“God of the gaps” is a pejorative term used to describe the naive beliefs of creationists who interpret gaps in scientific knowledge as evidence of the existence of God. Richard Dawkins wrote: “Creationists eagerly seek a gap in present-day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it.” Even theologians such as Charles Alfred Coulson have criticised the use of the God of the gaps argument: “There is no ‘God of the gaps’ to take over at those strategic places where science fails; and the reason is that gaps of this sort have the unpreventable habit of shrinking.”
I, however, believe in the God of the Gaps. It is not true, as Coulson argued, that “gaps have an unpreventable habit of shrinking.” Gaps in our scientific knowledge have not shrunk. Rather, the more we have discovered about the universe, the larger the gaps have become. And there is no evidence to suggest that the gap will ever diminish further, but will likely continue to extend into infinity. Physicist David Deutsch wrote:
“Never before in the history of human thought has it been so obvious that our knowledge is tiny and our ignorance vast…Our world, which is so much larger, more unified, more intricate and more beautiful than that of Eratosthenes (an ancient Greek mathematician) and which we understand and control to an extend that would have seemed godlike to him, is nevertheless just as mysterious, yet open, to us now as his was to him them. We have lit only a few candles here and there.”
The Gap Is Widening
After Isaac Newton introduced his laws of physics, secular humanists got cocky. They began to think that everything in a materialistic universe could be boiled down to a handful of universal laws. Today, some physicists and mathematicians work tirelessly on finding a “Theory of Everything” upon which we would be able to predict and understand all phenomenon in the universe.
This arrogance was lambasted by William Blake, who famously depicted Isaac Newton as a giant nude hunched grotesquely over a scroll, who, with “vegetative eye” was blind to the spiritual wonders of the world around him. However, Blake shouldn’t have been so hard on Newton. The truth is that Newton worshiped the God of the Gaps. Near the end of his life, Newton, the greatest of all scientists wrote this remarkably humble statement:
“I don’t know what I may seem to the world, but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
It would take centuries for secular humanists to begin to admit just how correct Newton was in this epistemic humility. Today, scientists know that the universe we can see and measure accounts for just 5% of the matter in the universe, the rest being something we call “dark matter” of which we know nothing, having never perceived or measured it. This fact alone demonstrates that life in the 21st century is objectively more mysterious than medieval life, with its forests full of fairies and goblins.
60 years ago, Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer, predicted that within a few decades, artificial intelligence could rival human intelligence. This optimism was predicated upon the “Computational Theory of the Mind,” a philosophy which posits that the human brain is simply a complicated machine, one which could be replicated by a powerful enough computer.
Today robotic engineers recognise that Turing’s timeframe was hopelessly optimistic. Modern robots are little more than updated 18th century automatons. They haven’t even begun to express anything like consciousness. A computer’s computational ability might might help it win a game of chess, but it has not won by thinking like a human. Humans don’t win chess games through mere computation. And robots cannot compute their way to consciousness. Human intelligence arises through a mysterious process scientists call “emergence,” as billions of neurons in the brain collaborate with one another, like the ants in a colony, each neuron individually “stupid” and uninformed, an on-off switch, responding to some stimuli or other. How these trillions of neurons come together to create intelligence remains, for now, an impenetrable mystery.
The Beginning of Infinity
In his book, The Beginning of Infinity, physicist David Deutsch argues that mankind has only just arrived at the beginning of what could become an infinite expansion of human knowledge. It is in the nature of infinity never to arrive at a final destination. We will always be at “the beginning of infinity.” There is no utopia of perfect knowledge, nor will we ever hit a barrier to which no further progress is possible. Deutsch posits two universal truths: 1. There will always be problems. 2. Problems are soluble. The moment we solve any problem, we discover that a whole new set of problems is born of from the answers we discover. Each of these problems is soluble in turn, but each solution leads to new problems. This process continues infinitely.
