My nephew, who clearly has too much time on his hands, asked me recently if the protagonist of The Beekeeperâ€™s Apprentice and other works classified as fiction got her name from Bertrand Russell, specifically Russellâ€™s teapot hypothesis:
Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the Celestial Teapot, was an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872â€“1970), intended to refute the idea that the burden of proof lies upon the sceptic to disprove unfalsifiable claims of religions. In an article entitled “Is There a God?”, commissioned (but never published) by Illustrated magazine in 1952, Russell wrote:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say 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 teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
My main disappointment here is the date of the unpublished article. If it were 1924 rather than 1952, imagine the discussion Holmes and Russell (Mary, of course, not Bertrand) could have over it. THE LANGUAGE OF BEES is the lesser for the lack.