The God of the Gaps Reasoning

Victor Reppert and the folks at Christian Cadre are both highlighting an article by Robert Larmer on the God of the Gaps reasoning. It's an interesting discussion to me. Below are some of my brief comments:

Isn't it interesting that before the rise of modern science when people could not explain much at all, theists would often utilize the very god of the gaps argument that they now want to distance themselves from? Whatever could not previously be explained they resorted to saying, "God did it," or "God explains it." The list of such things is probably endless, from a healing, to the rain, to the birth of a child, to winning a war.

I admit that the the god of the gaps epistemology is a logical failure when used by either side. But if the standard of belief is logical proof, then there isn't much any of us can believe, because most all of the time we're only talking about probabilities. The real question is who must retreat more often to the "merely possible" in order to defend their views.

Christian philosopher W. Christopher Stewart objects to the “god of the gaps” epistemology because, as he says, “natural laws are not independent of God. For the Christian theist, God upholds nature in existence, sustaining it in a providential way.” From his perspective this is true. But his rationale is a bit strange. He says, “To do so is to make religious belief an easy target as the gaps in scientific understanding narrow with each scientific discovery,” in “Religion and Science,” Reason for the Hope Within, ed. Michael Murray (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub., Co., 1999), p. 321-322. Why should he be concerned with this unless science truly is leaving less and less room for the supernatural? He’s admitting the evidence does not favor his faith. He’s trying to explain away the evidence. If he lived in a pre-scientific era before science could explain so much he’d still be arguing this is evidence that God exists!

The fact that Christians have abandoned the god of the gaps defense when they previously used it so often, it a testimony to the fact that the evidence in nature does not support the belief in God. The evidence from nature is that there is no active supernatural being in this world. Now God might exist anyway, but there is no evidence of his activity in our world. That's what Christians have learned to give up by abandoning the god of the gaps defense. Others like me simply say that if there is no evidence of God's activity in our world, then it's likely there is no God (given this information alone). This is a reasonable conclusion to make.

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