Re: Defining GOG

Craig Rusbult (
Tue, 16 Dec 1997 21:23:16 -0600

In reply to Allan's definitions of GoG, Lucy says:

>We cannot objectively say
>that gaps in nature exist precisely because we are not, like God, all
>knowing. That is, we don't know if the gaps exist. Gaps are, therefore,
>purely subjective.

Regarding our limited human knowledge, it may be useful to think in
terms of a continuum. At one end are events that clearly seem miraculous
-- these imply (but don't prove) "gaps in nature" due to God's action, as
in Allan's "A" definition. At the other end are events we usually take for
granted because things behave "normally" in the way we've come to expect.
Thus, if we observed a large-scale healing (like seeing the lame man in
Acts 3 begin to run) or a resurrection (of Jesus,...) this would seem easy
to classify as a gap. Similarly, some historical events in nature -- such
as the origin of life through prebiological "chemical" evolution -- seem
(to me) more likely to indicate gaps, compared with others, such as the
series of events postulated in neo-Darwinian evolution.
Of course, our knowledge is limited, and -- whether or not we see any
or all of these as "gaps" caused by theistic action -- we (or I, or you)
could be wrong.

But does any of this matter?
Some gaps are essential for authentic Christian belief. For example,
"if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile." (according to Paul,
in I Corinthians 15:17)

But the presence of other types of gaps is compatible with Christian
theism. I doubt if Paul would say that "if chemicals really can organize
themselves into a one-celled living organism, your faith is futile." This
is why Allan encourages us (in his B and C) to recognize that, for most
"origins" phenomena, the existence of gaps should not be considered an
essential requirement for faith.
If Christians can feel theologically free (without B or C) to follow
their scientific evaluations wherever the evidence seems to lead -- to a
young earth or old earth, to progressive creation or theistically guided
evolution or materialistic evolution, with many gaps or no gaps -- this
allows plenty of freedom, compared with an atheist who feels tremendous
metaphysical pressure to conclude that "there are no gaps" and that some
type of materialistic theory MUST be true.
For a Christian, if a materialistic mechanism is responsible for a
phenomenon, that's OK. If there is a gap that required theistic action,
that's OK, too. Either possibility is acceptable.

>Trouble is - somebody always figures out the gap later -
>so where does God stand then?

Always? Maybe not; we should not use "the boy who cried wolf" logic to
eliminate a plausible theory (such as ID) from consideration. One type of
gaps-error is to insist on gaps if (in reality) there are none; but if gaps
really do exist, then assuming they don't exist will lead us into error.