Do Christian worship a God of the gaps?
Once upon a time, when people couldn’t explain why things happen, they figured one of the gods did it. What about today? Do people point to things that science cannot yet explain as evidence for God? Yes, according to atheist Richard Dawkins. “Christians eagerly seek a gap in present day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God by default must fill it. Gaps shrink as science advances, and God is threatened with eventually having nothing to do and nowhere to hide.” Is this accurate? Do Christians worship a “God of the gaps?”
Well, contrary to urban legend, Christianity does not oppose science. On the contrary, nearly every one of the pioneers of modern science were Christians. Their understanding that the universe was created by a rational mind and that we were created in His image provided the necessary conceptual framework for systematic investigation of the natural world. Likewise, today, scientists who are followers of Jesus Christ find no conflict whatsoever between their scientific endeavors and their Christian worldview. And as science progresses the idea that God exists becomes more likely, not less.
It’s not what we don’t know that points us to God, it’s what we do know. For example, the scientific consensus used to be that the material universe has always existed. But as science advanced, it became clear that the universe actually had a beginning. This discovery brings up an awkward question: What caused the universe to begin? Logically, something can’t cause itself. So the cause of the universe, whatever it might be, must be beyond the physical universe. Something non-physical and exceedingly powerful. This new understanding makes the God hypothesis more likely, not less.
Another example. The forces that determine the structure of our universe used to be a complete mystery. But now, we know that our universe is structured the way it is because of the value of these fundamental constants. Each of these just happens to be precisely calibrated in such a way that the universe can support stars, planets, and life. If just one of these had a value different than it is by even the slightest amount, there would be no life of any kind anywhere. So how is it that our universe is fine tuned for the existence of life? There’s no reason to think the universe had to be this way. And to say this exquisite arrangement was achieved by chance is mathematically absurd. The most plausible explanation is that the fine-tuning of our universe was intentionally designed.
In an effort to avoid this conclusion, some imagine that our universe is just one of an infinity of randomly ordered universes. So the fine-tuning is not really that unlikely. However, there’s no scientific evidence for this multiverse. It’s a theory that can’t be tested. And the multiverse itself would require fine-tuning.
The extraordinary fine-tuning of the laws and constants of nature, their beauty, their discoverability, their intelligibility – all of this combines to make the God hypothesis the most reasonable choice we have. All other theories fall short. And a third example. Genetics used to be a large gap in our scientific understanding. But now, we know that human DNA contains an unbelievably vast amount of organized information. This digitally encoded information is best understood as computer code containing commands that are essentially blueprints for building living things. We also know that information is generated by minds. It seems logical then to conclude that the information contained in DNA was generated by a mind. Once again, an entirely scientific conclusion supports the case for God. It’s not that gaps in our knowledge are filled with “God did it.” On the contrary, it’s what we know that presents a powerful case for the existence of God. And as science advances, that case becomes increasingly unavoidable. The Christian worldview embraces the life of the mind and powerfully motivates scientific inquiry. The more scientists discover about our magnificent universe, the more we are blown away by the mind behind it all.