Talk:God of the gaps

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Argument from ignorance, personal incredulity, or failing Ockham's razor or?[edit]

The "god of the gaps" fills in the gaps of knowledge with God, so how is it labeled as an argument from ignorance (assuming someting is true until proven false or false until proven true)? Shouldn't it be labeled as an argument from personal incredulity or failing Ockham's razor? The "god of gaps" makes the extra assumption of God, failing Ockham's razor. But it doesn't necessarily assume anything is true until proven false or false until proven true (argument from ignorance). However depending upon how the argument is phrased, it can be either an argument from ignorance, personal incredulity, or failing Occam's razor, or all of the above --66.167.232.203 (talk) 14:56, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

How about "an argument from stupidity"? --AVM (talk) 21:57, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
It's argument from ignorance, because as an obvious point of logic, you're using points of scientific ignorance as 'proof' of God as if there's evidence for that, rather than a natural explanation yet unknown. As science chips away at the gaps God is vanquished until he retreats to ever smaller nooks of cosmological history (currently the big bang, and there's still religious nutjobs trying to claim gaps in the geological fossil records 'disproving' evolution). The God of the Gaps is *the* classic argument from ignorance. 89.101.108.187 (talk) 20:49, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Question[edit]

Who developed this term? Where is it used? RickK | Talk 22:26, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Google gives 5000+ hits, many very interesting. Recommend http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/09/davies.htm Moriori 23:32, Mar 13, 2004 (UTC)

Removed text[edit]

God of the gaps or God in the gaps holds that there are important gaps in scientific knowledge. The claim is that since these gaps cannot be filled by man, a god must be invoked to account for the existence of these mysteries. In reality, gaps in knowledge have become smaller. Science repeatedly produces mundane, natural explanations for what seemed like mysterious events over centuries and there is no apparent reason that remaining “mysteries” such as extra-sensory perception, the origins of life and the universe, or stigmata, will not be explained by scientific explanation.

This was listed on cleanup as being POV, and I agree. I hope I've done better, but it's difficult. Andrewa 09:14, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)

More removed[edit]

There was an extra paragraph about creationism and God of the gaps proving more and more creationism and then ending up with a with Occam's Razor saying it all made sense. It was fairly obviously POV. Initially I was going to correct the Occam's Razor comment but after rereading the paragraph noted that it was all pretty unsavable. Occam's Razor called for the simpliest argument without bias to explain what is meant by God of the gaps. Tat 08:19, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Creationist response?[edit]

The "god of the gaps" is a philosophical argument made by scientists / atheists. We have a reference for the factuality of that statement in the article. The second paragraph is (an NPOV phrasing of) a creationist rebuttal to the argument. I wonder whether it is appropriate here. Probably it is, but I'm not totally sure. Anyway, it would be nice to have a reference documenting the fact the creationists actually bother to reply to the "god of the gaps" argument. Otherwise, it's original research. Dbenbenn 20:17, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

just a modified version of the Cosmological argument ... every cause has another cause ... but the gap never goes away ... it just gets bigger and bigger ... Ungtss 21:22, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
What's with the rebuttle again. A real rebuttle is one thing and perfectly fine. The rationalization of theists is one thing but creationist? It overly specific to a group. The counter should simply be the rationalizations of people who don't believe it. Also you state "the gap never goes away... it just gets bigger and bigger", this tells me you have no clue what you're talking about. The argument is the gaps get smaller and smaller. God of the gaps has very little to do with the Cosmological argument. It's explanations for things not cause and effect. Theistic responces need to get covered but that paragraph is just bad. Tat 04:34, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
umm ... let's let the rebutters write their own rebuttal, shall we?
<< The counter should simply be the rationalizations of people who don't believe it.>>
no, i think the counter should be very simply "why this argument fails on a logical basis."
<<The argument is the gaps get smaller and smaller.>>
the rebuttal is that the gap is getting bigger and bigger. the more we learn, the more we're discovering how complex and intricate the world is, and the less likely it's appearing that it came about by chance. whether the paragraph is bad or not is your pov. i find it rather compelling. Ungtss 19:34, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Actually, the gaps are shrinking, and many of them have been closed up completely. It only appears that more gaps are forming because, in the process of stitching up the known gaps, we have been noticing others that were already there. Really, which makes more sense: filling up the gaps using confirmable observations of the universe and inferences based upon those observations, or simply writing "God did it" in the blanks and considering it fixed? Jesin 19:21, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Why the paragraph should not be used.[edit]

Theists see the "god of the gaps" argument in a different light.

This isn't a different light, it's ignoring the the God of the gaps problem. That's not rebuttal.
god of the gaps depends on the assumption that the gap is getting smaller. the rebuttal very clearly says that the gap exists, and is getting bigger, making design more reasonable and naturalism less reasonable over time. that's a full-on rebuttal. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

They argue that every step in the development of science has uncovered greater and greater evidence of design; for example, the God of the Gaps that created the geocentric universe pales in comparison to the God of the Gaps that created the universe as we now understand it.

That's not God of the Gaps. That's simply God. God of the Gaps refers to a deity given credit for things not explained by science. When people thought that God caused the sun to move across the sky would be a more powerful deity does nothing in the situation. The earth simply spins and makes it look like that. That's God of the Gaps. The argument that more complexity in the universe just means God is more powerful is fine. But, it's not a God of the Gaps rebuttal.
yessir it is a rebuttal. our view of God as the "gap" in our knowledge is GROWING. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

They argue that if the gap were getting smaller with scientific advances, one could expect it to ultimately disappear.

This is what is argued by the promoters of God of the Gaps.
right. and since the premise fails, the conclusion fails. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

On the contrary, however, every step of science has made the gap bigger, making belief in design more reasonable, and belief in naturalism less reasonable.

