God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all time?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all time?

#1

Post by narnia4 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:39 pm

Ok, I'll start off by saying that Christians and theists in general do at times fall into "God of the gaps" reasoning, they take one thing and harp on it as if its proof that there is a God simply because scientists/philosophers/whoever else haven't provided a sufficient explanation for it (whatever this thing must be, usually its related to science, the universe, maybe evolution, etc.). This isn't simply fallacious reasoning, its also very harmful for Christians. At times I've done it myself, I think many have, and the Bible touches on it as well. You put your faith in the wrong thing, then when science disproves (or at least casts doubt on) that thing a Christian's faith is shattered. I don't doubt that this is the reason for many "deconversions".

With that said, I find the extent to which some, mostly atheists, rely upon the "God of the gaps" argument to be ridiculous, frankly. That's why I say "most overrated argument of all time", because its constantly used as a be-all-end-all, knockdown style argument. Here's some situations where God of the gaps is often used wrongly imo-

1- Every Christian argument somehow is God of the gaps reasoning to the atheist. Someone like Craig can use modern, widely accepted science to present arguments, and yet these arguments are somehow presented as God of the gaps arguments. I imagine its because some anti-theists will never accept God as even an alternative, therefore it must be ANY other explanation. Honestly, I think some atheists would accept this without a problem even though it seems incredibly illogical and unscientific to me. Quotes by prominent atheist scientists, I believe some are on this site, reinforce this idea at least for some anti-theists.

2- Related to 1, but some seem to assume that every "gap" IS explainable period, and even as our scientific knowledge has grown exponentially and certain issues still remain, its "just another issue that will be cleared up eventually". I've appreciated it when I've seen it called "science of the gaps" or something similar. The cosmological argument and others have been in existence for hundreds of years, and some of those arguments have grown stronger with NEW evidence supporting their assumptions (like a universe with a beginning). Then there are things like the incredibly design of the universe and of our bodies... with things like the human genome project and more science has shown that these things are more complex than we could have possibly imagined. But the anti-theist (I say this rather than atheist to respect those that may be open to possibilities), he will never, ever accept anything other than a naturalist explanation. He has to scramble for alternate theories with little to no proof, various multiverse theories, etc.

3- Apparently the anti-theist is under the impression that Christians only view God like a filling for a cavity or a piece of tape. Like the different scientific areas, as you discover information about that area you cross God off the list. In reality, however, that's not the proper Christian perspective at all. If evolution on a grand scale is true, the Christian believes that God designed it, not that its a gap. If other things are explained on one level, the Christian should rejoice at understanding at least a little how God designed that thing to work.

I could think of other things, but that's enough for now. Maybe its just because I only look at the better apologetic sites, but I really don't see that much "God of the gaps" reasoning by Christians these days... I see far more "Anything other than God even if its a far less likely alternative" and empty posturing by the anti-theist. I just don't see how God of the gaps fits into almost any of the arguments going on today, and yet it seems to be the atheist's favorite argument by a pretty decent margin and its squeezed into several discussions where it doesn't belong.

It makes me think that the writers in the Bible knew what they were talking about- to a closed mind, literally NO amount of evidence would be enough. Sometimes I imagine being an extreme skeptic- Would I ask for a vision? No, it could be an illusion (indeed, that's the solution an anti-theist would give to any such experience that someone had). Would I ask for Christ to come in my time? Maybe I would, but there were certainly those who rejected him then as well. Would I ask for stars that spelled out "God made me"? I could write it off to chance.

So any thoughts on this? I know I have seen Christians on this site chastising others for using God of the gaps reasoning and calling out atheists for trying to use it when it doesn't apply.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#2

Post by Jonouchi Katsuya » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:49 am

You are quite right. There are many ways to go about feeling spiritual. :) By learning about all that has been created or evolved- you are reveling in the Earth. Adoring it. Finding wonder...

And I don't see anything wrong with that.

But it is helpful, and fulfilling for some to believe in God. For me, meditation is my chosen way of connecting to all. To feel the earth through my mind... to know myself better than anyone, to fully connect with my core self. And seeking out knowledge is a worthy cause.

But, I don't think it is very nice of you to come to a Christian site... and... try to "convert" people. I am quite positive you don't like it when Christians/Mormons/Witnesses do it to you so why do it to others? I don't even know if you realize what you are doing...

There is a difference between writing a book for other Atheists or for people who are genuinely curious about Atheism to explore that option and coming to people with faith who wish to keep it. You only serve to anger them and it is not nice or respectful of their environment.

But I suppose I am pretty guilty of this too in trying to understand another person's culture and religion and way of life. But it is not as intentional to offend as you are here.