This infinite expanse of potential human knowledge is where I put my God of the Gaps. God is not there as an explanation for that infinite expanse, but rather as a description of that infinite expanse. What more perfect definition of God could exist than the idea of mankind’s infinite potential, so glorious in its abundance, so loving in its promise, so joyful in its optimism? God dwells in the infinite. Or rather, He is the infinite, and He invites His children to join Him in a path of eternal progression.
- Does the God of the Gaps argument paint God into an increasingly small corner as scientific knowledge gradually uncovers more and more explanations for the mysteries of the universe?
- Or does the gap widen with each scientific advancement, as David Deutsch posits, leaving more and more room for an eternal God?
- Is human knowledge and potential infinite, or bounded? Is there a limit to how much a human or a God can know?
- What do you think of the idea of God being a “description” or broad conceptualisation of the mysteries of the universe, rather than an “explanation” of those mysteries?
Are the gaps increasing? Or just our awareness of the gaps that have always existed?
I certainly don’t worship a “God of the Gaps”. The God I worship exists outside of the universe in which I dwell, can put in appearances that defy the laws we’ve identified, and cannot be researched scientifically. He is a conscious being with free will whose purposes also exist outside the universe. He’s not a force that can illustrated, bounded, and quantified by controlled experiments. A “God of the gaps” is indeed a pejorative term and implies that God is limited to things we can’t explain some other way within our own universe. The term is no less pejorative by suggesting the gaps are enormous. Science is limited to what it can observe directly and indirectly, and can’t observe things outside our universe. It is fantastic for trying to understand the universe we’re in, but that’s it.
There’s science. There’s spirituality. Apples and oranges. Pointless to try bringing them together or using one to explain the other.
P.S. Take it from a computer science major: Alan Turing never “invented the computer”.
“Is human knowledge and potential infinite, or bounded? Is there a limit to how much a human or a God can know?” If humans are merely Gods in embryo, then I would argue ultimately the knowledge is infinite. Mortality puts limits on what we can understand here, though.
God is in the gaps as well as in the parts we think we know. He pushes us to dig deeper, and helps us begin to grasp how little we know. Yet, with what little we know, we can accomplish things that ancient cultures could only describe as miraculous.
I do not see scientific knowledge wholly separate from spiritual knowledge. They are merely two sides of the same coin. God uses both avenues to accomplish his purposes.
When there is a clash between religion and science, science always wins. It might take a decade or a full generation, but when science can prove and replicate a theory, that theory become a universal truth, and religion gets modified.
Martin, in my understanding of LDS theology, God, like us, is subject to the laws of the universe, and that He is a being of flesh and bone and Spirit (which is only “more refined matter.”) What Mormons term “miracles” are commonly understood, not as “defying” the laws of nature, but rather operating according to universal laws we have yet to understand. I believe Joseph Smith shared the Enlightenment’s scientific materialism, and his conceptualisation of God was influenced by that materialism. I think he would say that God is ultimately a quantifiable being, just not quantifiable by our current science.
However, I sort of agree more with YOU than I do with Joseph Smith, in the sense that I see God as ultimately unquantifiable, not because He stands outside the universe, unaccessible to science, but simply by virtue of His being infinite, and infinity is unquantifiable. There were theological debates in the early church as to whether God was a Being who continued to progress infinitely, or whether He was finite and didn’t progress. Are the numbers of stars truly infinite, or are they “known to God” and finite, as one scripture suggests? I would have been on the “infinite” side of the argument.
What I call the “gap” is simply the infinite nature of God, which can always be discovered, piece by piece, but which we never make any ultimate “progress” towards knowing completely, because any journey which is infinite, is by definition always at the beginning of that journey.
Our coming to know God is not like a eating a pie piece by piece until it is finished, but a journey that simply continues forever and ever.
Kat, to clarify on Turing, I should have said “father of modern computing” because you are right that computational machines of different sorts had been invented before Turing.
Mary Ann, I agree with you that spiritual and scientific knowledge need not be seen as separate. Religion is another way of arriving at truth, but they frequently cross paths as they discover the same truths.
