What is the difference between teapots and God?

jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
What is the difference between teapots and God?

Good evening R.R.S. I have been doing some thinking in the past few hours and I thought I would posit a question that I had thought of.

I was thinking about little green men and teapots that may be in our universe [thank you Mr. Dawkins for loaning me your examples.] During my thoughts, I was also comparing the God that may be in our universe. I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum. My question then would be:

Do you think there is any weight carried along with the possibility of God's existence because of its vast history in human thought?

I was thinking to myself, if it is possible that little green men or teapots are in the universe, then how is God so different from those seemingly lame possibilities. Now forgive me for making the judgment claim that the possibility of God is not lame even though I know that some of you feel that it is. For my purposes though please consider that it is not as lame.

Then I thought more about little green men and God, and thought, well maybe it is because the belief that God exists has been around longer than little green men. It seems that when I reject the existence of possible entities in our universe (Thor, Spaghetti Monster, Teapot) they are usually newer conceptions/possibilities in human history. I've never read about the spaghetti monster for example or teapots in our solar system before this afternoon.

Now granted, there were many older beliefs than the flying spaghetti monster, that we now reject (I'm supposing). For example, Zeus and all the other polytheistic gods I know nothing about (sad to think that I can only name one). But, I'm trying to figure out how God (not solely considered in the Christian conception, but whatever conception you like) lasted this long and has captured the minds and devotion of so many. In my mind, I'm visualizing a number of years into the realm of 3000 years for the concepts of God's existence. Let us say, we can draw the earliest conception of God, back to the Vedic religion in early India. They sure believed in Gods. Perhaps there were beliefs before that, but I have not the faintest idea who it would be.

Now, I realize my question is perhaps easily discredited and I should be shamed for asking it. In my own mind, I can see how the question resembles a "everyone else is doing it, so I should do it" or a "if everyone before me has thought this way, it must surely be something right"...But I hope I have been able to explain my question and my reasoning enough to avoid such conceptions of what I'm asking.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


wavefreak
Theist
wavefreak's picture
Posts: 1825
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
Teapots make water

Teapots make water steam.

 

God makes atheists steam.

 

 


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
If you believe in

If you believe in evolution, you accept that there have been thinking humans for what, 35,000-100,000 years? I'm honestly not sure what the current estimate is. Evolution's not my field.

Anyway, we know for sure the concept of god (supernatural) has been around for what, 6000-8000 years or so? But, it's changed so radically that it would hardly be recognizable if the word "god" wasn't used with its current implications. (Thanks, Technarch!) {edited for clarity after 1st cup of coffee}

Think about it. The first "gods" were maybe spirits in trees, or buffalo? The sun was a supernatural entity... maybe a chariot riding across the sky. Thunder was the echos of angry god-men quarrelling over a mistress. The universe was formed when a dragon was killed and her body split open. The list of myths is so diverse that saying it is all the same concept is, well, disingenuous at worst and ignorant at best.

We have not always had a concept of "The Infinite Supernatural Force Who Created The Universe And Now Rules From Heaven Over Man" What we've had is supernatural explanations for the things that were important to us that we couldn't explain.

Maybe you should spend some time studying early religions and myths. Joseph Campbell's Occidental Mythology would be a fantastic start. I think it would do you some good to know that our concept of god is pretty recent.   Once you realize that the petulant little Christian god only showed up within say, 3000 years, and that's only 10% of the most conservative estimate of our time on the planet, you can see why this theory of persistence of god belief falls flat on its face.  {also edited after coffee}

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


thraxas
thraxas's picture
Posts: 89
Joined: 2007-05-14
User is offlineOffline
you mention Dr. Dawkins..

you mention Dr. Dawkins.. did you get a chance to read his book - The God Delusion? In it he discusses exactly what you ask - why is there religion/belief in gods etc. throughout all peoples. He has an excellent theory that it is a by-product of a mental trait evolved in humans. This trait is called the "intentional stance". This means that even as babies we are able to determine that a growling tiger might pounce, a fluttering bird may take off and fly, etc. - we try to determine the intention of things for our safety and survival. Relgion and belief in gods might be attributed to looking at inaminate objects and assigining them an "intention" and thus we first had river gods/spirits, animal spirits, tree spirits etc. This idea expanded and became more complex as culture did.

 

 

Biochemist & Law Student

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." -Thomas Jefferson


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
From a rhetorical

From a rhetorical standpoint:

The fact that a lot of people believe something doesn't make it more likely to be true (argumentem ad populam).

The fact that people have believed something for a long time doesn't make it more likely to be true (argumentem ad antiquitam). 

If popularity and antiquity made beliefs more likely, then I'd guess either the Hindus or the Bhuddists have the true religion (depending how you weight number of adherents versus the ancientness of the religion).

