One of the most common objections to the existence of God comes from arguments about the existence of Santa Claus, invisible pink unicorns, and the flying spaghetti monster. Although it is not possible to prove absolutely the non-existence of Santa Claus, most people cease to believe in his existence by age 10. Although the existence of Santa Claus has not been disproved, the weight of evidence suggests that he does not exist. Likewise, although we cannot prove invisible pink unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters do not exist, we tend to reject their existence, since none have ever been detected. Shouldn't the same logic apply to the existence of God?
God created by mankind?
Most skeptics believe that humans invented God as a means of comfort against an uncertain world that is filled with peril and disappointment. However, if people were to have invented the God of Christianity, it is unlikely that it would be the demanding God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is described as holy1 - without sin and without the ability to commit sin.2 The holiness of God is described as being above anything that humans can attain, such that no human can stand before Him as holy.3 Behaving more morally upright than most other people is not sufficient to escape from the punishment of the God of the Bible.4
It also seems unlikely that people would believe in the existence of a being who is known not to exist. For example, most of us believe in Santa Claus as small children, but give up that belief by age 10.5 People do not believe in false things, even if those things make them feel better. If people routinely believed in things just to make them feel better, we would all continue to believe in the existence of Santa Claus. Liberal atheist Sam Harris even debunks such claims in The Moral Landscape, giving the following example as being unrealistic of human belief:
I believe Jesus was born of a virgin, was resurrected, and now answers prayers because believing these things makes me feel better. By adopting this faith, I am merely exercising my freedom to believe in propositions that make me feel good. (Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape, page 137.)
In addition to the above problems, believing a lie contradicts the beliefs and teachings of the Bible. In fact, Luke, in the introduction to his gospel, says that he has carefully investigated everything so that the truth may be known.6 Christians are told to believe and practice only truth,7 and warned against believing and practicing lies.8 So, the idea that they would violate their conscious and beliefs just to feel better makes no sense.
Invisible pink unicorns?
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.
However, for the sake of argument, let's change the term and drop the "pink" part. Is it possible to determine whether or not invisible unicorns exist somewhere in the universe? 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.
Is it possible that pink unicorns might exist somewhere in the universe? As of today, we don't know if life exists outside of our Solar System. Some scientists believe that life is common throughout the universe, while others think that all life or only advanced life is rare in the universe. The origin of life by naturalistic means seems extremely improbable. In addition, the earth seems to exhibit unusual design, since the existence of tectonic activity on such a small planet for such a long period of time is probably the result of an extremely unlikely collision event early in its history. Without tectonic activity, the earth would be a waterworld, since continents would not form. Advanced life (beyond fish) cannot exist on such a planet (hence no unicorns).
Atheism requires that abiogenesis (a naturalistic origin of life) is at least possible, if not likely, and that habitable planets are common throughout the universe. Such a scenario, if true, would make it likely that pink unicorns do exist somewhere in the universe. Therefore, an atheist would be illogical to assume a strong aunicornist stance. The unicorn argument as an argument against the existence of God fails logically, since it is not possible to definitively show that unicorns do not exist somewhere in the universe.
Flying Spaghetti Monster
The Flying Spaghetti Monster was an invention of Bobby Henderson in response to the State Board of Education of Kansas's attempt to promote intelligent design. It makes for a very humorous picture, although it provides virtually no analogy to God's character. Spaghetti and meatballs are the physical creation of intelligent beings and could never exist outside of a human domain.
God vs. unicorns and Santa Claus
Is the existence of God comparable to the existence of Santa Claus, spaghetti, or unicorns? 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.
The existence of an invisible pink unicorn or a flying spaghetti monster has been discussed above. The existence of such creatures has been hypothesized to occur within our universe. However, the God of the Bible is transcendent to the universe, since the universe cannot contain Him.9 The Bible says that no one can see God in His glory,10 since He is invisible.11 God is a non-physical being.12 In addition, God created the entire universe,13 including time itself,14 which did not exist prior to God creating it. Santa Claus, unicorns and flying spaghetti are contingent beings, whereas God is non-contingent. Therefore, to make an analogy between God and either Santa Claus or invisible pink unicorns or flying spaghetti is logically flawed from the outset.
Atheists tend to believe that the universe is a function of the time in which it began. However, the Bible says that time is a function of the universe, both of which were created by God.15 What does the science indicate? Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose extended the equations for general relativity to include space and time, demonstrating that time began at the formation of the universe (i.e., Big Bang).16 So, God is not confined by time or the universe, in contrast to invisible pink unicorns, a flying spaghetti monsters, and Santa Claus - all of which are dependent upon the existence of the universe. The atheists' analogy between God and these mythical creatures is shown to be incongruent, so their argument is fallacious.
No evidence for God's existence?
Skeptics love to claim that there is no proof or evidence that any kind of God actually exists. However, such claims represent mere hand waving to avoid critically examining the evidence. I was raised as an agnostic, but became a deist in a secular college (University of Southern California) as a result of my training in biological sciences. It was obvious to this honors student that the "scientific" explanation for the origin of life was completely unreasonable. Since those days (the early 1970's) the evidence contradicting a naturalistic origin of life has become much stronger. Even more compelling than the evidence against abiogenesis is the evidence for the design of the universe. The scientific evidence shows irrefutably that the universe had a beginning. In contrast, atheism would predict that the universe would be eternal. In fact, this belief was prevalent among atheists until the evidence against the steady state theory became overwhelming last century. Although it is possible that the universe could arise by itself, the level to which it is fine tuned is contrary to this hypothesis. In fact, the degree of fine tuning is up to one part in 10120.
