Re: God of the gaps

Stephen Jones (
Wed, 22 Apr 98 05:44:15 +0800


I noticed that in the ASA Reflector web archives that there was a
thread on question of who first coined the phrase "God of the gaps".
I am not a member of that list so I don't know what was the eventual

If its of any help, I found a reference to the "God of the gaps" in a
1967 book by Dobzhansky:


"...the enterprise of science is still in its beginning stages. Only
some phenomena of nature are in part understood, and the realm
awaiting explanation is far greater. It is precisely the unknown
that inspires scientists to press on their quest. There are people,
however, to whom the gaps in our understanding of nature are pleasing
for a different reason. These people hope that the gaps will be
permanent, and that what is unexplained will also remain
inexplicable. By a curious twist of reasoning, what is unexplained
is then assumed to be the realm of divine activity. The historical
odds are all against the "God of the gaps" being able to retain these
shelters in perpetuity. There is nothing, however, that can satisfy
the type of mind which refuses to-accept this testimony of historical
experience." (Dobzhansky T., "The Biology Of Ultimate Concern,"
[1967], Collins/Fontana: London, 1971, p13)

Of course as a philosophical naturalist, Dobzhansky assumes in
advance that there can be no gaps. That some gaps have been found
not to be real by the advance of science does not mean that all gaps
are not real! The gaps between the origin of the universe, the
origin of life, the origin of higher taxa and the origin of human
consciousness, are still there! Not to mention the gaps that are
opening up in Molecular Biology!


Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia v "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)