Pope believes in “God of the gaps”

Galileo has been sent a letter explaining that all is forgiven and that he was right all along (well yes that’s Catholicism for you, its only 500 years too late). Also evolution is asserted to be factual, and of course the Big Bang really happened. So where, from the viewpoint of the Catholic church, does God fit in? Well, apparently the answer is … (yep, you can see this one coming can’t you) … “God did it”.

The news here is that yesterday the Pope announced all this (click here). There is no mystery here, they have always believed this, nothing has actually changed. No, instead the real mystery is why this is actually news at all, but since they have brought the topic up, then lets mull over it for a few moments.

In essence, they accept that the scientific explanation for the existence of the universe, the big bang, is factually correct. Little things like solid evidence that point to this make it a tad tricky to dismiss, so they don’t. Instead they simply wrap God around the entire package and declare “God Did it”. Now this approach has a rather major flaw that has been air-brushed out with the usual religious hand-waving shoe-shuffle dance that only the truly religious can pull off.

The facts are (as we currently understand them) the universe has no creator. There is of course plenty of speculation about cycles of universes and multi-verses … but lets put that to one side and focus on the logical flaw here.

  • Belief demands that the Universe (or multi-verse) cannot have just happened, it must have had a creator, and that creator was God
  • “Ah”, say the skeptics, “Who then created God”?
  • “God was not created”, they reply, “He always existed, God is eternal and outside of time”.

Oh… hang on a moment now … did you see what happened there? The believers have a special exception rule for God, and they claim he had no beginning and exists outside of time. Since they cannot accept that the universe just happened, they have simply invented another layer, called it God, and instead applied the “just is” rule to this made-up God instead. I guess I don’t need to point out some of the other little flaws here such as a complete lack of any evidence for this claim.

The fact that the pope has stated it does not give this claim any authority … you have the exact same degree of authority as the pope has (you just don’t have lots folks who believe that, thats the only difference).

So what is really going on here is that mainstream Catholicism appear to believe in what can be best described as the “God of the Gaps”. This means that they accept science, and everything it tells us about the universe and the world around us, but at the boundary when we hit the unknown, they simply slot God into the gap. This of course then leads us to the (tongue-in-cheek) observation that God is apparently shrinking because the gaps are getting smaller.

Sigh! … its all very much akin the Carl Segans invisible green dragon in my garage.

2 thoughts on “Pope believes in “God of the gaps””

  1. Udaybhanu Chitrakar, many thanks for writing that, you have clearly given it a lot of carefull thought.

    I’ve a couple of additional thoughts to add.

    You have, quite rightly, identified some suppositions that would need to be proven, but I suspect these are both suppositions that could never be emperically proven (I might of course be wrong).

    A big issue that I see with the “God did it” hypothesis, is the history this has for yielding the wrong answer. Belief is perhaps best described as an attempt to come to an understanding of the world around us. As our ancestors grappled with challenging questions, they would often be faced with things that they simply did not comprehend. For example Rain, Wind, the Sun, Lightening, the Moon … often such natural manifestations were deemd to be supernatural, or perhaps even identified as an actual supernatual entity.

    Today we now have a far greater understanding for all of these and much more. There is of course much that we still do not understand, and for such unknowns for some people there exists a default answer of “God did it”. It is not a satisfactory answer because there is no emperical data that verifies such a hypotheses, and so I suggest that perhaps a more honest answer is to simply declare, “I don’t know”. The net effect of that is that the answer we have ceases to be the final answer, and instead becomes a starting point for us to explore, gather more data and seek out a better understanding.

  2. God of the gaps

    I will begin this article with two suppositions: 1) God has created this universe; 2) He has brought man in this universe with some purpose.
    I am not claiming here that these two suppositions are true, or that I can prove them to be true. But I want to show here that if these two suppositions are true, then God will always be the God of the gaps. Anyone who will be reading this article should not forget that there is an “if” clause in the last sentence.
    Now I begin with the supposition that God has created this universe. If God has created this universe, then He could have created it in four different ways: 1) He created it in such a way that there was no necessity for Him to intervene in it after creation, 2) After creation He intervened in it, but these interventions were a bare minimum, that is, He intervened only when these were absolutely necessary. In order to clarify my point here, I will say that He intervened only when He found that without His intervention the universe would come to a standstill, 3) He created the universe in such a way that in order to keep it going He had to make very frequent interventions in it, 4) God’s total intervention after creation.
    If it was the purpose of God to keep mankind crippled in every possible way, then He would have adopted either the third or the fourth way while creating the universe. This is because in these two cases man, in spite of his having sufficient intelligence and reasoning power, will fail to unveil the secrets of nature, because in almost every phenomenon of nature that he will decide to study he will ultimately find that there always remains an unknown factor, for which he will have no explanation. For him the book of nature will thus remain closed for ever. But if it were God’s purpose that man be master of His creation, then it is quite natural for Him that He would try to keep the book of nature as much open to him as possible, so that with the little intelligence he has been endowed with man will be able to decipher the language of nature, and with that acquired knowledge will also be able to improve the material conditions of his life. In that case God will try to adopt the policy of maximum withdrawal from His creation. He will create the universe in such a way that without His intervention the created world will be able to unfold itself. However that does not mean that He will never intervene. He will definitely intervene when without His intervention the created world would become stagnant. In such a scenario man will be able to give an explanation of almost all physical events in scientific language. But in those cases where God has actually intervened, he will fail to do so.
    So I think there is no reason for us to be ashamed of the “God of the gaps” hypothesis. Yes, if God has created the universe, and if God’s purpose was that man be master of His creation, then He would try to keep as little gap in His creation as possible. But the minimum gap that would be ultimately left can never be bridged by any sort of scientific explanation. God will also reside in that gap. Why should we be ashamed of that?
    The whole matter can be seen from another angle. Those who strongly believe that God has created this universe also believe that He has created it alone. Now is it believable that a God, who is capable of creating such a vast universe alone, is not capable enough to keep a proof of His existence in the created world? So I think it is more reasonable to believe that while creating the universe God has also kept a proof of His existence in something created. This proof is open to us all, but we have not found it, because we have not searched for it. So even if it is the case that God has never intervened in the created world after its creation, still then there will be a gap in this natural world, purposefully left by God, for which science will find no explanation. This will be the ultimate gap that can only be filled up by invoking God.
    So it is quite logical that a God who will create man with some purpose will always prefer to be the God of the gaps. Yes, if we were really created by some God, and if it was not God’s desire that we be some sort of semi-savage beast, then it makes quite a good sense if I say that in that case God would try to keep the book of nature as much open to us as possible (policy of maximum withdrawal). In such a case man will also be able to explain almost everything of nature without invoking God. But then this “ability to explain almost everything of nature without invoking God” will not prove that there is no God, because it might also be the case that this ability itself is God’s design, God’s plan.
    Therefore, I am concluding this article with this: If God created this universe, and if God wanted man to be the master of His creation, then God would willingly choose to be the “God of the gaps”.


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