Beyond being patently untrue, this also doesn't address the issue. Simply because the world is more complex doesn't mean science has stopped explaining something which use to be attributed to God.
right. but it's saying that for every answered question, 10 new questions are uncovered, so that although the gap MOVES, it is not getting smaller. religion may be WRONG about what God DID, and science helps refine that ... but science isn't proving that there is no God -- on the contrary, it's making belief in God more reasonable. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

They argue that while Creationism requires the assumption of a single enormously powerful creator,

You started out refering to Theists, mostly because the rebuttal to "god of the gaps" would be a theistic rebuttal then you switch back to creationism from theism.
i just changed creationist to theist to try and make you happy. sorry i missed one. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

naturalism requires the assumption of innumerable unknown sources and causes for the intricately interwoven nature of the universe. They conclude that since Occam's razor prefers the theory requiring the fewest discrete assumptions, theism is more reasonable than naturalism.

Occam's razor says the simplist explanation is the best. Not the one containing the fewest discrete assumption. The single assumption "God makes stars twinkle" is fewer than nuclear fusion in stars, alteration of the light as it enters the atmosphere, and those alterations being interpreted by the eye as "twinkling". This misinterpretation of Occam's Razor is fairly common in Creationist circles.
<<Occam's razor says the simplest explanation is the best>>
um ... you're clearly misinterpretting occam's razor yourself. it doesn't say that simplest explanation is the best. "God makes stars twinkle" is clearly the simplest. occam's razor says don't assume more than you have to. And if you can explain things without assuming God, go ahead, but don't make a million assumptions about nature just so you don't have to assume God. Occam was as Christian, by the way. Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Finally, I looked for several hours to find your sources and finally just found some actual rebuttals to the argument. I am fairly certain you personally wrote that paragraph without actually seeing any creationist make such an argument. Which seems more likely as you were quick to convert that same paragraph to be a theist rebuttal. In which case it would fall under original research. My rebuttal is taken from a number of sources and paraphrases some of SkepticalChristian's work (best rebuttal I found). A link which I added to the article as it firstly addresses the argument and secondly is very well written. Also, you stated, in so many words, that you should write the rebuttal. Making me think that that is your own personal rebuttal. I can't find creationism addressing God in the Gaps in any detail, could you source your work? Feel free to PoV the rebuttal a bit more if you feel it needs it but stop sticking in that paragraph that doesn't even address the problem. Tat 01:33, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

whatever makes you happy:). Ungtss 03:59, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Is the Plato/Aristotle paragraph appropriate?[edit]

Ungtss has included in the section on theist rebuttal arguments about teleology including a rehash of a section from the linked article. There are two questions we need to answer: 1) Can we consider Plato and Aristotle to be theists or dealing with this question at all? 2) Is teleology a specific attack on God of the gaps or is it more appropriately an attack on philosophical naturalism?

From my end, it seems clear that one can believe in teleology and still dislike the concept of a "God of the gaps" and see certain arguments as problematic in that regard. One can, in fact, be a creationist and make the "God of the gaps" argument against others (as many YECs make against the OECs). While teleology may be worth mentioning in the article, it may also be misleading to include this paragraph.

Comments? Joshuaschroeder 23:57, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

there is no substance in the above. the attributed summary of plato's argument goes directly to the heart of the God of the gaps. your "question" about plato and aristotle being theists would benefit from a brief read of their works. as to your second "question," since the god of the gaps is a core argument of philosophical naturalism, teleology very clearly goes to both. please, schroeder. the view is relevent, attributed, and accurate. please allow npov to go forward. Ungtss 00:01, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It may be better to formulate the argument as an interpretation of Plato rather than Plato arguing, from the grave as it were, against God of the gaps. I am simply stating that Plato's argument is not necessarily involving a "God" at all. No doubt that the "final cause" has been declared by Christians to be a "God", but that is an opinion of Christians (and perhaps other theists) and not a neutral fact. The modern concept of theism definitely claims Plato as a follower (through the adoption of the Catholic Church of scholasticism, some have argued), but this doesn't make Plato a theist in the sense of Billy Graham or Mohammed.
Nobody said plato had to be a theist in the sense of billy graham or mohammed. but he was a theist, and a creationist. those facts are beyond reasonable dispute. Ungtss 00:21, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Ungtss, your insistence that this is a fact is completely unreasonable. Have you ever read a philosophy text on Plato written by a non-creationist who claimed that Plato was a creationist? If not, then you can be sure there is a level of opinion as to what exactly a "creationist" means. More than this, there is ongoing debate within the philosophical circles over whether Plato was "really" a theist in the sense that we talk about theists today. Do you absolutely refuse to admit that this is the case? Are you claiming there is no debate at all and that most people who study the subject hold your opinion? Joshuaschroeder 15:45, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You are once again using unreasonably narrow definitions to support your arguments. in normal, everyday parlance, a theist is one who believes in God, and creationist is one who believes the earth and life were created. Plato believed both. of course plato wasn't a theist as we think of theists today. by no means does that mean he wasn't a theist at all. He believed in God, and therefore, according to the definitions used by normal people, he was a theist. please, in discussion, use reasonable and rational definitions to avoid endless chatter about semantics. thank you. Ungtss 16:27, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
And you are wrong on your second account, Ungtss. "God of the gaps" isn't a "core" argument of philosophical naturalism. Note that such a statement appears nowhere in the article. In fact, such a claim is tantamount to claiming that philosophical naturalism defines itself only in an oppositional sense to theism. Of course, those who are naturalists would scoff at such a suggestion. God of the gaps is a device that may be used by philosophical naturalists in the context of arguing against theists, but it isn't a "core argument" by any means. Joshuaschroeder 00:12, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
strawman. i never said anything of the sort. i said that god of the gaps is a core argument of philosophical naturalism, in that it is one often made by proponents of philosophical naturalism. thus, proponents of teleology often find themselves composing arguments to challenge arguments of philosophical naturalism, including the god of the gaps. are you really going to filibuster this one, schroeder? Ungtss 00:21, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It isn't a core argument at all because a core argument is something that is fundamental to the argument. God of the gaps clearly isn't.
You aren't being reasonable at all here, Ungtss. I am pointing out some really basic problems with the edit you made. I haven't changed your edit in an attempt to get your opinion on what you added first, but frankly your defense of the inclusion doesn't seem very dispassionate nor above reproach. Joshuaschroeder 15:45, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
all irrelevent. When proponents of teleology makes an argument against the god of the gaps on that basis, there is no error in reporting that fact. thank you for leaving the edit to allow me to try and guess what would pacify you. in the future, please list your precise concerns with my edit, so i can try to find a mutually agreeable workaround. or better yet, try and identify your concerns and solve them in the text without threatening to delete it entirely. thank you. Ungtss 16:27, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Much better[edit]

