According to this myth, man once chalked up every natural mystery to the gods. They stuffed a god into the gaps of their knowledge, shrugged, and moved on. The god of the gaps became a very busy god but as time moved forward scientific discovery after another filled in the gaps of their knowledge, shrinking the god of the gaps. The moral – Even when evidence seems to point to intelligent design, hold out for a purely materialistic, designer-free explanation. One is sure to come along – sooner than later.
In Darwin’s time, science assumed that single-celled organisms were simple, and creatures routinely sprang to life out of nonliving matter, a theory they called spontaneous generation. Many accepted this theory because it explained such occurrences as the appearance of maggots on decaying meat.
Fortunately, in 1861 Louis Pasteur discredited the idea of spontaneous generation and scientists such as geneticist Michael Denton, showed that each single cell was a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery – far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world. further scientific study proved how complex even simple cells were.
In the 19th century, science claimed we didn’t need to explain how the universe came into being because, well, it had always been. Once again, discoveries in physics and astronomy put an end to that idea.
Cosmologists now agree that our universe had a beginning and more than just a beginning, the laws of the universe appear to be fine-tuned to allow for life. As an example, if the strength of gravity, or electromagnetism, or the speed of light, were any different than they actually are, you couldn’t get any atoms beyond hydrogen and helium; you couldn’t get life essential carbon and water. You wouldn’t have the stars, the moon, or the planets.
This fine-tuning is so striking that even committed atheists have abandoned ordinary appeals to chance. Instead, they now claim there must be countless universes, a multiverse, and ours is just one of the lucky ones right for life.
“Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real” according to Nobel Laureate Charles Townes. “This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way.” Arno Penzia, astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate says that “astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying plan.”
Being open to the possibility of intelligent design isn’t giving up on science or rationality, it is giving up on the myth of the ever-shrinking god of the gaps. It’s letting the book of nature tell its own story and then following that story – the evidence – wherever it leads.
Richard Charles Lewontin, Harvard Geneticists frankly admitted that it was natural for scientists to take the side of science in spite of the patent “absurdity of some of its constructs…. because they have a prior commitment to materialism. And it is that materialism, he added, that no “matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated that compels them to accept that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
The most basic of those unsubstantiated stories of materialism is the myth of an ever-shrinking god of the gaps. The myth ignores major developments in origin-of-life studies, physics, and astronomy. It ignores the reality that in significant areas, the evidence for intelligent design is not shrinking, but ever growing.
Renowned NASA astronomer and agnostic Robert Jastrow understood as much for he wrote that for the scientist like himself, “the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Source: The God of the Gaps is Growing by Jonathan Witt, first published at The Imaginative Conservative