We need a catchy counter-phrase for “god of the gaps”

We all know that atheists accuse Christians of looking for gaps in science and then trying to fill those gaps with God. However, atheists do the same. Watch any debate between an atheist and a Christian. The atheist will look for holes in the bible (or in Christianity in general) and then try to shoe-horn atheism into these holes. They reason that if Christianity can’t explain something like why bad things happen to good people (i.e. an apparent “hole” or “gap” in the logic of Christianity), then this is proof that atheism is true (even though the bible promises no where that good things must happen to good people in this life. The good happens in the next life, not this life).

Considering this, I’m currently trying to formulate a catchy phrase to counter the phrase “god of the gaps”. The phrase “god of the gaps” is effective in that it’s short, catchy and has alliteration (ie the two “g”s). What would be a good phrase to throw back at an atheist to show them that they are doing the same thing as they accuse Christians of doing? The atheist is in effect looking for and concocting holes in Christianity, and then filling these holes with atheism. So the phrase I’m looking for would be something like this:

“Atheism of the gaps”
“Atheism of the holes”

But of course, neither of these sounds very catchy. Can anyone come up with a catchier version of this phrase? The catchier it is, the more likely it would be to take off and be an immediate easy refutation of the “god of the gaps” phrase atheists throw at Christians all too often.

“God of the gaps” is not so effective when one considers there are infinite gaps.

Atheism of absences?

It’s still not going to be rhetorically strong. They’ll say, “Right, God is absent, that’s my point.”

Maybe there’s not a good rhetorical comeback in the way you’re looking for. Good luck!

The guy who came up with that term was a Christian sick of other Christians doing that. The problem with assuming God is doing it when there’s no scientific explanation is that it limits God to being God of the unknown instead of the known.

So the proper response is to agree with the atheist that its wrong when people do that, but that doesn’t implicate all Christians in having that mentality.

If both sides would simply admit they don’t know, wouldn’t that be refreshing?

It’s really not about who is right, since neither proposition is provable, rather it’s about upholding world views, which is philosophy and religion not science.

So, if asked by an atheist, my answer is, “I don’t know”–adding that neither does he. :wink:

This. THIS!!! :thumbsup:

In a sound-bite age, this phrase is used indiscriminately and out-of-context. Rather than countering it sound-bite by sound-bite, maybe we might charitably explain what it really means… and what it doesn’t (and why the ways it’s being misused don’t express what it rails against… and why Catholicism isn’t impaled on its horns :wink: )!

Here are a few to bat around:

Unbeliever’s Cantilever
Sceptic’s Connection
Sceptic’s Span
Philosoph’s Filler

Since we’re talking about God of the Gaps, I have my own related theory called GAPS, for “Gain Application Probability Supposition.” If you are so inclined you can read it at:

womanatwell.blogspot.com/2013/11/gaps.html .


I observe what I’d call the science of the gaps: we don’t understand this or that now, but science will explain it one day… It’s the sign of an admirable faith, but it’s not science and is misplaced faith.

Pax Christi

Let’s please leave catch phrases to the Evangelicals and politicians. This isn’t a competition, nor is it marketing.

The first Christians proved that God existed by their love for total strangers and even for their persecutors, and by their willingness to die rather than renounce Jesus or give up loving others.

Y’all can brainstorm catchy phrases but this isn’t how our faith works nor will it lead one singe person to God.


Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

We should all do what you said above, but ALSO be prepared to make a defense. Its not a case of either or, but both and. There are going to be a certain amount of christians who when accused of creating a “god of the gaps” are going to stand there jaw wide-open and don’t know what say back. This feeling of not being able to say anything back at a moment like this can subconsciously take a notch out of the persons faith. A good catch-phrase would remedy this problem.

One of the most misused verses in the Bible.

It says be prepared to answer people when they ask you why you have hope.

We hope for the resurrection of the dead if we persevere to the end. That’s what “hope” refers to. We have to be ready to answer why we hope that we will be raised from the dead when asked.

I don’t see how marketing phrases does that.

Most scientists will, of course, accept the possibility that science might fail to explain something one day. But science has been a wildly successful method for establishing which claims about the world are false. Compared to the demonstrable utility of science, religion’s “successes” are few and far between. While science has allowed us to eliminate entire diseases, theology only claims a handful of miraculous cures and gives no promises of future successes. Science lets us predict certain kinds natural disasters, while theology only offers vague insinuations that the causes may be our sinfulness. Science has let us travel to new places, see previously invisible things, and build previously inconceivable structures. Religion didn’t so much as tell people to boil their water before drinking it.

Moreover, theology has had several high-profile failures. From predictions about how the planets move to what causes earthquakes, whenever we see faith-based explanations of natural phenomena, the faith-based explanations have almost inevitably had to retreat in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

All of these facts are the atheists’ justification for faith in science, and rejection of theologizing when one should be sciencifizing. Therefore, an anti-god-of-the-gaps would need an equally compelling set of failures on the part of atheists to justify it’s existence. I will assert that there is no such thing, because what counts as compelling in a theological sense is highly subjective, and there is no such thing as a theological consensus against which atheist’s claims can be measured. For example, the scientific consensus is that the earth is older than 6000 years, and so religious claims to the contrary were held to be examples of god-of-the-gaps reasoning. But if you want to take issue with an atheists claim about Jesus (e.g. that Jesus wasn’t God,) then you have to realize that the Muslim and Hindu theologians are actually on the atheist’s side.

