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Ask the Patriarch 271
Do you believe in an invisible cup in space?

from: Brainydaps

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Since you have established that one cannot be 100% sure whether GOD exist or not, then it means by implication that you can't be 100% sure whether an invisible Chinese cup is orbiting between earth and Mars, then you can't tell me there is no invisible Chinese cup orbiting, that means you must also be sitting on the fence about it,that means every silly supernatural idea everyone brings up cannot be said to be true or false Which is justified by the fact that none of them can be proved not to exist.


I believe an invisible black giant rat is watching over everyone on earth at the same time,the invisible black giant rat is supernatural, So you can't prove it wrong,Please Let's discuss about the invisible black giant rat on your website, just the way you have discussed about GOD,because they both can't be proved wrong.

Thank you.

The Patriarch replies:

Thank you for writing.

You sent your comments to me as a response to my criticism of the so-called 50 simple proofs that god is imaginary. All of those proofs were rejected by me on the grounds that not a single one of them constituted proof in the loosest sense. They were simplistic repetitive arguments that showed a total lack of understanding of what a proof involved. And my reasons for addressing that web site were not because of my agnosticism, but, as I wrote in Meditation 957: Weak arguments are not proofs: "It is time to thoroughly debunk this embarrassment to non-believers." I'd have criticized the site just as strongly if I were to identify as a strong atheist with an absolute disbelief in any god in any form.

And I went on to say "The fact is that the site [God is Imaginary] proves nothing, except perhaps to demonstrate that a non-believer can argue as irrationally as a believer."

Rather than placing your article in discussion there, I placed it in this section which is focused on the question and answer format.

By the way, did you know that the highly secret Chinese military space mission, Mao Rising VIII, had an experiment to test the capability of their Earth-based long range sensing devices? The flight path of the Mao Rising VIII took it to a Phobos orbit in 2007, and en route, a clear ceramic cup was ejected about half-way between Earth and Mars. The cup started tumbling as it left the space capsule and its motion became unpredictable. The Chinese sensors immediately lost track of it, but the cup is thought to be still out there, somewhere, in a long orbit around the sun

So do I believe an invisible Chinese cup is orbiting between Earth and Mars? Well, if you have a good back story, then your Chinese cup becomes a possibility, however remote.

If, on the other hand, you just invented your cup out of nowhere to say "I can think of something (which incidentally I don't believe in) that you cannot prove does not exist. Therefore gods (which incidentally I don't believe in) do not exist"  then all you've achieved is to show you can think of something you don't believe in which has no relevence whatsoever to the question of any god's existence.

Putting imaginary items in space to make an argument about God is not new. Bertrand Russell imagined making a claim of teapot in space between Earth and Mars - his objective in doing so was to indicate that the burden of proof was upon the person making the claim.

Russell wrote that if he claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the grounds that they cannot prove him wrong. (Wikipedia)

In line with Russell, if you want to talk about your invisible Chinese cup in between Earth and Mars, then it is up to you to support your claim - not for you to just say it is there, then demand I either accept its possible existence or absolutely reject every possible variety of deity.

You have made no case for your cup. I don't have to either accept its existence or reject it. I have the legitimate option of totally ignoring your claim as something not worth discussing.

And, if I can remember to do so, I probably will ignore such references to any elements of a tea service in space in future except to provide a link or two to existing discussions of the subject. I've now addressed the issue directly twice. In addition to this particular comment, there is Ask the Patriarch 177: Teapots in Space. And when we consider that the infamous invisible pink unicorn is essentially equivalent to your invisible cup, then Meditation 299: The Invisible Pink Unicorn: A Risible Visible Red Herring along with the ensuing discussion also covers the the same ground.

For another perspective, you can also look at Will Petillo's Meditation 812: More on Russell's Teapot on why the idea of orbiting tea cup and pots can be rejected.

As to your "invisible black giant rat", I will point you to footnote 2 in Meditation 299 which addresses adding supernatural qualities to the invisible pink unicorn (IPU)

2. Of course if you added some of these divine characteristics to the IPU, it would become a god; then the basic argument would become:
"I can think of a specific god (which incidentally I don't believe in) that you cannot prove does not exist. Therefore no other variety of god (which incidentally I don't believe in either) exists."

All you've done in your message to me is provide two hypotheticals - an invisible Chinese cup and an invisible black giant rat god - and suggest that if I reject your two hypotheticals absolutely, I am obligated to express absolute certainty that a deity in any form whatsoever does not exist.

That is an unsound argument - and I strongly dislike unsound arguments both for and against gods.

And I'm particularly opposed to bad arguments from the non-believer side

Those of us who are non-believers claim to have reason and logic on our side. If that is the case, then we should use reason and logic. As far as I am concerned, invisible pink unicorns, invisible black giant rats, invisible Chinese cups, do not meet the test of logic or reason. Nor do the 50 proofs that god is imaginary. Nor does the (apparently visible) flying spaghetti monster - though it at least does have some humour value.

To this day, I have never seen a proof of God which has stood up to the test of reason and logic. (And I just got yet another one this week.)

But also to this day, I have not seen a disproof of God which has stood up to the test of reason and logic.

It is my belief - and it is a belief - is that a proof either way is not possible.

We who in general do not believe in a deity are not obligated to disprove God as long as we are not out there seeking converts - all we have to do is use reason and logic to reject unsound arguments for God when presented to us by believers.

However, when one of us chooses of his or her own volition to go out there and say "God certainly does not exist and you should have that same certainty" then the burden of proof switches to the person making that statement.

I don't begrudge you your certainty about God's non-existence and it is not my intention to undermine it. But I do not share your absolute certainty. Invisible cups and invisible rats are not the way to get me to change my mind. Rather - I'm thoroughly dismayed that this type of argument is the best a non-believer can come up with.


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