The Mothman — popularized by John Keel in the book (and subsequent film) The Mothman Prophesies — is a cryptid (in other words, unproven and most likely fake) creature. But this creature is widely believed to exist, for reasons that baffle my mind. The story goes like this: A group of teenagers were driving around Point Pleasant, WV one night in 1966, near the McClintic Wildlife Management Area (also known as the TNT site). Suddenly, a giant creature with large, glowing red eyes began flying after them, chasing their car at speeds topping 100 MPH. They managed to escape and immediately reported their sighting to the police, who, for whatever reason, believed their story. Subsequently, hundreds of Mothman sightings were reported during the next 13 months, until a bridge collapsed. Suddenly, while everyone’s attention was shifted to retrieving the bodies of dead children and Christmas presents, no one saw the Mothman ever again.
While the Mothman is most likely either a hoax or a misidentification of a crane, we have evidence that it actually exists. Hundreds of eyewitnesses filed official reports with the police, and the police treated these reports the same way they would treat an alleged crime. That is, they followed up on these reports. But this evidence is merely anecdotal. It’s not actual evidence; it’s merely a claim, a claim supported by hundreds of eyewitnesses, but still a claim.
Most of these eyewitnesses are still alive. Their testimony can be impeached. This is not true for the alleged witnesses of biblical stories. This isn’t even true for the eyewitnesses of the eyewitnesses of the eyewitnesses of biblical stories. Yet, for reasons even more absurd than those about the Mothman, people put a lot of stock in the bible. There is actually more of a reason to believe the Mothman exists than there is to believe Jesus was resurrected. That’s not saying much because we have practically no reason to believe the Mothman exists.
Furthermore, biblical stories are fantastical, featuring supernatural beings of such power that, by definition, we cannot comprehend. The Mothman is merely a giant, birdlike creature, well within our ability to comprehend. One claim is impossibly absurd. The other is just merely unlikely.
My point is that people who attach supernatural claims to their religious beliefs should be reminded that we have a lot more evidence to believe in the Mothman, vampires, the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot than we have reason to believe in their god(s). If we can disregard cryptids and other unproven creatures, then we can disregard all religious claims because there is no evidence to support those claims.
The Mothman should be a stark reminder to religious people: Don’t believe everything people tell you.