Thanks, Ungtss, for changing your teleologist to Aquinas. A much better choice! Joshuaschroeder 15:48, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

thanks:). Ungtss 16:28, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

More sources?[edit]

Anyone have some sources or origin information about the "God of the gaps" argument? It should be included in this article. --02:37, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vrpPPV_yPY ("The God Of The Gaps (by Neil deGrasse Tyson)") (as of 29 July 2011) is a speech regarding this subject. Not a "source" per se, but maybe suitable as a "see also" link or "external links". It deals with how famous scientists throughout history have invoked God when they are at the limit of their knowledge, and that scientists later in history, once they figured out more about that particular field of science, did not invoke God any longer. Maybe it is interesting enough to include in the article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.216.131.100 (talk) 18:04, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Source info[edit]

The term goes back to Henry Drummond, who coined it in his Lowell Lectures on the Ascent of Man. In the 3rd edition (1894), drummond writes:

"There are reverent minds who ceaselessly scan the fields of Nature and the books of Science in search of gaps -- gaps which they will fill up with God. As if God lived in gaps? What view of Nature or of Truth is theirs whose interest in Science is not in what it can explain but in what it cannot, whose quest is ignorance not knowledge, whose daily dread is that the cloud may lift, and who, as darkness melts from this field or from that, begin to tremble for the place of His abode? What needs altering in such finely jealous souls is at once their view of Nature and of God. Nature is God's writing, and can only tell the truth; God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If by the accumulation of irresistible evidence we are driven -- may not one say permitted -- to accept Evolution as God's method in creation, it is a mistaken policy to glory in what it cannot account for. The reason why men grudge to Evolution each of its fresh [page 334:] claims to show how things have been made is the groundless fear that if we discover how they are made we minimize their divinity. When things are known, that is to say, we conceive them as natural, on Man's level; when they are unknown, we call them divine -- as if our ignorance of a thing were the stamp of its divinity. If God is only to be left to the gaps in our knowledge, where shall we be when these gaps are filled up? And if they are never to be filled up, is God only to be found in the dis-orders of the world? Those who yield to temptation to reserve a point here and there for special divine interposition are apt to forget that this virtually excludes God from the rest of the process. If God appears periodically, he disappears periodically. If he comes upon the scene at special crises he is absent from the scene in the intervals. Whether is all-God or occasional-God the nobler theory? Positively, the idea of an immanent God, which is the God of Evolution, is infinitely grander than the occasional wonder-worker who is the God of the old theology. Negatively, the older view is not only the less worthy, but it is discredited by science. And as to facts, the daily miracle of a flower, the courses of the stars, the upholding and sustaining day by day of this great palpitating world, need a living Will as much as the creation of atoms at the first. We know growth is the method by which things are made in Nature, and we know no other method. We do not know that there are not other methods; but if there are we do not know them. Those cases which we do not know to be growths, we do not know to be anything else, and we may at least suspect them to be growths. Nor are they any the less miraculous [page 335:] because they appear to us as growths. A miracle is not something quick. The doings of these things may seem to us no miracle, nevertheless it is a miracle that they have been done. But, after all, the miracle of Evolution is not the process, but the product. Beside the wonder of the result, the problem of the process is a mere curiosity of Science."

(This added by Oliver P. (talk · contribs) on 15DEC05)

Lie to Children?[edit]

Why is lie-to-children under See Also? I fail to see the connection. Maybe there should be a one-sentence explanation of the connection? Tarheelcoxn 23:58, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Good point- it could be about how things like this are sometimes used to explain really complex things to kids, if you know what I mean

Occam's Razor[edit]

I don't understand the last sentence, which reads, "The god of the gaps argument also asserts that defaulting to a supernatural explanation brings up more questions than answers and requires many a priori assumptions, and therefore fails by Occam's Razor."

What's failing? The supernatural explanation? The sentence is awkward and doesn't flow with the rest of the paragraph. It might be as easy as changing to "supernatural explanations" if that's what is meant. Tarheelcoxn 23:58, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree. The sentence seems meaningless. User:Noisy | Talk 12:15, 23 December 2005 (UTC)


Significant new edits in March, 2006[edit]

Hi Noisy: Thanks for your further edits and info in the article. I'd like to propose working out some language for this aricle that involves three sections rather than two. Offhand I suggest something like an intro defining rather than merely describing uses of the term-- it is definitely definable so let's please work out a definition of the term.

The God of the Gaps argument, the various forms of which are actually derivatives of the term/concept "God of the Gaps," should I believe be in a separate section. I propose showing what this argument is (ie, what form does it take, which I already attempted but you deleted that part completely), in addition to at least one example of a line of reasoning using the God of the Gaps (which is already there). One issue is that such a line of reasoning using the term/concept God of the Gaps, is different from what has come to be known today as a God of the Gaps argument (a logical fallacy similar to the argument from ignorance (see for instance the last section of Intelligent design