Bonhoeffer and others who discouraged the “god of the gaps” argument thought that God should be understood as a God of everything, gaps and non-gaps.
However, I am simply pointing out that the non-gaps in our knowledge are dwarfed by the infinite nature of the gap. David Deutsch makes the point that if scientists truly understood even the most basic form of life, they could program it into a computer and recreate it. But scientists can’t do that, which means that they haven’t begun to understand it. We can map the genome, but this is very different than actually understanding the genome and how to program one ourselves.
The things we DO understand, like mapping a genome, this is such a pathetic understanding, that I don’t share Bonhoeffer’s concern that we need to interpret God as part of that understanding. If we know how to build a car, that’s an expression of the glory of man. Why not claim it as our own? But this ability can’t begin to diminish God, who is an expression of something infinitely greater than man’s ability to make a car.
AmateurParent, I don’t think “science wins” in any ultimate sense in these clashes. Rather, what wins is a temporary victory for scientific hubris, which thinks that by knowing a few things, we are somehow close to knowing the whole. But the whole is infinite. Like Newton said, in our greatest discoveries we are just like boys playing with with seashells on the beach, while the whole of the universe lies like an ocean before us.
There are no “clashes” between science and religion. Science is about reality, religion is about… something else. Intelligent design nutcases try to frame things this way, but it isn’t so. There is no “controversy” to teach.
People making these kinds of arguments mostly parrot stuff they read somewhere, but with little or no real understanding or insight. In writing about it, they make all sorts of technical errors and out-of-date references that cause actual scientists to blow milk out their nose in amusement.
There’s nothing particularly profound in saying there’s an infinite amount to learn about the universe. Actual scientists who–you know–do the work every day take this as a matter of course, and it’s no big deal.
Once again: science and religion, two different things, there’s no conflict, there’s no gap, there’s nothing to see here.
“David Deutsch makes the point that if scientists truly understood even the most basic form of life, they could program it into a computer and recreate it.”
Bzzzzzzt! Wrong again. Artificial life has been created in the lab from scratch, completely from non-biological molecules. Deutsch is behind the curve. Also, scientists have done genetic “reprogramming” for decades. That’s what gene therapy is.
Kat, science and religion ARE different things as you say. But science DOES effect religion, even if religion doesn’t effect science. This is a religious blog, so I’m writing about how science affects religious belief, not about how religion seems irrational to science. That would be for a science blog. Religious non-scientists like myself may be libel to make technical errors when discussing science. But why would this be important to non-believers like yourself, when, as you say, religion is about “something else” other than reality? What could be more technically in error than a belief in God?
I know that most scientists, including Deutsch, would not really be interested in how I apply their philosophies and findings to a religious worldview, which they may dismiss as pure fantasy. But for religious people, science can have a profound effect on their faith.
I’m not familiar with the “artificial life from scratch” you are referring to, but would be interested if you could give me a link. I know that geneticists are learning how to do cut and paste jobs like CRISPR, which I don’t think you can say is “from scratch,” but is an extraordinarily powerful tool to modify life in significant ways. To me this sounds very different then actually understanding how intelligence and consciousness seems to emerge from it all, let alone recreate it from raw materials. But then again, I’m not a scientist. I am only interpreting science in an imperfect way for a religious audience, and religion, as you say, is not about “reality.”
I do feel bad if I’ve misrepresented Deutsch to someone like yourself, for Deutsch is a brilliant physicist, and not remotely religious. Just to try and clarify what Deutsch said about AI, he points to two aspects of consciousness which the AI community seems completely unable to understand or replicate in any form: the experience of “qualia,” which is subjective experience, i. e. the taste of wine, the redness of the sky, etc., and creativity. Without these two ingredients, (of which we currently have very little scientific understanding), there can be little progress made towards the development of genuine AI. That is Deutsch’s argument. However, he does believe that as soon as we come to a true understanding of these phenomenon, they could be programmed into AI.
