Turtles all the way down

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Turtles all the way down!

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

Origin of the Phrase[edit]

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[edit]

External Links[edit]

v · d Arguments against the existence of god
Existential arguments   Argument from nonbelief · Problem of Evil (logical) . Who created God? · Turtles all the way down · Problem of non-God objects · Argument from incompatible attributes · No-reason argument · Santa Claus argument · Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? · Outsider test
Arguments from the Bible   Failed prophecy in the Bible · Biblical contradictions
Evidentiary arguments   Problem of evil (evidential) · Inefficacy of prayer
Reasonableness arguments   Occam's Razor · Outsider test · Argument from locality · Argument from inconsistent revelations
Other arguments   Emotional pleas