And it of course should be as NPOV as possible. I feel optimistic this can all be worked out and arrive at a yet better article to your satisfaction. Your thoughts?Kenosis 18:41, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Drummond's lecture seems a pretty comprehensive definition, so a few more quotes from the lecture should fit the bill. (He seems pretty good at getting his message over, so it seems redundant to try and better his words.) I have to admit that I come from a position of ignorance, because I had't really read the Drummond reference given above, before, and only researched in response to your edits. I think that any attempt to expand the definition beyond Drummond would risk straying into original research territory, and we don't really want to go there.
I think the intro is probably OK as it is (but the third para seems somewhat redundant). I think that there are two areas for expansion: one, the tracing of the original usage as identified by Drummond, as a criticism of fundamentalism; and the second tracing its co-option by evolutionists, and its parallels with the argument from ignorance, as you outline. Once those two paths are traced, then a reappraisal of the intro may be more obvious.
Whichever way you proceed, I would caution that you provide citations (which you haven't yet), such as I have done with the Drummond reference. As I said, it's not really my area, so I'll just be your conscience, encouraging you to maintain NPOV, which is always going to be difficult with this phrase.
One final thing - please use the 'show preview' button. Noisy | Talk 00:05, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi: Fair enough, though I will need to get back to this later on. I'm sure we can parse out the difference between the central concept and the "god of the gaps argument" as it is increasingly seen today, so as to avoid unnecessary confusion between the two. I'm not sure I want to get fall into the fundamentalist/evolutionist debate one bit though, if I can avoid it. Take care for nowKenosis 00:31, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Noisy: I cleaned up the language in the intro just a bit, but without changing the existing content. I also added a third section with some description of the dominant modern usage of "God of the Gaps argument," with a couple of links.

I need some more time to find cites you requested to back up any proposals to revise the introductory paragraph to include a definition of some kind. Look forward to working it through with you and any other interested editors.Kenosis 16:10, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

(Diety) God of the Gaps[edit]

the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to replace the reference to "god" with diety. The whole point of this page is an explanation of a coined phrase. Granted the phrase was reference to god, but the idea from which the phrase was derived was about religion in general, hence the objective use of deity. I understand the wording of the phrase, but the reference is to religion in general, not just christianity. Please give me insight on this, I feel I should change it. Somerset219 04:46, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Somerset, thanks for the note on my page. Yes, in that last sentence of the first paragraph, I think "... so the role of God (or other diety or supernatural influence) is therefore confined to the 'gaps' in scientific explanations of nature." would work fine. It's your honors if you wish. .... Kenosis 05:28, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
The origin of the phrase seems to be explicitly Christian, and where it is now used in linkage with challenges to orthodox evolutionary theories the primary combatants are Christians. The only reason that attempts are made to widen the catchment area of those challenging evolution to include other religions are purely to try and misdirect. And it seems it's working ... Noisy | Talk 08:04, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I have no objection either way. Same principle even if there are other, shall we say, spiritual delegates? involved. If I were to have a bit of a preference, I'd leave it as is.
As Noisy points out, the roots of the phrase God of the Gaps are Christian. To which I might add, it applies to all theistic positions that cannot see their way clear to an immanent God, which in turn applies to all Abrahamic traditions. Pantheistically based religions don't have this problem. Deists don't have this problem. Panentheists don't have this problem. Only theists do, and that equates to the use of the word "God" however you translate it. Thanks for the challenge to the reasoning here and for the need to think about it a bit more. .. Kenosis 08:19, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I do agree with the concept that it was Christian, however that argument is misguided. Being that christianity is the dominate religion, I'm sure no one is going to criticize any other religion without a broad audience. In other words Christianity was criticized because of its popular following, not necessarily because of Jesus, or anything else significant to Christianity. Somerset219 00:54, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Theistic position[edit]

The article calls the following a common theistic position:

anything that can be explained by human knowledge is not in the domain of God

That hardly sounds commonly theistic to me. Perhaps deistic, but not theistic. Srnec 04:14, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Actually you are correct Srnec, and thanks for noticing. The God of the gaps is more acurately characterized with the use of a phrase such as "anything that is explained about the natural world..." ... Kenosis 05:09, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

questions of science?[edit]

explanations for many aspects of how the universe began, for the origin of life (abiogenesis), and for how certain species evolved stepwise rather than in continuous random fashion (morphogenesis), remain outstanding questions for which a scientific consensus has yet to form. The theistic position typically retains these within the domain of God.

not only do i feel this is poorly worded but i also think its misleading and isn't the point of the article. The questions of abiogenesis and morphogensis are being addressed by the scientific community. the statement was rather in reguards to questions science cannot address, ie; Why the universe began or the origin of man. The point of this statement is to correlate the scientifically unknowable to a deity, as to what god of the gaps does. Somerset219 01:18, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Sure, and abiogenesis is still squarely within the domain of theism thus far, while morphogenesis is a toss-up depending on which cleric you talk to. At present I have no great objection to your version as long as the article continues to make the basic point about what the "God of the gaps" is. So far, it's reasonably on track. Nonetheless, the question of why the universe exists is, in my opinion, a ridiculous one -- is it intended to refer to the anthropic principle? ... Kenosis 02:00, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
Does not the "theistic position" retain all in the domain of God? If he is the ultimate cause, creator, and sustainer of all and if he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then there is nothing outside his domain. This type of language seems to me to obscure the theistic position. What theists would say this: "somethings remain in the domain of God, others no longer"? Srnec 00:53, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree with your logic Srnec, however the god of the gaps argument/ theistic position is based on an answer to a question. Like; the understanding of something is this way because my deity said so, which would not allow room for argument, or really any understanding. however your logic pertains to: since god is perfect, even though we may or may not understand, it is in his realm, which I agree on... the logic at least. However god of the gaps is based on questions of understanding, not the belief of theists. hope that makes some sense. Somerset219 02:31, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I totally agree with you Kenosis, and Theism also refers to the anthropic principle, but I'm not sure what you mean about abiogenesis. From what i understood from the article it sounded scientific to me, I suppose the only way it could be construed as theistic is if you supplemented life with spirirt or soul. Or perhaps I'm a bit off base, because now that I think of it, wasn't protein created from "nothing" by some scientist? maybe i need to do some homework. At any rate, just out of curiosity, what do you mean by theistic? Somerset219 02:43, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Near-Complete Obscuration[edit]

I am writing an article on God of the Gaps, and hence have some familiarity with the term's origins and its common use. I am disturbed by what I read in this article, and in the discussion, which indicate that a few contributors truly understand the term, while a good many more, with no understanding of the term, are bullying the others into wording that is at least confusing and at worst manipulative.

