God of the Gaps: Five Problems with a Terrible Slogan
by Graham Veale
Perhaps the most amusing trait of internet atheists is their tendency to dismiss every evidence of God’s existence as a “God-of-the-gaps” argument. Their concern is that “goddidit” is a lazy man’s approach to explaining phenomena; can’t every mystery be erased by invoking an all-powerful, all-knowing creator? It is much better to wait for science to provide a naturalistic solution for each and every puzzle.
It is difficult to take the McAtheist’s concern seriously for at least five reasons.
1) Atheist and philosopher of physics Bradley Monton points out that we cannot be confident that every puzzle has a scientific answer:
Just because gaps in the past where filled in with further naturalistic scientific investigation, it doesn’t follow that every gap in the future will be similarly filled in. [An] argument to the contrary is a relatively weak inductive argument. To see this consider an analogous argument. If one looks at the history of science, one sees that all scientific theories before the ones that we currently favour have been shown to be false. Does it follow that the scientific theories that we currently favour will be shown to be false too? – Seeking God in Science (Broadview Press :2009) p115
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2) There are persistent gaps that have never been filled in, and might never be filled in, by naturalistic science: What is consciousness? How does the brain produce conscious experience? Why did the universe begin to exist? Furthermore, there are questions that naturalistic science simply cannot answer because it has not got the tools…
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