Turtles all the way down

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(Origin of the Phrase)
 
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:"A well-known scientist (some say it was [[Bertrand Russell]]) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
 
:"A well-known scientist (some say it was [[Bertrand Russell]]) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
:"At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."
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:"At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant turtle.'
:"The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"
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:"The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the turtle standing on?'
:"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down."
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:"'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'"
  
This phrase is used by non-believers when debating the cosmological argument.  Positing that [[God]] was the "unmoved mover", i.e. the first cause, of the universe begs the question of who created the creator, and on and on.  In other words, it's turtles all the way down.
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This phrase is used by non-believers when debating the cosmological argument.  Positing that [[God]] was the "[[unmoved mover]]", i.e. the first cause, of the universe raises the question of who created the creator, and on and on.  In other words, it's turtles all the way down.
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==See Also==
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* [[Who created God?]]
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{{Arguments against god}}
  
 
[[Category: Arguments]]
 
[[Category: Arguments]]
 
[[Category: Arguments against the existence of God]]
 
[[Category: Arguments against the existence of God]]
 
[[Category: Deductive arguments]]
 
[[Category: Deductive arguments]]

Latest revision as of 19:00, 28 April 2011

This phrase comes from a famous story and is used to illustrate the absurdity of the cosmological argument.

Origin of the Phrase

Although the story has circulated for a long time, the most famous retelling comes from the Stephen Hawking book A Brief History of Time:

"A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
"At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant turtle.'
"The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the turtle standing on?'
"'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'"

This phrase is used by non-believers when debating the cosmological argument. Positing that God was the "unmoved mover", i.e. the first cause, of the universe raises the question of who created the creator, and on and on. In other words, it's turtles all the way down.

See Also


v · d Arguments against the existence of god
Existential arguments   Argument from nonbelief · Who created God? · Turtles all the way down · Problem of non-God objects · Argument from incompatible attributes · No-reason argument · Santa Claus argument
Arguments from the Bible   Failed Prophecy · Biblical contradictions
Reasonableness arguments   Occam's Razor · Outsider test · Argument from locality · Argument from inconsistent revelations
Moral arguments   Euthyphro dilemma · Problem of evil · Problem of evil (evidential) · Moral argument
Other arguments   Emotional pleas against the existence of God
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