The term, "God of the Gaps" was invented by a Christian (Drummond) to describe an erroroneous approach to Christian apologetics. Subsequent development of the term, as noted in the article, has been exclusively by Christians (Bonhoeffer, Coulson, Bube). There can be no argument that this is a technical term used by Christians, and the article should reflect that. There should be no discussion about whether Christian theologies are correct, only about what the term means and how it was invented.

The definition in [Theopedia] is correct, although some of the "point of view" will have to be cleaned up for Wikipedia. By contrast, the whole first paragraph here in Wikipedia is muddled and obscures the topic. I would try to fix it, but I can see from the history that everyone who tried to do so got mugged. One more example of how Wikipedia is fast losing its credibility. Mrdavenport 22:56, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Other sense[edit]

Am I right in thinking there is another slightly different sense of 'God of the gaps', namely a god who acts in the world via indeterminism - a theist can agree that the world follows the laws of physics but still allow (somewhat limited) intervention by god if he fiddles with e.g. random quantum interactions to bring about particular macroscopic results. If so, the article should say something about this. Ben Finn 16:36, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Criticism[edit]

A Criticism section is needed to allow balance (NPOV) to this article. The God of the Gaps argument relegates God to the leftovers of science: as scientific knowledge increases, the Dominion of God decreases. Judeo-christian theology disagrees: God is above nature and science. The Creator created all of the universe and the scientific and natural laws which people are discovering. This view holds that science studies God's gravity, God's plate techtonics, God's relativity, God's chemistry,etc. Theistic evolutionists hold that people are a product of God's evolution. (appropriate citations are available) Pkgx (talk) 16:10, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Is the 'argument from ignorance' criticism a false dichotomy? Or perhaps an example of 'begging the question'? The criticism seems to imply things on its own, like trying to define specifics of what 'god' is and is not. Maybe I'm getting the wrong impression. 12.206.232.172 (talk) 16:48, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Near-Complete Obscuration[edit]

I just want to offer my thanks to various and sundry who have succeeded in making this article much more accurate. Mrdavenport (talk) 02:33, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Lead Paragraph[edit]

The lead paragraph makes no sense. God of the Gaps is not an argument for the existance of God. It is an attempt to put limits on God. To clarify this (with citation), I have restored a previous improved version. Grantmidnight (talk) 19:53, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I've removed the irrelevant POV statement from the first paragraph of the lead about the god of the gaps argument not being an argument for the existence of God. The rest is reasonable. And yes, I suppose the article could use citations, though the cites are woven into the article text, e.g. Drummond, Bonhoeffer, and Bube. So I'm inclined to remove the WP:NOR template and leave the refimprove template. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:48, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Synthesis[edit]

After simmering in theological and philosophical circles, the term gained yet wider attention from a 1971 book and a 1978 article, both by Richard Bube. He articulated the concept in far greater detail, most notably in Man Come Of Age: Bonhoeffer’s Response To The God-Of-The-Gaps (1971). Bube attributed modern crises in religious faith in part to the inexorable shrinking of the God-of-the-gaps as scientific knowledge progressed. As humans progressively increased their understanding of nature, the previous "realm" of God seemed to many persons and religions to be getting smaller and smaller by comparison. Bube maintained that Darwin's Origin of Species was the "death knell" of the God-of-the-gaps. Very importantly, Bube also maintained that the God-of-the-gaps was not the same as the God of the Bible (that is, he was not making an argument against God per se, but rather asserting there was a fundamental problem with the perception of God as existing in the gaps of present-day knowledge).

This paragraph is riddled with editors' own assessments of Bube's writings (obvious examples bolded, more marginal one in italics). Further, its sourcing isn't particularly clear. Is all of this sourced to Man Come Of Age: Bonhoeffer’s Response To The God-Of-The-Gaps? Or is some of it sourced to the unnamed "1978 article"? Given that the book came first, what is it "in far greater detail" than? I came across this paragraph because I was doing a major rewrite of the article on Bube, and wanted to include this material -- but decided against it because the whole thing was too muddled and too non-compliant with policy. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:02, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

I will WP:AGF and assume that "the accuracy of" the claim that "[Bube] articulated the concept in far greater detail than did Bonhoeffer" is "is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge." (per WP:PSTS) HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:49, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

(Of course this isn't helped by the fact that we don't currently have a source cited for what Bonhoeffer actually "articulated". HrafnTalkStalk(P) 06:22, 7 July 2009 (UTC) )

The exact reference to Bonhoeffer is in the "Bibliography": Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997 (ISBN 978-0-684-83827-4) "Letter to Eberhard Bethge", 29 May 1944, pages 310-312. This may be a rather unconvenient way of making the reference, rather than in a footnote. By the way, the exact word that Bonhoeffer uses is "stopgap" (I believe that the German is "Lückenbußer"), and I would complain that that is not exactly the same thing. I agree that this could use some reworking. TomS TDotO (talk) 13:42, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the German aspect undercuts the "is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge" (as verification would require a bilingual person). Also, I think WP:NONENG applies (and both the German original, and a translation, of what Bonhoeffer said is therefore needed). HrafnTalkStalk(P) 14:22, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Double Criticism[edit]

The position described as "God of the Gaps" is not really supported by anybody. It is a poorly written article which is receiving criticism from both sides.

- One criticism is from those who oppose it as an attempt to prove God. Both from a strictly logical perspective and from a theological perspective, the argument is flawed.
- A different criticism is from those who oppose it as a way to limit God to the things which science has not yet answered. To many theologians, God is Omnipotent and thus is over science, over nature, and over all: Things addressed well by science are still God's work.

