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The Invisible Pink Unicorn (IPU) is the goddess of a parody religion used to satirize theistic beliefs, taking the form of a unicorn that is paradoxically both invisible and pink. This makes her a rhetorical illustration used by atheists and other religious skeptics.
The IPU is used to argue that supernatural beliefs are arbitrary by, for example, replacing the word God in any theistic statement with Invisible Pink Unicorn. The mutually exclusive attributes of pinkness and invisibility, coupled with the inability to disprove the IPU's existence, satirize properties that some theists attribute to a theistic deity.
The IPU seems to have become notable primarily through online culture: in addition to alt.atheism, where IPU still frequently comes up in discussions, there are now a number of web sites dedicated to her. The earliest known written reference to the IPU was on July 7, 1990 on the Usenet discussion group alt.atheism. Other sources concerning IPU state that she was "revealed to us" on alt.atheism.
The concept was further developed by a group of college students from 1994 to 1995 on the ISCA Telnet-based Bulletin board system. The students created a manifesto that detailed a nonsensical (yet internally consistent) religion based on a multitude of invisible pink unicorns. It is from this document that the most famous quotation concerning IPUs originated:
"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
In 2007, Niamh Wallace wrote that the IPU had gained underground ubiquity as a symbol of atheism.
In 1996, a unicorn that no one can see was adapted as a teaching device at Camp Quest, the first free-thought summer camp for kids established in the United States, by Dr. L. Wilson. As reported years later in the July 21, 2006 Cincinnati Enquirer, "Campers must try to prove that imaginary unicorns—as a metaphor for God—don't exist." Richard Dawkins alluded to unicorns in this connection in his 2006 book The God Delusion, writing that "Russell's teapot, of course, stands for an infinite number of things whose existence is conceivable and cannot be disproved. [...] A philosophical favorite is the invisible, intangible, inaudible unicorn."
In Carl Sagan's essay The Dragon in my Garage from his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In the Dark, Sagan uses the example of an invisible dragon breathing heatless fire that someone claims lives in his garage. The supposed dragon cannot be seen or heard or sensed in any way, nor does it leave footprints. We have no reason to believe this purported dragon exists. This raises the question: How does the claimant know that this is a dragon, rather than, for instance, a cat? For that matter, how can we know that the IPU is pink and has one horn instead of three horns, or none at all?
- ↑ Angeles, Peter A. (1992). Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy. Harper Perennial, New York. ISBN 0-06-461026-8.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Maartens, Willie (2006-06-01). Mapping Reality: A Critical Perspective on Science and Religion. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-40044-2. http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0595400442&id=iOFzumInA2kC&pg=RA1-PA421&lpg=RA1-PA191&dq=invisible+pink+unicorn&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=4yd8wH2fSMFZDVgvEQG4m4eGVqI.
- ↑ Narciso, Dianna (2004-03-01). Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism. Media Creations. ISBN 1-932560-74-2. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=1932560742&id=495ZE8wDDncC&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5&dq=invisible+pink+unicorn&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=rcPIwZCGDr_xOCFWJIEhiqUq4cE.
- ↑ Gibson, Scott (1990-07-17). "'Proof' of God's Existence" (Usenet post). http://groups.google.co.za/group/alt.atheism/msg/be8d2b066460dcbc. Retrieved 2007-04-10. "how about refuting the existence of invisible pink unicorns?"
- ↑ Alex Tufty Ashman (2007-02-08). "The Invisible Pink Unicorn". h2g2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A18592815. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- ↑ Judson Poling, Garry Poole, MS Debra Poling (2003). Do Science and the Bible Conflict?. Zondervan. p. 20. ISBN 9780310245070. http://books.google.com/books?id=qaXL2ZYIULwC&pg=PA20&dq=eley+invisible+pink+unicorn.
- ↑ Jack Huberman (2006). The Quotable Atheist. Nation Books. p. 103. ISBN 1560259698. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1560259698/ref=sib_dp_srch_pop?v=search-inside&keywords=Eley&go.x=0&go.y=0&go=Go!#.
- ↑ Wallace, Niamh (2007-12-27). Female Bonding. http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-12-27/calendar/female-bonding/. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- ↑ Clark, Michael D. (2006-07-21). "Camp: "It's Beyond Belief"". The Enquirer. http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060721/NEWS01/607210412. Retrieved 2006-08-16. [dead link]
- ↑ Dawkins, Richard (2006). "The God hypothesis: the poverty of agnosticism". The God Delusion (Trade paperback ed.). Kent: Bantam Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 9780593058251. http://www.richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=godDelusion.php. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
- ↑ Sagan, Carl. The Dragon In My Garage. ISBN 0-345-40946-9. http://www.users.qwest.net/~jcosta3/article_dragon.htm.
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Invisible Pink Unicorn. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|