Casey Luskin and the God of the Gaps

The god of the gaps is one of the principal intellectual pillars of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

The Discoveroids’ magical designer — blessed be he! — is always lurking in the gaps, because according to their “theory” of intelligent design, anything not yet fully understood is best explained by a supernatural agency. As Wikipedia describes it:

God of the gaps is a type of theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God’s existence.

And as Einstein once said:

To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behaviour on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

— Albert Einstein, Science and Religion

The Discoveroids also rely heavily on William Paley’s famous watchmaker analogy. You know how that one goes — if something looks designed, then by golly it is designed.

Those two oldie-goldies are at the core of almost all of the Discoveroids’ so-called scientific arguments. They occasionally use other fallacies, such as equivocation — the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning. We see that primitive tactic when they declare that he laws of nature require a lawmaker. But mostly they rely on Paley’s watchmaker and the god of the gaps.

Apparently all the criticism that their shoddy arguments attract is driving the Discoveroids to desperation. To refute the criticism, they’ve deployed one of their deepest thinkers — Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He’s a Curmudgeon fellow and a follower of the Knights of Uranus.

Casey’s latest post at the Discoveroids’ blog is The Self-Refuting “God of the Gaps” Critique. Casey says, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:

Regarding the claim that intelligent design is a “god of the gaps” argument, I’ve always found this criticism not only false, but also fallacious and self-refuting.

You gotta love Casey! He claims that pointing out a fallacy is fallacious. That, by the way, is a Tu quoque argument — that’s Latin for “you too.” Such arguments are commonly used on school playgrounds, as in: “I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head!” Casey continues:

Critics of intelligent design often accuse ID proponents of using a “god of the gaps” argument, but they refuse to acknowledge that (1) ID isn’t a “gaps-based” argument at all since it in fact offers a positive argument for design in nature, and (2), in any event, ID requires no inference to “god.”

Regarding Casey’s first point, his “positive argument” for design, he links to one of his articles from a few months ago, which we wrote about here: Discovery Institute: Are They Thinking At All? The bottom line is that they don’t have a positive argument for ID. His second point is astonishingly silly. Yes, the Discoveroids are careful never to specify that their magic designer is Yahweh. But self-censorship isn’t an argument; it’s a litigation tactic — a forlorn hope that they’ll somehow be perceived as secular, and thus they won’t get ensnared by the First Amendment’s prohibition of establishing a state religion. Let’s read on:

But there’s an even deeper problem with the [god of the gaps] argument.

Oh goodie — maybe Casey has something new for us. He continues:

Ironically, when critics make this accusation, they are usually committing a “gaps” fallacy themselves. How so? These very same materialists (1) admit that gaps in the evidence for Darwinian evolution exist, and (2) assume that those gaps can and will be filled by materialist explanations. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be attacking ID for purportedly filling those gaps with “god.”

Lordy, lordy. Hey, Casey: A gap in the fossil record is just that — a gap! Until a fossil is found to fill it, it’s filled with nothing. But, like a blank spot in one’s genealogical chart, there is indeed an assumption that something once did exist in that space, and maybe, by diligent searching, the missing information will be found. If not, okay, there’s a gap. But there’s no reason for the assumption made by Discoveroids that a miracle occurred there.

Then Casey pounds home his brilliant point, and as he does so, we imagine his Discoveroid comrades are cheering his brilliance:

They can’t make a “god of the gaps” accusation without making a “materialism of the gaps” argument — one that assumes the truth of their own materialistic outlook.

Satisfied that he’s silenced his critics, Casey now comes to his conclusion:

Most “gaps-based” criticisms are flawed in these ways, which is why I try to avoid them. People are entitled to make whatever arguments they want, provided they use positive evidence to back up their position. ID does exactly that.

Casey ends with a link to one of his articles from a year ago, in which he presented ID’s positive case. As you probably guessed, we posted about it — see Discovery Institute: Intelligent Designer or Zeus?

