Well known examples
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.
- A large, fearsome type of fairy from Norse mythology, originally similar to the ogres of England.
- A kind of fairy from Irish folklore, usually taking the form of a very short man, often clad in a red or green coats, who enjoys partaking in mischief.
In modern times
- Loch Ness Monster
- Sometimes affectionately called Nessie, this dinosaur- or serpent-like creature is 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. Many examples of purported photographic and video evidence (much of it mutually contradictory) have been offered by amateurs, but systematic investigations of Loch Ness have failed to provide conclusive evidence of any such creature.
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...)