I feel like you are picking on people... but it may be an inaccurate assumption. :?

-EDIT: I totally misread you. But you are still picking on a group of people... You are judging others. Not a Christian thing to do.

I guess I will re-go-over my points in a better way. I should be a better listener. I am still working on it. I make no excuses so plese forgive me.

Atheists are not to be made fun of pitied or whatever. They have free choice to believe in what they wish. They will never side with you so don't even try. They are independent and have often felt the "abuse" from someone who calls themselves Christian or Mormon or a Witness.

I think you should take a step in their direction and maybe seen understanding.

When your a baby... your faith glass is full but as you grow up, that glass gets bigger and the same amount of faith/water just ain't gonna fill it anymore... understand this issue they face... that someone may have tipped over their glass... and they do not have the energy to try to refill it.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#3

Post by DannyM » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:10 am

There are no gaps in God’s knowledge. I don’t see how the Christian can apply a “god of the gaps” argument, since the Christian holds that God sustains the universe and the laws within it. The only ones using a “gaps” argument are materialists/materialist scientists, who want to say that some day we will have the materialistic/scientific answer to . . . [insert any unanswered conundrum facing the materialist at present]. Of course, science has plenty of "gaps" in its knowledge. Some it will fill and some it will not. Evidently it is the materialist who must rely on his faith here, his faith being that all the gaps in his knowledge will, without exception, be filled by science. Someday.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#4

Post by Echoside » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:28 pm

DannyM wrote:There are no gaps in God’s knowledge. I don’t see how the Christian can apply a “god of the gaps” argument, since the Christian holds that God sustains the universe and the laws within it. The only ones using a “gaps” argument are materialists/materialist scientists, who want to say that some day we will have the materialistic/scientific answer to . . . [insert any unanswered conundrum facing the materialist at present]. Of course, science has plenty of "gaps" in its knowledge. Some it will fill and some it will not. Evidently it is the materialist who must rely on his faith here, his faith being that all the gaps in his knowledge will, without exception, be filled by science. Someday.
this is all assuming God exists from the start. If that isn't your default viewpoint it's a valid fallacy.

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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#5

Post by DannyM » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:34 pm

Echoside wrote:
DannyM wrote:There are no gaps in God’s knowledge. I don’t see how the Christian can apply a “god of the gaps” argument, since the Christian holds that God sustains the universe and the laws within it. The only ones using a “gaps” argument are materialists/materialist scientists, who want to say that some day we will have the materialistic/scientific answer to . . . [insert any unanswered conundrum facing the materialist at present]. Of course, science has plenty of "gaps" in its knowledge. Some it will fill and some it will not. Evidently it is the materialist who must rely on his faith here, his faith being that all the gaps in his knowledge will, without exception, be filled by science. Someday.
this is all assuming God exists from the start. If that isn't your default viewpoint it's a valid fallacy.
Of course I presuppose God from the start. All claims for absolute authority have such authority built in. No fallacy here.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#6

Post by narnia4 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:12 pm

DannyM wrote:There are no gaps in God’s knowledge. I don’t see how the Christian can apply a “god of the gaps” argument, since the Christian holds that God sustains the universe and the laws within it. The only ones using a “gaps” argument are materialists/materialist scientists, who want to say that some day we will have the materialistic/scientific answer to . . . [insert any unanswered conundrum facing the materialist at present]. Of course, science has plenty of "gaps" in its knowledge. Some it will fill and some it will not. Evidently it is the materialist who must rely on his faith here, his faith being that all the gaps in his knowledge will, without exception, be filled by science. Someday.
Yeah, I definitely feel that materialists utilize their "gap" arguments. As I said, I do think on occasion the inexperienced Christian does put their faith in the wrong thing... like instead of taking available scientific evidence as support for God, they adapt the materialists' way of thinking... that if there's an explanation of HOW something happens, it somehow means there isn't a teleological explanation or an "ultimate cause". Imo that's one reason why some Christians "lose their faith" in college, they have their faith in lack of science to fill a gap rather than in God himself and have no training in apologetics or knowledge of arguments making use of science... then they're exposed to certain things for the first time and don't know how to handle it.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#7

