Refuting the “God of the Gaps” Cliche
by Jason Petersen
In this article, we will be taking a look at the atheist’s accusation of “God of the Gaps.” This accusation is often leveled at Christians by atheists who lack understanding of what deductive arguments are.
What is “God of the Gaps?”
“God of the Gaps” is a cliche that is often used by atheists against theistic arguments. As many atheists describe the reasoning behind “God of the Gaps” as follows: “I don’t know how this works, therefore, God did it.” This is an accusation that is often used concerning the Kalam Cosmological Argument, as well as other deductive arguments for Christianity.
Is “God of the Gaps” a Legitimate Accusation?
In a word, “No.” The arguments for the existence of God such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, etc. are all DEDUCTIVE arguments. This means that the premises are established by what we do know, rather than what we don’t know. If the premises were all based off of what we don’t know, then the deductive argument would be invalid because all of the premises would be controversial. For instance, with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, we use what we do know to develop the following premises:
P1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
P2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the universe had a cause.
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We then would narrow down the possible explanations for the cause of the universe. We would then inevitably deduce that God is the best explanation, because we have good reasons to think that existence by necessity and chance are not good alternatives. Unlike the atheist, we don’t just dismiss other possibilities off hand based off of whether or not we like those possibilities. The difference here is that we have good reasons to not accept other alternatives as an explanation for the beginning of the universe. If you want to learn about the Kalam Cosmological Argument, see this link.
Ignorance of the Gaps
I don’t find it the least bit surprising that some atheists are being hypocritical in their accusations. When confronted with the evidence of the existence of God via deductive arguments the atheists will say “I don’t know is a valid answer!” Perhaps it is, but there is a problem. Atheists tend to insinuate that because “We don’t know” we should never conclude that it is God. That is akin to “I don’t know, therefore not God.” Ironically, this is the same mistake that they accuse Christians of. However, such an approach is not based off of what they do know, but rather, what they DON’T know. I have coined this atheist approach as Ignorance of the Gaps. I do not think that “Atheism of the Gaps” is catchy. I also don’t think that “Science of the Gaps” is appropriate, because atheism is not a scientific worldview…