Dice, Teapots and Spaghetti Monsters – Part II
Last week, I took a look at an example used by non-believers to show how ridiculous it is to believe in the God of the Bible. The example used jars of dice, one set of which were “invisible” and “transcendent.” I showed several reasons why this analogy was a very poor argument against God, but you can read that for yourself.
This week, we’ll take a look at the other two analogies I’ve heard about often. One being the “flying spaghetti monster” and the other, the infamous “celestial teapot.” In reality, all three of these analogies are ridiculous for largely the same reason. I singled out the dice last week mainly because there were some additional issues with that example (like attributing dice with anthropomorphic properties such as thought, desire, etc.).
In the case of the spaghetti monster and the teapot, I’ve heard of no such absurd things as that, though they are still both pretty absurd in and of themselves. The one thing that remains consistent about all of these examples (or perhaps, better called “mockeries”) is evidence.
But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let me briefly explain these other two ideas.
First, the flying spaghetti monster was first brought up by a physics graduate student at Oregon State University in 2005. It seems he had a problem with the idea that the Kansas State Board of Education decided to include Intelligent Design (ID) in their curriculum. He was so very upset by this that he wrote an open letter in which he was essentially asking that his flying spaghetti monster version of creation also be included and taught at public schools.
The celestial teapot is basically the same thing, except that it is an inanimate object that is used to point out that something cannot be proven to not exist. This example was put forth by Bertrand Russell who writes:
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 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.
Now that we know what these things are, what about them? Well, both of them essentially come down to the idea of evidence. If we were to, even for a moment, take the claim of the flying spaghetti monster seriously, we could very easily and quickly dismiss it as the author makes claims of a long-standing, well documented tradition…none of which actually exists or is able to be presented.
In the case of the teapot, I guess my first question is, if it is a completely undetectable, inanimate object, then how would anyone be able to make any kind of claim? I’m sure, to an extent, that’s Russell’s point. But I can’t help being reminded of a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean where a group of prisoners were talking about stories of the Black Pearl and it’s crew, saying that they leave “no survivors.” Jack Sparrow, excuse me…Captain Jack Sparrow responds with “No survivors, eh? I wonder where the stories come from, then.”
What these examples try to do is highlight the similarities between their own absurd claims and the claims for the existence of God. They will point out things like, you can’t see it, you can’t hear it, it came about so long ago that nobody was there to witness it, etc., etc. They build their case on such similarities hoping that some people will be gullible enough to fall for them. Sadly, many do.
The problem here actually has a technical name. It’s called “special pleading.” Special pleading is basically when you try to make an argument by presenting only the facts that back up your case and conveniently ignoring anything that undermines it. This seems to be the case in this type of tactic.
They would have us ignore the eye-witness accounts of the historical events from the Old Testament or the life of Jesus. Or even the early Church. They overlook the idea that, since the universe we live in began at the first moment a finite time in the past, something must have caused the universe to begin to exist. (Or, you can go with the Stephen Hawking idea that gravity created the universe. Good luck reconciling that one.)
They shove aside all the evidence from multiple sources that show things such as miracles performed by actual people during actual historical events. After all, that might hurt their case and make them rethink their position. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?
Essentially, the flying spaghetti monster, invisible transcendent dice, celestial teapots and other such absurdities all fail to recognize that the God of the Christian Bible provides the best explanatory power and scope to explain the reality in which we live. It also is the most plausible answer to the questions of “why is there something rather than nothing?” or “why are we here?” or “what happens after we die?”
Have you heard of other crazy analogies that people use to try to disprove God’s existence? I’d love to hear some more of them.
Grace, love and peace.