narnia4 wrote: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.
I agree utterly and completely.
When the atheist uses this, it says a lot about his arsenal of arguments and where he perceives himself to be in the debate. When the atheist is not in the mood for a vigorous discussion, or when he feels pressed into a corner, he slothfully reverts to "all of Christianity is a God-of-the-Gaps argument." The problem is that it is too easy. There are too many exceptions to the accusation for it to qualify as anything more than a regurgitated cliche.
There are some cases where such an accusation is valid. For example, someone back in ancient times probably held the belief that the fact that all men remain fixed to the earth unless they jump, are thrown etc. is proof of a supernatural entity holding them down. But now scientists have established that this is called gravitational force.
That's an example of a fact where there is much more to be learnt, and so hypothesizing a supernatural cause is admittedly premature.
But what happens when a phenomenon is fully understood, and still there is a need for an Author?
The atheist is then in a predicament. He can't use the "saying 'God did it' is lazy" argument, because there's no more discovery for him to hope for that would release the phenomenon from the need for intelligent design. There are many areas of science, and many phenomenon, where the only logical cause is an intelligent author. For example, I've heard the probability argument, especially in regards to the origin of the first self-replicating bacteria, defended very effectively by many reputable sources. For instance, David Phage tells us that the probability is 1/10^20,000 (10 with 20,000 zeros following.) That's four hundred times less likely than 1/10^50, which is what statisticians call mathematically impossible. Now of course, in a strictly technical sense, we aren't CERTAIN that the cause behind life was an author. But come ON. It's like saying that a Shakespeare play originated from an explosion of a printing factory, because to say that someone wrote it is to use an "writer-of-the-gaps" argument. You've got to be joking. If you are in a debate, and you cite that probability from Phage, and all you get is "that's a God-of-the-Gaps argument," slowly back away, never taking your eyes off them. As soon as you're out of their line of sight, run as fast as you can to notify the nearest mental institution.
But in all seriousness... a belief as improbable as that really comes from something other than a misinterpretation of facts. When someone is willing to accept that a 1/10^20,000 probability was fulfilled randomly in only 300 billion years (sounds like a long time but you'd be lucky to get that probability fulfilled in octillions of octillions of years,) it really says something about the philosophical implications of their belief, and how that's desperately appealing to them. And keep in mind that's only one of the incredibly, mind-blowingly low probabilities that the fundamental forces were right, that the balance of gases were just right. When you combine all the improbabilities of the universe and present them to the atheist, he is put in a vicious dilemma.