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Portrait of the Invisible Pink Unicorn

You may have heard the "Invisible Pink Unicorn" argument against believing in God based on faith, without evidence. It goes something like this: "I could claim that there is an invisible pink unicorn, perhaps somewhere in space where we can't touch it either, and I have as much evidence for its existence as someone else might have for the existence of God. So if you can believe in God, why not believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn?"

There's a flaw in that argument. It claims that if something can't be proved, it makes no sense to believe that it's true. This is generally very useful, of course, since history has shown that human intuition is incredibly flawed, and there's a reason we use the scientific method. Even though there are some things which you can't prove or haven't proved that are still true, the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument states that all unprovable things are equally valid. I'm not sure that's the case.

Now, personally, I have never experienced a religious vision or epiphany. If someone does experience it, though, I can see why they would choose to believe that as reality, even if it's not scientifically provable. I would still try to rule out psychological or other causes first, but I would not claim that such beliefs are inherently invalid. I still subscribe to Carl Sagan's "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence", but "extraordinary evidence" for one person just might not be available to others. And thus, I don't really fully buy in to the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument any more.

* * *

The one thing I still find really amusing about the IPU, though, is how it's invisible, but also pink! Now that's deep! :) I've seen someone say that the IPU is "invisible by evidence but pink by faith". Perhaps the true believers would need to experience some event that makes them truly believe in its pinkness? (And see, that's ultimately the difference: No one has really had a religious vision about invisible pink unicorns... or so I hope.) Anyway, I decided to go about making a portrait of this. Behold:

[Invisible Pink Unicorn]

"Oh, that's just a blank square," you say. "Hardy har har. It's not that funny." But no! You would be wrong! That actually is an image of a pink unicorn, but there's an alpha channel that makes the picture completely transparent! If you open it up in an image editor with good PNG support and remove the alpha channel, you can see that the following image is in the file:

[Visible Pink Unicorn]

It's just normally completely transparent.

"I am speechless," you think. "Kenneth really needs to get out more." :P

One oddity is that Photoshop has crappy PNG support, if you open it up in Photoshop, all you'll be able to see is an empty image.

I'm not sure what this means. Perhaps we should seek God through Fireworks MX or GraphicConverter, but Photoshop is the path to heresy? :P

P.S.: I originally copied the unicorn image from this page and made it pink; I didn't draw it myself.

Comments (13)

I would not claim that such beliefs are inherently invalid. I still subscribe to Carl Sagan's "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence", but "extraordinary evidence" for one person just might not be available to others.

Validity itself is a kind of bizarre concept. Valid for what? We say things about the Universe in the language of math that are technically invalid. . .Newtonion mechanics, say,. . .but they are valid for the purposes that we say them. In guiding collective action, especially collective socio-political action, I think the standard of scientific provability is a good first order rule, with correction terms for various situations that demand decreasingly statistical evidence.

The whole point of "witnessing" however is that it's just that. Witnessing. The person testifying to extrodinairy claims is testifying to what they believe is the truth--what they themselves have seen and or experienced. In a court of law when no physical evidence is available to contradict them, a witness is taken for their word, modulo their credibility in the eyes of the jury and the judge. Religious testament is very similar. The extent to which you accept someone's testament should be entirely a function of how much you trust them in the matter they are testifying about. The difference, of course, is that we as a society must abide by the judgements of the jury. In a truly free society, the only person who should have to abide by your religious judgements of credibility is yourself.

I think the IPU promoters are correct in fighting our social tendencies to push our religious judgements on each other, but they overreach when they satirically imply that that their insincere and ironic IPU devotions are equivalent to others' sincerely held religious beliefs. Sincerity isn't the only possible condition for religious validity, but I think it's a very obvious and necessary one.

you are just mad because you know that the invisible pink unicorn could beat up jeebus in a fight. jeebus would not stand a chance

Why is it so hard to beleive that there is a unicorn that is invisble and pink, but millions of people are able to beleive that there is a God that knocked up an earth woman and than had his son killed..

The point is not that "if something can't be proved, it makes no sense to believe that it's true". Rather that the burden of proof is on theists. People should have reasons to believe in the existence of God, not reasons to doubt.

I believe, but I do not preach. I don't want you to belive in the green goddess because I don't want you to know the mysteries she has shared.

Of course those of us who believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn (pbuh) don't actually take it seriously. If we really did believe in Her, we'd be just as bad as the people we're trying to criticize, wouldn't we?

invisible pink unicorn???? wat is taht?

lol, im working on a report for school on the Invisible Pink Unicorn

"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them." --- Steve Eley

bwahaha its all hilarious
(just for the record, im a good catholic kid, so dont judge me)
^_^

God=fake to me. :)
You can't proove he's real by saying you believe in it. Just because you were raised that way and it's... you, it doesn't mean it's automatically true. Also, this is PERFECT! No proof for the invisible pink horse no proof for god. How do we know someone didn't just draw another little pink horse on paint?

Although I, too, have never experienced a religious vision, I would disagree with the assumption that no one has had a religious vision of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. To the contrary, it is my belief that ALL religious visions have included appearances by the IPU. Sadly, her invisible nature makes such visitations very discrete, which explains why people rarely mention Her presence.

Look I understand that people have their own beliefs ,but really must we critize each other for differences? Somthing someone close to me said was "Talking to someone, they said what if what you belive is wrong, responding the person said back to them,what if your wrong not to belive? The consquenes for you are far worse if you are wrong than if I am wrong" That helps me mantain my faith that God is real have your own beliefs if you believe the Lord, then stay storg in your faith I beg of you also do not have idols as this Invisable Pink Unicorn is. It is a way to lead people away from the real God. Believe what you will go ahead critize me for being faithful to God, He lead me to this site for a reason.

Allie, my post already stated that I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have close friends who are religious, and whose beliefs I respect, even if I don't necessarily share them. The invisible pink unicorn is a bit mocking, yes, but I do generally try to be respectful.

That said, your argument on belief due to consequences is not just flawed, but disturbing. If I were to believe something just because of the consequences of not believing, wouldn't that mean that my faith insincere? If I were religious, it would be due to a sincere belief.

Besides, there are many mutually conflicting religions. Who's to say which is "safer" to believe in? This logical fallacy is known as Pascal's Wager. Click that link for more.

I understand your reasoning ToastyKen and I was having a bad day and was being very unreasonable and should have kept my thought to myself thank for being so kind and sincere most people would have cussed me out for being disrespectful you are one person who does not judge I respect that
Allie

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 23, 2005.

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