So there you are, dear reader. Nothing has changed. The Discoveroids are still relying on their ancient fallacies. Well, why not? They don’t have anything else.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Casey Luskin and the God of the Gaps

  1. As usual, the DI having trouble with that reason/rationalization distinction. He is right about one thing, ID isn’t a a ‘gaps-based argument’. It isn’t an argument at all, it’s an assertion meant to rationalize creationism – in other words, popular apologetics, AKA lying for Jesus.

  2. Little-known fact: an ancient Greek sect worshiped the God of the Gaps. Their name for him was Interstices.

  3. Had a Sunday School teacher who would use “phenotype” and “genotype” interchangeably in his quote mining, even after being told what they mean. It’s weird though – he made no profit from the class and is a good and honest businessman (recently audited quite thoroughly and passed). His motive for deceiving himself and other is a mystery to me.

  4. The shorter Gerbil: The positive case for “intelligent design” creationism is based on a term we made up called Complicated Stuff Innit, or CSI and it’s obvious that the world is made up of complicated stuff, innit? So, there.

    If you have Nine Minutes to Spare you can watch an entertaining takedown of Gerbil and his pal Doctor Doctor Billy Dumbski. High Larry Us!

  5. Oh, yeah, I actually had a non-snarky comment, yes, yes, rare, but here it goes.

    The god of the gaps argument is typified by the famous cartoon, “then a miracle occurs” which is a god filling the gap. Can’t explain the gap, therefore, goddidit. Please note that ALL “intelligent design” creationists say that ID “theory” is not a mechanistic theory, that is, ID is only an inference that design can be detected.

    Think about that for a few minutes. ID ONLY says that “yep, that was designed.” How, when, where, by what mechanism the design was implemented is a complete mystery and, furthermore, unknowable! Incredible! All the ID proponents spout this party line: Dembski, Luskin, Wells, Behe, Meyer – all of them.

    What is hilarious and why we call them IDiots is that they have a public position, The Designer (blessed be he) is unknowable; and a private position, and you can find videos of each and every one of these guys, saying that The Designer is the God of the Christian Bible. Not just any old god, no sirree, they are for once in their miserable lives very specific on that point.

    All you can do is laugh at them!

  6. Oh, and I forgot to mention that when Gerbil squeaks about the “materialism of the gaps” as being the same, he’s lying through his bucky little choppers. The modern theory of evolution presents a mechanism, genetic variation and natural selection, to bridge between organisms found in the fossil record, and related living species as documented by genomic mapping.

    So, with ID there is no mechanism and no way to get from one species to another except through magic which is no explanation whatsoever, and the MTOE provides everything soup to nuts.

    Thus the lying little Gerbil creep is, well, lying like a little Gerbil creep, not that we expected anything else.

  7. Doc Bill says: “All you can do is laugh at them!”

    That’s what we do around here.

  8. The whole truth

    bumpkin luskin first says:

    “ID isn’t a “gaps-based” argument at all since it in fact offers a positive argument for design in nature…”

    And later says:

    “People are entitled to make whatever arguments they want, provided they use positive evidence to back up their position. ID does exactly that.”

    So, first it “offers” a “positive argument” but later it “exactly” “provide(s) “positive evidence”.

    Of courser it does neither, and neither do the IDiots who push ID.

    “and (2), in any event, ID requires no inference to “god.””

    Notice that he didn’t capitalize “god”. That may not seem significant but it is to luskin and the other IDiot-creationists. The IDiots believe that the christian/abrahamic alleged ‘God’ yhwh is the one and only designer-creator, and they always deem ‘him’ worthy of a capital G. Any other alleged god may or may not deserve a capital G. In their one track minds they distinctly separate “god” or ‘a god’ from ‘God’. So, luskin knows that ID requires ‘God’ but to convince himself and others that he’s not lying about that he used the word “god”, which to him and the other IDiots is not the same thing as ‘God’. And even if the capitalization doesn’t matter, “ID” (the inference-agenda the IDiots push) absolutely does require “god” or ‘a god’ or ‘God’, and the IDiots are religious-creationist-god/God pushers. Dishonestly changing the label “god” or ‘God’ or ‘creator’ to ‘designer’ does not change their religious/political dominionist agenda into a scientific one, and there’s nothing “positive” in lying about their agenda.

