God-of-the-Gaps or Darwin-of-the-Gaps?

Title: God of the Gaps or Darwin of the Gaps?

Text: Genesis 1:1

Time: May 10th, 2010

It’s a common accusation leveled against Bible-believing Christians – as distinguished from people who call themselves Christians but don’t believe the Bible – that they rely on a god-of-the-gaps theology. What is this kind of theology? It’s the kind, so say the critics, that depends on the reality of God intervening into the natural world – such as in creation or miracles – but then backtracks when science is able to explain the same thing naturally. For example, an example of god-of-the-gaps theology might be belief in the supernatural miracles of Moses during the time of the Exodus. Today, a lot of people feel that the biblical miracles as recorded in the Bible can be explained naturally. There are probably two or three television documentaries that attempt to explain the miracles of Moses without the need for any divine intervention; in other words, without the need for supernatural miracles. In retelling the crossing of the Red Sea, one scientist at Oxford University in England believes he’s figured out the parting of the waters naturally. To demonstrate his theory he recreates the Exodus scenario using a tiny kids pool lined with pebbles that in the middle rise to a point just believe the surface of the water. He then uses a common variety leaf-blower to recreate a strong wind blowing upon the water. He aims the leaf-blower at the middle section of the water, thus blowing the water away from the middle ridge of pebbles enough to expose them. This, he claims, demonstrates that a strong wind came up and blew the water in one direction enough for the children of Israel to walk across the water on the exposed ridge. After the Jews had all crossed and during the time Pharaoh and his army attempted to cross the same way, the wind died down, the ridge submerged back under the surface of the water, and Pharaoh’s army was trapped in the water and drowned. So goes the Oxford professor’s theory. I’m not sure if that explanation convinced anyone, but whether it’s by this theory or another, today, many or most people now think that the miracles of the Bible can be explained in one way or another – therefore, there’s no need to resort to the supernatural. So the god-of-the-gaps theology retreats from the parting of the Red Sea miracle to the firmer ground of some other biblical miracle that hasn’t yet been explained by science. But the feeling is that as time goes by more and more miracles will be explained by science, so the biblical miracles shrink further and further until at some future time all supernatural miracles will be explainable naturally. Bible-believing Christians are accused of believing in miracles of the Bible until science explains them, then of retreating to other miracles science hasn’t explained yet – so, in other words, perpetually in retreat. Now this accusation isn’t exactly fair, because it’s partly based on what we define as an “explanation.” If one accepts the Oxford professor’s “explanation” of the Red Sea crossing, then they have us Christians. But we’ve good reason to doubt even the learned professor’s recreation – it doesn’t really fully fit as an explanation! But I’d like to turn the whole god-of-the-gaps accusation around and say that there’s also a “science-of-the-gaps” too. Or to put it in more personal terms, a “Darwin-of-the-gaps” – meaning, there are plenty of cases where Darwinian science fills in gaps in theories by faith just as Bible-believers do. I’d like to point out just three areas that could be labeled either god-of-the-gaps or Darwin-of-the-gaps, depending on which side or perspective you happen to be on.

