Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unicorn argument revisited

Due to the increase in traffic for the post, "The unicorn argument," I decided to repost it with additional links and text. Enjoy! 

I'm so glad Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) shared the link to "Atheists and Unicorns: Emotional Appeal," by J.W. Wartick because I think all theists grow tired of the "you can simply use the word unicorn instead of God for that argument" argument. I've read a lot of atheist comments using the unicorn argument. I'm not trying to be a jerk when I say this, but it seems it is used only when the skeptic/atheist is out of ammo. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Anyway, here is an excerpt from the blog post:

"You may have heard it before. “I’m an a-unicornist, just like I’m an atheist.” “I don’t believe in unicorns, nor do I believe in God.” “There’s as much evidence for unicorns as for God.”

What are these statements supposed to show?

Whether intended or not, these kinds of statements are simply emotional appeals. The atheist is attempting to psychologically discredit Christianity without ever engaging any kind of logical reasoning."

I agree. He then goes on to write:

"But what about another common use of the unicorn within atheism? Namely “I can’t prove there is no God, just like I can’t prove there are no unicorns.”

While this initially seems plausible, it only remains plausible if one assumes positivism. We can actually prove there is no God. If the Christian’s account of God was found to be incoherent, then God would not exist. It would, in fact, be impossible for God to exist were his nature contradictory.

So even in this use of the phrase we find that the atheist is committed to a dogmatic assumption of positivism. By assuming that God can only be disproven by empirical evidence, they uncritically advance a philosophical enterprise which has largely been abandoned within modern philosophy.

A word of advice: focus on the arguments at hand, not pejorative language."

Positivism has been abandoned with modern philosophy. For example, positivism fails to prove there are not abstract ideas, principles, and laws beyond our sense perception or that we can even know of them. There are also other, better developed, refutations of positivism; one by William Lane Craig can be found here.

Be sure to read the full article by Wartick by clicking here


Newer post by J.W. Wartick. The post covers a debate he had with Cathy Cooper over this topic. Click here to read it.  

The following excerpt is from a post by Rich Deem discussing the invisible pink unicorn, flying spaghetti monster, and santa clause. 

"Can we determine the existence/non-existence of invisible pink unicorns? Actually, the answer is "yes." Unicorns would be pink if they reflected pink electromagnetic radiation (i.e., light). However, in order to be invisible, the unicorns would reflect no electromagnetic radiation. Therefore, the term "invisible pink unicorn" is self contradictory. Therefore, we know absolutely that they could not exist. I don't know who invented the term "invisible pink unicorns," but they were obviously deficient in their physics education." 

I were going to write-up a post on the "invisible pink unicorn" myself, I would have taken the approach by Deem. The invisible pink unicorn is self-contradictory and I don't think anyone under a western worldview would buy the concept. What about if we drop the pink part though? Deem writes, 

"Technically, it would be very unlikely that any organism would be invisible. The only reasonable chemical basis for living organisms in this universe is carbon-based life. This would ensure that unicorns would always be visible. Although possible that unicorns might be invisible due to being made of anti-matter, such existence would be problematic, since their interaction with ordinary matter would result in their immediate and spectacular destruction. Could unicorns be made of exotic matter? While possible, there is no evidence from physics that any creatures could be made of exotic matter. At present, it is possible to detect exotic matter only indirectly through particle physics and through its ability to bend light (only detectable through gravitational lensing of distant galaxies). At this point, we would be unable to detect a unicorn made of exotic matter. So, although we can be fairly certain that invisible unicorns do not exist in the universe, we could not take the strong aunicornist stance."

The flying spaghetti monster, to be fair, is nothing more than humorous rhetoric and not worth any more time in refuting it than to say that there is no way spaghetti and meatballs could be a self-existing, necessary being. 

Deem also takes on the santa clause argument. 

"According to tradition, Santa Claus is a man who lives at the North Pole on planet earth. Explorers and satellite images have failed to detect the dwelling place of Santa Claus, so we can be fairly certain that he does not exist. Since the polar ice cap is likely to melt within the next 100 years, we will have further evidence that nobody actually lives at the North Pole." 

We can see that pink unicorns, spaghetti and meatballs, and santa clause are all dependent upon the existence of the universe. God is not dependent on the universe or confined by time. The above objections can be nothing more than rhetoric if one is going to use them. They're not serious objections given by serious atheist/agnostic thinkers (no offense, but that is the case). 

Read the entire post by Rich Deem. Click here.

*sumo santa is a character in the game: Clayfighter
*The unicorn image can be found here.


  1. Ah yes, but in a fight Bigfoot would be my pick. He would squash the unicorn and pegasus.

  2. Nonsense, that scene would go like this:

    *Bigfoot charges towards the unicorn and pegasus*
    Unicorn: "Looks like we're done for, Peggy."
    Pegasus: "What do you mean 'we', kimosabe? *flies away*"

  3. haha, good point. Darn that pegasus and its flying ability!


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