    Let the pure rationality/objectivity go to the robots, I like being human.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
    Did you not bloody read? The Christian has the burden of proof, not the unbeliever they try pass the burden of proof onto. Christians say God is real, but they have no proof for it. They are claiming God exists. They should provide evidence why those who do not should. That is not a straw man.

    If he had said something like 'Show me the man God then if he is real' or something alike to that, that would be a straw man.
    Perhaps you do not grasp the purpose of an analogy. Russell compares the claim of the existence of God (immaterial) to the claim of the teapot (material). The analogy shows that Russell is of the opinion that Christians have to scientifically and empirically prove something which they haven't claimed to be scientifically and empirically provable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
    Oh yes they did. I am pretty sure God is a core part of Christianity. What good is a Christian who doesn't believe in God?
    They did? I'd like to see that proven please.
    And of course, that's the logical fallacy that was still missing in this debate, circular reasoning: They consider God to be scientifically provable, because if they don't, they don't believe in Him, based on the premise that only what is scientifically provable is real and thus that God - if real - is scientifically provable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sindig_og_stoisk
    Eventually, modernity made the absurdity of this apparent to everybody.
    So now, believers claim that God is not the Sky Father watching over us but rather some abstract, philosophical concept. They hide behind dense layers of obscurantism and esoteric musings on the primum movens, the Watchmaker etc. with one simple purpose: To hide the fact that the belief in a omniscient and omnipotent God who cares about our lives is no longer a tenable belief. That the stories of their holy books were always meant to be allegories over concepts, virtues and emotions.
    Although you are mistaken in that it is regarded to be a concept without a reality of its own, the idea that the divine cannot be grasped by mere reason is not a recent invention as a reaction to modernity. That myths are allegories isn't either (although I agree that Christianity has often interpreted their myths far too literally). For the former, see the quote of Iamblichus (3rd century AD) in this post. For the latter, read the works of (for example) Emperor Julian (4th century AD). Actually, any ancient work of philosophy will do.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernhard View Post
    Perhaps you do not grasp the purpose of an analogy. Russell compares the claim of the existence of God (immaterial) to the claim of the teapot (material). The analogy shows that Russell is of the opinion that Christians have to scientifically and empirically prove something which they haven't claimed to be scientifically and empirically provable.
    The point is, anyone can make up anything about what exists in which remains an unknown void. The burden of proof is on the Christian to prove that this thing exists, not pass off the burden of proof on to others.

    You can not prove God exists, there is no reason to believe God exists... the point is that it can not be proven. Not if it is material or not. Note he says those making falsifiable claims have the burden of proof. Christians made the claim of God before the current rise of atheism. Oh, and I would like proof the immaterial even exists.

    To quote Hitchens, to cut it down short, ""What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

    They did? I'd like to see that proven please.
    You know, the whole thing that Jesus Christ is the son of God... you might have missed that part of the whole Christian religion thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodericus
    Basing everything on rationality or trying to live in pure objectiveness is just stupid. It'd be more rational for me, if I were in a situation where I had to choose between who would live out of my best friend and my little shit of a sister, that I would choose my best friend, but really I would choose my sister every time because certain experiences call for emotion and not rationality, and these certain irrational bonds that people have.
    This has no bearing on if God exists or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodericus;
    So there's a poor peasant working a farm, can barely afford to live, absolutely destitute; please tell me what benefit it is to him, to tell him that when he dies that's it, all over, and there's no point to anything that happens in this universe.
    I'd rather people stop hoping for some mythical afterlife and sort out society and life while they can. Marx said religion is the opiate of the people, and I agree fully with him. Drugs and religion are a way of distracting people from the reality, instead of working to improve their reality.

    God is as real as hallucinations or dreams. In other words he is not. That is why drugs have been associated with religious rituals. Another thing there, if God even existed, I think a certain definition would describe God well. Irrelevant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
    This has no bearing on if God exists or not.

    I'd rather people stop hoping for some mythical afterlife and sort out society and life while they can. Marx said religion is the opiate of the people, and I agree fully with him. Drugs and religion are a way of distracting people from the reality, instead of working to improve their reality.

    God is as real as hallucinations or dreams. In other words he is not. That is why drugs have been associated with religious rituals. Another thing there, if God even existed, I think a certain definition would describe God well. Irrelevant.
    Too bad that everytime Marx's idea was forced upon a population to 'free' the peasants and workers, they arguably ended up worse. How many peasants were freed? Enough to warrant the death of an estimated 100 million people?

    I honestly cannot see a point in attacking an institution that has been held sacred for almost 2000 years either. Especially at a time when the Church is less effective at mobilising voters than a muslim leader is, in Europe. Cui bono?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theodericus View Post
    Basing everything on rationality or trying to live in pure objectiveness is just stupid. It'd be more rational for me, if I were in a situation where I had to choose between who would live out of my best friend and my little shit of a sister, that I would choose my best friend, but really I would choose my sister every time because certain experiences call for emotion and not rationality, and these certain irrational bonds that people have.
    You do not need God to help you choose between your sister and your friend. I fail to see how an omnipotent being who created the entire universe could be bothered to help you with what to him would be a utterly banal and pointless question. If such an omnipotent being really existed, he would probably be entirely unable to understand why you care at all about either your sister or your friend.

