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There have been a number of articles with long comment threads here on Tippling Philosopher on the question of the existence of a supernatural being. Skeptics, like the person pushing the keys to write this, assert that no credible evidence has been provided, and therefore we reject the idea until it is. The burden of proof, we say, is on the claimant. If that were not the case, even the most absurd existence claims would be credible, because it’s impossible to collect evidence to prove the non-existence of such a supernatural being.

Some have said that asserting there is a lack of evidence shifts the burden of proof to the skeptic. Not true. Anyone making such an existence claim must produce some logic or credible evidence or it is just aerobic exercise of their lips and lungs. What sort of evidence would support such a claim? The appearance of the Almighty before a large crowd of people would be pretty convincing, or the performance of a miracle…an event that could not be explained by a natural sequence of cause and effect. Asking for evidence to validate a claim is not equivalent to making a claim, and if no evidence can be provided, it is reasonable to dismiss it.

Is such a claim equivalent to a scientific hypothesis, and therefore subject to treatment using the Scientific Method? It is a big stretch to claim that it is. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. What test could be devised to falsify such an existence claim? It is not a scientific claim. It is just…an opinion.

Now people can have opinions on anything. Some people believe in ghosts and goblins…and Satan. Are black cats or the number thirteen unlucky? Are the New York Yankees a better baseball team than the Boston Red Sox? Is ribeye steak better than top sirloin or filet mignon? My wife thinks so. I am sure other people differ. How would one go about falsifying any of these? Even if one took opinion polls on them, it would still be just opinion, wouldn’t it?

There are two basic flavors of god-existence claims in most western nations. The most common one involves the Christian deity. Although there is a pretty wide spectrum of belief amongst Christians, the majority seem to be pretty casual about it. Various surveys have shown that they don’t really think the Bible is the inerrant word of God. There is simply too much cruelty, contradiction, ignorance and absurdity in it for most people to swallow. I suspect that many of them are somewhat embarrassed by the evangelicals who claim that every word was dictated by God and is literally true. They devise tortured logic and creatively twisted interpretations to support their inerrancy claim, but evidence that any of it has any connection with reality is lacking.

Then, there are the somewhat more thoughtful folks whom I will call Deists. They think that some kind of supernatural entity must have been responsible for creating this marvelous Universe that we live in. They even buy the Big Bang theory, but they ask what was here before that, and how did it get here? It’s an unanswerable question, of course…at least at the current level of humanity’s intellectual development. Here, the argument is a bit more nuanced than it is with the evangelical Christians, but it boils down to the same Big Question: The origin of the Universe is a mystery. It seems to defy the process of cause and effect. They ask: What was here before the Big Bang, and what caused it? What was the First Cause? Their answer is that there was nothing here, and then a supernatural entity must have created everything out of nothing.

Now, there is no possible way that they can provide evidence to support such an assertion, nor can anyone falsify it. Once again, it is an opinion, not a scientific hypothesis, but in this case, it is no less credible than the cosmologists explanations. We are all groping in the dark on this.

Wait a minute! Einstein said that the Universe is a space/time continuum. If that is true, and there is much evidence that it is, then there was no space or time before the Big Bang, so asking what was here before the Big Bang is equivalent to asking what was here before there was a here or a before. The process of cause and effect requires the passage of time; first the cause, followed by the effect. But if time was created at the Big Bang, then its cause must have preceded it, which is impossible if there was no time. It’s a mind bender.

So why is all this even important? How does it affect the occupants of this tiny speck of dust in a vast Cosmos? It doesn’t. Our innate curiosity drives us to look for answers to these, and lots of other questions. That’s good, but we shouldn’t get too excited about it. These Deist folks aren’t trying to tell people how to live their lives, nor are they trying to impose their superstitious beliefs on anyone. They are just trying to understand the whole scheme of life…and that’s a good thing.

Its fine to have opinions on these unanswerable questions, as long as we are all willing to change them if future findings show that we are wrong.


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,  You can contact him at

Bert Bigelow is a trained engineer who pursued a career in software design. Now retired, he enjoys writing short essays on many subjects but mainly focuses on politics and religion and the intersection...