First, what existed before the beginning? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now Darwinists like to claim that everything can be explained naturally through evolution or some similar natural scientific theory. Today, the current reigning theory in respect to “beginnings” is the Big Bang. According to the Big Band theory, 14-15 billions years ago a gigantic explosion occurred that produced everything we know of the universe, eventually including our solar system and our own planet earth. Now the big question is, where did the Big Bang come from? Or put another way, what caused the Big Bang. The Bible is very clear about an answer – God created everything. So in answer to the question, what caused the Big Bang? the biblical answer is that God caused the Big Bang, that is, if that’s how the universe actually began. The Bible doesn’t say there was any Big Bang, that’s a scientific theory, but the Bible also doesn’t necessarily contradict it either, in principle. But according to scientists, there must be some natural explanation as to how the Big Bang came about, although they can’t explain how it could have come about naturally. Plus, it also puts strain on the whole idea of a “natural” explanation, because what we consider “natural” is defined by the universe as we know it after the so-called Big Bang. Whatever exists on the other side of the Big Band, or whatever caused the Big Bang wouldn’t have to conform to any of the rules of science that we known now because we know nothing of that reality and it could be greatly different from what we know of as reality. So not only do scientists not have a natural explanation about the Big Bang, they can’t even ever hope to have one in principle because we can’t assume that the laws of science hold to reality before the Big Bang, since the Bang created the laws of nature and the laws of science. Yet, this doesn’t stop scientists from thinking, speculating and writing about how the Big Band came into existence. But what are scientists doing when they come up with theories about conditions before the Big Bang? They aren’t doing science, that’s for sure. Physicists like Stephen Hawking truly believe that everything has a perfectly good natural explanation, that there is no reason to bring God into the equation, yet he can’t explain how everything is explained naturally. What is this but a form of “science-of-the-gaps?” He doesn’t have faith in the creative ability of an all-powerful God, but he certainly has faith in the ability of science to someday explain everything. His so-called “Theory of Everything” is filled with faith, but not faith in God, faith in science. So on this point, concerning the question of how the universe came to be before it began, science is just as much relying on faith as a Bible-believing Christian. In fact, I believe it takes more faith to believe that a supernatural intelligence didn’t create the universe than to believe it did. So on this point, the Bible stands firmer, with its explanation of a Creator, then does science with its so-called “Theory of Everything” that so far can’t explain anything! 

Second, how did biological life originate? Genesis 1:11, “The God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation; seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’” This verse is the first specific mention of the creation by God of any kind of biological life on earth; everything before it generally speaks of the material world minus life. Now the strict Darwinian theory of evolution starts, obviously, at the moment of biological life, so there needs to be a moment in time when biological life came into existence. Scientists sometimes refer to “cosmic” evolution to refer to the formation of the universe, of the stars and planets and all the elements and eventually our solar system, our sun and our planet earth. They don’t mean “evolution” in the technical, biological sense, because in order for Darwinian evolution to work there must already be living things that can reproduce and then change into other living things over time. That can’t happen before biological life. So then the question is, how did biological life begin? Again, just as in the case of the Big Bang, science has no clear answer. The only thing that scientists are convinced of is that it came about through some purely natural process. But here’s the problem – the belief that biological life came about through solely natural processes must be taken by faith, that is, faith in natural science. There is no scientifically proven natural explanation how biological life came about, but there sure is a lot of speculation, and there sure is a lot of belief that’s how it came about, but belief doesn’t equal proof. Now the Bible-believing Christian says that God created the first biological life – that’s what the Book of Genesis tells us. We accept that God created the first biological life by faith because that’s what the Bible, God’s Word, teaches us. But we hold to this belief by faith. The point is that the scientists have to hold to their belief that the first biological life came about, not through direct supernatural creation by God, but through natural processes by faith also. Until someone actually explains and demonstrates that biological life came about through some natural process without direct intervention by God, it’s a faith belief. But that’s not what you’ll here from atheist biologists like Richard Dawkins. They all claim to be doing science, even when they are speculating, even when they are holding to theories by faith, they still claim that they are doing science and that there speculations are scientific. Why? Because they are trying to explain something naturally. But if you ask me, this is still nothing more than Darwin-of-the-gaps thinking. Just as they accuse the Bible-believing Christian of holding to a god-of-the-gaps theology – or in other words, hiding behind scientific ignorance, they do the same thing in respect to Darwinism. Science hasn’t proven how biological life came about, so then to say it has is a faith statement, a form of Darwin-of-the-gaps thinking. So as far as we stand right now, believing in the direct creation of biological life by God is just as rational as believing in some Darwin-of-the-gap theory put out by science today.

