Wednesday, March 3, 2010


In the last few days I’ve heard a couple of different commentators make the point that, in the God – no-God debate, the burden of proof is on the believer to convince the non-, and not the other way around. This is a philosophical position that goes back at least as far as Bertrand Russell, the great logician. Who am I to argue with an actual logician, but, I wonder.

If God, for the sake of this conversation, is defined as an uncreated non-material entity, power, or force that initiated the coming into being of everything that is matter or energy, then is not the burden of proving that such an entity does or does not exist basically even?  To the old question: “What was there before there was something?” the two answers, 1)  “There was a non-something that brought something into being,” and 2) “There has always been something” are equally speculative and un-provable (in the material sense).

I’m not talking about a “personal” god or the Judeo-Christian God, or the God of the Bible, or Genesis, or Jesus; and I’m not talking about whether or not there is a “purpose” in creation. Just this non-material initiating entity for which I’m using “God” as a label. Too often in these kinds of debates the believer moves directly to the lordship of Christ, but that faith position has nothing to do with this question. And I’m not talking about trying to prove or disprove evolution, which, after all, is an explanation (to which I subscribe) of organic development and not ultimate origins.

And if the cosmologist was able to describe down to the precise nano-nano particle the stuff and energy that was present at the nano-pin-point-instant of the big bang, that, too, would have nothing to do with this debate. What was there before…? If some kind of energy force fluctuated and brought about the primal explosion, what was there before?

“In the beginning God said…,” and “In the beginning there was nothing and then it exploded” are equally incredible statements.

And if matter/energy had no beginning – are eternal – if the world simply “always was” (a case Bertrand Russell argues as cogently as it can be argued – see link, above), is that not a metaphysical definition of what might be called God?

(I acknowledge that, as a believer, there is no way that I can cast this debating question completely objectively, but I ask the reader to believe that my purpose in this post is not to convince anybody of anything spiritually. It is simply to make an attempt at formulating the debate, and to ask you to join me.)

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