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"The philosopher Bertram Russell had an analogy: Imagine there is a china teapot in orbit around the sun. You cannot disprove the existence of the teapot because it would be too small to be spotted by our telescopes. Nobody but a lunatic would say 'Well I'm prepared to believe in the teapot because I can't disprove it'. Maybe we have to be technically and strictly agnostic, but in practice we are all 'teapot atheists'. But now suppose that everybody in society - the teachers, the tribal elders - all had faith in the teapot. Stories of the teapot have been handed down for generations, it's part of the tradition of the society, there are holy books about the teapot. Then, somebody who did not believe in the teapot might be regarded as eccentric or even mad.
There's an infinte number of things like celestial teapots that we can't disprove; there are fairies; there are unicorns; hobgoblins - we can't disprove any of those, but we don't believe in them any more than nowadays we believe in Thor, Amun-Ra or Aphrodite. We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." Richard Dawkins.

Date: 2010-09-02 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyarbaggytep.livejournal.com
Can't stand Dawkins, or his writing. I think he misses so much. In this case the value of the "teapot" in this analogy, whether it exists or not doesn't matter if it's useful to people.

Date: 2010-09-03 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahlascelles.livejournal.com
I agree, I think Dawkins is incredibly biased and bigotted. I've seen him interviewed along side various religious leaders and he was the one that came over bigotted and intolerant.

Re: Ganked from

Date: 2010-09-03 10:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vampire-hermes.livejournal.com
This. Totally.

Re: Ganked from

Date: 2010-09-03 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] looby-lu.livejournal.com
Nicely explained. I agree completely.

Re: Ganked from

Date: 2010-09-04 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] masati.livejournal.com
To follow the teapot analogy, the issues I have with a number of people who follow the religion of science, some are as follows:

1/ When people try to tell me I shouldn't believe in the teapot.
2/ The indoctrination of children in the belief system (that there is no teapot) from such a young age they become incapable of making up their own mind about the existence of the teapot.
3/ Expectation that belief in science automatically gives them authority to believers in other faiths as to how they should behave.
4/ Use of their belief in the lack of the teapot to persecute others
5/ Blind dismissal of other doctrines because it contradicts the scientific system.

I hope that this doesn't make me come across as intolerant, but there are some aspects of anti-(non-scientific)-religious behaviour that scare me.

Science is a religion. It has the same doses of fanatics and the moderates. Like most religions its doctrines are not actualy incompatible with many of those of others.

The tenents of religions vary. The main tenent of science is "all truth is based on evidence". This is very good for modeling the world, and it's very useful as a result in dealing with the physical. Various attempts are being made using scientific methods to also understand the emotional and other non-physical states - but these end up using the same basis of understanding as the physical truths; for example if you're depressed you should alter your brain chemistry with drugs, where other religions might encourage you to talk to a pastor or other person whose job is effectively to care for other people. Which is more helpful? Sometimes it's one, sometimes the other, probably sometimes it's secret option number three, whatever that is.

Now, if I follow any religion I actually follow Science. But there are those who belief in science causes them to attack other relgions and the beliefs of thier followers almost every day. But I am as tired and annoyed from people saying religion is wrong as I am from people saying their brand of it is right. I dislike religion in general, though I have great tollerance for faith.

I believe that no one should be persecuted for their faith (or belief that all faiths are wrong). I don't think that someone's standpoint is anything to hide, but equally I think it's wrong for people to push theirs down anyone else's throats, or for them to belittle other people's.

Re: Ganked from

Date: 2010-09-04 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] masati.livejournal.com
This isn't meant to be hostile by the way (re-reading makes me aware it could have come across that way).

Date: 2010-09-02 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] looby-lu.livejournal.com
I like. It's a nicely put argument, I may well steal it at some point.

Date: 2010-09-02 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ed-fortune.livejournal.com
Broadly I agree with Baggy. It's not about proving Teapots, it's about thinking in a way where the teapot doesn't matter.

Faith isn't rational, also, Faith isn't religion.

I put it better here:
http://ed-fortune.livejournal.com/182673.html

Date: 2010-09-04 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] masati.livejournal.com
Your other post is a very well put piece

Date: 2010-09-02 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vampire-hermes.livejournal.com
All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Date: 2010-09-04 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] masati.livejournal.com
And why were you not in full pirate regalia last night? Hmph!

Date: 2010-09-03 07:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jkatjovi.livejournal.com
... bu... buu... unicorns aren;t real?

*cries*

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