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


gregfl
Posts: 170
Joined: 2006-04-29
User is offlineOffline
jread wrote: I completely

jread wrote:
I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum.

 

Okay, I'm getting nervous...just what the hell is this supposed to mean?

 

jread wrote:
My question then would be:Do you think there is any weight carried along with the possibility of God's existence because of its vast history in human thought?

No. In the history of thought, we had the sun rotating around the earth, the moon giving off light, sea monsters living near the 'edge' of the world, witches on broomsticks, and aliens analy inpremnating fat girls. . Just because we historically thought these things lends ZERO CREDENCE to these concepts.

 

 

jread wrote:
I was thinking to myself, if it is possible that little green men or teapots are in the universe, then how is God so different from those seemingly lame possibilities.

 

The point flies right over your head.  The possibility of a supernatural god, and a tea pot orbiting Pluto, are exactly equal.  That was the whole point of that particular thought experiment.

 

 

jread wrote:

 Now forgive me for making the judgment claim that the possibility of God is not lame even though I know that some of you feel that it is.

 

Well then, present your 'not lame' evidence and let us have a peek.  We will then judge for ourselves how compelling this evidence is. 

jread wrote:

Then I thought more about little green men and God, and thought, well maybe it is because the belief that God exists has been around longer than little green men. It seems that when I reject the existence of possible entities in our universe (Thor, Spaghetti Monster, Teapot) they are usually newer conceptions/possibilities in human history.

By this logic, you should be on bended knee worshiping Zeus, Mythra, and any number of god concepts that pre-date christianity. 

 

See your error yet?

 

 

 

jread wrote:

 But, I'm trying to figure out how God (not solely considered in the Christian conception, but whatever conception you like) lasted this long and has captured the minds and devotion of so many.

Dude, you need to crack a history book.  Christianity and the other abrahambric religions have outlawed dissent since their inception and murdered those that refused to convert to their belief systems or those that dared to question their concepts of the universe.

 

  "God", at least as we know him in most of the world,  has survived by the sword. 

 

Does that help you?  Your questions seem sincere, but I would really suggest you study up on the history of religion, and specifically the history of christianity.

 

 

 


IzzyPop
IzzyPop's picture
Posts: 116
Joined: 2007-05-09
User is offlineOffline
grefl wrote: jread wrote:

grefl wrote:
jread wrote:
I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum.

 

Okay, I'm getting nervous...just what the hell is this supposed to mean?

In The God Delusion Dakins stated taht if you put belief in a continuum where 1=absolute certantity of God's existance and 7=absolute certantiy of God's non-existance, he would be a '6'.  He is reasonably sure that God does not exist, but allows that he could be wrong.

"When you hit your thumb with a hammer it's nice to be able to blaspheme. It takes a special kind of atheist to jump up and down shout, 'Oh, random fluctuations-in-the-space-time-continuum!'"-Terry Pratchett


gregfl
Posts: 170
Joined: 2006-04-29
User is offlineOffline
IzzyPop wrote: grefl

IzzyPop wrote:
grefl wrote:
jread wrote:
I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum.

 

Okay, I'm getting nervous...just what the hell is this supposed to mean?

In The God Delusion Dakins stated taht if you put belief in a continuum where 1=absolute certantity of God's existance and 7=absolute certantiy of God's non-existance, he would be a '6'.  He is reasonably sure that God does not exist, but allows that he could be wrong.

Ahh...thanks.

You know, I just read that book last month. You would think I would remember.


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
jread wrote: Good evening

jread wrote:

Good evening R.R.S. I have been doing some thinking in the past few hours and I thought I would posit a question that I had thought of.

I was thinking about little green men and teapots that may be in our universe [thank you Mr. Dawkins for loaning me your examples.] During my thoughts, I was also comparing the God that may be in our universe. I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum. My question then would be:

Do you think there is any weight carried along with the possibility of God's existence because of its vast history in human thought?

I was thinking to myself, if it is possible that little green men or teapots are in the universe, then how is God so different from those seemingly lame possibilities. Now forgive me for making the judgment claim that the possibility of God is not lame even though I know that some of you feel that it is. For my purposes though please consider that it is not as lame.

Then I thought more about little green men and God, and thought, well maybe it is because the belief that God exists has been around longer than little green men. It seems that when I reject the existence of possible entities in our universe (Thor, Spaghetti Monster, Teapot) they are usually newer conceptions/possibilities in human history. I've never read about the spaghetti monster for example or teapots in our solar system before this afternoon.

Now granted, there were many older beliefs than the flying spaghetti monster, that we now reject (I'm supposing). For example, Zeus and all the other polytheistic gods I know nothing about (sad to think that I can only name one). But, I'm trying to figure out how God (not solely considered in the Christian conception, but whatever conception you like) lasted this long and has captured the minds and devotion of so many. In my mind, I'm visualizing a number of years into the realm of 3000 years for the concepts of God's existence. Let us say, we can draw the earliest conception of God, back to the Vedic religion in early India. They sure believed in Gods. Perhaps there were beliefs before that, but I have not the faintest idea who it would be.