A better flow of the article would be to state the general proposition of God of the Gaps followed by two separate sections of criticism. Rlsheehan (talk) 14:43, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

According to the original reliable sources, e.g., Henry Drummond, who appears to have coined the phrase, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Richard Bube, who used the phrase in their published philosophical/theological writings, it's used as an observation about a simplistic theology that places God in the gaps of knowledge-- in the unknown-- a fairly widespread tendency. It's inherently a criticism of this tendency. So yes, of course it generally isn't supported by those who use it, but rather is intended by its a critical observation of others' views. The "sides", as you say, really aren't that clear at all. If somebody has a better way to present this that's verifiable to reliable sources and has a chance of achieving WP:Consensus, I'm all ears. ... Kenosis (talk) 17:23, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
No, your "widpread tendency" in "simplistic theology" is not widespread. You just deleted a relavent citation on apologetics that does not include "god of the gaps" as a valid argument for God. Serious theologians do not support God of the Gaps as an argument. Where are the notable citations which suggest that they do? Rlsheehan (talk) 18:58, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Actually (1) the phrase has nothing at all to do with, as you say, an "argument for God". Though you're right that serious theologians do not, at least as general tendency, view God as residing only in the "unknown". (2) The phrase "God-of-the-gaps argument" refers to an assertion which attributes unexplained phenomena to supernatural causes. I just added two of the many reliable sources that use the phrases "God of the gaps" and "argument from ignorance" synonymously. But it's definitely not an "argument for [the existence of] God" to begin with. (3) Though Kreeft and Tacelli's Handbook of Christian Apologetics discusses arguments for the existence of God it doesn't deal with the expression "God of the gaps" at all-- not even one mention of it, AFAICT. The sentence I removed which cited to Kreeft and Tacelli was original research, somebody's personal synthesis, and the source did not reflect the statement in the article. in other words, it's not wrong to say that theologians do not regard the "God of the gaps argument" as a valid argument for the existence of God, as was asserted in the sentence I removed, but the citation did not support the statement. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:48, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Having said the above, I would definitely appreciate seeing a reliable source specifically supporting the assertion that serious theologians do not use "God-of-the-gaps" arguments as arguments for the existence of God. (I now see your point better than I did before, Rlsheehan.) ... Kenosis (talk) 20:14, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the article currently says that God of the gaps is used as an argument for God: "The gap is filled by acts of a god (and therefore also proves, or helps to prove, the existence of said god)." The external links to Freethoughtpedia and Freethought zone (both not-notable sources) claim it to be an argument for God - - then challenge its use. Some people attack the Gaps position for allowing any room for God.
The argument is not used by serious theologians, though it is difficult to prove a negative. Compilations of apolgetics do not, to my knowledge, include God of the Gaps as a valid argument.
The concept of "God of the gaps" is attacked by several serious theologiens. Drummond and Bonhoeffer are quoted in the article. Omnipotence and Omniscience are often used to describe a monotheistic God: There is no gap in God. Many religions do not see a Conflict thesis in the Relationship between religion and science. For example: "We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world."[1]
The article currently wanders among many positions and needs a serious clean-up and rewrite. Rlsheehan (talk) 17:32, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Offhand, I'm inclined to remove that part of the text. While it's common for folks to assume that events with unknown causes are "acts of God", I've never heard it as an argument for the existence of God either. If somebody has a reliable source where it has been used in this way, kindly point us to such source(s). ... Kenosis (talk) 18:11, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
And, the main reason the article "wanders among many positions" is that there are many published positions to wander among. We can, however, be reasonably sure that Drummond, Bonhoeffer, Coulson, and Bube are on the same page philosophically and theologically. The characteristic of "wander[ing] among many positions can be seen in one place in the article, which is in the "criticisms" section which wanders among positions that variously support the four philosopher-theologians just mentioned, and also in at least one instance offers various criticisms of various usages of the words "God of the gaps". Which is why I argued to eliminate that section. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:25, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Criticism section[edit]

the reason given for deletion of the section:

"These are not criticisms of the concept, but rather criticisms of the view criticized by Bonhoeffer, Bube, et al"

isn't quite clear.

The section was indeed criticism of the concept.ReaverFlash (talk) 21:27, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

The entire article discusses critical perspectives on "God of the gaps" views and "God-of-the-gaps" arguments-- indeed the phrase "God of the gaps" is inherently a criticism of a view or type of argument. It was coined as a criticism of a view, and used by Bonhoeffer, Coulson, Bube and others as a criticism of a view. Thus a section titled "criticisms" is inappropriate. If there are any reliable sources that proffer supportive views of "God of the gaps", please bring them to our attention and perhaps it might then be appropriate to set up a section on, say "defenses of the view" or "defenses of the God-of-the-gaps argument". Also, I've re-titled the section previously called "Usage as argument" which incorrectly described the content of that section. Pending input of other editors, I changed the section title to Usage in referring to a type of argument. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:15, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

It is perfectly reasonable to have a criticism of a critical perspective.ReaverFlash (talk) 22:20, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Sure, except that they're not criticisms of the critical perspective, but rather are on the same page, so to speak, as Drummond, Bonhoeffer, Coulson, and Bube, who also criticized the "God of the gaps" view. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:26, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Although the term might be only be used by those who do not support the view, it is still important to have a criticism section. The "God of the gaps" view itself is not a criticism. ReaverFlash (talk) 00:32, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Oh please. Actually, the term itself is inherently derogatory. Show me one reasonably reliable source that uses the words in a way not intended as a criticism-- just one. ... Kenosis (talk) 01:05, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I think my work is done here for now. Bye. I'll get back to this when I have a chance to more thoroughly review what are presently footnotes 4, 5, and possibly 6. The statements in the article don't even reasonably reflect what's in the sources given in footnotes 4 and 5. What a mess. ... Kenosis (talk) 01:07, 9 July 2009 (UTC) NB: These footnote numbers have changed, as the criticism section is now at the bottom of the article until some better sense can be made of that conceptual mess. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

