2009-01-02

Think Atheist cake design contest entry

My entry for the Think Atheist cake design contest, inspired by the Penrose Triangle. I'm invoking the illusion to emphasize the importance of rational thought.

video

2008-12-23

Celestial Teapot

Wikipedia states that the Celestial Teapot analogy refutes "the idea that the burden of proof lies upon the skeptic to disprove unfalsifiable claims of religions". Briefly, it goes like this:

  1. I suggest there is a china teapot revolving around the sun, between Earth and Mars.
  2. The teapot is too small to be revealed by our most powerful telescopes.
  3. Since my assertion cannot be disproved, my belief in the teapot's existence is justified.

An atheist may argue that belief in a god is like belief in such an absurd teapot; the burden of proof should be on the believer to demonstrate the existence of the god or teapot, and not on the atheist to demonstrate otherwise.

Now, I claim that the Celestial Teapot argument when used against religion falls apart for two reasons: gods are very different from teapots, and the notion of absurdity is very subjective.

The teapot exists in the realm of nature --- an exhaustive search of the (finite) space between the Earth and Mars orbits will tell us whether or not such a teapot exists. In other words, its existence or nonexistence can be proven by science. Science, unfortunately, cannot test the existence of a god because it is supernatural.


What is absurd to one individual may be plain fact to another; what is absurd at one time may be plain fact at another. In the past, it would be absurd to think that humans and chimpanzees descended from a common ancestor; now, evolutionary science has plenty of evidence in support of that. The Celestial Teapot may seem ridiculous to all but the indoctrinated Teapotists.

This is my point: Be aware of the limitations of the Celestial Teapot argument if you decide to wield it.