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Featured The God of the Gaps Argument

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by leibowde84, Dec 21, 2015.

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  1. Yes

    8 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. No

    28 vote(s)
    77.8%
  1. leibowde84

    leibowde84 Veteran Member

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    For too long now, theists on this site have relied upon various forms of the “God of the Gaps” argument, which is an “argument from ignorance” or “argumentum ad ignorantiam”. An argument from ignorance (or argumentum ad ignorantiam) is a logical fallacy that claims the truth of a premise is based on the fact that it has not been proven false, or that a premise is false because it has not been proven true. This is often phrased as "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance).

    The “God of the gaps” argument (or a divine fallacy) is logical fallacy that occurs when Goddidit (or a variant) is invoked to explain some natural phenomena that science cannot (at the time of the argument). "God of the gaps" is a bad argument not only on logical grounds, but on empirical grounds: there is a long history of "gaps" being filled and the gap for God thus getting smaller and smaller, suggesting "we don't know yet" as an alternative that works better in practice; naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena are always possible, especially in the future where more information may be uncovered. The god of the gaps is a didit fallacy and an ad hoc fallacy, as well as an argument from incredulity or an argument from ignorance, and is thus an informal fallacy (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps).

    After all these years of scientific developments, the gaps are shrinking, but, still, people revert to these irritating arguments. Science is still a relatively new endeavor, and it is ludicrous to assume the limits of it, imho. Does anyone find it acceptable to use these arguments in rational discourse? Should we put up with people relying on these logical fallacies as evidence? What are your thoughts?
     
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  2. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
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    Can you give us a classic example of a 'God of the Gaps' argument? I wonder if you are thinking about these arguments too simply and the proponents are implying more than 'god didit'.

    I believe in God, but not from any 'God of the Gaps' argument.
     
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  3. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    People are entitled to believe what they please.
    Peter Pan thinking can be very emotionally satisfying.

     
  4. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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    The gap argument is merely a byproduct of outdated ideas of causality and other systems. The argument is not merely applicable to God argument but science as well. Rather than saying "I do not know" we take leaps of faith by asserting a metaphysical position in relation to the subject at hand, with or without realizing it. Those that uphold science as a tool can often use this type of argument as well by taking a position that there is a empirical naturalistic answer for the unknown or unknown cause around the corner. Humans do not like unanswered question so we pick an assumption then burden the tool with metaphysical assumptions to resolve our gap and comfort ourselves. We distort the tool either for or against with metaphysics.
     
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  5. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    Not every theist beliefs in the same kind or same god or for the same reasons or use the same arguments in favor.
     
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  6. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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    The simplest and best known examples are First Cause, unspecific, argument along with the transition from the cause into God, specific.
     
  7. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    You need an "I don't know" option in your survey. The gaps may or may not really exist, and the apparent gaps may be shrinking, but I am in no position (and I believe no human to be in a position) to reach any conclusion where evidence is lacking, for or against any given hypothesized solution. One may be free to believe in God of the Gaps, or a God of a particular Gap, or that Science will (eventually) fill in all gaps, leaving there no place for the proposed theistic God. But until there is evidence about what exists in the gaps, or a particular gap, it's just speculation on either side.

    Your questions focus on people's preferences, their VALUES, regarding acceptable arguments in debate. I think you might get a lot of people arguing whichever side they support--I doubt that you'll get a resolution to your question.

    One more matter: this discussion hinges on a god that is subject to theology, most specifically the monotheistic deity of the Abrahamic religions. There are other kinds of deities out there, and the God of the Gaps question may not apply to them well, or even at all.

    Good luck with this!
     
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  8. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    You need to consider that beliefs are not insular to individuals.
     
  9. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    They certainly are.
    There is not a single person that i can make believe anything that they don't choose for themselves to believe.
    I wish i had that kind of influence.
     
  10. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    That's not what I said/implied. The effects of beliefs are not insular and effect society as a whole as well as other individuals.
     
  11. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    If someones belief causes them to engage in criminal activity then they can continue to believe what they please but they forfeit their right to exercise those beliefs.

    Belief itself is harmless.
     
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  12. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    No its not it effects voting, how we relate to other people, the environment, crime and punishment, social structure, how we raise the next generation. etc etc beliefs have effect far out side our own lives unless we disengage from society totally.
     
