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Absence of evidence, evidence of absence and the atheist's teapot

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date11/05/2010
JournalArs Disputandi : the Online Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Journal numbern/a
Volume10
Number of pages14
Pages9-22
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Atheists often admit that there is no positive evidence for atheism. Many argue that there is nonetheless a prima facie argument, which I will refer to as the ‘teapot argument’. They liken agnosticism to remaining neutral on the existence of a teapot in outer space. The present paper argues that this analogy fails, for the person who denies such a teapot can agree with the person who affirms it regarding every other feature of the world, which is not the case with the atheist vis-a-vis the theist. The atheist is committed to there being an alternative explanation of why the universe exists and is the way it is. Moreover, the analogy relies on assumptions about the prior plausibility of atheism. Hence, the teapot argument fails.