It’s just a blog. It’s not “for” anybody in particular. Nobody said religion “seems crazy”. The point was ID proponents conflating science and religion with the aim of making them equivalent or putting them on equal footing. If that’s not crazy, then, OK, it’s dead wrong.
If, as you say, science is important to religion and informs religious though, then it seems to me it’s important to get the science *right*. What’s the point of going around saying “scientists can do this, but they can’t do that” and being completely wrong about it? It would be better not to write about these topics and say nothing at all.
If you want to know about life from scratch, simply Google “create artificial life” and “artificial rna”. I read it in a journal some time ago, and don’t have a link. You’ll find multiple labs participating in this research.
Deutsch might be a brilliant physicist, but that doesn’t make him an AI expert. His thoughts, as you’ve represented them here, are wrong. Neural networks, fuzzy logic, and genetic annealing capture the concept of “qualia” quite nicely. That’s why they were developed, and they’ve been “well understood” for decades.
My main point is that people making assertions about “what scientists can do” and “what scientists know” owe it to themselves and their audience to gain a deep understanding of these topics. Failure to do detracts from whatever point there is to me made.
And let me add, that getting the science wrong on a blog is just “LEGO mom” and the “blind watchmaker” dressed up in fancy clothes. It’s no better than her claim that shaking a bag full of LEGOs doesn’t build a house, therefore God exists”.
Isn’t the reasoning behind “God of the gaps” the exact same as the “moral responsibility of the gaps”? By this reasoning, the more science explains, the less I have any responsibility to accept that same science.
Kat, of course I strive to get my facts right and gain as deep an understanding of these things as I can. You’ve been dismissive of the science I’ve described, but the fact is that I’m applying, to the best of my ability, material that David Deutsch presented regarding AI, consciousness, and “qualia.” Just because you and other scientists might disagree with Deutsch on his interpretations, shouldn’t qualify you to dismiss my arguments as “being completely wrong.” That’s not good science either.
But even so, you can go ahead and put me in the LEGO-mom category, because I do subscribe to the “blind watchmaker” creationist trope. This trope is not going away because it describes the difficulty science currently faces when addressing the topic of emergence. And there are plenty of scientists who are perfectly happy to admit that when faced with the phenomenon as complicated as emergence, we are only beginning to understand how it happens.
I don’t use the watchmaker trope as a way of saying “God did it,” trying to end the discussion and study of emergence. Science will have a lot to say and discover about emergence, in fact it will have an infinite amount to say about emergence in the future, as long as it keeps progressing.
For me, God is not the “explanation” for emergence, but the description of emergence. I’m not a creationist. For me, God is less “creator” than “creation.” Coming to know Him, for me, means coming to know the creation, which is infinite, and eternal.
Jeff, could you rephrase your question, I’m not sure I follow…Do you mean that moral responsibilities are diminished when God is pushed out of our understanding of known phenomenon?
“This trope is not going away because it describes the difficulty science currently faces when addressing the topic of emergence.”
That’s the point. Your fallacy is in assuming that because it’s mysterious to *you* that it’s mysterious to *everybody*. Truth is, subscribing to these models betrays a fundamental musunderstanding of how the universe works. It’s a complete myth that scientists are “struggling” with these questions. It’s only non-scientists who find these ideas mysterious. To scientists, these concepts are mundane.
It’s a mystery to me why my little brother always catches a stringer full of fish, while I catch nothing. Scientifically, I am doing everything exactly the same. He’s sitting right next to me, same equipment, same bait, same water, same fish. Yet the fish aren’t biting for me, and he’s hauling them in.
Do I assume that God hates me and wants my brother to make fun of me? Do I assume it’s a huge mystery that nobody understands, just because *I* don’t get it and find it frustrating?
No. I’m pragmatic. I figure my brother feels the fish tickle the bait and knows how to set the bait. Or some other thing he learned over the decades. In short, it’s something that *I* don’t understand and something *I* find frustrating.
Sorry, I’ll elaborate.
“God of the gaps” basically says that God can only exist where (evolutionary) science has not explained. “Moral responsibility of the gaps” basically says that free will, choice and accountability only exist where (neurological) science has not explained.
