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God of the Gaps

By Carl S ~

If you read anything about the history of science and philosophy, you'll be exposed to “God of the Gaps.” In the past and even now, whenever there wasn't a scientific explanation, the fill-in was that the answer had something to do with “God.” End of story. This attitude is often expressed in reactions such as “God only knows,” and “God has his reasons; works in mysterious ways.” The truth of evolution is interpreted by the Catholic Church as the means God has chosen to create. Now, any time evidence is discovered that confirms natural explanations, it's typically met at first with denial or outright rejection. It's normal to be skeptical. Even when these confirmations become obvious over time, we still find people, like creationists, who insist “God” is the explanation. In place of natural selection via chance and adaptations, these humans substitute human selection, which is one good explanation of how “human nature” operates. (It's interesting: those who poo-poo evolution for its gaps in the fossil record have no problem with their own gaps of lacking evidence for “God.”)

Suppose someone has been born blind, and cannot see objects or colors. Now, objects you can touch, feel their texture and density, their relationships in space. But what of color? How does one explain red, blue, yellow, green, etc., or their thousands of varieties of tints and combinations, to one born blind? Any explanations are poor substitutes for the real colors. This is how “God of the gaps” works. Adults, who don't want to answer serious questions posed by their children, invoke that God. This is a great disservice to the kids. It's teaching them to substitute beliefs for evidence, to be blind on purpose, to not even try to understand what “color” is. It's teaching them not to ask, that to be blind on purpose isn't such a bad thing. It's like being in the 1956 movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Maturing is a natural thing, an adaptation to the real world, but religious dogmatic training discourages people from becoming intellectually mature. Indeed, remaining a gullible child is encouraged by Christianity. It's no wonder that children taught to not see or to deny what's in front of their own eyes grow to adulthood with gaps in their experiences essential for their well-being. Inherited “blindness” has been the “normal” in their environments. Discovering the real world is as confusing and mind-blowing as the feelings a person would have when exposed to sight.

In the stages of human understanding and moral development, when children and teens are curious, questioning, and seeking their individuality, religious people substitute their God of the Gaps instead of the evidence, the logical explanations, for serious and satisfying explanations they need at those stages. Those who are doing the filling-in-gaps-with-God are themselves educated to be blind traditionalists.

There was a crime story on television not long ago. Whether it was fiction or true, I don’t remember, but it sounds likely true. A man deliberately substitutes something like dough for the caulking used to seal the gaps in a rowboat's construction. His objective is to have the occupant of that boat drown due to a melting away of that fake caulking in the middle of a lake. The trick works, and the man on board drowns. Isn't this a metaphor for the intellectual and psychological danger possible any time “God” is used to fill in the gaps and substituted for the real?

One attends art appreciation lectures to gain appreciation of all the hitherto unnoticed backgrounds in paintings: all those purposeful brushstrokes, subtleties, blends of colors ,the intentions and philosophy of the artist, etc., that make them masterpieces. The same can be said for music appreciation, with its mixtures of symphonic instruments producing “the sound,” the rhythms. Religions fail to educate us in mortal life appreciation, but blindly go about filling in gaps with “God.” Our eyes are open.