In a recent post, titled “Unanswerable Questions,” I posed two questions that I considered unanswerable:
Does God exist?
What is the origin of the Universe?
The article attracted some great comments, but I think there is more that can be said about this. There are other questions that seem unanswerable…like the origin of life and human consciousness. Scientists have addressed both of these, and have posited some promising hypotheses, but at this point, we do not have definitive answers.
Let’s revisit the God question for a moment. It is impossible to falsify the assertion that God exists, but if the Almighty decided to make an appearance that was witnessed by a large number of people (not all religious believers…they have a confirmation bias) that would certainly lend credence to the claim. How about a miraculous event that could be credibly attributed to a supernatural being? Would that be valid evidence of existence?
After thinking about this, I am not so sure that a miracle would do the trick. A miracle is an event that does not conform to the natural process of cause and effect. Something happens that cannot be explained by saying, “Well, that happened because….” If you can fill in the blank with a natural cause, then it’s not a miracle. But if you can’t, then either it’s a miracle or you aren’t smart enough to understand the cause-effect relationship.
What’s the biggest miracle you can think of? How about the second unanswerable question…the origin of the Universe.
Now religious believers don’t think this is a question at all. Their answer is that God did it. Skeptics say there is no evidence that God exists or had anything to do with it, so they feel justified in dismissing the idea. But that is true of any other apparently miraculous event…any event that the cause-effect relationship was not evident. Maybe we just aren’t smart enough to figure it out. So, I think we are back to a physical appearance of the Almighty as the only credible evidence of a supernatural existence.
But let’s go one step further with this. Suppose Big Daddy in the Sky does make an appearance, and identifies himself as the Christian split personality of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Does that prove that he created the Universe? Hell no. He could be just an underling to the Super-Almighty that created him and everything else. Maybe there are jillions of gods like our Christian guy, a whole bureaucracy of them, all competing for raises and promotions from the Big Boss.
The point is, believers who say that God did it because nobody can offer any other explanation are guilty of a monstrous false dichotomy. There are countless other possibilities that are no more absurd than theirs.
Bert Bigelow graduated from the University of Michigan engineering school, and then pursued a career in software design. He has always enjoyed writing, and since retirement, has produced short essays on many subjects. His main interests are in the areas of politics and religion, and the intersection of the two. Many of his writings are posted on his web site, bigelowbert.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.