Turtles all the way down: a question for atheists

Perhaps you’ve read or heard the following anecdote:

A well-known scientist (some say it was the philosopher 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.”
The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?”
“You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

Atheists often use this story to mock the Christian belief, but I have a question for them. If everything that we know about the universe is gained through our senses, and those senses are essentially chemical reactions in the brain, then how did we find out about chemical reactions in the brain? Is it chemicals all the way down?

Just curious.

6 thoughts on “Turtles all the way down: a question for atheists”

  1. I’ve never had an answer to this question: If we are nothing but the result of random chance and adaption to environment which over the course of thousands of millenia have allowed us to survive via the vagaries of natural selection, then why have our brains developed the capacity to believe in God, if there clearly is no such thing?

    Cheers.

  2. I’ve never had an answer to this question: If we are nothing but the result of random chance and adaption to environment which over the course of thousands of millenia have allowed us to survive via the vagaries of natural selection, then why have our brains developed the capacity to believe in God, if there clearly is no such thing?

    Cheers.

  3. Odd… I tend to use this as an argument AGAINST atheism. Well, anti-religious sentiment anyway. Science keeps discovering deeper and deeper fact in the universe and all manner of things physical, but it can’t explain everything, there’s always another turtle. The point is there is no ‘answer’ only a continual search, it doesn’t matter if it’s turtles or quarks. We will always search. Before someone ventures to explain that one course of inquiry is without merit they’d be good to remember the unachievability of their our course.

  4. Odd… I tend to use this as an argument AGAINST atheism. Well, anti-religious sentiment anyway. Science keeps discovering deeper and deeper fact in the universe and all manner of things physical, but it can’t explain everything, there’s always another turtle. The point is there is no ‘answer’ only a continual search, it doesn’t matter if it’s turtles or quarks. We will always search. Before someone ventures to explain that one course of inquiry is without merit they’d be good to remember the unachievability of their our course.

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