Further evidence for divine design can be found in our own species. We are the only species of mammal that exhibits consciousness, the ability to appreciate art, and the ability to make moral judgments.
Wait! Unicorns do exist!
The problem with the skeptics complaint against the existence of God is that their primary belief about the existence of the universe (the multiverse) actually allows for the existence of any and all things. The multiverse is commonly given by atheists as a reason why the universe appears to be designed for human life. Accordingly, there are an infinite number of universes that have been created by the magical multiverse. We just happen to live in the one that has the right laws of physics so that human beings are possible. However, according to this belief, an infinite number of universe would allow anything to exist. So, although there may be no invisible pink unicorns in this universe, if there were an infinite number of universes, one would expect at least one of them to produce exactly the right conditions under which invisible pink unicorns would be the dominant life form. Given this belief, one would also expect to find universes in which Santa Claus, flying spaghetti monsters, and the Easter Bunny existed. It would even be logical to believe that would be at least one universe in which a being such as God existed. So, the multiverse does not get rid of God, but requires that He exist. I love the logic of atheism!
The idea that God is a made-up concept to soothe our fears makes no sense, since we reject the existence of other made-up figures that might, likewise, make us feel better. A comparison between the existence of God (a non-contingent being) and the existence of Santa Claus or invisible pink unicorns (contingent beings) fails on many levels, not the least of which is that their fundamental natures (non-physical vs. physical) are vastly different. The idea that there is no evidence to support the existence of God is clearly false. The evidence was clear enough for me to convert from agnosticism to deism in the absence of efforts by theists. Anthony Flew, a lifelong proponent of atheism became a deist on the basis of evidence for design. In subsequent interviews, Flew stated that he "had to go where the evidence leads." Philosophical arguments like invisible pink unicorns are great ways to avoid examining evidence, but such an approach is ultimately dishonest.
- God Invented in the Image of Mankind?
- If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
- Is Christianity True? Evidence for the Truth of the Christian Religion
- Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe
- Extreme Fine Tuning - Dark Energy or the Cosmological Constant
- The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System
- The Universe is Not Eternal, But Had A Beginning
- Is the Chemical Origin of Life (Abiogenesis) a Realistic Scenario?
- Mankind, Created in the Image of God: How We Are Unique Among All Other Creatures on Earth
- 'For I am the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your
God; thus you shall be holy for I am holy.'" (Leviticus 11:45)
"Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)
"There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)
But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. (Isaiah 5:16)
- Thy way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? (Psalm 77:13)
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13)
in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, (Titus 1:2)
"Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I [God] cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)
- And the men of Beth-shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?" (1 Samuel 6:20)
- A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His
enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by
no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And
clouds are the dust beneath His feet. (Nahum 1:2-3)
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:12)
- My wife and I decided to tell our children the truth at all times, including the truth about Santa Claus. Therefore, whenever they asked about Santa Claus we told them that he was not real, but made up. When our youngest son was very young (~3 yo), he mentioned something about Santa Claus and his older brothers (~5 and 7 yo) told him that Santa was not real. At first he argued with them, but then asked us. So, there are some children who have never been believers in Santa Claus.
- it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3-4)
- "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship
in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)
that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)
Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Love is patient... ...does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; (1 Corinthians 13:4, 6)
For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. (2 Corinthians 13:8)
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, (Ephesians 4:15)
and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:24)
(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), (Ephesians 5:9)
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. (2 John 1:4)
Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. (3 John 1:8)
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in
unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18)
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:25)
and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. (James 3:14)
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; (2 Peter 2:2)
The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (1 John 2:4)
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, (Colossians 3:9)
Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Revelation 22:15)
- "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven
and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I
have built! (1 Kings 8:27)
"But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn incense before Him? (2 Chronicles 2:6)
"But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. (2 Chronicles 6:18)
- No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:18)
- When He passes me I cannot see Him. When He goes by, I cannot perceive Him (Job
The Almighty is beyond our reach (Job 37:23)
No man has seen God at any time... (John 1:18)
No man has seen the Father... (John 6:46)
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God... (1 Timothy 1:17)
God... whom no man has seen or can see... (1 Timothy 6:16) ...Him who is unseen. (Hebrews 11:27)
- "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
"You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You. (Nehemiah 9:6)
"It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host. (Isaiah 45:12)
"For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. (Mark 13:19)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1, 3)
and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; (Ephesians 3:9)
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." (Revelation 4:11)
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." (Revelation 5:13)
- No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has
been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9)
The hope of eternal life, which God... promised before the beginning of time (Titus 1:2)
To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:25)
- God created time and was acting before time began:
- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
- No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1 Corinthians 2:7)
- This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9)
- The hope of eternal life, which God... promised before the beginning of time (Titus 1:2)
- To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:25)
- "The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed
forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big
Bang, about 15 billion years ago." Stephen Hawking
The Beginning of Time.
Penrose, R. 1966. An analysis of the structure of space-time. Adams Prize Essay, Cambridge University.
Hawking, S.W. 1966. Singularities and the Geometry of space-time. Adams Prize Essay, Cambridge University.
Hawking, S.W. and G.F.R. Ellis. 1968. The cosmic black-body radiation and the existence of singularities in our universe. Astrophysical Journal 152: 25-36.
Hawking, S.W. and R. Penrose. 1970. The singularities of gravitational collapse and cosmology. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A: 529-548.
Last Modified August 28, 2012