Unicorns and Imaginary Friends

A recent conversation with my 4-year old granddaughter went as follows:

AMAYAH: Hi Pa! I feel very sparkly today!

ME: Do you? That’s lovely.

AMAYAH: Uh huh. And guess what!

ME: What?

AMAYAH: When nobody’s looking, I turn into a unicorn!

ME: Wow! And what do you do when you’re a unicorn?

AMAYAH: I just look after our farm and keep everyone safe.

ME: That’s lovely.

AMAYAH: Yes. And guess what else!

ME: What?

AMAYAH: I’ve got a smelly foot!

(I’m still not sure why only one foot was smelly!)

The imagination of children is amazing, isn’t it?  When our daughter, Kylie (Amayah’s mum), was little, she had an imaginary friend called Seesa. We think it was an outworking of her desire to have a little sister (seesa = sister). Seesa went everywhere with us. I had to hold the car door open for her. Sometimes we even had to have a place at the table for her.

It is quite normal for children to have imaginary friends, and we tend to regard it as cute. But when adults have imaginary friends, we call it psychosis. Atheists regard belief in God as a form of religious psychosis. They accuse Christians of having an “imaginary friend”. The accusation is that Christians have “created” God in their imaginations, because of their immature desire to have someone powerful watching over them and protecting them. In other words, Christians are misguided fools who have dreamed up an imaginary God because of some inherent psychological weakness within themselves.

Let us be clear about something here: It is important to distinguish between objective fact and subjective desire. The fact that I, as a Christian, desire a universe that has ultimate meaning and purpose, predicated upon the existence of an all-powerful God, has absolutely no bearing upon whether such a God exists or not. Similarly, the fact that atheists may have a strong desire for there to be no ultimate, divine authority to whom they are accountable has no bearing upon whether such an authority exists.

The existence, or otherwise, of God is a matter of fact, not desire. Either he exists or he doesn’t, and no amount of wishful thinking, on the one hand, or dogmatic denial, on the other hand, can have the slightest impact on the eventual answer. The question of God’s existence can only be reasonably approached on the basis of evidence, rather than preference.

As someone who was not always a Christian, I came to faith not because I wanted to believe in God or needed to believe in him, but because I found the evidence for his existence compelling and overwhelming. As a reasonably intelligent person, I tend to operate on a fairly cognitive level. I am not easily swayed by baseless whims or unsubstantiated fairy tales. I don’t believe in unicorns, because there is no evidence for their existence. But I am absolutely convinced that God exists, because of the existence of an impressive body of corroborative evidence; historical, scientific and experiential.

It was this evidence that led to my conversion to Christianity, and I am not alone in this. Our world is full of highly intelligent people who, having examined the evidence for themselves, have reached the conclusion that the only reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe – its breathtaking beauty, its irreducible complexity, the obvious signs of intelligent design, the inexplicable fact of human consciousness, the existence of indisputable absolute morality, the unfathomable complexity of DNA, the inability of abiogenesis to explain the origin of living organisms from non-living matter – these and a dozen other inexplicable things – the only logical explanation for all this is the existence of a supernatural Creator. The more we understand about the complexity and fine tuning of the universe for biological life, the more obvious it becomes that it could not have sprung into existence by itself.

Many scientists are now acknowledging the inescapable conclusion that forces outside of nature – supernatural forces – were at work in the creation and design of our universe. Dr Robert Jastrow, astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, states:

“Astronomers now find that they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”[1]

In 2001, Dr. John F. Ashton, a professor of biomedical science in Melbourne, published his landmark book, “In Six Days[2]. It contained 50 chapters written by 50 different Ph.D. scientists from all over the world, explaining why they had rejected evolution as an explanation for life and had come to believe in a Creator God. Significantly, many of these Ph.D. scientists had started their careers as atheists and evolutionists, but had been converted by the overwhelming scientific evidence for God’s existence.

In my experience, those who accuse Christians of being weak minded fools engaged in wishful thinking are very often people who have never bothered to check out the evidence for themselves. Their off-handed dismissal of Christianity arises not from an open-minded consideration of the objective evidence, but from a predetermined desire to avoid any kind of ultimate moral accountability.

What about you? Is your belief about God based on observable evidence, or is it simply a result of what you want to believe or not believe? Do yourself a favour and check out the evidence for yourself. You also might want to check out my book, “Finding God When He Seems to be Hiding”, available from my website, smartfaith.net.

Kevin Simington


[1] Robert Jastrow, “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982.

[2] John F. Ashton, “In Six Days”, Master Books, 2001.