Thursday, June 27, 2013

God of the Gaps

One of the ways to try to look at God is to see Him as filling in the gaps that cannot be explained by science. Many atheists want to turn this around and question whether, if science has explained things so far, should we not expect it to fill in the gaps? Now there are indeed some huge gaps that science cannot explain. How anything came into existence at all. How life developed out of non-life. How conscious thought developed out of the purely mechanical. These represent, not just minor difficulties, but huge fundamental complications. But there are more basic problems. We need to be clear on what science does and does not explain. Science tells us that, given certain rules operating on certain events, we can expect predictable results. But science cannot tell us why the laws and events are what they are or where they come from. The rules of grammar and spelling can tell us how letters come together to convey meaning. But they do not tell us if these letters were arranged by William Shakespeare, a third grader doing their homework, or an explosion in a print shop. Nor do they tell you why the rules are that way in the first place.

We would expect an orderly God to do things in an orderly manner. Therefore, the fact the universe has orderly laws does not prove that He does not exist. Even if we had a universe with no unexplained gaps and no miracles, it would not prove there was no God, merely that He had chosen not to intervene. What I see is exactly the opposite, that an ordered universe implies a Creator. It makes sense that God would incorporate into the creatures He made some limited ability to adapt to their environment. But to produce a new type of animal from an existing one, even with radiation to speed up the process, has proved fruitless. This is not surprising; it is like hitting a watch with a hammer and expecting to get a better watch. If you did it with enough watches, you might find something that was an improvement, but it would be very rare and limited. The idea that something as complex as living creatures could have been put together by chance is like throwing a batch of parts out on a plain somewhere and expecting that over time they would become a factory. But even if we had an airtight explanation of how living things came into existence, it would not prove whether this came about by chance or the will of an intelligent Creator. And we, as Christians, need to beware of seeing God merely at work in the gaps, as if the universe normally carried on, on its own, without Him. For science cannot explain the existence of the orderly rules that make science possible, but the existence of an orderly Creator can.    

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