“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.”
Borrowing from Randal Rouser’s blog, the argument seems to be comparing belief in God with belief in a cosmic teapot orbiting the Sun. Russell is implying that theists believe if a thing (the existence of God) cannot be disproven, that thing ought to be believed. But that is a gross mischaracterization of what theists believe. Besides, the comparison of a teapot (a material object manufactured by humans) and the ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally unchanging God is laughable.
Still, Russell’s Teapot has inspired some interesting t-shirts.
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