[Originally published as “I Don’t Know, and You Don’t Either!” — Confronting Science of the Gaps]
The tables are turning in the case of an oft-parroted accusation against biblical theists. I’m speaking about the familiar “God of the Gaps” argument.
The kind folks over at RationalWiki provide the following explanation:
God of the gaps (or a divine fallacy) is a logical fallacy that occurs when Goddidit (or a variant) is invoked to explain some natural phenomena that science cannot (at the time of the argument). This concept is similar to what systems theorists refer to as an “explanatory principle.” “God of the gaps” is a bad argument not only on logical grounds, but on empirical grounds: there is a long history of “gaps” being filled and the gap for God thus getting smaller and smaller, suggesting “we don’t know yet” as an alternative that works better in practice; naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena are always possible, especially in the future where more information may be uncovered.
Though it’s been discussed ad nauseum by thoughtful Christian thinkers — such as here and here — I’ll resist the urge to add my own critique.
However, as the ironically philosophical view known as scientism grows, we see more and more examples of the pot calling the kettle black. Proponents of naturalism want to argue that it’s more reasonable to just say “I don’t know” when confronted with natural phenomena we’ve no explanation for.
At one time this might have been acceptable, and it still may be in certain cases of observational science.
However, the crucial question is whether or not the naturalist is holding out for his view in spite of evidence to the contrary. Recent advances in modern scientific inquiry suggest that in fact—he is.
Science — A Necessarily Brief History (And What Darwin Didn’t Know)
Historians and philosophers of science readily admit that the enterprise itself arose out of a Judeo-Christian context. The usual hand-waving qualification to this is, “but, back then, everyone was a Christian!”
This may be true, but it is a sort of “genetic fallacy.”
There were plenty of smart folks around. And while most of them were Christian by cultural conviction, many of them were not.
More plausibly, the scientific enterprise arose out of the belief that we live in a logical, orderly universe — a direct implication of the existence of God, and a truth taught explicitly by the Bible (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3. See J. Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths for expansion of this point.).
Fast forward to Darwin in the late-1800’s.
Darwin’s Origin was a clear attempt to explain the biodiversity of earth without God.
The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. … Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.
We’ll table the discussion of his conclusions.
For now, let us note that Darwin was not working with hard scientific data when making these assertions. Darwin saw striking — but clear — correlations between certain life forms, and formulated the complex hypothesis we know today.
Here’s the issue
Darwin simply did not have the tools to argue his conclusions adequately. Mind you, I don’t indict Darwin for his effort. We make predictions today that cannot be verified until new technology is developed. My indictment is to those who ignore that we do have the proper tools today, and they show something very different from Darwin’s hypothesis.
It’s only now that we’ve got the tools to test the hypothesis Darwin offered at the molecular level—that is, the only place where it really counts. And the results are in, as discussed in my interview with Dr. Michael Behe. Put lightly, it doesn’t look good for Darwin.
But how can this be, given that evolution is such an incontrovertible fact that, to use Dawkin’s prose, renders its critics “ignorant, stupid, or insane”?
Ironically, the answer lies in another reflection by none other than Richard Dawkins:
Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, [he] made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
In other words — there’s an underlying moral quality to this entire enterprise. For many, whatever (allegedly) makes possible the notion of God’s non-existence is factual, evidence notwithstanding.
Such disastrous (not to mention extremely misguided) rhetoric has led to the wide-ranging public acceptance of scientism, which we mentioned briefly earlier.
Scientism is a sinking ship—it is self-refuting.
Consider the logic: The hard sciences alone can provide us with true knowledge. In the parlance of infamous internet infidel Aron Ra, “If you can’t show it, you don’t know it.”
His mistake should be obvious to you. Can Ra or anyone else “show” that only the hard sciences produce truthful conclusions? Of course not, because this position cannot be tested by the hard sciences!
It is a philosophical statement.
Thus, all who make such claims are sawing off the branch they’re sitting on, committing the logical fallacy of self-refutation. These claims fall under the weight of their own demands.
The real irony is that although there are numerous contributing and guilty parties, this faulty view can easily be traced back to the influence of Darwin himself; and, as we’ve seen, Darwin simply was not working with hard evidence. His speculations were just that — speculations.
He even made provision for the falsification of his theory, and such requirements have been met time and again (See the works of Mike Behe, especially Darwin’s Black Box for a comprehensive introduction.)
A further irony is that this discussion opened with the creation and success of the scientific paradigm, which depended upon the truth of theism. The scientistic view, therefore, undercuts itself not only in that it is philosophically self-refuting but in that it claims to have no more need for the very foundation which was necessary for its rise.
So, where does that leave us?