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  13. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Yes, it is valid with (to my knowledge) only one exception, materialism.

    What you are arguing is that the "god of the gaps" is a logically fallacy. That isn't the same as saying it's not true as you are arguing against the plausability of god on logical grounds, rather than the possibility of god. it is logically implausible for me to assert that I may win the lottery as it is based on ignorance of the result- but as long as I have bought a ticket, it remains- no matter how remotely- possible. As long as I assert it is possible it is a basis for belief- even though it is a really, really bad one.

    You have to demonstrate the "uniformity of nature" inorder to demonstrate that god simply is not possible. In order to do this, you have to say that we can know that everything we don't know about the universe will obey the same set of natural laws. That is a position whilst is untenable on the basis of evidence and relies heavily on philosophy. The Western understanding of science is dualistic or as descartes put it "I think therefore I am". The notion that knowledge is mind dependent means that the limitation of the mind place limits on knowledge itself. the problem therefore is that you have to assert that the natural world obeys certian laws even without knowing that it is so.

    Religious people can rightly shift the burden of proof in this regard. Science rests on a belief that we can only know something by observation because knowledge is limited by our minds. But science cannot know something on the basis of evidence about what we do not observe. it cannot therefore demonstrate the impossibility of god because he is always hiding in the "gap". all that can be done is constantly saying "god is implausible" in a diminishing event horizion of possibilities. it is only when you challange the philosophical foundations of western science by insisting that our knowledge is not mind dependent that you can kill god. you have to argue that natural uniformly operates on the basis of natural laws without cliaming omniscience and that this knowledge is true regardless as to whether we know it is so because the source of knowledge does not come from the mind existing seperately from matter and therefore you can only assume the existence of the mind.

    this can be done by materialism which reverses descartes prosition to "I am, therefore I think". this assumption of the necessity of physical existence as a precondition for thought means you can assume that all phenemona of consciousess are the product of nature. This makes god, or any supernatural pheneomena as a form of consciousnes existing in seperation from matter (e.g. the soul, ghosts, spirits, etc) by default impossible. this changes the nature of knowledge dramatically as we believe that something is true regardless as to whether we know it or not. Materialism is therefore considered a "dogma" and is not considered a valid argument in western science (at least since Karl Popper and the "Falisifcation" criteria for science). this represents a major rupture in scientific understanding as you are asserting, without evidence, that nature is uniformly materialist, that consciousness is always the product of nature and cannot exist independently of a living organism and therefore god is impossible.

    Therefore, unless you are employing a form of philosophical materialism as a form of "scientism" or "scientific materialism"- the god of the gaps argument stands. Sorry, but you can't kill god, unless you are willing to overturn centuries of philosophical and scientific thought.
     
  14. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    That would be a little different.
    Sorry.
    If you are talking about the influence of organized religion on society then we are talking about political power.
    The use of belief to control entire societies is nothing new.
    Popes, Kings, Pharaohs, Emperors and even the local preacher have used religion to control the people.
    Unfortunately the majority of folks want to be told what to believe and think that everyone should conform to the popular way of thinking.
    I understand the problems it causes of course but it is never going to change.
    Those of us that can see it are the ones that are charged to keep the balance.
     
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  15. leibowde84

    leibowde84 Veteran Member

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    Here are two commonly used examples:
    "One of the more prominent examples of current "God of the Gaps" thinking is the Intelligent Design movement, which claims that some aspects of how life formed are impossible to explain — not only with today's scientific knowledge, but ever.

    Another well-worn God-gap is that of abiogenesis. Again, as there is no generally accepted explanation for the appearance of life on the planet, the position thatGoddidit is taken as default by creationists." (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps)
     
  16. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    Agreed!

    I seem to have completely missed your point.:)
    This cleared it up.
     
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  17. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    Cheers.
     
  18. leibowde84

    leibowde84 Veteran Member

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    Why do you think that this discussion hinges on the God of Abrahamic religions?
     
  19. leibowde84

    leibowde84 Veteran Member

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    I am speaking to those who say that God is necessary and use God of the Gaps argument as proof for their claim.
     
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  20. outhouse

    outhouse Atheistically

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    False.

    Belief and faith drive men to murder. It can be very dangerous
     
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