The “God o’ The Gaps” fallacy is an especially pernicious, yet easily dismissible, form of the argumentum ad ignorantiam. It is pernicious because religious dogmatists, with no interest in or capacity for rational thought, swing this fallacy about with the most abysmally childish enthusiasm, like blind persons with a sledge hammer in an empty field, who fancy themselves to be building a tent city. It is easily dismissible because anyone possessed of nothing more exotic than the mere abstract possibility of intelligence can readily see through it, for no more time or effort than it takes to have such infantilism articulated. All that being said, an analysis of the fallacy does invite some reflections upon the character of explanation, a character which the title of this blog ought suggest is a thing of interest at this site.
This will be a longish argument, so I’ll be breaking it into two parts. In this part, I will discuss the argumentum ad ignorantiam particularly in light of the God o’ The Gaps (which I’ll simply abbreviate “GotG”) variant, and generically mention some of the places it crops up. The argument will show how the concept/idea of God can play no useful role in natural science, even when the GotG fallacy is avoided. In part 2 I’ll turn to what, in many respects, is my primary question: What might the role of “God” in explanation &/or interpretation be? I’ll review (in a crude way) the distinctions between the religious, the theological, and the philosophical uses of the “G” word (although, I’ve already said a bit about this elsewhere.) With that said, let us turn to the argument itself. Continue reading