Post by Jonouchi Katsuya » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:45 pm

narnia4 wrote:
DannyM wrote:There are no gaps in God’s knowledge. I don’t see how the Christian can apply a “god of the gaps” argument, since the Christian holds that God sustains the universe and the laws within it. The only ones using a “gaps” argument are materialists/materialist scientists, who want to say that some day we will have the materialistic/scientific answer to . . . [insert any unanswered conundrum facing the materialist at present]. Of course, science has plenty of "gaps" in its knowledge. Some it will fill and some it will not. Evidently it is the materialist who must rely on his faith here, his faith being that all the gaps in his knowledge will, without exception, be filled by science. Someday.
Yeah, I definitely feel that materialists utilize their "gap" arguments. As I said, I do think on occasion the inexperienced Christian does put their faith in the wrong thing... like instead of taking available scientific evidence as support for God, they adapt the materialists' way of thinking... that if there's an explanation of HOW something happens, it somehow means there isn't a teleological explanation or an "ultimate cause". Imo that's one reason why some Christians "lose their faith" in college, they have their faith in lack of science to fill a gap rather than in God himself and have no training in apologetics or knowledge of arguments making use of science... then they're exposed to certain things for the first time and don't know how to handle it.
:clap:

I agree. I feel... that the knowledge is hear on earth right? And if you believe in God and that he created the earth- and the math and everything- maybe it is the perfect way to get closer to God.

... but usually that just ends in denial of God... :econfused:
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#8

Post by DannyM » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:31 am

narnia4 wrote:
DannyM wrote:I do think on occasion the inexperienced Christian does put their faith in the wrong thing... like instead of taking available scientific evidence as support for God, they adapt the materialists' way of thinking... that if there's an explanation of HOW something happens, it somehow means there isn't a teleological explanation or an "ultimate cause". Imo that's one reason why some Christians "lose their faith" in college, they have their faith in lack of science to fill a gap rather than in God himself and have no training in apologetics or knowledge of arguments making use of science... then they're exposed to certain things for the first time and don't know how to handle it.
Interesting point. So you're saying that some Christians have a faith in a lack of science and so when science explains the mechanics of some law or phenomena they then yield to science and think it has shot their faith? Hope I'm 'getting' you right, narnia
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

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Post by MarcusOfLycia » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:25 am

DannyM wrote:
narnia4 wrote:
DannyM wrote:I do think on occasion the inexperienced Christian does put their faith in the wrong thing... like instead of taking available scientific evidence as support for God, they adapt the materialists' way of thinking... that if there's an explanation of HOW something happens, it somehow means there isn't a teleological explanation or an "ultimate cause". Imo that's one reason why some Christians "lose their faith" in college, they have their faith in lack of science to fill a gap rather than in God himself and have no training in apologetics or knowledge of arguments making use of science... then they're exposed to certain things for the first time and don't know how to handle it.
Interesting point. So you're saying that some Christians have a faith in a lack of science and so when science explains the mechanics of some law or phenomena they then yield to science and think it has shot their faith? Hope I'm 'getting' you right, narnia
It makes sense. So it is really an unstable worldview coupled with scientific evidence that helps destroy people's faith. With a more solid worldview, that same evidence means something totally different. That's a fairly good explanation for it, I think.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#10

Post by narnia4 » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:39 am

Yep you're reading me. That's something that I've felt to be true at least in some cases. I'm probably conflating a couple of different ideas with the same term, or I guess you could say the same idea from different perspectives. Non-theists argue that God doesn't exist because science is "closing the gaps that we don't understand", and I've gotten the impression from some atheists that they have the idea that Christians think God only matters in the areas where we can't lay out and at least partly understand the mechanics of something. I think this line of thinking is very often carried too far, but I think Christians can fall into the same trap and minimize God into a corner. Although maybe the term "God of the gaps" wouldn't necessarily still apply, I think the general idea can apply to other areas of life as well. You think you understand something spiritually or emotionally and "get how it works", and somehow decide subconsciously that God doesn't have a place there.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#11

Post by DannyM » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:07 pm

narnia4 wrote:Non-theists argue that God doesn't exist because science is "closing the gaps that we don't understand",

and I've gotten the impression from some atheists that they have the idea that Christians think God only matters in the areas where we can't lay out and at least partly understand the mechanics of something.


Well, then these non-theists are committing the bifurcation fallacy of presenting a false dilemma in insinuating an either/or. I've seen this too: "We don't need God as an explanation 'cause science is answering more and more questions." Such a false dilemma.

Your follow up is interesting again. God only counts in areas we cannot understand through the application of science? Are there Christians out there who are giving this impression? Or is this just another misrepresentation on the part of the atheist?
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

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Post by narnia4 » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:20 pm

Yeah, and as has been mentioned... if anything some of what atheists would call "gaps" in our knowledge, grow wider and wider rather than shrinking. So many non-theists, at least the "internet atheist" variety, refuse to allow Christians to use science and then call them out for being unscientific.

