One dark night, your neighbor steals apples from a local orchard. The next morning, the same neighbor is out and about screaming and crying that you, you stole apples from the local orchard! To add insult to injury, he is screaming and crying all this as he is munching on one of those apples from the orchard! Any rational being would say this guy is the worst sort of fellow. He ought to take responsibility, repay, repent and apologize, right? But no, he’s going around projecting the blame, accusing you of a behavior that he actually did. What is this bad action called? Well, maybe reversing the blame, blame shifts, psychological projection, gaslighting, or maybe something akin to hypocrisy, right?
Is It Really The “God Of The Gaps”?
Well, this capitally illicit and infamous manipulative technique is also used by many atheists, naturalists and materialists to make Christians stumble mid-conversation! How do they do that? Well, they claim that Christians happily fill in gaps of knowledge with “God did it.” In other words, Christians are using the “God of the Gaps” fallacy! Maybe we don’t know how rainbows, lightning and thunder work, so we just say “God did it.” As time passes, we enter our advanced scientific era and we elucidate the mechanisms. The need for God is going away, God becomes useless, everything has a natural explanation. Ah, if you still believe in God, you are a science stopper, since “gaps” are just filled with “God did it!” Enter the dichotomy, the war between fact in science and faith in God. But really, are Christians at war with science, or are these people actually gaslighting?
The Fallacy Of The Fallacy
Let’s clear up one thing: an educated Christian doesn’t make such a “God of the gaps” fallacy. Sure, if I would say that since I don’t know how rainbows work, God directly causes all of them to appear, that would be some sort of God of the gaps fallacy. However, who says that? I don’t. That’s a straw-man fallacy.
Rather, what I do is give evidence. If a certain phenomenon does seem to be the act of God, there should be evidence, and we should supply it. A capital example is the origin of first life on earth. I think God is the creator of life. I don’t say that because I’m ignorant, but because of multiple lines of evidence. For example, things that start to exist have a prior cause. Life started to exist, so it must have had a cause. Life never comes from non-life. Thus, whatever or whoever started life on earth must have itself been alive. Complex, functional, meaningful and specified information always comes from an intelligent mind. Cells burst with complex, ordered, and meaningful information. Machines come from a designer. There are thousands and thousands of various cellular machines. Plus, a book that bears evidence of supernatural inspiration (for reasons I don’t have time to get into here) claims the one who inspired it was the one who actually created the first life on earth! So, here’s my point: I don’t think that God made life because of ignorance, but rather because of the evidence points to the Creator!
The Blamer Actually Is To Blame
The real individual who is making a “God of the gaps” type of argument is not the Christian, but rather the naturalist! The naturalist is a blame shifter who is actually the one who is committing the fallacy! Here’s the dirty little secret: there are NO naturalistic evidential theories for the origin of life on earth. None. Nil. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nothing.
So, since there are no naturalistic theories for the origin of life, what do they say? I’ve heard it over and over and over. It is this: instead of saying “God did it” they punt off some type of unknown materialistic process. We don’t know by what mechanism, but we know that “materialism did it.” Someday, of course, “We will someday find some materialistic process” that created all of us. The answer is always some “materialistic process” or “naturalistic process.” And, since obviously there is no answer yet, it is always “it will eventually be explained by a yet-to-be-discovered materialistic process.” This is the exact same fallacy, a fallacy from ignorance! This is a “materialism of the gaps” fallacy!
And while still peacocking with the “materialism of the gaps” explanation, the next response is just as interesting: “but, the gaps of our understanding of the universe getting smaller and smaller, God will be soon out of work.” What they are trying to say is that as “science” progresses, we are gaining more answers how the natural world works, and thus the gaps are getting smaller. On one level, a superficial level, this is true. We do seem to know more about the universe than we ever did before.
However, the oldest and most fundamental questions of all time are still there. In fact, as time goes on, those exact questions are not getting smaller, but rather larger! In addition, as we learn more about the universe, the world and life, every question answered raises a thousand new ones. These issues are big issues, really BIG issues!
Thus, I was perplexed when someone once claimed this about the above “gaps”: “these are just small gaps that we have not yet explained, and you are just pushing your God into the gap.” I had to respond with something like, “Man, really, these are not small gaps. They are LARGE gaps, so large that they are the foundation of existence!” And of course you now know the answer; some day we will find a yet-to-be-discovered naturalistic process to explain all this.
The Mountain Of Pits
Think of a mountain with little pits and holes going up the side. As we probe some of the pits, we can trowel them over with true and simple naturalistic explanations. These are the ones that are relatively easy to understand. Some holes look like they were caused by the wind, the rain and earthquakes.
But something odd comes to mind, where did the mountain come from? Where did the rocks come from? When did the substance start to exist and when and how was the mountain formed?
Then there is another oddity. As we start probing other little entrances, we find they go much deeper. The deeper we go down these tunnels, we find that they are a complex labyrinth of tunnels. As we explore one, we find a thousand more tunnels. As we poke away, the complexity is getting greater, not lesser! These little holes have become bottomless pits! Some look like they were made by artificial process, like some sort of person that was there before us. In fact, as we look, it seems “that a super intellect has monkeyed with” the mountain!
