Okay, Stephen. You are a closet theist. Anyone else? :-)
I’m a mixture of competing beliefs and haven’t settled anywhere. I often tend to side with atheism in arguments and yet I have this other side of me.
I don’t view the probability of the existence of God as the same as the teapot orbiting mars because:
1) This one is wholly irrational b.t.w, it’s emotional need. I have the need for the hope that this is the best of all possible worlds. Basically I need there to be some chance that things aren’t just as crap as I think they are. :)
Actually I think many atheists maybe similar. When people talk about the truth being solely what matters, I think they have some faith that the truth is a good thing.
2) God is not like a teapot. I don’t think it’s so daft to think God might be unknowable. And leaving that aside, still the concept of god can change, like the concept of a teapot can’t. It’s a bit like free will do we have it? It depends what you mean. Does god exist? it depends what you mean. What people will say is I believe in something, I can’t believe it’s just happening.
3) Scientific explanations do not amount to much, which is what the people who say I can’t believe it’s just happening mean. Scientists are often incredibly brilliant as are the results of the appliance of science. But what are they finding out? Well they look at how stuff behaves and put that into mathematical terms and then when asked why stuff is behaving like this they pull out the maths and say because it behaves like this. It amounts to stuff behaves like this because it behaves like this. :)
I think that is what Wittgenstein meant by this:” At the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena. So people stop short at natural laws as at something unassailable, as did the ancients at God and Fate. And they both are right and wrong. But the ancients were clearer, in so far as they recognized one clear terminus, whereas the modern system makes it appear as though everything were explained. L.”
I believe many atheists imagine scientific explanations amount to much more than they do and realising how little they amount to leads me to have some doubt that, that’s all the explanation there is.
1. I feel the same way. I’d be thrilled to find out that there is actually a purpose to all of this crap, especially if it all turns out to have a “happy ending”. But I have to also admit that this is a psychological thing, not an argument. There are tons of people who have “come to grips” with the possibility that there is “nothing on the other side”, and that when they die, there will be nothing beyond that. Take Hitchens for example. So for them, this is not an issue. It’s a personal thing, a feeling, an emotional longing. It doesn’t add or subtract from the teapot argument. But if that’s the main reason that you prefer to not fully subscribe to atheism, then that’s fine. It’s your choice. It just doesn’t have much to do with the point of the teapot analogy.
2. I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying here, so forgive me if I misunderstand you. Either way, I think you are overanalyzing the teapot analogy. Its simply meant to drive a point: 1) You can’t prove a negative, so most of the burden of proof shouldn’t be on the hearer, but on the one making the claim, and 2) since the claim of the orbiting teapot is just as unverifiable as the claims of theism, then one should grant just as much probability of its existence as they would that of theism. This opens the agnostic up to a whole slew of ridiculous claims that they have to “grant the possibility of”, such as the invisible unicorn, or the flying spaghetti monster.
3. So? So scientists believe that most things are better explained through science and mathematics than through mythology? Is that such a bad thing? Also, scientists don’t believe that “everything is explained”. If this was the case, scientists would be out of business. The fact is, scientists, especially physicists, tend to be those types of people that are always researching and experimenting to try to figure out how things work. Even now, physicists are trying to figure out if time travel is possible, how to create artificial intelligence that can develop emotions and feelings, and even how to help paralyzed people live more independent lives by using their minds to send messages to computerized programs that can do the work for them. They don’t stop at “explanations”.
If the modern world was still listening to the “ancients”, we would still be living in caves and helplessly succumbing to basic sicknesses like the common cold. A “scientific explanation” isn’t the final goal. It’s the means to going deeper and trying to figure out the answers to questions that the “explanations” raise, so that we can then find newer and better ways to improve our lives. In other words, yes, valid and accurate scientific explanations DO amount to so much more.
Having said all of this, if you still choose to subscribe to “closet atheism” (as George put it), then that’s your choice, and it doesn’t make you any better or worse than me, so please don’t take my post as a judgment of your character or intellect. I just don’t think that the arguments have much to do with the teapot analogy.