Finding God in What We Know

Finding God in What We Know January 1, 2015

Bonhoeffer God of Gaps

This might be contrasted with the recent article Eric Metaxas wrote for the Wall Street Journal, although one can be open to seeing questions at the limits of our scientific inquiry as pointers to a transcendent reality, without adopting the approach that views unanswered but potentially answerable questions within the realm of science as gaps to be filled with God as explanation.

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  • Andrew Dowling

    I love Bonhoeffer’s quote. I found Metaxas’s article to not be very helpful and at worst misleading. That it’s extremely rare for one to win the lottery doesn’t mean winning it requires divine assistance. But I do find it much more plausible that there is something behind all of this in the end. The problem is that the word “God” carries a huge amount of baggage and assumptions . . the Zeus like figure in the sky pulling strings. And this caricature is reinforced by believers and non-believers alike.

  • The problem with “seeing questions at the limits of our scientific inquiry as pointers to a transcendent reality” is that the boundaries of our scientific inquiry have never stopped being pushed further back.

    • I’m not persuaded that the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question is one that science can continue to push back. I meant by the edges of science, those places where it borders with philosophy and metaphysics, and not its ever-expanding edges of inquiry into the character and functioning of our natural world.

      • Then I wonder if you are not addressing so much the “limits” or “boundaries” of science so much as a category of question (“why”) that scientific methodology does not address.

  • Gakusei Don

    Is God being used as the stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge? I think this is mostly a myth, as part of the “science vs religion” conflict myth. Science has advanced tremendously in the last 100 years. Has there been anything in the last 100 years that used to be described as “God does it” but know has a scientific explanation?

    • In previous centuries it was more common for scientists to reference God in scientific treatises. I think you are correct that scientists of the past 100 years no longer cite God in this way (as LaPlace famously said, they have not need of that hypothesis). However, creationists (with the exception of those who espouse theistic evolution) continue to actively use God as a stop-gap for our knowledge; it is precisely how they argue: by trying to show “gaps” in scientific knowledge. So while “God as a stop-gap” may not be an approach practiced by legitimate scientists, the approach is not a myth.

      • Wouldn’t ID claims about the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum fit the bill?

        • Absolutely! Which is why theistic evolutionists are the only creationists I excepted! You should definitely include ID creationists!