As we start measuring and understanding these labyrinths of tunnels, as we crawl out with our data, we are slapped with a constraining order: some types of answers are off limits. True answers and explanations don’t seem to be the goal, only non-taboo answers can be given. In other words, two plus two can equal anything but the answer of four. So, we are left scratching our heads. Why don’t we want true explanations? You are accused of using the “four of the gaps” explanation. Even though two plus two seems to add up to four, we can only pick three or five. Of course those answers don’t seem to fit no matter how you swing the equations, and your answers will always be wrong. Then someone comes along and says that someday we will find a yet-to-be-found law of mathematics that will give the answer of three or five. You would, and should, be skeptical, right? Why not follow the true answer that has all the evidence?
It would be like the city mayor limiting the homicide detective to only give natural explanations for the dead man on the sidewalk, even if all the evidence pointed to a homicide case! No matter the evidence produced of homicide, our corrupt mayor would shout “you are using a homicide of the gaps explanation.” You would no longer be skeptical, you would be livid, right? In fact, not only would you be livid, but you should be livid, foul play seems afoot!
Our philosophical, naturalist friends do the exact same thing. The only explanation allowed has to be natural, even if all the evidence points to a non-natural explanation! If a list of reasons are given for non-natural explanations, they wave away your evidence. “That’s not evidence.” “I see no evidence.” “That’s not convincing evidence.”
Not only are naturalistic answers absent for the most important, critical and fundamental question in humanity, but in principle, naturalism is paralyzed. Opposed to rational and robust, naturalism is deficient and defective. It’s a worldview that limits evidential, rational and true answers because those answers are not approved! For example:
- Naturalism fails to show how something can come from Nothing (with a capital N).
- Naturalism fails to show how the universe can come from Nothing (again with a capital N).
- Naturalism fails to show how the fine-tuned universe came from purposeless and directionless causes.
- Naturalism fails to show how physical laws can come without a lawgiver.
- Naturalism fails to show the origin of non-physical things, like numbers, love, concepts, minds and equations.
- Naturalism fails to show how life can come from non-life.
- Naturalism fails to show how meaningful, complex and functional order can come from disorder.
- Naturalism fails to show how large amounts of meaningful, functional and ordered information and codes can come from chaos.
- Naturalism fails to show how the first molecular machines could self-assemble.
- Naturalism fails to show how the first molecular machine factories could self-assemble.
- Naturalism fails to show how life’s immense diversity evolved from one cell.
- Naturalism fails to show how reason can come from non-reason.
- Naturalism fails to show how mind can come from non-mind.
- Naturalism fails to show how consciousness can rise from unconsciousness.
- Naturalism fails to show how objective morality can come from amorality.
- Naturalism fails to show how human exceptionalism can come from brutes.
- Naturalism fails to show how purpose can come from non-purpose.
- Naturalism fails to show how meaning can come from meaningless.
The Psalm 14:1 Principle
New Atheism’s almost universal worldview is naturalism. In the spirit of Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1, Michael Egnor agrees. He wraps up his post titled, “New Atheism: A Shipwreck of Fools” with the following:
“…New Atheism was born dead. It was an intellectually vacuous vanity project from the start. Its vanguard was a coterie of dullards and narcissists who glanced away from their own mirrors only long enough to beg book deals. The arguments they made in their books were the stuff of comedy acts.”
He then gives the following absurdities of New Atheism, of which I bulleted:
- “everything came from nothing for no reason,”
- “the universe came from quantum mechanics, which is nothing,”
- “acknowledging an intelligent Creator is an impediment to science, but asserting meaningless existence is a boon to science,”
- “we are meat machines, and you should pay attention to what we say,”
- “there is no good or evil, and if you think there is, you’re evil,”
- “there is no free will and you should change your mind and agree with me,”
- “there is no guilt because there is no free will, therefore livestock management, rather than justice, is best for mankind,”
- “things change and survivors survive is a scientific theory,”
- “survival of the fittest explains why I’m sad your kid has cancer,”
- “without evolutionary theory, we wouldn’t understand that bacteria aren’t killed by an antibiotic that doesn’t kill them,”
- “gene duplication adds new genetic information, and plagiarism is not permitted in my class,”
- “kin selection explains altruism, except that bacteria in a clonal colony, which are identical twins, aren’t altruistic,”
- “evolutionary biology is indispensable to medicine, so we should start teaching it in medical schools,”
- “evolution is the cornerstone of physiology and medicine, and maybe someday an evolutionary biologist will win a Nobel Prize,”
- “information is not detectible in nature, except in my book about it,”
- “the selective breeding experiments I designed in my lab are excellent examples of mindless evolution,”
- “the First Amendment prohibits questioning a scientific theory in schools,”
- “let me show you how undirected natural selection works in a simulation on the computer program I wrote,”
- “intelligent design isn’t science, and it’s scientifically wrong”
- “the mind is what the brain does, but I’m not a dualist,”
- “my assertion that your mind can have no contact with truth is true.”
The God Of The Gaps
As I get to this point, I’m left scratching my head. Why would one leave the Christian worldview to follow naturalism’s straight jacket? It’s not more “scientific” or “rational;” it is less. Why would the worldview that ignited the Scientific Revolution be less robust and rational than the worldview that has thin explanatory powers? Why abdicate the scientific, rational and robust worldview for a weak, flabby, irrational and miserable failure?
The God of Christianity is not the “God of the gaps”, but rather the God that made the gaps that confound the naturalists. He does not fill them; rather, he holds the only key to explain them. Unknown to the naturalist, the “gaps” were created as bottomless pits. They blindly back-fill them with “unknown, yet-to-be-discovered naturalistic processes”. They are sitting at the edges of the gaps and tossing down hammers, spoons and Eiffel towers. Strangely, those things seem to never hit bottom. Unknown to them, these things can’t.
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