What is the God of the Gaps Argument?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: What is the God of the Gaps argument?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jasper

    I’m going to start using “insane invisible gerbil head” as my go-to explanation for things I don’t understand.

    How did the universe start? I dunno. Must have been the insane invisible gerbil head.

    Why do we have consciousness? Insane invisible gerbil head… nailed it.

  • Peter K

    I think the God of the Gaps argument isn’t consciously used by most believers. It is something that we perceive in the way that they apprehend reality. It’s argument from ignorance. I think the problem is their starting point, and a lack of education, and a deep failure of comprehension.

  • the moother


  • evodevo

    The theist position gets backed further and further into a corner as time, and knowledge, accumulate. With the advent of the scientific revolution, this process began accelerating exponentially. But you will never get a fundie to admit this – it has to do with logic.

  • viaten

    So God is just a place holder for future explanations. Or like caulk filling in holes or cracks until a something is repaired or replaced, like a theory.

  • Paula M Smolik

    I can read faster than people can talk. Videos make me impatient.

  • Geena Safire

    The God of the Gaps argument is one form of the Argument from Ignorance aka the Appeal to Ignorance.

    As with most logical fallacies, I agree, the speaker/writer is unaware that their position is illogical.

  • yellow5

    No, because a theory in the scientific sense is well confirmed with observation and evidence and are consistent with scientific methodology. A scientific theory is not a place holder or mere idea – it is supported by evidence, it is reliable, it is confirmable and falsifiable, and it is comprehensive. It is able to be understood by any other scientist in that field of study.

  • yellow5

    Blasphemy. The cult of the Invisible Pink Unicorn will hear of this.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget.

  • viaten

    My point is that God is the place holder, not the theory, for what a theory doesn’t explain but where an explanation is desired. The theory is something that is repaired or replaced when new data is found and God is no longer needed, at least for the scientific gap being filled.

  • yellow5


    No. That isn’t how science works at all.

  • viaten

    Let me clarify some more. I don’t consider God a place holder for gaps in scientific understanding to be later replaced. My original post was meant to be sarcastic. In the religious mind, God conveniently fills in the gaps in scientific understanding (like caulk used wherever around the house, garage, etc) and then is reluctantly given up when the evidence for a new or fixed up theory is overwhelming.

  • yellow5

    OK, thanks, this makes more sense.

    I’ll take my sarcasm meter in for service tomorrow.

  • Bitter Lizard

    “Let’s put God in that gap.” Good sign to start running from the priest, kids.

  • Spuddie

    Anyone in the last 2 centuries using God as the go-to explanation for facts concerning nature and the physical world, has been either ignorant, delusional or dishonest.

  • baal

    ok, the videos are for a wider audience and a good many of them like to watch or listen instead of reading.

  • Mitch

    It’s a lazy way to make a case for a deity, yes, but my big issue with the argument is that it kills any need for further exploration. If something happens because of god, what use is there in investigating? I don’t like it, Sam I Am.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    videos are for a wider audience

    Baal says videos are for fat people.

  • Buckley

    Double Blasphemy!!! All Hail the FSM!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    With all due respect Hemant, albeit a longer video, I think Tyson’s “Perimeter of Ignorance” hits it home much more strongly.


  • baal

    wtf is wrong with you?

  • Brad C.

    I like to respond that “God did it” doesn’t actually answer any of the important questions, it’s not actually making any usable claims.

    So, you claim that we need God to explain the origin of the first life on earth? Ok, fine. How did he do it? What organism(s) did he create first? Why? Was it a single moment of supernatural intervention that then evolved into all living things, or were there separate creation events? How many separate creations? Why do those separate creations look like they are related? What exactly happened next?

    So, you claim that God guided evolution through history as part of his plan to bring humanity into being? Ok, how did he do that? I mean, did he magically create the genetic mutations at each generation? Did he supernaturally protect the “chosen” in a population, and zap those he didn’t want to reproduce? How did he do that? Why would he allow 99% of all species in history to become extinct? How does that match with his plan?

    “God did it” is more than just a cop-out, its not even an answer. It just complicates the questions.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    So, you claim that we need God to explain the origin of the first life on earth? Ok, fine. How did he do it?…

    If they could tell us how, then in all likelihood we would no longer need the who. That’s pretty much the entire history of science.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    baal fails to understand Teh Internetz.

  • Matt D

    I completely agree. Our civilization has been around for some time, and yet only now are we experiencing the possibilities of technology and science due to zealots preferring to live in a fantasy over truth.

  • Spuddie

    LOL, ewww but LOL nonetheless.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty
  • shuteme

    I can save you all from FSM and The Flying Pink Unicorn. Praise me in all media and send me your banking info. GodLessFucker

  • Peter K

    Agreed, “god did it” begs more questions than it answers! I think the point in it is that it allows the believer to stop thinking and not have to face certain aspects of reality that they’d rather not deal with.