The Invisible Pink Unicorn:
A Risible Visible Red Herring
There are some people who seem to think that the proverbial "invisible pink unicorn" is an argument in disproving the existence of god(s). The idea that you can neither prove or disprove the existence of this imaginary creature is considered analogous to an inability to provide proofs or disproofs for god.
However, the invisible pink unicorn is not analogous to a deity. It is, quite simply, a logical red herring.
The argument amounts to:
I can think of something (which incidentally I don't believe in) that you cannot prove does not exist. Therefore god (which incidentally I don't believe in) does not exist.
The key thing to note, if you get trapped into a discussion trying to disprove the existence of the invisible pink unicorn, is that whenever you identify a test which would prove the unicorn's non-existence, a characteristic is added by the proponent which allows the unicorn to avoid discovery. Eventually, enough characteristics will be added that there is no way to test the claim of the unicorn's existence. It has no connection with the real world. The unicorn becomes immaterial - in both senses of the word. Its existence or non-existence is irrelevant to the universe.
As far as believers are concerned, gods are quite different from invisible pink unicorns. They regard them as connected to the real world. Their existence, even if physically immaterial, is specified as entirely relevant to the universe.
And we must remember that not all gods are claimed to be invisible. Also not all gods are claimed to be physically immaterial. There are tangible entities in the real world that believers have claimed to be gods in the past, and that believers currently claim to be gods. We have human beings who are regarded as living gods. The sun and the moon both have been considered gods. Various mountains, trees, and stone idols are each considered gods by some believers. These are physical entities which can be proven to exist, quite different from the imaginary immaterial invisible pink unicorn.
Admittedly, there are also those gods which are considered to be invisible and immaterial. Are they analogous to the unicorn? Of course not. Invisibility and immateriality are only incidental to the claims for the existence of these deities. The real claims for being a god rest in other characteristics.
There are characteristics and roles which gods possess which do not apply to invisible pink unicorns. Not all these characteristics and roles apply to all gods, but every god has one or more of them. And they provide answers to one or more of the following questions:
- Where did all this come from? (Past)
- What is the meaning / purpose of life? (Present)
- How can the course of events be changed? (Present)
- What happens when I die. (Future)
These issues, involving:
- god as creator,
- god as an object of worship and a model / guide / lawmaker for how to live,
- god as the recipient of prayers and sacrifice, in return for granting wishes, and
- god as the judge determining how we continue in the afterlife
are fundamental to theology, and have no place in invisiblepinkunicornology.
It is legitimate to challenge these claims and ask believers to prove them, or for us to attempt to design tests to disprove them. But, the invisible pink unicorn is just not relevant to the existence of deities..
It is an illogical argument, and should not be used by those who claim to use reason.
So let's bury the invisible pink unicorn.
While you're digging the grave, I'll be feeding my invisible green cat.
- Rather than trying to argue the issue rationally, the best way to deal with the illogical argument on the IPU is to respond irrationally, as in the discussion.
- Of course if you added some of these divine characteristics to the IPU, it would become a god; then the basic argument would become:
"I can think of a specific god (which incidentally I don't believe in) that you cannot prove does not exist. Therefore no other variety of god (which incidentally I don't believe in either) exists."
- The creator god comes in various roles: creator of everything; creator of just the Earth; creator of life; creator of man; or even creator of a specific race or tribe.
- As best as I can determine, this is the first documented use of the word invisiblepinkunicornology anywhere - just in case a citation is needed for a future dictionary.
- [One of my infamous footnotes to a footnote] If you want to consider the Invisible Pink Unicorn a deity, then this is one of many web sites devoted to the concept.