Russell's teapot

Russell's Teapot

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell Less

Russell's teapot

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Russell's teapot, sometimes called the Celestial teapot, Cosmic teapot or Bertrand's teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate the idea that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion. Russell wrote that if he claimed that a teapot were orbiting the sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it would be nonsensical for him to expect others not to doubt him on the grounds that they could not prove him wrong. Russell's teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God and has drawn some criticism for comparing the unfalsifiablility of a teapot to God.

Russell's original text

In an article titled "Is There a God?" commissioned, but never published, by Illustrated magazine in 1952, Russell wrote:

Contemporary usage


Peter Atkins said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being). He notes that this argument is not good enough to convince the religious, because religious evidence is experienced through personal revelation or received wisdom which cannot be objectively verified and are not accepted...
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