How the Bible implies that unicorns exist

I've been on a bit of a binge lately with blog entries on faith and religion, perhaps because there's so much fun analysis that can be performed on them. My latest subject is contradictions in dogma and why fundamentalist thinking is incompatible with reality. In fact, I below present a proof that the Bible implies that unicorns exist.

I will use only the strictest first-order logic to form my deductive chain, which is modeled on the proof that "P and ~P implies Q". First, the source material from which I take my axioms:

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" -- Numbers 23:19 (KJV)

Interpreted literally, we can state that "God can not change his mind." Let this be Axiom A.

"And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." -- Exodus 32:14 (KJV)

Interpreted literally, we can state that "God can change his mind." Let this be Axiom B.

Update: Before we go any further, I'd like to address some potential points of contention. The KJV is a horrible, horrible translation -- as Jon notes below, when properly translated, the first quote I mention doesn't lead to Axiom A. But there are plenty of places in the Bible that lead to contradiction, either directly or indirectly. I'm just using this particular pair of quotes as an example -- I'm sure somehow more well-versed in the Old and New Testaments could find a much better pair. [more?]

  1. Introduce Axiom A: God can not change his mind.
  2. Introduce Axiom B: God can change his mind.
  3. Enter hypothetical on the base of "Unicorns do not exist."
    1. First line of hypothetical: Unicorns do not exist.
    2. By statement 1: God can not change his mind.
    Conclusion of hypothetical: If unicorns do not exist, then God can not change his mind.
  4. Contrapositive of statement 3: If it is not true that God can not change his mind, then it is not true that unicorns do not exist.
  5. Cancel double negative: If God can change his mind, then it is not true that unicorns do not exist.
  6. Cancel double negative: If God can change his mind, then unicorns exist.
  7. By statements 2 and 6: Unicorns exist.

The result is that in any system where the statements "God can change his mind" and "God can not change his mind" are both true, unicorns must exist. (Incidentally, the same logic can be used to prove that unicorns do not exist. Slippery beasts, eh?) In fact, any statement of fact can be used instead of "Unicorns (do not) exist", including "1 equals 2" or "Tim is God" or "Thou shalt kill" -- that is the power of direct contradiction. Thus it is shown that if you believe the Bible (or Quran or Torah) word-for-word, you'll believe anything.


Responses: 15 so far

  1. Anna says:

    First off, you made me laugh. Points for you!
    Wish I could totally disagree, as it would be more interesting. But can't. Literal interpretation of biblical passages is dangerous -- a huge mistake people make is assuming that it's the direct Word of God, where as most of scripture is made up of the wonderfully screwy interpretations and transcribed memories of Human Beings. Potentially useful stuff, but confusing if blindly followed.

  2. Tim McCormack says:

    I agree that the Bible is chock full of useful stuff when placed in proper historical context. But those fundies... *shakes head* I just wish folks would a) not take themselves so seriously and b) take a moment to examine their assumptions.

  3. Waldo Jaquith » Blog » Pi is exactly 3! says:

    [...] Tim has demonstrated that the Bible proves the existence of unicorns. Also, he’s demonstrated that the Bible proves that they don’t exist. [...]

  4. todd says:

    Fine, except for the small problem that both your axioms are flawed, hence the deductions logically derived therefrom are flawed. (Your statements concerning both verses are not supported by the text.)
    But it was fun trying, I'm sure.

  5. Jon says:

    Very clever!

    Are you familiar with the Hebrew word nacham, which is rendered as "change one's mind" in the KJV, or "repent" in modern translations? Verse 19 is actually expressing the idea that God does not feel regret for his actions, or feel sorry for what he has done (which, of course, does not conflict with Exodus 32:14).

    But, still, funny post!

  6. Tim McCormack says:

    @Jon: Ah, very interesting -- thanks for the tip! Perhaps this is not the best example, then. (Relying on the KJV is sketchy in any event. The translation was horrible! But it is public domain...)

    @todd: Apparently, at least one of the translations (and implications) was flawed. What's wrong with the other one?

  7. Sam H says:

    Funny stuff, Tim.

  8. Brian D says:

    Threats and actions are completely different, parents use threats all the time, it doesn't mean they will take always take away dessert.

  9. Tim McCormack says:

    News Flash! Just a few verses down from the Exodus quote: "God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn."

    You see? It is a sign!

  10. Tim McCormack says:

    @Brian D: I've conveniently provided links to the verses in context. Check out verses 9-14 and let me know if you still hold the same stance. (I see where you are coming from, and it is a good argument, but the context is pretty clear. Moses argued him out of a plan of action.)

  11. Robin G. says:

    i'm a true beliver in god and the bible. i grew up in and almish community. Whatever is in the buble is true and i don't dout that for a second. And no i'm not almish i go to partys and dance. But im noot shure he direclty meant that unicors exist

    but what they repasent

  12. Tim McCormack says:

    @Robin: My recent comment about unicorns was made in jest, which I thought was fairly obvious. If you still don't understand, I'll explain it to you over email.

    What do you mean by "he"? Surely not the writer of Exodus? Is Yahweh speaking about himself in the third person? (That is certainly a habit of kings, but I was unaware it applied to gods.) How can you be sure the writer is Yahweh? The Bible doesn't say so directly.

    Also, if everything in the Bible is true, as you claim, then what of the contradiction I illustrate above and the resultant chaos?

    Incidentally, the Amish do dance -- and during Rumspringa, the teens are allowed to do just about anything.

  13. Scott Watkins says:

    Hey guys,

    A few points.
    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1998/1548_Answering_Greg_Boyds_Openness_of_God_Texts/
    Literal interpretation of the Bible is necessary, not dangerous. When can we know that a passage should be translated literally or not? Taking single verses out of context is dangerous. Does your view of one verse contradicting another take into account the whole of the bible and the exegetical analysis of the context and related texts? If you're standing in the middle of the road and someone says to you, "You're going to get hit by a car", you're obviously not going to get hit by the car if you go out of the way.

  14. Tim McCormack says:

    Does your view of one verse contradicting another take into account the whole of the bible and the exegetical analysis of the context and related texts?

    Does your response to these comments take into account the whole of each author's writings and the analysis thereof by others? Of course not, you silly goose.

    You claim that I have ignored context, yet provide no evidence.

    If you're standing in the middle of the road and someone says to you, "You're going to get hit by a car", you're obviously not going to get hit by the car if you go out of the way.

    I presume this is meant to be analogous to the second passage I quote. Try reading the previous 5 verses (9-13) as well -- you will see (as I noted above) that Yahweh is not warning Moses, but stating a plan of action.

  15. Kathy says:

    This is the most genius thing I've ever read. I've been trying to convince my boyfriend that unicorns are real and his argument is always "they're not in the Bible. And if it's not in the Bible and I can't see it now, then it doesn't exist." Bravo Mr. McCormack. Bravo.