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What is the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument?

translate Invisible Pink Unicorn

The Invisible Pink Unicorn argument states that since the existence of an invisible pink unicorn cannot be disproven, it is just as valid to believe in an invisible pink unicorn as it is to believe in God. This argument is offered by atheists in an attempt to show that belief in God is both self-contradictory and irrational. Supposedly, the fact that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is defined in conflicting and unfalsifiable terms means that God, whom the atheist is targeting, is no more believable than the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Just as Flying Spaghetti Monsterism isn’t actually a meaningful argument against religious belief, Christianity in particular, the Invisible Pink Unicorn is an attempt to avoid discussion by mocking a superficial shadow of faith.

For instance, the contradiction of the unicorn’s being both “invisible” and “pink” is meant to satirize the supposedly paradoxical attributes of God. But this criticism is contrary to established history. Theologians have spent considerable time demonstrating the logical consistency of God. But, of course, that kind of in-depth thinking is precisely what the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument is meant to avoid. Like internet memes or ridicule, the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument is meant to short-circuit understanding by appealing to a shallow, caricatured version of what’s being criticized.

The biggest weakness in the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument is that it presumes that belief in God is entirely grounded in the claim that God cannot be disproved. Since the unicorn cannot be disproved by any means, so the argument goes, there is just as much reason to believe in it as there is to believe in God. Again, this argument is an example of an incomplete understanding of Christian theology, missing as it does a major philosophical and historical aspect of Christian thought: the idea that there are positive reasons suggesting the existence of God.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn argument is wrong to associate faith with an inability to disprove something. Major historical cases for the existence of God, such as the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments, don’t make claims based on an inability to disprove. Rather, they claim to provide positive, logical evidence of a deity. And they are supported and inspired by actual observations. Belief in Judeo-Christianity, especially, is bolstered by positive evidence. According to the Bible, general human experience (Romans 1:18–22), science and nature (Psalm 19:1), eyewitness testimony (2 Peter 1:16), written Scripture (John 5:39), correspondence (Acts 17:11), and objective evidence (Luke 1:1–4) all combine to point to the existence of a particular deity: the God of the Bible.

No atheist is expected, let alone obligated, to accept any of that reasoning, of course. If the Invisible Pink Unicorn is a pointless and powerless attack on the Christian God—and it is—such a fact does not mean that God exists by default. However, there is a profound difference between informed dissent and ignorant caricature. The Invisible Pink Unicorn, as a thought exercise, is just a modern version of Russell’s teapot. As such, it only demonstrates the weakness of any proposition that has no defense other than being unfalsifiable.

Christianity, the Bible, and the Christian God, however, are based on far more than being unfalsifiable. Positive evidence and a cumulative case have always been part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Those who attempt to use the Invisible Pink Unicorn against the concept of God are not making an intelligent argument; they are being fallacious and deceptive.

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What is the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022