Russell’s Teapot

Bertrand Russell, who was intentionally raised agnostic, was strongly influenced by Exodus 23:2: “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil.” The passage concludes, “nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice.”

Would that everyone wholly subscribe to such tenets! Sadly such biblical diamonds are lost betwixt the mire of passages such as Jeremiah 50:21: "Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you.”

Fortunately, Russell subscribed to a positive, enriching world view. In 1952, Russell wrote a passage similar to the following:

If I were to suggest that orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars there exists a remarkably tiny comet containing a pink sapphire vein, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were to add that the comet is too small to be detected even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to insist that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an 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 comet were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children, hesitation to believe in its existence would be deemed eccentric and the doubter, undoubtedly, ushered into psychiatric care.

Be wary of the lure of widespread belief for it easily ensnares.