Friday, May 22, 2009

Why the god of the gaps must die

Each time a new scientific discovery is made that had previously been considered the domain of mystery or even miracle, the god of the gaps gets smaller and smaller. Since this particular god is nothing like the God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, I couldn't be happier to witness its very timely demise.

This god needs to die.

Ironically, at least for those who seem to be most concerned to defend the biblical witness against any encroachment on its authority, the most anti-scientific believers have posited a god that is only the god of the supernatural, the miraculous, and the spiritual, but gets short shrift when anything is found to be just natural. This attitude belies an inherently gnostic impulse that relegates the physical to an inferior status to the spiritual. We see this in popular Christianity, with its various programs that promise miraculous results if you just follow this ten point/seven spiritual laws, etc. secret formula. In other words, if you're truly spiritual, then you'll do this and not do that.

In this plastic Jesus version of spirituality, we have a cosmic bellhop who must answer to our whims because we figured out His formula. This false god, one we've made in our own faulty image; while doing our bidding, quickly shrinks down to our size, unable to ever deal with anything biggier than us. Thus to argue from a god of the gaps perspective is to always fight from a defensive posture. Therefore, to equate Christianity with this particular dogma is to make Christianity a defensive posture always on its heels, always fighting to hold onto less and less of the pie.

However, if the God of Christianity is the one actually described in scripture, then we see there a God who is not just the God of the spiritual, the miraculous and the supernatural; but the God of the entire universe. This God is present in the minute details of genetics as well as the vast distances between galaxies. This God is slowly but surely discovered through the scientific enterprise as we grow in our knowledge of physical processes, whether through discovering the grandeur of evolutionary biology, or the vast reaches stretching over billions of light years across space and time. This vision offers us, at least to my mind, a much more majestic God, a Lord over all creation, Who is seen and unseen, known and unknown, completely sovereign and completely immanent, distinct, yet found whenever we open our eyes and ears and all of our senses.

I need a big God. Scripture gives us that God. The god of the gaps gives us instead an anemic little godling that can't even keep its small piece of the pie from being eaten up by simple human reason. And as I said above, that god needs to die. Or better yet, we need to know that this "god" never really lived to begin with. The sooner we know this, the better off we are.

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