Saturday, March 10, 2007

What is Wrong with "God of the Gaps" Reasoning?

Here's the ending:
At this point in the argument, one tends to meet the claim that it is always more rational to believe that the advance of science will someday provide an explanation in terms of natural causes, than ever to believe that an event was the result of supernatural intervention in the course of nature. But on what grounds is this to be asserted?

To claim that no matter what the event in question, or the context in which it occurred, one should believe that it has a natural, though totally unknown, cause is to retreat to the dogmatic and question-begging view that it is, in principle, illegitimate ever to explain a physical event as having a supernatural cause. To claim, however, that the advance of science has provided empirical support for the view that natural causes will someday be uncovered to explain the phenomena typically appealed to in “God of the gaps” arguments is simply false.

I conclude that there is nothing wrong with the reasoning typically involved in “God of the gaps” arguments. The widespread dismissal of such arguments as unworthy of serious consideration is, therefore, unjustified.

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