In other words, the more the psychological sciences explain how I am “programmed” to be the way I am, the less I am responsible for the way I am. Or, the more evolutionary sciences explain how the world evolved to be the way it is, the less God is responsible for the way that world is.
If anybody really and truly believes in this line of reasoning, then they are just as obligated to reject moral responsibility as they are the existence of God. As such, they cannot fault others for not agreeing with them, since that is a moral responsibility.
The main issue is whether “scientific explanation” and “responsibility” are compatible with each other. If they aren’t, then we have no responsibility to believe that they aren’t. If they are, then, God can still be responsible for creation, regardless of what science explains.
That’s a great question Jeff, thanks for elaborating.
I think that the “moral responsibility of the gaps” would be similar to the “god of the gaps” in that I believe the gap for both is infinite. There will always be plenty of room for both God AND moral responsibility, because science will never be able to understand everything about psychology, because the mystery of psychology and particularly the psychology of free-will is infinite. Maybe that sounds overblown, and maybe it is. For me the fallacy is in the assumption that we have all the answers, or almost all the answers, as if the number of answers to these questions was finite.
With regard to certain questions, moral responsibility may disappear. A neurologist may be able to get a psychopath off of death row and into a mental hospital by demonstrating that his actions were a result of a specific mental disability which could not possibly be overcome. But if that happens, that does not negate all morality, because the mysteries of consciousness are infinite, as are the problems and paradoxes that go along with them. The moment we solve or explain one phenomenon, others will arise presenting more problems and paradoxes ad infinitum.
This infinite gap is where I place God. Again, not as a pat explanation for the gaps, but as a description of the infinite mystery itself.
Kat says: “Your fallacy is in assuming that because it’s mysterious to *you* that it’s mysterious to *everybody*…It’s a complete myth that scientists are “struggling” with these questions. It’s only non-scientists who find these ideas mysterious. To scientists, these concepts are mundane.”
I don’t know if you are a scientist or not, but find it sad that you think unanswered questions are “mundane” and get no pleasure from the concept of mystery.
Einstein said the most beautiful thing in life is the mysterious. To paraphrase Carl Popper, the life of a scientist as one that falls in love with a mystery until it is answered, after which, if one is lucky, will bequeath a whole family of baby mysteries. “To love the questions” is the way Rilke described the ideal way to live.
It’s no wonder you subscribe to the “computational theory of the mind,” because your worldview seems very machine-like to me.
“I don’t know if you are a scientist or not, but find it sad that you think unanswered questions are “mundane” and get no pleasure from the concept of mystery.”
Who says scientists find no pleasure in mystery? Why do you think they become scientists in the first place?
You seem to have missed the point: What is mysterious and incomprehensible to *you* might be mundane to others. Don’t assume that, because *you* don’t understand how the universe arose that *nobody* understands it.
And even if aspects of the universe and how it works aren’t fully understood, there are likely multiple rational explanations.
As I’ve said a couple of times now: science and religion don’t mix. You can be a scientist and you can be religious. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but there’s no point trying to combine them.
There’s no reason why a scientist can’t do Nobel Prize winning research all week and attend church on Sunday. It’s only a minority of people who think this is a big deal and try to wax philosophical about it.
“It’s no wonder you subscribe to the “computational theory of the mind,” because your worldview seems very machine-like to me.”
You know nothing about me or what theories I subscribe to.
“There are no “clashes” between science and religion. Science is about reality, religion is about… something else.”
That said, I am just as suspicious of attempts at hiding God within some fuzzy notion of “infinity”.
I had “clashes” in quotes for a reason.
Yes Kat, I misunderstood you back in comment 16 with your use of the words “mysterious” and “mundane.” I think I understand now. We differ in the way in which we interpret things “unknown,” which I like to imbue with a sense of mystery, even worship, but which you seem to interpret a bit more prosaically, as being potentially mundane to others, or having multiple explanations.
