Over at Ten Minas Ministries I had a discussion regarding the old complaint of naturalistic bias when skeptics look for solutions. I mentioned the historical incidents where supernatural explanations were given (lightning, season change, disease transmission) as no natural explanation was known at the time, only to have later discovery determine there were natural, non-supernatural explanations.
This generated a response of how theism is not “God-of-the-Gaps” and how naturalism is limiting itself by not looking at all solutions, etc., etc., etc.
It is interesting how the modern theistic apologist disdains “God-of-the-Gaps;” holding their nose with one hand, and holding the argument as far away from them as possible in the other. But in the very next breath, tells us if we have a “gap” in our knowledge, we should consider the possibility of God as a resolution to that gap.
Is it just me, or is that incongruous?
Look, we all draw from a limited number of possible solutions, based upon past study and experience. If I had a fender-bender this morning, and was looking for a solution, I would look first to certain possibilities. I would not consult my astrological chart or horoscope to see its input. I would not consider it a government plot to put location devices on my car at the repair shop. I would not consider it karma for having too rich a dinner the night before.
Isn’t the answer simple?
Because I am not persuaded by astrology. I am not convinced there is a government conspiracy. I do not believe in karma. I don’t look for solutions in things I am not persuaded exist. It seems perfectly understandable why a person who did believe in astrology would look to their horoscope later, searching for possible meaning regarding a traffic accident. It is one tool in their toolbox of solutions.
Likewise theists believe in a God. Many brands of Christianity believe in a God who is extremely and actively involved in worldly affairs. We know this because they pray to this God to provide healing, and safety (from such accidents) and jobs and family and love and….you get the point. We know this because they thank this God for getting the healing, the safety, the jobs, the family…
“God” is a tool in their toolbox of solutions. One only need a few Christian facebook friends who update their status to see just how much they think this God is part of the world. So why wouldn’t they employ a God-of-the-gaps?
Think about it—the Christian believes in this awesome creator, power, infinite, unique being that makes a universe with a blink of a thought. We don’t have a solution to how non-life developed into life. It seems perfectly reasonable for the theist to reach in their toolbox and find a ready-made tool to solve the immediate problem—God. (And yes, this sets the problem back one step, leaving us with other issues. But to a theist, this solves this issue at the moment.)
Why do bad things happen? To a Christian, they can readily use the tool—“God.” To an astrologist—stars out of sync. To a scientologist—bad thoughts. Each use means they believe exist.
What baffles me is when Christians do not understand why I fail to use such a tool for a solution. Hello….”atheist?” In order for me to look for a supernatural explanation, I must first be convinced there IS a supernatural! Imagine a co-worker telling me, “Oh, I know why you had a car accident—I looked at your horoscope.” Why is that not convincing to me? Why is that not convincing to the Christian? Because neither of us believe astrology!
Christians claim we are limiting our options by not looking for supernatural resolutions. Er…so what? Don’t we all do that? Don’t we all limit our options by removing solutions we do not think exist or think so unlikely as to not be worthy of consideration?
With me, many Christians limit their options by removing homeopathy from their toolbox. They go to an M.D. with me. They remove vaccine-deniers. They remove alien interventions and abductions. They remove ESP, new age candles, horoscopes, feng shui, bad karma, dowsing, magnetic bracelets, bag bomb, and hosts of other crazy possibilities from their solutions.
For the same reasons I remove the tool labeled “God.” Now the Christian gets excited: “Wait a minute—you are limiting possibilities.” Yep.
Why should this be a surprise? Remember—The Christian doesn’t like God-of-the-Gaps. The Christian doesn’t like inserting “supernatural” when a natural solution is not currently known. If they find such a solution repulsive…who am I to argue with ‘em?