POV of "Summary"[edit]

The "Summary" section--which is really just an extended quotation, but I'll leave that issue to others--seems to me to be slanted very strongly to the point of serving as a theistic (and Christian in particular) apologia. I'm not sure it actually adds anything of value and might even obscure the actual substance of the page. Perhaps it could be integrated into the body of the article?--Hannibal V Constantine (talk) 16:32, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

This article was poorly written, and it did not have a clear statement of what "god of the gaps" was. Most of the discussion was various positions against it; although the meaning of the phrase was never well defined.
This defining quotation is a clear statement of god of the gaps by a noted theologian. This is a theological issue so a quotation by a theologian is appropriate. There is not a POV problem because there is expansive criticism by both theologians and by atheists.
This summary quotation is needed to help clarify the article. Rlsheehan (talk) 00:53, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
Tag removed: no interest or support. Rlsheehan (talk) 18:58, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Definition[edit]

I find that the below definition of 'God of the gaps' is much more accurate. ref - http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/general/bldef_godgaps.htm

'The phrase "god of the gaps" is used to describe the attempts by some people to justify the rationality of theism by relying upon "gaps" in scientific knowledge. In other words, because science cannot explain some event or object, then it is reasonable to believe that a god is responsible for the event or object.'

Shall we change it to accordingly to this one? - -Abhishikt 21:21, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

No for two reasons:
1 - This is a definition proposed at an atheist web site. They are not a reliable source for a theistic position.
2 - The blockquote by Harris says "No significant Christian group has believed this view". Who are the reliable accademic sources who can be referenced?
Rlsheehan (talk) 13:57, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
About.com no more an 'athiest website' than Reference.com Jebus989 15:53, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
The section of About.com is: "Agnosticism / Atheism".Rlsheehan (talk) 16:19, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
1. about.com is not atheist website. The term 'God of the gaps'. As this term is related to agnosticism / atheism, it is just present in that section in about.com's website, which doesn't imply that it is a biased definition.
2. I consider that quote as POV from religious side, definitely not a neutral. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Abhishikt (talkcontribs) 17:57, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── This is a very poorly written article at this time. I welcome efforts to clarify it. We need Reliable Sources (not about.com) that state what God of the Gaps is. One statement is now provided by Harris. If you think that finding God only in the gaps of scientific knowledge is a theistic or Christian position, please find appropriate references. This could be in the form of position papers or creeds of major denominations or scholarly published works. So far, I have not found any theologian who supports limiting God to the gaps of human knowledge. Respected theologians do not try to use God of the Gaps reasoning as a proof of God.Rlsheehan (talk) 19:51, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

True that it isn't ordinarily a trap into which the most theologically sensitive individuals (including "respected theologians") tend to fall. But we often see preachers and writers of religious apologetic literature falling into the trap in making their arguments to potential converts and/or to active participants in their forms of worship, not to even mention countless laypersons' personal views of God. On occasion, theologians and large churches have fallen into it too. "Young-Earth creationism" is among the classic examples, a view of God set into a large gap in scientific knowledge, but a view which is today demonstrably false. ... Kenosis (talk) 17:05, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Drifting Again[edit]

Clarity on What God of the Gaps Is[edit]

As many people have been mentioning, this article, and particularly the opening paragraph, has once again become muddled. The term "God of the Gaps" was invented by Christian theologians (all the original references: Drummond, Bonhoeffer, Coulson, Bube are Christian theologians and apologists) as a pejorative term for poor theological arguments. Although the redirection gloss in italics correctly identifies the term as a "theological perspective" the main article suggests that it is a form of religion ( 'a view of God as existing in the "gaps" '). As Kenosis says, above, no branch of Christianity would admit to such a belief -- they sometimes use such arguments unintentionally but when it is pointed out they generally fix the arguments.

For Christians (and Christians own the term - see above) therefore, the phrase "God of the Gaps" is entirely equivalent to the to the term Begging the question which is owned by logicians. Note how that article begins:

Begging the question ... is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proven is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.

A good article about God of the Gaps should thus begin in a parallel way:

God of the gaps ... is a type of theological fallacy in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be proofs of God's existence.

This sense of the meaning is not introduced until the third segment of the article called "Usage in referring to a type of argument." Furthermore in that Section the wording "can refer to a position" suggests that this is not the only way that it is used. But there are no citations showing where it can be used in any other way.

Atheists ??[edit]

Given that the term "God of the Gaps" was invented by Christian theologians, and used exclusively by Christian theologians in all cited references (which go up to 1978) this term has no apparent atheistic heritage. There have certainly been cases in the past where terms originating in one group have been appropriated by another, so it is possible that Atheists have picked up the term "God of the Gaps" and given it their own meaning. But I see no citations to that effect so I must assume this is not the case. In fact the words "Atheist" and "Atheism" do not occur even once in the article. And Christians certainly continue to use the term (see for example Theopedia).

Furthermore, the article was until recently included under the category "Arguments against the existence of God." I hope everyone sees the logical fallacy in this: just because God of the Gaps arguments are poor proofs for the existence of God (as the above theologians point out) does not mean that they offer any evidence at all for the non-existence of God.

Which raises the question (note I did not say "begs the question" !!): Why is this article labelled as part of a series on Atheism? That would be akin to inserting into the article on Memes a huge sidebar labelling it as part of a series on Christianity. Richard Dawkins would not be amused.