Now, I realize my question is perhaps easily discredited and I should be shamed for asking it. In my own mind, I can see how the question resembles a "everyone else is doing it, so I should do it" or a "if everyone before me has thought this way, it must surely be something right"...But I hope I have been able to explain my question and my reasoning enough to avoid such conceptions of what I'm asking.



Someone above said that the possibility of god and the possibility of a teapot orbiting Pluto were basically equal. I understand that they probably aren't being literal, but, I think as it pertains to your question it is important to note that we have no real reason to believe this to be true. In fact, if there were little green men orbiting Pluto and having afternoon tea today and it was brought to my attention that they were there, at least I would be able to comprehend what was being referenced.

Teapots and Pluto (or whatever it is known as now that it has been demoted) are both things which we know to exist, natural (in terms of material) bodies. Little green men, their existence at whatever level of possibility one might assign it, are, at least in most people's contemplations of their existence, made from starstuff, as are we (that is stuff that exists in our natural universe). The simple fact that we are talking of natural (material) things in actuality makes their existence much more likely than the existence of an entity which we not only have no reason to believe exists, but have no idea what existence is in its case.

 The fact that we don't know 'how' such a thing could exist, 'where' it could possibly exist, or even what 'existence' itself would mean in this context, makes it not only less likely than the existence of a teapot orbiting Pluto or little green men, but, regardless of how long we as humans have answered our gaps in knowledge with this mystery, it can not even be considered to be a possibility in the same manner as a teapot satellite or alien visitor can. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
A good book to read is

A good book to read is Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennet, it is specifically about the origins of religion in evolution. It is my view that the supposed perfection of the supernatural God is a fairly recent addition to religious belief, the ancient Greeks certainly did not have perfect Gods. Indeed early Christianity and certainly Judaism did not have a perfect God necessarily. With the rise of science, skepticism, atheism the need for theists to create a perfect deity has been important, simple deities are less likely to stand up to scrutiny (but neither does a perfect one really), a perfect God is easier to argue for, and believe in (for the average person) therefore it has survived by memetic natural selection.


The Patrician
The Patrician's picture
Posts: 474
Joined: 2007-05-09
User is offlineOffline
Simple answer: Teapots are

Simple answer:

Teapots are real. 


gregfl
Posts: 170
Joined: 2006-04-29
User is offlineOffline
Here, this is Bertrand

Here, this is Bertrand Russell. The original thought exercise was to denounce the fallacious idea that the burden of proof was on the atheist to disprove god claims, not that there is/was an actual teapot orbiting...

(not Pluto)

"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."


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
thraxas wrote: you mention

thraxas wrote:

you mention Dr. Dawkins.. did you get a chance to read his book - The God Delusion?

 

 

 

I've only read the first 4 chapters so far. I want to dip my feet slowly into the cauldron of theistic criticism. But, I am sure that I will not being able to avoid reading the entirety of the book if I keep involved with you bunch! *hearty grin* 

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
Vessel wrote: Someone

Vessel wrote:


Someone above said that the possibility of god and the possibility of a teapot orbiting Pluto were basically equal. I understand that they probably aren't being literal, but, I think as it pertains to your question it is important to note that we have no real reason to believe this to be true. In fact, if there were little green men orbiting Pluto and having afternoon tea today and it was brought to my attention that they were there, at least I would be able to comprehend what was being referenced.

Teapots and Pluto (or whatever it is known as now that it has been demoted) are both things which we know to exist, natural (in terms of material) bodies. Little green men, their existence at whatever level of possibility one might assign it, are, at least in most people's contemplations of their existence, made from starstuff, as are we (that is stuff that exists in our natural universe). The simple fact that we are talking of natural (material) things in actuality makes their existence much more likely than the existence of an entity which we not only have no reason to believe exists, but have no idea what existence is in its case.

The fact that we don't know 'how' such a thing could exist, 'where' it could possibly exist, or even what 'existence' itself would mean in this context, makes it not only less likely than the existence of a teapot orbiting Pluto or little green men, but, regardless of how long we as humans have answered our gaps in knowledge with this mystery, it can not even be considered to be a possibility in the same manner as a teapot satellite or alien visitor can.

 

Not much I can say to reply to this. You really made it clear how teapots and green men are materially existent objects which I can know something about. Where as in the case of God, I honestly can't envision the material make up of such an entity. Very interesting and helpful reply my friend.  

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
gregfl wrote: Here, this is

gregfl wrote:
Here, this is Bertrand Russell. The original thought exercise was to denounce the fallacious idea that the burden of proof was on the atheist to disprove god claims, not that there is/was an actual teapot orbiting... (not Pluto) "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."

