March 6, 2009

The Totally Fake Invisible Pink Unicorn and his Totally Real Elf Friends (or: Please Don’t Be Offended That I Don’t Believe In Your Jesus)

Posted in Atheism tagged , , at 10:51 am by Andrew

Many Christians bristle at some of the common analogies atheists use — things like, “I don’t believe in God for the same reason that I don’t believe in invisible pink unicorns” and the like. In fact, if you google “invisible pink unicorn,” the very first Christian site to come up takes great offense, calling these sorts of arguments “so severely flawed and ludicrous that you have to wonder about the sanity of the person using it.”

Sort through the spittle-flecked insults, however, and you get to the following concession:

Third, if there were millions of credible intelligent adults out there claiming to have seen or experienced invisible pink unicorns or Santa Claus flying in the air, then this comparison would have merit. But there aren’t, so this comparison is without merit.

True enough: there aren’t millions of believers in invisible pink unicorns. But as it turns out, there are hundreds of thousands of Icelanders who literally believe in elves.

Here’s how exapologist parses the data:

[Among Icelanders]

“Yes, without a doubt, elves exist”: 8%
“Yes, elves probably exist”: 17%
“Well, I don’t know, but their existence is a real possibility”: 37%
“Elves? Nah, probably not”: 19%
“Without at doubt, elves do not exist”: 13%

I think it’s important to treat Christians respectfully, give them their say, and understand why they believe what they do. I can also understand the instinctive, defensive reaction at having their beliefs compared to things that seem absurd. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe in your Jesus for the same reason that neither of us believe in elves. Seriously.

Atheism and Politics

Posted in Atheism tagged , at 10:21 am by Andrew

In a piece entitled, “Our Hail Mary Pass,” Elizabeth Dole’s 2008 campaign manager, Marty Ryall, defends and explains his campaign strategy, including the “Godless Americans” attack ad ran late in the cycle insinuating that Democrat Kay Hagan was an atheist.

This is the money quote:

We were on a losing trajectory and we had to change the topic of discussion. The only option we had that could accomplish that was an ad on the Godless Americans PAC issue.

We had polled the issue in mid-September and found that it tested very well among the key groups that we needed to win. We needed to raise intensity among Republican voters, as well as shift the focus of Independents and conservative Democrats from our negatives to Kay Hagan in an unfavorable way. We needed something that had some shock value and would also generate an earned media component—and that was the “Godless” issue.

Hagan’s response, of course, was to vociferously deny that she was an atheist (and she’s not; she’s a Sunday school teacher), and not to defend those “Godless Americans.” Like me.

HT: Hemant Mehta.