I know you don’t think science and religion should mix. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ll offer one last appeal:
You wrote: “There’s no reason why a scientist can’t do Nobel Prize winning research all week and attend church on Sunday. It’s only a minority of people who think this is a big deal and try to wax philosophical about it.”
Kat, I think it IS a big deal if a Nobel Prize winning scientist attends church, in the sense that so many scientific thinkers like yourself are dismissive of religion as “not reality” and “dead wrong.” A Nobel Prize winning scientist who is also religious, presents a significant paradox to the scientific worldview, not in the least because he or she is representative of a collective tendency within human nature to gravitate to religion in spite of everything we know about reality scientifically.
In my mind, the paradox is SO significant that it demands examination from BOTH religious and scientific perspectives. Not that the two different worldviews should be conflated, but that both have important things to say about the nature of reality, whether that reality is objective and scientific, or subjective and religious (and or crazy). This is something atheist Alain de Botton has done in his book Religion for Atheists, which attempts to understand the religious ethos from a secular perspective. In my own way, I attempt to inform religious views with scientific reasoning. I’m inspired by Deutsch’s and Newton’s view that current science is mere “playing with a seashell on the beach,” while all around us there is an ocean of the unknown. The concept of infinity might sound mundane to some scientists, but it is not to me. I find the idea of infinity endlessly fascinating and mysterious, and it resonates with my religious beliefs which also embrace concepts of “eternity” and “endlessness.” Therefore, I use Deutsch’s secular theories about infinity as a way of informing and colouring my own religious beliefs. That is what Mormons do in general. “Bring truth wherever you can find it, and add it to ours.” You might say that core Mormon beliefs are dead wrong, and it might seem insulting for Mormons to use scientific theories to try buttress their superstitiousness. But be that as it may, at least some Mormons accept SOME scientific truths in their worldviews. Isn’t some better than none?
I was more concerned about the claim that religion is about something other than reality. The “unreality” that you think religion is about and the “infinity” that Nate thinks religion is about don’t seem all that different to me.
Jeff, “unreality” and “infinity” aren’t that different? Would you mind elaborating?
I said spirituality was “something else”. I didn’t say it was unreal.
“Kat, I think it IS a big deal if a Nobel Prize winning scientist attends church…”
This, I think, is the heart of our differences. If, as I contend, spirituality and science are disconnected spheres, there’s nothing extraordinary about a scientist attending church. As such, there is no “clash” except where it’s created artificially.
Let me put it another way. Instead of speculating, ask a church-going scientist if there’s a “clash”. Right now, I think that religious thinkers are just *projecting* their own difficulties onto scientific thinkers, when the scientific thinkers themselves are pretty meh about the whole thing.
Horses are real. Unicorns are unreal. Religion is something else.
If religion isn’t about “reality” and it’s not about “unreality” either, then this third-category “something else” must be mysterious indeed!
My basic point is that by shielding religion from all practical reality under the mystified rubrics of “infinity”, “something-else”, “spirituality”, etc., religion becomes pretty much irrelevant and for that reason uncompelling.
But this is exactly what I would expect to happen when we allow a secular school system to define “reality” for us.
“My basic point is that by shielding religion from all practical reality under the mystified rubrics of “infinity”, “something-else”, “spirituality”, etc., religion becomes pretty much irrelevant and for that reason uncompelling.”
Maybe it’s only uncompelling to you, personally. Plenty of spiritual people throughout time might feel differently.
Maybe it’s uncompelling to you because you lack the capacity to contemplate “something else”.
Just something for you to think about.
I’ll let everybody else decide which of the following the scriptures condemn as a bigger threat to faith:
A) People are too simplistic to figure religion out.
B) Intellectual mystifications of religion.
Jeff, my “intellectual mystifications of religion” come from my own personal spiritual journey, and I share them on this blog, not as a condemnation or alternative of the correlated versions of the gospel, but as a testimony of my own experience of God, both intellectually and spiritually.
