Mind the Gap

Today I want to talk a little about “The God of the Gaps.” This is a term that is used to describe the reductionist approach that the domain of religion is only those things that science cannot explain. There was this notion that most of the universe was ultimately inexplicable, because it was just a manifestation of God’s will. Unfortunately for those who believe this, science, that is the scientific method, has proven amazingly adept at figuring things out to an incredible level of detail. This has led some religious groups and their adherents into some truly bizarre locations, usually by coupling the gaps notion with a dogmatic clinging to “facts” that are justified only by faith.

The most prevalent example of this is in the realm of evolution. Religions have placed mankind on a pedestal. They have declared that we are special creations of God and then, because of some metaphorical fairy tale they were told in their youth, have decided that humans were created by God just as we are today, without any intermediate steps or forms. Yet science has brought us evolution and natural selection, which are among the most thoroughly tested and vetted notions that science has ever addressed. Yet clearly, if our fairy tales are to be believed, we could not have evolved, we could not have an ancestor species at all, let alone have one in common with lowly apes. Despite the fact that we have found missing link after missing link after missing link, many people cling to the notion that we were sculpted by God and then had life breathed into us just as we are today.

Some people suggest that this shows an incredible lack of imagination. The creationist “intelligent designer” idea that something like the eye could not have evolved, is thought to be a sign that creationists are incapable (either in actuality or through willful suppression) of imagining the steps that go from a patch of skin that is sensitive to heat to one that is sensitive to other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to one that is finely tuned to receiving and interpreting light in the range from above infrared on up to a bit short of ultraviolet.

And I think that’s wrong. I think that doesn’t show a lack of imagination at all. I think it shows that creationists are just as creative as anyone else, perhaps even more so. But it also shows that they don’t know how to tell when they’re being creative and when they’re not.

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