    So there's a poor peasant working a farm, can barely afford to live, absolutely destitute; please tell me what benefit it is to him, to tell him that when he dies that's it, all over, and there's no point to anything that happens in this universe.

    Let the pure rationality/objectivity go to the robots, I like being human.
    Whether or not your hypothetical destitute peasant find comfort in the idea of God is irrelevant. We are merely discussing what truth there is to his idea of God.
    What purpose does it do to fill his head with the story of a God who could fix all his problems and grant him everything he would need for his life, but who cannot be bothered to do anything at all?
    How is your devout peasant supposed to feel when he knows that each and every day God uses his omniscience to watch his misery and destitution in every detail and that even though God is omnipotent and could stop all this without any effort at all, he simply ignores the peasant's problems and do nothing?

    What if your destitute peasant found great comfort and benefit from the idea that The Flying Spaghetti Monster was out there in some unknown and unknownable void and that this mysterious entity loved him unconditionally and passionately? Would that also be a cute, heart-warming story? Or would that not somehow be the "wrong kind" of comfort and purpose?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theodericus View Post
    Too bad that everytime Marx's idea was forced upon a population to 'free' the peasants and workers, they arguably ended up worse. How many peasants were freed? Enough to warrant the death of an estimated 100 million people?
    You talk as if there really is a thing such as Orthodox Marxism. I was talking about what he said about religion. Peasant deaths under Marxism-Leninism or Stalinism are irrelevant. Bolshevism was never particularly sympathetic to the traditional peasantry, and the end goal was what the vanguard had in mind. Not the plight of people in the present. They aimed to build up the state as fast as possible, any means necessary. And the famine was in part natural disaster.

    Also, the Black Book of Communism is trash.

    I honestly cannot see a point in attacking an institution that has been held sacred for almost 2000 years either. Especially at a time when the Church is less effective at mobilising voters than a muslim leader is, in Europe. Cui bono?
    The thread is about "How Do Christians View Russell's Teapot?", that is how I came to this subject. And holding onto backwards traditions for traditions sake is a bit useless in my opinion. Sadly, I don't think religion can be stamped out. But states should always be secular.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sindig_og_stoisk View Post
    You do not need God to help you choose between your sister and your friend. I fail to see how an omnipotent being who created the entire universe could be bothered to help you with what to him would be a utterly banal and pointless question. If such an omnipotent being really existed, he would probably be entirely unable to understand why you care at all about either your sister or your friend.
    I wasn't actually attempting to prove God by that analogy. No, it's because I don't understand people who base every single thing on rationality, and thus to refute religion somehow, when their very human nature prevents them from doing so.

    Whether or not your hypothetical destitute peasant find comfort in the idea of God is irrelevant. We are merely discussing what truth there is to his idea of God.
    What purpose does it do to fill his head with the story of a God who could fix all his problems and grant him everything he would need for his life, but who cannot be bothered to do anything at all?
    How is your devout peasant supposed to feel when he knows that each and every day God uses his omniscience to watch his misery and destitution in every detail and that even though God is omnipotent and could stop all this without any effort at all, he simply ignores the peasant's problems and do nothing?

    What if your destitute peasant found great comfort and benefit from the idea that The Flying Spaghetti Monster was out there in some unknown and unknownable void and that this mysterious entity loved him unconditionally and passionately? Would that also be a cute, heart-warming story? Or would that not somehow be the "wrong kind" of comfort and purpose?
    Well here's the greatest misconception of religion ever, that you can just pray to the big guy upstairs and you'll get whatever you want. This is what people use to argue against all forms of religion 'How can God(s) let this happen!!!'. But life is a trial, you get thrown curve balls, it's how you deal with it. We're naturally inclined to do the best we can with what we have.

    To the second part, this may surprise you but I would say I would yes, I would see nothing wrong with that, as a hypothetical. But let me clarify, I would see nothing wrong with that, if that religion had been the main one of Europe for the past ~1700 years, had entire nations been forged in its ideal, had so many people bled for the Spaghetti God, if it represented the status quo today, I would have no problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
    Basically the answer to the question posed in this thread is that Christians and the religious ignore Russell's Teapot because it doesn't sit well with them.
    Or perhaps it is simply invalid?

    Well, it's clearly a category mistake. A teapot would be a material object. One could see it, since it reflects light and one could touch it, as it consists of metal.

    The only problem here is that it's so far away that neither direct nor indirect observation using instruments will fail. Hence, while it isn't completely implausible, its existence can neither be proven nor disproved using empirical methods.

    But by the very assertion Christians or other theists make, God is a spiritual being. That in itself means that the Russel's teapot argument is actually a category mistake and foots on fallacious reasoning. Actually it is a very good illustration on why atheism is a flawed idea and intellectually dishonest. That on the other hand makes we wonder why Christians or other theists don't use it in their debates more.

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