Many philosophers and scientists, including Aristotle and Einstein, believed in an eternal universe. Now that has changed and the consensus is the current Big Bang Theory. This concurs with the first verse of Genesis of the Bible. It is true some things are understood differently now, but that does not mean what scientists say is always right. Currently scientists refuse to acknowledge that the workings of the biological cell are far too intricate and complex to have come about by chance changes to our genes, even considering natural selection. See just one example at my blog on the complex makeup of ATP Synthase, the protein complex needed for energy in our cells:

womanatwell.blogspot.com/2013/01/microbiology.html .

Religion gives us a guide to know that we don’t have to rely on what scientists say if they are not making sense.

I don’t think this type of phrase needs to be angry or degrading. It is not a bad idea to be able to pinpoint a concept and then be able to go from there. Many people these days are kept away from God due to scientists telling them they don’t need God for the world to be the way it is. We need to engage people wherever they are. That includes evaluating worldviews PLUS telling them about Jesus.

The bible doesn’t promise you answers to all these things. Your accusing the bible of not delivering on something which it never promised you in the first place. Religion has its place. Theology has its place. You cannot accuse religion on not delivering on science in the same way you cannot accuse science on not delivering on theology.

It’s a bit like saying a printer is better than a car because a car can’t print anything.

A simple phrase for the person of faith might be: the God of possibilities, for with God anything is possible.

Having said that, though, God never promised to explain the whole of his creation to us. Indeed, he asks that we praise him for it–not demand he tell us all about it. :wink:

It’s fine to delve into the mysteries of the physical sciences–laudable in many ways. But it’s no substitute for religion. Religion is reconnecting people with God. Period. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how the universe functions. I only wish people who try to shoehorn science into religion would realize that and let it go, for goodness sake.

If anyone doesn’t want to believe in God that’s up to him, but please don’t tell me that I must deny God merely because my beliefs don’t line up with anyone’s lack of belief for whatever reasons. It’s not going to happen–it’s demanding what cannot be demanded of anyone.

God Of The Wide Open Spaces!

Is God from Montana? :stuck_out_tongue:

These are interesting questions.

The original post addressed the question of unfairly demanding that the Bible and our faith have ready, simple answers to mysteries about God, the problem of evil, etc., and noted that such a demand would be as unfair as demanding that science have ready answers to any/all questions about the natural world.

In one or more of the subsequent posts, a distinct “science of the gaps” was mentioned: the claim that while science does not *yet *have the ability to fully explain the natural world, just wait long enough and eventually scientific inquiry will fill/close all the gaps. This kind of claim also has been called materialism (or naturalism) of the gaps if extended to all of reality rather than only the natural world. Materialism or naturalism-of-the-gaps is when someone concludes, metaphysically, that there must be a natural explanation for everything, even though no such explanation is yet known for some (a great many, actually) things.

I agree that we should not make gap claims in general. We can keep searching for scientific explanations without making naturalism-of-the-gaps metaphysical claims. When we succeed as scientists in finding those natural explanations, we are not thereby detracting from any valid store of “evidence” for God!

If a particular question remains stubbornly open (unsolved), we can’t tell whether that’s because:

  1. we’re just ignorant and the explanation is there and waiting - albeit maybe indefinitely - to be discovered,


  1. the explanation really isn’t there to be discovered, no matter hard long/hard we try and no matter how much our descendants might discover and learn, because the open question really is, inherently and fundamentally, an unfathomable mystery.

Since we can’t know which is the case, we have plenty of motivation to keep trying to learn what we can through science. We don’t need to arrogantly predict success beforehand. We should just keep trying. And again, when a scientist humbly and faithfully and doggedly keeps searching for natural explanations, she/he is not attacking God or God’s church. Just the opposite, in fact. A determined scientist need not be an atheist!

I think you have a good summary of what the OP had in mind, and God of the Gaps is more an example of what he meant than the main topic. However, I’d like to answer what you have said about “arrogance” of claiming to know what will be discovered in the future. You have probably seen the commonly used Romans 1, verse 20 (NABRE from USCCB website):

Ever since the creation of the world, his [God’s] invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they [those who do not accord God glory] have no excuse…

usccb.org/bible/romans/1 .

Scientists are learning more and more about the amazingly complex biological machinations of the cell. These are the irreducibly complex chemical reactions that keep organisms alive. But instead of praising the Lord, a large percentage of scientists say these workings came about by evolution: chance and natural selection. Well, you have to have the chance first in order for natural selection to choose the fittest, and these mechanisms would not have come about by chance even after billions of years. The real problem is this: the scientists won’t admit that it might not be solved by science. They won’t admit where we are now instead of where they want to be in the future where science supposedly solves everything. I’ll add another word which describes this attitude: scientism.

Look at the apparatus for photosynthesis in the link below including the amazing ATP Synthase set of molecules. Read how many atoms are involved. Even if more is discovered about them, I don’t think it is arrogant to think that these mechanisms could have been made directly in a supernatural way by God’s hand. I praise Him for His creation.

womanatwell.blogspot.com/2014/04/gods-not-dead.html .

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