God of the gaps

The role of God or magic in everyday life is getting squeezed into smaller and smaller gaps in our knowledge.

Religion                            Science

God sends the rain.     Hydrological cycle theory
God throws thunderbolts.    Electrostatic theory applied to air masses
God places a blue dome over the Earth.    Atmospheric theory
The Earth is flat and has corners.    Round earth theory
God hangs planets in the dome of the sky.    Solar system theory (Copernican)
God places the moon in the dome of the sky.     Theory of gravity applied to Earth-Moon binary planet
God hangs the sun in the dome of the sky and makes it move.    Rotating earth theory
God hangs the stars in the dome of the sky.    Theory of interstellar space
Demons invade people and make them act crazy.    Psychiatric theories of mental illness
Illness is punishment for sin.    Germ theory
To avoid punishment for sins, punish a scapegoat.    To feel better, admit doing harm and make amends. (It works for me.)
Women’s periods make them unclean.    Menstruation is part of reproductive cycle.
God punishes sinners with lightning.    Electrostatic theory with grounded lightning rods prevents damage
God makes the plants and animals.    Evolutionary theory
Angels can make you pregnant.    Virgin birth element of hero myth (or 1/100,000,000 chance–thanks, Don!)
God wants offerings of meat, blood, oil, and grain.    Priestly class eats well on the offerings.
Heavenly aether transmits electricity by God’s will.    Electricity comprises moving electric charges
Congenital defects are punishment for sin.    Genetic theory, mutation theory, embryology, and teratology
Looking at spotted sticks makes goats bear spotted young.    Genetic theory
God wants childbirth to be painful    It is our duty to relieve suffering.
Gods and goddesses cause volcanoes to erupt.    Lava under pressure breaks though Earth’s crust. (h/t Mr. Kirk)
God created the universe by speaking a magical command.    Steady State theory. Big Bang theory. (h/t Mr. Kirk)

5 Responses to “God of the gaps”

  1. Don Hutton Says:

    It’s debatable whether or not a lot of psychiatric “theories” have any more factual basis than the demonic possession ideas. One famous line of “reasoning” was that children’s accounts of sexual abuse were too consistent to be believed. Very little of it can be considered science as it can’t be falsified. Virgin births are just parthenogenesis. You get a clone of the mother in humans about once every hundred million births and most of those aren’t noticed: mostly because they’re not to virgins. There was one found in Italy a few decades ago when a daughter was tested for compatibility for an organ transplant to her mom and was found to be %100 compatible. The lab kept on thinking they’d mixed up the tissue samples.

    • monado Says:

      Don, you’re right about psychiatric theories in that sense. Let’s just say that I know I’d feel better if I tried to lessen harm I’d caused, but that’s because I don’t believe in asking a non-existent God to forgive me. On the other hand, the self-righteous scum who murdered Dr. Tiller dared to do it because his pastor told him that, now that he was saved, he’d still go to Heaven even if he murdered someone.

      That’s amazing! I hadn’t heard about parthenogenesis in humans: the most complex organism I knew of was sharks, and they are more distantly related to us than bony fishes, lampreys, or coelecanths. On the other hand, the odds of a mythical personage having a virgin mother are better.

      Your comments are always salutary.

    • monado Says:

      Don, I’m not getting any solid hits on that “parthenogenesis in Italy” story, either in news or science papers–it’s all forum discussions about rumours. Do you have any good links?

  2. Mr Kirk Says:

    The real danger w/ God of the Gaps reasoning is that it offers no cause and effect understanding and invites laziness. And from its empty answer, gives the answer seekers no place to go. As science reaches to new horizons, we’ll often be left scratching our heads as to certain cause and effect relationships. No doubt religious minded individuals will gleefully point and say, “There, in that event we can’t explain, God is doing that!” The atheist will chuckle and get to work.

    Certainly, the religious will remain stuck in their empty churches, holding their half truths and kneeling before a god of whatever they can’t explain (be it volcanoes, lightning, the creation of life on earth, or the birth of the universe.)

    What then for the atheist when we arrive at God, not through ignorance, but explanation?

    • monado Says:

      You are right. about religion stopping scientific investigation dead. My purpose was more to remind people of how many obvious cases religion has retreated from.

      If the explanation is, “It says so in my scriptures and i believe them,” you’re out of luck. When we arrive at God through repeatable evidence, atheists will change their minds. A striking example is depicted in Ted Chiang’s novelette, “Hell is the Absence of God.”


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