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.