I'd like to mention again that its only impressions I have, nothing more. But I could expound a little more on my opinion I guess, mostly speculation but I think there's at least a few nuggets of truth in it-

Most people don't think about their world view or the presuppositions that everyone has. Nobody, absolutely nobody starts off from scratch. Neutrality in these conversations is a myth. I don't mean to say that I don't believe that there are honest seekers or that world views can't be changed, but there are foundations to everyone's worldview. I think this is where some Christians make a mistake (probably because they really know nothing about apologetics, philosophy, etc)- they assume that rational people have the same basic beliefs about logic, science, etc.

Here you have kids who may be holding onto a weak faith, basically their parent's faith. They may have lived a sheltered life, or they may simply have not cared about questions of worldview. Then suddenly they're exposed to aggressively secular environments like universities. The inexperienced, immature Christians assume that the secularists hold the same basic values. They then make basic assumptions that make the atheistic view of things very easy to swallow... a little rhetoric about "science, reason, there is no evidence", and they'll bite.

But I'm droning on, to put it simply.

The question-

"God only counts in areas we cannot understand through the application of science? Are there Christians out there who are giving this impression? Or is this just another misrepresentation on the part of the atheist?"

What I think-

I believe that this is part of the atheist's worldview and basic assumptions. As I mentioned, for many (I may even be bold and say most) atheists, NO evidence is sufficient for a being with God's nature. I think that some Christians then go on to adapt this world view unknowingly.

The ironic part of this is that atheism has NO rational foundation. Basic beliefs in morality, logic, order, etc. are borrowed from theists and specifically Christianity! I don't necessarily consider atheism to be a religion, but I sympathize with those who do because atheists have basically taken basic Christian beliefs, knocked down God and put up other gods (atheists are often humanists, to name one false god) in his place. So not only do their secular values that won't allow for a God of any kind have no foundation, but if you take away God then you might as well throw away Christian values and beliefs because they're incoherent without him.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#13

Post by DannyM » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:41 am

narnia4 wrote:Here you have kids who may be holding onto a weak faith, basically their parent's faith. They may have lived a sheltered life, or they may simply have not cared about questions of worldview. Then suddenly they're exposed to aggressively secular environments like universities. The inexperienced, immature Christians assume that the secularists hold the same basic values. They then make basic assumptions that make the atheistic view of things very easy to swallow... a little rhetoric about "science, reason, there is no evidence", and they'll bite
You have got to feel saddened at this. As a parent myself I’ll equip my boy in order to defend his faith. I guess a lot of the older generation don’t feel a need to defend their faith, let alone equip their children to defend their faith. But in this day and age of the strange atheist obsession with trying to bully people out of their faith then parents must be on guard and equip their children. Especially if their children are entering college or university.
narnia4 wrote:this is part of the atheist's worldview and basic assumptions. As I mentioned, for many (I may even be bold and say most) atheists, NO evidence is sufficient for a being with God's nature. I think that some Christians then go on to adapt this world view unknowingly
Exactly. So it’s down to us to show up their worldview for the incoherent nonsense it is.
narnia4 wrote:The ironic part of this is that atheism has NO rational foundation. Basic beliefs in morality, logic, order, etc. are borrowed from theists and specifically Christianity! I don't necessarily consider atheism to be a religion, but I sympathize with those who do because atheists have basically taken basic Christian beliefs, knocked down God and put up other gods (atheists are often humanists, to name one false god) in his place. So not only do their secular values that won't allow for a God of any kind have no foundation, but if you take away God then you might as well throw away Christian values and beliefs because they're incoherent without him.
Could not agree more. Atheism is merely parasitic in adopting Christian values and ethics and calling them their own. It’s astonishing how these random blobs of protoplasm fight so hard for the right to be considered rational, moral, ethical, altruistic, etc. It tells me that the bible is right and they do know God but fight tooth and nail to suppress the truth.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#14

Post by DannyM » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:34 am

DannyM wrote:You have got to feel saddened at this. As a parent myself I’ll equip my boy in order to defend his faith
Okay. Just reading this back I feel it might be profitable to point out to any concerned that my son won’t be equipped with his dad’s rudeness, rhetoric or downright belligerence. He’ll merely be taught how to defend his faith. Full Stop.
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Re: God of the gaps: single most overrated argument of all t

#15

Post by RickD » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:12 am

DannyM wrote:
DannyM wrote:You have got to feel saddened at this. As a parent myself I’ll equip my boy in order to defend his faith
Okay. Just reading this back I feel it might be profitable to point out to any concerned that my son won’t be equipped with his dad’s rudeness, rhetoric or downright belligerence. He’ll merely be taught how to defend his faith. Full Stop.
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