/* */ Rosa Rubicondior: God of The Gaps

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

God of The Gaps

Almost invariably, any discussion with Creationists or their thinly disguised fashionable version, Intelligent Design advocates, will revolve around their challenge to explain how something happened. Popular subjects are:
  • How could matter come from nothing
  • How could ‘life’ come from non-life
  • How could an eye evolve
  • Who created the law of gravity
  • Any other gap in understanding / knowledge / education

Ignoring for a moment the fact that all these questions have been addresses or are being address by science and are firmly within the domain of science, what’s going on here? What we have are various different versions of the God of the Gaps argument which seems to convince so many Creationists and even some intelligent Christians, Muslims or Jews. Creationists apparently find this utterly convincing, even citing the erroneous claim that these questions can’t be answered by science as their reason to believe in their god.

But... There are three huge and inescapable assumptions here, even if we allow that some questions have not been fully answered yet by science.
  1. Because science hasn’t explained something it never will be able to explain it.
  2. A natural explanation is impossible therefore the only possible explanation must be supernatural.
  3. Only the god in question could have caused it; no other god could possibly have done it, therefore it is proof of [insert whichever god you require].

Creationists chant this fallacy endlessly and triumphantly, assuming it trumps any argument science can put up, and very conscientiously ignore any information, arguments or reasoning which is offered, dismissing it with a shrug and usually just repeating the same questions over and over like some protective mantra.

A few moments thought with more than a faint inkling of history, will tell you that the history of the last 500 years has been one of headlong retreat of religion in the face of science, as the god of the gaps has been evicted from more and more gaps and has had to be constantly re-located and fitted into ever-shrinking and fewer and fewer gaps in human knowledge. So desperate has this process become that many charlatans now make a very good living inventing false gaps into which to fit their false god. The currently fashionable Intelligent Design movement is but one example of this.

So what’s going on here in the Creationist mind? How is the very clear, almost embarrassingly so, fallacy not seen through?

These same Creationists would readily admit that no medical or scientific advance was ever made by scientists who just accepted the gap in knowledge as proof of a god and gave up looking for an answer.

Clearly some proponents of ID/Creationism can see through this fallacy but are relying on the general ignorance of their target marks whom they are seeking to exploit with cynical dishonesty. These are usually easy to spot as they are normally keen to lure people to their websites where there are Creationist books or other materials for sale, or simply naked e-begging appeals for ‘support spreading the word of God’ or some such appeal to gullible people desperate to have their superstition validated.

However, very many Creationists are victims of these charlatans, so clearly they have rationalised holding a blatantly absurd position with respect to their religion whilst finding no problem at all with a holding the opposite view with respect to normal life. They could research the subject and look for the answer themselves. Many of the questions they raise have been fully answered and the answers are readily available in books or on the Internet. Most can be found with a few mouse-clicks on the same computer they are using to post their questions. Very obviously they do not want answers to the questions; it's as though the 'mystery' of the question is far too valuable an asset to spoil with information.

The answer of course, is wilful self-deception and delusion. Some people seem to have the capacity to trick themselves into holding absurd views with utter conviction. The origins of this are childhood gullibility reinforced by peer-pressure and phobia and the desire to fit in and be part of a group. It's as though an adult still believed in Santa or the Tooth Fairy.

Arrogant personal incredulity also plays a part - "I can't understand how that happened, therefore it can't have happened" - as also does the arrogantly parochial assumption, "I don't know how it happened, therefore no one does, therefore it is unknowable, therefore it must have been supernatural". This arrogance is itself reinforced by the equally arrogant assumption that ignorant superstition is a far better way to measure reality than all that learning and reason, so the victim of religion gets a spurious smug feeling of superiority which 'validates' his/her failure to bother learning in the first place.

Some people go further, into the realms of paranoia, and assume any answers science has to offer are part of some conspiracy or other organised by Atheists, Jews, Socialist, etc., or are based on false evidence planted by Satan. The fear of even doubting prevents them seeing the absurdity of their argument and, for them, the constant repetition of it in the presence of, and with the enthusiastic approval of, others with the same delusion, simply reinforces it, as indeed it’s intended to.

This is precisely why the charlatans who parasites these unfortunate victims work so hard to maintain their delusion and feed them this constant drip-feed of fallacies and misinformation to spout proudly to an incredulous public.

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  1. I would expect any self respecting Sky Fairy not to require gaps to prove he's real.

  2. Rosa,
    I posted a blog a couple weeks ago discussing the "gaps" argumentation on all sides of the debate. If your readers are interested, here is the link:


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