How to Fix It[edit]

There are two possible ways to fix it:

  • If no-one comes up with references indicating that atheists have co-opted the term
    • The Atheist side-bar should be removed
    • The opening paragraph should be edited to resemble the "Begging the Question: article, as described above.
  • If in fact the Atheists have co-opted the term:
    • The opening paragraph should explain that the term was used exclusively by Christians for 100 years, but has now also been adopted by Atheists, who have given in a new alternate meaning. The two meanings should then be summarized.
    • The structure of the main article should compare and explicitly contrast the divergent usages of the two groups
    • Citations should be given to Atheist articles

I would make these changes now, but I can see in the revision record that attempts to wrestle this article back to reality have been resisted in force. I may however give it a try after leaving a few days to see whether there are relevant new citations (as that will determine the structure). Mrdavenport (talk) 07:51, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Started[edit]

OK, I have replaced the first paragraph as follows (I am leaving a copy here so that it is more easily discussed later, after it has been deleted from the main article):

God of the gaps is a type of theological fallacy in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God's existence. The term was invented by Christian theologians not to discredit theism but rather to discourage reliance on teleological arguments for God's existence.

I have carefully made sure that each phrase is thoroughly supported by the references quoted in the main body of the article. I have left the Stanford Teleology reference even though it is redundant because of the Wiki link to teleology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrdavenport (talkcontribs) 15:49, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment by Rlsheehan[edit]

No important theologian uses gaps in human knowledge as a proof of God's existence. That would be relegating God to human limitations. Please revise your edit. Rlsheehan (talk) 19:09, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Response to Rlsheehan[edit]

I don't see how theological methods of proof can ever be seen to "relegate God to human limitations." A classic God of the Gaps argument would be "There was a loud boom and a bright flash of light; no creature could possibly have done that; it must have been God; so now I have proof that God is real." That might have been a convincing argument for peasants in England in 1066. Does it relegate God to human limitations? Au contraire - it attributes to God super-human capabilities. Please explain what you meant by your comment.
Note that my edit uses the phrasing "is evidence or proof of" not just "is proof of." This is an important distinction, because it encompasses a larger group of theologians. I'll review a few:

The Watchmaker analogy was a very influential God of the Gaps argument, stemming from Cicero in the first century BC, but rising to prominence with William Paley in the early 1800s. Paley argues explicitly that the design features that we see can only be explained by "an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use". Drummond (I have his book on my shelf) was explicitly responding to Paley and of course Darwin.

The Teleological Arguments all point to elements of creation that could not be explained by science and thus prove that there is a God. Click on the link (that's why I put the link in the article).

Thomas Aquinas (who I think counts as an "important theologian"!) argued that because there is order and predictability in inanimate objects, which clearly cannot create order for themselves, there must be an intelligent being ordering them:

We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God. [1]

Even Isaac Newton (who, more than anyone previous, started plugging the gaps) inferred from the variety that he saw in creation, evidence for a creator:

We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [2]

The "evidence for belief" that Francis Collins refers to in his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief is man's "knowledge of right and wrong." The book argues that such moral thought cannot be explained by science and thus is "evidence for belief" (aka "evidence for the existence of God"). This has been criticized as a God of the Gaps argument.

Thus the view that certain features of the observed world, inexplicable by natural philosophy, are proof of a creator, were foundational to Christianity and continue to crop up. These views are seldom held these days explicitly because a) science has been filling the gaps, and b) theologians recognized the flaw in this type of apologetics, and labelled it "God of the Gaps" thinking.

Furthermore, atheists argue against God's existence by stating that God of the Gaps thinking is foundational to theism, and continues to be influential. See for example http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/gaps.html, from which the following quote is taken

The pattern is unmistakable. "See! You can't explain this!" they proclaim, pointing triumphantly to places where our knowledge is incomplete, as though scientists claimed omniscience. "And you never will be able to! That proves our god is at work!"

Have I misunderstood your concerns? Mrdavenport (talk) 21:59, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

God Living in the Gaps[edit]

Perhaps part of the confusion is the metaphorical language being used by Drummond "gaps which they will fill up with God. As if God lived in the gaps?" He is not saying here that people actually believed that God "lived" in the gaps. It is a figure of speech, like a counsellor saying "why do you live in the past?" What Drummond was criticising (as is clear in his book) is that people should not build their faith on evidence from gaps in human knowledge (e.g. "I know that God exists because science cannot explain how the human eye could have come about by accident"). Rather people should equally see God's handiwork in those parts of the natural world that science has explained (e.g. "An excellent scientific understanding of the evolution of the eye is emerging, which reveals God's handiwork" or something like that).

Mrdavenport (talk) 23:46, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

More about the origin of the term[edit]

I read the Wikipedia article about Charles Coulson and found a reference to an article by Adrian Hough: Not a Gap in Sight: Fifty Years of Charles Coulson's Science and Christan Belief. Theology 2006, 109:21-27. Hough (in ref. 9) in turn cites the book by C. Southgate et al.: God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion (T & T Clark 1999), page 247. Hough writes (p. 24)

The concept was certainly already present, but according to Southgate it was Coulson who devised the actual terminology which we now use and which has been adapted to provide the title of the present article. The idea that Coulson coined this phrase is supported by the fact that he used it without reference or explanation and as a natural self-explanatory part of his argument.

I don't see that this is contradicted by what we know about Drummond's writing about minds "in search of gaps - gaps which they will fill up with God".

Bonhoeffer's mention of the concept were in private letters written in the German language. I don't have access to the original but quote from Bube's 1971 paper which presents the translation: "How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge." This echoes Drummond but is different from Coulson's "God of the gaps".

Coulson's book was first published in 1955 by Oxford University Press and then in 1958 as a paperback by Fontana Books. The latter edition has a different page numbering, an updated preface and promotional quotes from British reviews of the first edition. My own copy is from 1964, marked as the 5th impression of the Fontana edition. This shows that Coulson's book was widely read in Britain when it was new. As Hough writes, it is largely forgotten today.

I don't have access to the book by Southgate et al., nor to earlier non-scientific articles by Coulson. Still, I find it likely that Charles Coulson was the one who coined the term "God of the gaps" for a theological fallacy that had been perceived and discussed previously by Drummond and Bonhoeffer. Roufu (talk) 14:51, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

- Excellent analysis, Roufu. Thanks. Mrdavenport (talk) 13:39, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q. 2, Art. 3, 1270
  2. ^ Newton, Principia, General Scholium, 1687