The Null Device

Atheist summer camp

They now have atheist summer camps:
The five days in Somerset will consist of traditional outdoor activities such as canoeing and cycling, combined with discussions about religion and non-belief. The centrepiece of the camp is an ongoing discussion where participants are encouraged to try to disprove the existence of unicorns, which serve as a metaphor for God.
Campers are told that two unicorns live in the area and cannot be seen, heard or touched. The adult councillors pretend to believe in the unicorns on the basis that an ancient book handed down through the generations says they exist. The children are encouraged to try to prove that the unicorns do not exist. If anyone is successful they will be awarded a £10 note which has a picture of Charles Darwin on it and is signed by leading atheist academic Richard Dawkins.
In the US the prize is a "godless" $100 bill from before 1957, which was when the US placed the phrase "In God We Trust" on all its notes. No child has definitively disproved the existence of unicorns and won the prize. "The idea of the unicorn debate is not to prove God doesn't exist, it is to illustrate that having such debates with religious people is futile because in the end faith trumps everything," said Miss Stein.

There are 4 comments on "Atheist summer camp":

Posted by: ctime Wed Apr 29 23:25:51 2009

Wait, unicorns aren't real? or are they? Where could I get a copy of this book they speak of?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/acb/ Thu Apr 30 00:36:13 2009

Unicorns don't exist. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, however, is absolutely real.

Posted by: Greg Thu Apr 30 04:19:58 2009

I'd go further than Miss Stein and claim that the unicorn exercise equips the children with a debating tactic that they can use against religious people. If asked to prove there is no god, one can reply, "Prove there is no unicorn/goblin/spaghetti-monster!" ... In any case my position is that few really believe in god. Powerful people pretend to, in the presence of lower-status people, just as parents pretend to believe in santa around children. It's a 'front' in the sense of Goffman. But this is a debate for another day.

Posted by: Leviathan Mon May 4 16:36:23 2009

I read a book the other day on The House Of Lords. Included was some of the utterly bizarre debates they have had with inebriated &/or insane peers addressing the floor. One fellow, a Bishop, during a discussion on an act to force government to tell The Truth about UFOs, gave a heart-warming little speech about how when he was a boy and his mother was baking bread, she would keep aside a little of the dough for him to make little gingerbread men or similar. And he believed that when God was making the cosmos he may well have kept aside a little of the primal ether which has become our Loch Ness Monster, Abominable Snowman and UFO fleets.

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