Looking forward to Christmas?

In the West, it’s relatively easy to get caught up in the euphoria of Christmas, isn’t it? Regardless of one’s beliefs in the origins of the Universe and humanity’s place in it, countless millions of us succumb to the fake snow, the tinsel and the artificial sentimentality.

My latest Pivot Points column Looking forward to Christmas in The Euroscientist.

Bertrand Russell did not worship a teapot on the far side of the Sun

Russell: “Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. 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.”

More tea Vicar?

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9 thoughts on “Looking forward to Christmas?

  1. The point I was trying to get across, is that science isn’t about belief or faith, it’s about observations and the ideas that one can use to explain reality. Observations suggest that there is no god because we can explain so much without invoking a supernatural creator, that does not, however, preclude the existence or one. That was the whole rationale for the atheist bus campaign that said there “there’s probably no god…”. Are you trying to imply that Dawkins structures his thoughts and discussions to avoid the slightest risk of being proved wrong? Because if you are, he’s not, that’s what those who argue against his perspective do…

  2. David,

    To say that Dawkins is not an atheist seems to me to require a rather specialised understanding of belief. I can believe in the flying green spaghetti monster and live my live according to it’s precepts even if I accept that there is a theoretical possibility that it might not exist.

    And even if I accept the theoretical possibility, I would still structure my thoughts and discussions to avoid the slightest risk of being proved wrong.

  3. It’s sometimes frustrating that when one rejects religion, they are “branded” an atheist. I admit that I have no idea whether or not there exists some omnipotent creator. And that’s exactly it – I have no idea. The unlikelihood of an event or even lack of scientific observation is not evidence of non-existence, just as unrelenting faith is not proof of existence. In my (humble) opinion, it is as arrogant to insist the non-existence of an original creator as it is proclaim its existence.

    I make no claims either way. And that’s exactly how (in my humble opinion) we should live our lives.

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