The Babel Fish Argument for God

@AndyWalsh’s book had me thinking about Intelligent Design in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The Babel Fish is a leech that slides into one’s ear and allows one to understand all languages in the galaxy. This demonstrates Intelligent Design, because something like this surely could not have evolved by chance.

The Babel Fish and God

Oolon Colluphid used the Babel fish as the main theme of his best-selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up For God. More specifically, Colluphid uses the Babel fish as an argument for intelligent design (or - and there are some subtle differences here) in a version of the so-called teleological argument for God’s existence. But Colluphid then goes further - using the existence of the Babel fish to try to prove that God does not exist.

The whole argument runs, roughly, as follows.

  1. God refuses to prove that (S)He exists because proof denies faith and without faith God is nothing.
  2. Man then counters that the Babel fish is a dead giveaway because it could not have evolved by chance. So the fish proves that God exists - but hence also, by God’s own reasoning (see 1) that God does not exist.
  3. God says that (S)He hadn’t thought of that (hadn’t thought of 2) and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
  4. Man then remarks about how easy that was (and gets himself killed on the next pedestrian crossing.)

It should be noted that most leading theologians think that Colluphid’s argument is “a load of dingo’s kidneys.”

Adams did have a remarkable talent for simultaneously amusing and biting commentary. Still, I never found this passage particularly troubling because of the following part:

That’s not what the Bible indicates about God. Yet it is a popular notion. A similar idea is regularly pops up in the current run of Marvel’s Thor comics, for example. In the comics, Thor is straight-up the Norse god of thunder, but that status is dependent on people believing in him and praying to him. In some cases, his strength/power is directly proportional to the amount/intensity/sincerity of those prayers.

And so we have one reason why there are so many comic book references in my science & theology book – because there’s so much theology in comics and other sci-fi.


Hi @swamidass and @AndyWalsh,

The argument trades on an ambiguity in the definition of God. In premise 1, God is defined as that Being Whose existence cannot be proven. But in premise 2, God is defined as the Intelligent, Self-Existent Being Who designed and kicked off the process of evolution, in order to generate all other beings. However, it does not follow that a God as defined by premise 2 would also be a God in the sense intended in premise 1, or vice versa.

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Well of course he is being silly and playing with this. :laughing:

If nothing else, it demonstrates this common view of God is ridiculous.



I would respectfully suggest that the phrase “kicked off the process of Evolution” has the tone of Deism.

In my personal view, God runs the entire process of Evolution, ongoing, constantly. There’s rather a lot to do, all the time.


Now you’ve really done it! We’ll be arguing over comic-book dynamics for months! :smiley:

PS: I don’t care what the other people say, Supes would totally own Bats!

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Or it demonstrates what happens when you try to formalize a proof about the existence of God. I know that some might consider that blasphemy, but if God actually exist he will bl…ZAP!!

That’s enough, Dan - God


What?! Which version of Thor was this? This is definitely not true in the current run of Thor, and indeed what caused Odinson to lose his power was his realization that gods are not benevolent and thus costed him his worthiness to wield Mjolnir! Nothing to do with people not believing in him or not praying to him.

Sorry my nerd is showing.


What the f… freak are they doing with comics these days?

Dude, Batman always carries kryptonite, Superman’s done.

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AND Superman knows that, which is why Batman gets a Heat Vision suntan from a safe distance!

[I would start a new thread, but I actually like Bats better. :-)]

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Dude, kryptonite bullet… and a sniper.

Although, that’s a bit out of character.

Quite a bit! :slight_smile:

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The idea is most directly explored in the first volume of Jason Aaron’s tenure on Thor–Thor: God of Thunder. At several points in the God Butcher story, the topic of prayer is explored, including who is praying to whom and how that influences the power of the deities. The most prominent example comes during the story’s ultimate confrontation, I believe in issue #25. Hopefully that is specific enough without spoiling the story.


Love this answer! I have not read God Butcher and did not know this.


So… this is the Tinkerbell theory of God? If we don’t believe then God doesn’t exist. Always loved Adams, but most of all I appreciated his absurdist take on things, this being a great example.

I think Adams was acknowledging the flaw in this argument with point #4:

  1. Man then remarks about how easy that was (and gets himself killed on the next pedestrian crossing.

Or in the original text,

`Oh, that was easy,’ says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.


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