  9. The whole truth

    Doc Bill said:

    “Please note that ALL “intelligent design” creationists say that ID “theory” is not a mechanistic theory, that is, ID is only an inference that design can be detected.”

    Hi Bill, joe g, an IDiot who spews monumental dishonesty, contradictions, belligerence, and ignorance says that ID is just an inference that design can be detected but he also says that design IS the mechanism. Of course he says whatever is convenient at the time and he can’t and won’t provide any evidence or coherent explanation to support ‘design is the mechanism’ or any of his other bald, convoluted assertions.

  10. The whole truth highlights from Luskin’s screed

    Notice that he didn’t capitalize “god”. That may not seem significant but it is to luskin and the other IDiot-creationists. The IDiots believe that the christian/abrahamic alleged ‘God’ yhwh is the one and only designer-creator, and they always deem ‘him’ worthy of a capital G. Any other alleged god may or may not deserve a capital G.

    Indeed, I am sure the typography here is every bit as significant as you indicate. When Luskin baldly states

    ID requires no inference to “god.”

    the want of a capital letter is his way of crossing his fingers behind his back, as would a child, as a magic talisman to counteract any malfeasance in telling the whopping fib emerging from his lips.

    Actually, it’s worse than that. I now strongly suspect that Luskin really has no concept of the magnitude of his lies, nor any sense that he is lying at all. He really does believe these little figleaves are sufficient to demonstrate the ‘TRVTH’ of his arguments; he’s a lawyer who has managed to convince himself of his client’s innocence, despite overwhelming empircal evidence to the contrary. If you can successfully lie to yourself about something, then anything else one says on that topic to others won’t feel like a falsehood to yourself. Indeed, one can then sit back and enjoy the magnificent fashion parade of the Emperor’s new clothes in the warm, cozy comfort of Orwellian double-think.

  11. Pete Moulton

    Agreed, Megalonyx. Richard Feynman said this best for me: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.”

  12. @ Pete Moulton: Many thanks for the quote from the late great Feynman!

    Words to live by, indeed.

  13. These very same materialists (1) admit that gaps in the evidence for Darwinian evolution exist, and (2) assume that those gaps can and will be filled by materialist explanations.

    In the first case Casey, “materialists” actually argue that IDiots invent gaps in the evidence for evolution that aren’t there, then fill those gaps with ID creationism. In the second case, yes, it is generally assumed that answers to unsolved scientific problems will be found by scientists and not religious mystics. You have a problem with that?

    As to the alleged “positive evidence” for ID, there is none. ID is a pretend scientific theory invented solely to provide a cover for the teaching of biblical creation instead of evolution in public schools. Period. The so-called positive evidence basically consists of (1) dressing up the argument from incredulity by making up statistical probabilities the purport to show just how gosh-darn incredulous it is, and (2) dressing up the argument from the appearance of design by making up a sciencey-sounding acronymic (CSI, or Creationist Stupidity Indicator) to show how much it really gosh-darn looks like design. These are actually rhetorical arguments for the existence of God, not evidence in support of any scientific hypothesis.

  14. Ed says:

    As to the alleged “positive evidence” for ID, there is none.

    They have exactly the same quantity and quality of evidence that Megalonyx has for his torrid romance with Olivia Judson. He claims that I’m not dating her, therefore she must be with him.

  15. Evidence for ID is not only non-existent. ID itself is non-existent. There can’t be evidence for something unless there is a something.

  16. Our Curmudgeon claim the Discoveroids have

    the same quantity and quality of evidence that Megalonyx has for his torrid romance with Olivia Judson

    What, you presume to doubt that last night, in breathless transports of ecstasy, Olivia cried out to me that the very earth itself moved?

    Were you there?

  17. Megalonyx asks: “Were you there?”

    No, and neither was Olivia. She can’t be two places at once.