Saturday, December 11, 2010

Celestial Teapot, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Pink Unicorn, and Other Strange Creatures

Picture of teapots.

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Atheists argue that since the existence of God is taken by faith by most adults that it is a matter of sheer fantasy.  They will often take it a step further and use teapots, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, Pink Unicorns, and others to make the point.  The form of the argument goes something like this:

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.1

To me the problem is not that there is an "intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it" nor that celestial teapots, flying spaghetti monsters, or pink unicorns are "nonsense."  Rather in each of these cases it is an invention of the author and the authors admit that the story is mocking, challenging, or otherwise parody of religious thought.  Can I prove that a celestial teapot does not exist?  Yes, it is an admitted made up concept by Bertrand Russell.  Can I prove that Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist?  Yes, it is an admitted made up parody of intelligent design by Bobby Henderson.  Can I prove that Invisible Pink Unicorns do not exist?  Yes, it is an made up concept by alt.atheism (et al) to challenge Theists who suggest that Atheists must offer evidence to refute the existence of God. 

In each of these cases the story was made up and the authors have all admitted as much.  Now a person can choose to believe in a story in which its author's admit they made up, but to do so is foolishness.  The stories come to us as inventions of human creativity.  Not so with a belief in God.  If this argument was to hold water one would have to establish that the belief in God was made up invention of human creativity.  I can easily point to when, how, and where "Teapot (et al)" stories were created, but the atheist has a much more difficult task in my estimation in demonstrating that the belief in God is made up or invented.  Even more difficult in some ways as, for the majority of people that believe in God, it was not based on a religious text or story that led them to faith, but rather a personal experience in which the Divine Creator of the Universe revealed Himself to the believer.  That is to say I believed in God before I believed in the Bible, or in the gospel of Christ!

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1) Bertrand Russell (1952)