This blog, like your own, exists not to educate the simple minded in the “true” faith, but to explore particular religious paradigms within the context of the crumbling faith of the Bloggernacle. Your philosophical defence of ecclesiastical authority would seem to most believers as much a mystification as anything I’ve written here. You write them for a small audience of philosophically like-minded people who struggle to maintain their faith against the onslaught of secular philosophical culture. I write to people who struggle to maintain their faith against the onslaught of scientific doubt by exploring ways in which science and faith might be reconciled. I find resonances between the scientific mysteries about the nature of infinity, and the gospel mysteries of a universe where “there is no end to matter, there is no end to space.”
I know, Nate. While I do think your version is a little too “airy-fairy” for me, you’re anything but dogmatic about it. (I’m way worse than you on that front.)
Yes, Jeff thank you. You wear your dogmatism like a true rebel.
It’s a gift. 😉
(For the record, my complaints about mystification were not aimed primarily at you. The “infinite” makes far more sense to me than “not reality, not unreality, but something else”.)
“The “infinite” makes far more sense to me than “not reality, not unreality, but something else”.”
And, once again, your problem with “something else” might be from your own limitations, not an inherent problem with “something else”.
Jeff, my philosophy of India prof used to add “and not that either” when the “not this, not that” talk got going.
Kat, “Who says scientists find no pleasure in mystery? Why do you think they become scientists in the first place?… There’s no reason why a scientist can’t do Nobel Prize winning research all week and attend church on Sunday. It’s only a minority of people who think this is a big deal and try to wax philosophical about it.”
So you agree that scientists can have no qualms seeing spiritual knowledge related to secular? Cause it seemed like earlier you didn’t. Many of my BYU profs were happy to connect their desires to understand scientific mysteries to personal religious testimonies. Often they waxed philosophical about it, because we were in a religious atmosphere. In fact, they advised those students who couldn’t reconcile evolution and religion to keep them in separate spheres. Funny enough, one of my religion professors called the hard science professors heretics for claiming secular knowledge like evolution could be reconciled with religion.
I don’t know about all that. I’m not going to repeat myself. If you don’t get it by now, you’re not going to.
I get that you seem to believe all scientists who claim to be religious only do so by keeping those two parts of their lives in separate spheres. I get that you mock people who believe that science and religion could be in the same sphere, and seem to think that those people are scientifically illiterate. My contention is that you do not seem to be aware of any “true” scientists who see religion and science in the same sphere. Based on your arguments, either those scientists are in denial about their religious beliefs, or they must not truly understand modern science. The sheer number of people I have met who appear to disprove your arguments leads me to question how much exposure you’ve had with religious scientists.
You don’t know me or know anything about me. Based on your most recent rant, you still don’t get it.
“Gaps in our scientific knowledge have not shrunk. Rather, the more we have discovered about the universe, the larger the gaps have become.”
While this is cute wordplay, I think it misses the larger point. History is *full* of occurrences of this sequence:
1. People don’t understand some natural phenomenon.
2. They invent a story about how God did it, often an elaborate one.
3. This story becomes enshrined as dogma.
4. Science starts explaining the phenomenon in a different way and proving the story false.
5. The priests promoting the dogma say that the science is wrong and the scientists are servants of the devil.
6. After a couple generations the scientific explanation becomes standard belief.
So yeah, you’re right that new scientific knowledge raises more scientific questions. But it also disproves old religious ideas. Over and over. This really hit home to me in watching the remake of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Almost every episode shares a story of one or two scientists persecuted by the church for researching ideas that are now foundational to how we understand the universe. A thousand years ago it was about whether the sun revolved around the earth, or vice versa. Over the last couple hundred years it’s been about humans evolving from other life forms. Today it’s about whether gay people are born that way.
I doubt that most religious adherents really want to go into the gaps you describe. There are questions that science may never be able to answer, like “what was there before the big bang?” I really don’t mind people saying “God was there and made it happen.” It’s as good as any explanation we’ve got. But I don’t think the God of the big bang is going to play the same comforting role in people’s lives as the God of the lost car keys.