Third, how did the human mind come about? Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” According to the Bible God created human intelligence through a special act of creation. The human mind is a reflection of the divine mind only on a smaller scale. According to the Bible, the human mind is a unique act of creation. Self-reflection, self-awareness, verbal ability and high intelligence is something that didn’t just gradually happen, it was given by a special act of God’s creation. The opposite explanation is given by the theory of evolution. According to Darwin’s theory, the human mind evolved from lesser animal minds and only gradually became human. But what is a mind? Does the mind exist in the brain? Do thoughts exist only in the brain, or is there a special substance thoughts are made of? These and other questions stump philosophers and scientists. It isn’t a proven scientific fact that thoughts and feelings and emotions are purely biological. There is a whole profound debate going on in the mind-brain research field as to what is the mind and how does it relate to the brain. Is it a 1 to 1 correspondence? That’s one theory. Or is there something beyond the biological or physically? Are thoughts some unknown substance? Is there a separate soul? This whole field is filled with unexplained and unanswered questions. In no way is there any scientific consensus in this area. So if there is an evolutionary biologist who claims that the mind equals the brain – or vice verse, he’s just making a statement of faith. Nobody knows what the mind is right now, from a scientific standpoint. There is no conclusive scientific theory. Individual scientists may have faith that science will soon solve the mind-brain identity question, but as of now it isn’t solved and so anything beyond is by faith. For the Christian, for the Bible-believer, it makes sense that only an intelligent Mind greater than our own could have produced the human mind. It makes sense that only a greater mind could produce a lesser mind. Instead of the evolutionary bottom-up explanation – our human mind capacity came about through the gradual development of a lower animal mind – a top-down approach makes better sense – that is, the understanding the Mind of God created a lesser mind for human kind. So then, under this understanding, Intelligence was before matter, created matter and then created mind. This makes more sense than evolution’s explanation that matter created mind. But in any case, it takes faith at this point to believe either one. So any scientists who claims to know how the human mind came about is really holding to a form of the Darwin-of-the-gaps understanding of science. In other words, it’s by faith.

Christians don’t have to be intimidated by science or scientists. There’s just as much faith needed to be a scientist as there is to be a Christian, although you won’t hear that admitted too much in the scientific community. The perception, the image that is cast by the modern world is that reason is to science as faith is to Christianity. But that’s not true. There are an infinite amount of assumptions that need to be made about the nature of reality before the whole scientific enterprise can begin. We aren’t told about that aspect of science. A whole host of assumptions must be agreed upon and assumed before a scientist can even begin to work. And then, even after this faith beginning, in order to continue in scientific work, more faith steps must be taken. We aren’t told about these things either. The Darwinian theory of evolution is riddled with gaps that need to be covered over by faith. For example, the fossil record is a case in point. The fossil record is supposed to “prove” evolution is true; but it does no such thing – unless one already assumes by faith evolution is a true theory in need of supporting “facts.” If we look at the fossil record without assuming evolution is true, we’ll find it a hodge-podge of ancient artifacts that reveal an explosion – called the Cambrian Explosion – that actually disproves evolution! Instead of a gradual, orderly increase in complexity from simplicity, we see 400-500 million years ago (if dating methods can be trusted) fully-formed, complex life forms with no previous development. Where are the many forms that should have preceded them as the Darwinian theory predicts? Why do they all just appear relatively sudden in the fossil record? Why do they then stay essentially the same, some species either dying out or others continuing on to the present? The only way the fossil record is “proof” of evolution is if one is already a “true believer” in the theory already. But what else can we call this optimism except faith? Christians have faith in God as Creator – and we admit as much. Evolutionists have faith in their theory but try to claim it’s science or that it’s scientific. As Christians we need to continue to expose the theory of evolution for what it really is – a faith explanation. Atheist evolutionist William Provine, in his debate with a Christian lawyer Phillip Johnson admitted that he believed in evolution by faith, but most scientists are not as honest. The truth is that it takes more faith to believe that the glory of mankind came about through a natural, unguided, unplanned process called evolution, than to believe mankind is the purposeful product of creation by God.

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