God of the Gaps

tumblr_n9pr7nk4ec1sknuc2o4_5001“They [scientists of centuries past] call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.” And “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson contends god has always been and is where our limits of understanding are. What we don’t understand – what continues to be a mystery to science – we give to god. Some philosophers call this idea the God of the Gaps. Gaps in our understanding of the universe.

In Tyson’s view once we can know everything (is that possible?) then god disappears. No more mystery, no more unknown, no more reason for any concept of god. It seems to me that god – by whatever name – has a much broader presence than merely representing what scientists don’t understand.

He often talks about scientists of old who made outstanding discoveries. When they had reached the limits of their understanding, they attributed the rest to the will of god. He contends many scientist today feel the same. To put this idea in context let’s remember scientist are seeking to understand this material world

The unseen, sacred mystery that permeates all that is, was or ever will be is a completely different thing. It’s there in the known and seen and in the unknown and unseen. Some call that mystery god, love, source, creator, or your own words.

So, as science pursues the God of the Gaps, let’s not forget the real pursuit is the feelings in our hearts – the unseen, sacred mystery.


This entry was posted in Philosophy, Science, Spirituality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to God of the Gaps

  1. hopdavid says:

    Tyson argues belief in the God of the Gaps stifles innovation.

    For example he says Newton would have built the mathematical models for n-body perturbations had he not been satisfied with the explanation “God did it.” Laplace built satisfactory n-body models a century after Newton. Tyson asserts Laplace’s accomplishment would have been “crumbs” for Newton.

    Tyson’s assertion is clueless. After Newton came Euler, another giant in mathematics. Euler attempted to model n-body mechanics. After Euler came Lagrange, another great mathematicians. Lagrange also took a crack at it.

    100 years later Laplace built on the efforts of Newton, Euler and Lagrange. To say Laplace’s accomplishment would have been easy for Newton is disrespecting Laplace, Lagrange and Euler.

    Moreover, Tyson’s alternate history is not testable. We can’t rewind history and see what happens with an agnostic Newton. I can offer my own alternate history: An agnostic Newton would have spent his spare time in taverns chasing women. LIke a normal young man. He would not have split light, no developing calculus or his laws of motion. Zip, zero, nada. Is this alternate history valid? No. Like Tyson’s alternate history it is nothing more than idle speculation.

    I can name a long list of accomplished scientists and mathematicians who were believers. I can also do the same for nonbelievers. So I don’t see a case that either belief or non-belief has an effect on innovation.

    Our existence and our origins remain a mystery. I for one am happy about that. If we knew everything, nothing would be unexpected or surprising. Living in a completely predictable world would be death.

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