The root of Russell’s teapot objection

Most of the responses to Russell’s teapot objection leave the root of his objection untouched, therefore ensuring that the objection will reasonably sprout over and over again. The root of the objection is that the existence of God is a hypothesis, which I would simply deny. There is, of course, no reason why one cannot take something  not known by hypothesis and form a hypothesis about it- but such a hypothesis is superfluous and can be discarded.

With a hypothesis, one justifies what they start with by what they end with.  The starting point is freely admitted by all sides as unknown and freely created. None of the great theistic arguments start with an unknown premise freely created by the mind, but with truths given in sense experience analyzed by principles that are taken to be true. There is simply no hypothesis to dispute; no burden of proof to be assigned (when will that understandable but tiresome red herring disappear?); no series of various gods that need to be decided between from the start; no appeal to Ockham’s razor to decide between competing hypotheses even before the argument begins.



  1. Joseph A. said,

    January 29, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Could you recommend any of those great theistic arguments in particular? I’m currently rereading The Last Superstition, and I’d love to learn all I can.

  2. January 29, 2009 at 7:44 am

    The difficulty is that all of the great proofs presuppose a whole science, which was called “physics” but is now usually called “the philosophy of nature”. On the one hand, if you just open up to St. Thomas’s five ways they won’t make a whole lot of sense, but on the other hand if you get a handle on the philosophy of nature you will start seeing God in it on your own. I would suggest reading Aristotle’s Physics very carefully, especially book II, and to pay particular attention to the chapters on chance and acting for an end. Most translations will not be helpful. Get Glen Coughlin’s. I have a link to it in my “about just thomism” sidebar. But to read any translation is better than reading nothing!

    It might also help to read this too:

    It got scanned upside down, so you need to play with the picture or print it off, but it is a good work of natural philosophy that will help you see the need for causes beyond matter.

    In general, I think its’s better if you say “for the next long while, I’m just going to listen to Arisotle talk about nature, without doubting him or trying to compare him to someone else. I’ll just let him teach and I’ll listen”. If you can do that with the first two books of the physics, you’ll start seeing God in nature, and once you get your first glimpse, there’s no stopping.

  3. Joseph A. said,

    January 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks very much – starting on it now. =)

  4. Al said,

    February 4, 2009 at 10:20 am

    It seems to me that the best objection to Russell’s argument lies in the fact that he misconceives the sort of relation to God. The reason we could give a deductive proof is precisely because God is not an inductive scientific hypothesis, as you say. We can do so because God, as we conceive of Him (and demonstrate Him to be), is not a particular entity somewhere on the other side of Mars, but present in anything insofar as a trace of their ontological dependence indicates their reliance on Him.

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