Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight will be it for a very limited time. In the morning, I head out to see my wife’s family so traveling mercies for our journeys included in your prayers for us would be greatly appreciated. However, before I return and then get to work on the project I have in mind, I would like to share an idea I’ve been pondering lately that I notice in atheistic thought.
One of the most notorious claims that atheists make about theistic thinking is that it’s a “God of the Gaps” mentality. In other words, when there’s some gap that the theist doesn’t know about, well then God did it. Now in many ways sadly, this reputation has been fairly earned. In fact, it was a Methodist layman who first coined the term “God-of-the-gaps.” Too many Christians have looked at any gap in history, put in God, and said that was it.
It’s an attitude we should avoid. Now there are no doubt times in history when God has acted, but we dare not say God is the one who acted immediately just because we know of no other explanation. I have no problem with saying “Let’s exhaust all natural possibilities first and then see what we have left.” If we can’t find anything, we might have something miraculous, but let’s not just assume that a priori.
The atheist says the ignorance of the theist makes them plug in God automatically and keeps them from thinking and that a theist shouldn’t be ignorant. Now insofar as that happens, I do agree. However, my problem is that the atheist has his own problem of ignorance and yet, in that case, it’s justified to him.
When the problem of evil comes to the theist from the atheist, the theist is expected to know why it is that God allowed particular evil X to occur. If the theist does not know the reason, then the atheist can be very quick to assume victory. Why? If no one can think of a good reason, surely there isn’t one.
But this is just another case of ignorance and while the Christian should not be too quick to throw in a “God-of-the-gaps”, the atheist is way too quick to think that because no good reason for an event can be thought of at the time, then there can be no good reason for it.
Now my thinking on this is that if I can’t think of a “good reason” for allowing the evil, well the atheist has proven that I’m not omniscient. If that was the goal, well I would have happily conceded that at the start. However, supposing that there was no good reason I can think of. Does that mean I cave in and claim atheism? Not at all. After all, I have several positive claims that need to be addressed. My theism is not built on a subjective experience, but on claims that I believe can be backed with solid argumentation. Because I can’t answer one counter does not mean that all my claims are ipso facto false.
However, for the atheistic thinker, we could just as easily say he’s looking for a “naturalism-of-the gaps.” But what is the basis for knowing naturalism is true? Frankly, it could not be. No one has yet to make an airtight problem of evil argument against God and even the concept of evil relies on an objective moral standard to have meaning of which there is none in naturalism. Now some could try to claim a logical contradiction in the nature of God, but that has yet to be proven either. There would also need to be a disproof of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
My conclusion is that on both cases, we have things we frankly don’t know. Now theists should not be too quick to throw in God. In fact, when I debate an atheist, I like to grant them as much of their worldview as I can for the sake of argument. Throw out the gaps and let’s see if you can explain the resurrection of Jesus, the doctrine of being, and the objective moral standard.
And perhaps, we can see some consistency on our atheistic opponents on this one.