Some examples of (mostly) non-religious mythical creatures include the following.
From older mythologies
- Having taken on many different forms in the popular imagination throughout history, the most common modern conception, which became very popular in the early 20th century, is somewhat like a more elegant (usually somewhat angelic) version of the Peter Pan character Tinkerbell — a small, flying, female humanoid. In the past, however, the term has referred to a variety of magical creatures, such as trolls.
- A type of fairy from Irish folklore, usually taking the form of a very short man, often clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief.
- Fearsome creatures from Norse mythology, originally similar to the ogres of England.
Specific modern examples
- Loch Ness Monster
- Sometimes affectionately called Nessie; currently thought by some to reside within Loch Ness, a narrow yet deep body of water near Inverness in Scotland, UK. Nessie and Loch Ness are popular attractions, with thousands of tourists arriving each year in the hope of catching a glimpse of the creature. Systematic investigations of Loch Ness have failed to provide conclusive evidence of the existence of any such creature.
Well known examples mentioned in the Bible
- Typically depicted (in modern times) as a white horse with a single, spiral horn growing out of its forehead. The unicorn appears in eight different places in the King James Bible: Job 39:9-11 , Deut. 33:17 , Numbers 23:22 , Numbers 24:8 , Psalms 22:21 , Psalms 29:6 , Psalms 92:10 , and Isaiah 34:7 .
- Usually reptilian creatures that are similar to large lizards or dinosaurs (mainly in the European tradition), or snake-like serpents (mainly in oriental traditions). Although the King James Bible uses the words "serpent", "dragon" and "Devil" in a fairly interchangeable manner, the first mentions of a dragon-like creature is in Job 26:13 and Isaiah 27:1 , where it is called Nachash Bare'ach, or "Pole Serpent".
Use in counter-apologetics
Because most theists agree that non-religious mythical creatures do not really exist, they often serve as good substitutes for God (or angels, etc.) in counter-apologetics, either to show the weakness of a theist's argument, or to show the reasonableness of a corresponding counter-argument — especially in the context of the reasonableness of belief without evidence, or the nature of burden of proof when applied to issues of existence.
- Atheist: "Do you believe in leprechauns?"
- Theist: "No."
- Atheist: "Why not?"
- Theist: "Because they obviously don't exist."
- Atheist: "Prove it."
- Theist: "I don't have to! No one really believes in leprechauns."
- Atheist: "Do you have evidence that they don't exist?"
- Theist: "No, but you don't have evidence that they do."
- Atheist: "You're right. But why not believe in them anyway, since we don't have good evidence either way?"
- (and so forth...)