Anglican Samizdat

July 29, 2009

An example of critical thinking à la Dawkins

Filed under: Atheism — David Jenkins @ 4:05 pm

Camp Quest is the atheist summer camp for children. The camp prides itself on teaching children to think critically. Hence we have the invisible unicorns:

Astronomy, critical thinking, philosophy and pseudo-science are covered at Camp Quest.

One of the most popular exercises is the invisible unicorn challenge. The children are told there are two invisible unicorns who live at Camp Quest but that they cannot be seen, heard, felt or smelt, and do not leave a trace. A book about them has been handed down through the ages but it is too precious for anyone to see.

All counsellors – as the adults are called – are said to be staunch believers in these unicorns.

Any child who can successfully prove that the invisible unicorns do not exist is rewarded with a prize: a £10 note with a picture of Charles Darwin on it signed by Richard Dawkins, or a “godless” $100 bill, printed before 1957 when “In God We Trust” was added to paper currency in the US.

Clearly, the unicorns are supposed to represent God. The purpose of the exercise appears to be to show that the burden of proof lies with the unicorn-believers. The problem is, the councillors don’t actually believe in the unicorns so they obviously can’t give reasons for their pretend belief, the book – the unicorn bible – is not something that can be read and the unicorns have no discernible effect on reality.

None of this corresponds to Christianity where God does act, the bible is not only read but has been the inspiration for all that is best in our culture, and people actually do believe and can explain why they do. While this does not offer proof of God’s existence, it does illustrate that a belief in God is no less rational than a disbelief in him; the believer is under no more burden to provide iron-clad proof of his belief than the atheist of his non-belief.

The unicorn exercise is not one of critical thinking but of constructing and demolishing a straw man: very rational.



  1. “bible is not only read but has been the inspiration for all that is best in our culture”

    I’m sorry…who’s culture?

    Personal freedom is probably the best thing in our culture, and the Bible is completely opposed to such a thing.

    Comment by morsec0de — July 29, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  2. Don’t worry. These children will soon be back at school where they will be forced by law to sing hymns to God and pray to a God they do not believe in.

    Section 70 of the 1998 Act states that “…each pupil in attendance at a community, foundation or voluntary school shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship.”

    They can run to their summer camps, but they cannot hide from worshipping God.

    Comment by Steven Carr — July 30, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  3. Proof:

    Genesis 1 vv20,21

    “20And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

    21And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

    So if God “saw that it was good”, he must have seen every moving creature that “hath life”. Hence we deduce that if the unicorns had life they were not invisible, AICM10P.

    Comment by Alex — July 31, 2009 @ 7:27 am

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