 

First off, I love Bertrand Russell. Second, I thank you for the quote where Mr. Russell ellucidates the analogy concerning teapots orbiting the sun. Following the line of explanation that I found very helpful in another reply, this whole question seems to becoming a lot clearer. Again, I want to offer you a big helping of gratitude for the replies.

Perhaps most importantly though, who else loves the fact that Bertran Russell uses the word 'nonsense' like it's going out of style? Nonsense this and nonsense that, it's so refreshingly simple and blunt. Silly old man, give me a hug! 

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
gregfl wrote: jread

gregfl wrote:

jread wrote:
I completely understand that Mr. Dawkins, as well as most atheists, are on that 6th level of a 7 level spectrum.

 

Okay, I'm getting nervous...just what the hell is this supposed to mean?

 

jread wrote:
My question then would be:Do you think there is any weight carried along with the possibility of God's existence because of its vast history in human thought?
No. In the history of thought, we had the sun rotating around the earth, the moon giving off light, sea monsters living near the 'edge' of the world, witches on broomsticks, and aliens analy inpremnating fat girls. . Just because we historically thought these things lends ZERO CREDENCE to these concepts.

 

jread wrote:
I was thinking to myself, if it is possible that little green men or teapots are in the universe, then how is God so different from those seemingly lame possibilities.

 

The point flies right over your head. The possibility of a supernatural god, and a tea pot orbiting Pluto, are exactly equal. That was the whole point of that particular thought experiment.

 

jread wrote:

Now forgive me for making the judgment claim that the possibility of God is not lame even though I know that some of you feel that it is.

 

Well then, present your 'not lame' evidence and let us have a peek. We will then judge for ourselves how compelling this evidence is.

jread wrote:

Then I thought more about little green men and God, and thought, well maybe it is because the belief that God exists has been around longer than little green men. It seems that when I reject the existence of possible entities in our universe (Thor, Spaghetti Monster, Teapot) they are usually newer conceptions/possibilities in human history.

By this logic, you should be on bended knee worshiping Zeus, Mythra, and any number of god concepts that pre-date christianity.

 

See your error yet?

 

 

jread wrote:

But, I'm trying to figure out how God (not solely considered in the Christian conception, but whatever conception you like) lasted this long and has captured the minds and devotion of so many.

Dude, you need to crack a history book. Christianity and the other abrahambric religions have outlawed dissent since their inception and murdered those that refused to convert to their belief systems or those that dared to question their concepts of the universe.

 

"God", at least as we know him in most of the world, has survived by the sword.

 

Does that help you? Your questions seem sincere, but I would really suggest you study up on the history of religion, and specifically the history of christianity.

 

 

 

 

Haha greg you are a funny man. I can definitely tell that you are tired of answering questions like the one I posed. The frustration and desire to strangle the life out of my writhing body was dripping from every sentence. My hat's off to you though, I would consider your reply gentle and sanguine coming from a person who's probably had to answer the same question 1000 times.

To the prospect of one day coming up with a true "doosy" of a question that we all may sink our teeth into. Then we can turn greg loose on em and have him gut them! Eye-wink  j/k

Hope you know greg, that all this nonsense (hat's off to Russell) is all in good fun and I mean it in an entirely humorous way.  

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Part of the reason that God

Part of the reason that God has survived in the minds of human beings is by the sword. The crusades, the inquisition, all of these helped Christian memes to propagate themselves.

Monotheistic memes have good memetic fitness, they can survive well, be engrained easily in subsequent generations, work in favour of powerful governments (i.e. God as Lord justifies government as Lord), and they respond well to the intentionality instinct. Violence plays a certain role but it is not the only role. There is also the heaven/hell meme, it can justify intrusion into people's lives through confession, enforcing strict sexual practices (Warren Jeffs, the Mormon "prophet" before he was caught controlled many people's sex lives), forcing people into submission of their own lives to God. People can be controlled by these memes, if people can be controlled there is an element of fear within them, if there is fear they are less likely to disblieve and thus the meme propagates itself in subsequent generations.

However, Monotheistic memes, particularly Christian ones have the ability to adapt to different cultural environments. There are liberal Christians, there are conservative Christians, there are also socialist Christians (in South America many people worship Jesus the Liberator, these are many of the same people who supported Che Guevara in Bolivia). All these Christians have vast differences, shaped by their surroundings, shaped by their social status, shaped by whether they are duped by political leaders or not.

However, none of this makes any of it true. It survives because it is a pervasive parasitic meme, it can survive, because it works for people in many different contexts. Some Aztecs, who would sacrifice people to the Gods, were so impressed by Spanish Missionaries talking of a God who sacrificed himself for them that many were converted to Christianity. The argument you are suggesting is appeal to tradition. As has been pointed out there are many traditions you do not accept, why do you accept this one?