Speaking of "Gaps" ...

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 12:31:03 -0600

Since several people here have talked about "gaps" in the context of
apologetics, etc., let me mention an essay I recently wrote for another
list titled: "What Does 'God of the Gaps' Mean?", which is at:

To give a condensed version, the phrase "God of the Gaps" is often tossed
around in our discussions, particularly in discussion of the views of
people such as Phil Johnson for whom the existence of "gaps" in nature
seems to be central to their view of God. I contend that the term has
two distinct usages, and that we often misunderstand each other because
we mean different things by the phrase (like Howard Van Till, I believe
good communication requires knowing what our terms mean).

The usage I call GOG-1 is "God of the Gaps" as science -- positing a
supernatural explanation for some gap in our natural understanding, but
doing that simply as an explanation rather than seeing it as finding room
for God as though he would be absent if there were no gap.

The usage I call GOG-2 is "God of the Gaps" as theology, where the
existence of such gaps in nature is made a theological necessity because
of an underlying philosophy (seemingly held by Carl Sagan and Phil
Johnson, for example) that "natural" explanations exclude God. I would
equate my GOG-2 with the "semi-deism" Jonathan Clarke mentioned as a
regrettably prevalent view of the way God acts.

I contend that GOG-2 is unacceptable for the Christian and does
substantial harm. GOG-1, on the other hand, is not necessarily a problem
-- except that it tends to slide very easily into the abomination of
GOG-2. An example of this is Michael Behe's book _Darwin's Black Box_.
The book (whether or not one agrees with it) is basically a GOG-1
statement, but in the church it is often twisted into awful GOG-2
statements like "Christianity isn't false after all because Michael Behe
and Phil Johnson are showing evolution isn't true after all." I suggest
that the "Intelligent Design" movement particularly needs to repudiate
GOG-2 theology as it makes GOG-1 arguments.

You'll have to read the essay to get more than that brief outline, but
perhaps it will add to our discussion.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | aharvey@boulder.nist.gov |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | say, or vice versa." |