‘God of the Gaps’: A guide for the Perplexed
by Graham Veale
Jerry Coyne on his ‘Why Evolution is True’ blog has criticised the biologist Kenneth Miller for believing that:
the fact that there are ‘laws’ (regularities, really) in the Universe can be understood only as an act of God. The last claim is in fact a God-of-the-gaps argument, since it asserts that the best answer to the question, ‘Why are there scientific laws at all?’ is ‘God made them.’ Here Miller merely swaps ignorance for ‘God,’ just as creationist Michael Behe swaps ignorance of biochemical evolution for God.
Coyne is completely confused about the nature of Miller’s argument. Since this misunderstanding comes up a lot in Atheist posts and blogs, it’s worth spelling out just how wrong Coyne is.
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Nowadays ‘God-of-the-Gaps’ is nothing more than a slogan aimed at any argument that concludes that God exists. Coyne seems to think that theists point to a fact that science is currently unable to explain. The theist then, allegedly, argues that science cannot explain this fact because God created it. But ‘God did it’ is just what we say when we can’t explain something scientifically. And sooner or later science will come along with a more satisfying answer.
Cosmology will explain why the universe exists. Evolutionary psychology will explain consciousness, morality and art. Even love and religious experience will be measured, quantified and rationalised as the interaction of forces and particles. God will vanish like a vapour – like the aether in fact. We will have no more need of that hypothesis, thank you very much. The ‘God of the Gaps’ slogan is just an instance of the myth that Science will make God obsolete.
But ‘God of the gaps’ arguments are explicitly rejected by most theistic philosophers…
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