Is the God of the Gaps Reasoning a Valid Method of Determining the Existence of God?

“Nessie” (the Loch Ness Monster)


From Christian apologist James Bishop’s Blog:

Question 3:  Is the God of the Gaps reasoning a valid way of determining the existence of God?

If the atheist has not bailed on you yet, he/she will likely run now. For if he/she answers NO, then it will become clear that nothing can count as evidence for the existence of God. Why? Because if the only “evidence” the atheist “Judge/Jury” will allow in his/her kangaroo court is a Gap (something that cannot be explained by science/natural law), and God-of-the-Gaps reasoning is also not allowed by the atheist, then it is clear the atheist demand for evidence is a sneaky, dishonest game of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

Of course, if the atheist answers YES to question 3, then the theist is free to raise Gaps as evidence for God (origin of Life, origin of the Consciousness, etc.). This is why the atheist will run or change the topic – his/her demand for evidence puts the atheist in the position of having to a) acknowledge the deceitful nature of their demand or b) acknowledge there is evidence because of certain existing gaps.

Answer from Skeptics:  Yes, a dramatic miracle would be good evidence for the existence of the Christian god, Yahweh/the resurrected Jesus.  Something like this:  He appears in the sky simultaneously, to every person on the planet, telling us all, in every language known to mankind, who he is and what he wants.  That would be a feat pretty hard to fake.  I would bet that most people, including myself, would believe in his existence due to such an event.  But I (and I would bet most skeptics) don’t insist on this level of dramatic evidence to believe in the existence of the Christian god.  I would be satisfied with the same evidence that it would take for a Christian to believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snow Man, or Big Foot.  No more.  No less.

15 thoughts on “Is the God of the Gaps Reasoning a Valid Method of Determining the Existence of God?

  1. I’d answer No to the question. Ignorance and assuming the answer to a question simply because I can’t think of or imagine a better answer is the very worst way to determine the validity of truth claims. The very worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would bet that most people, including myself, would believe in his existence due to such an event.

    I guess I’m getting to be a pretty hard-core non-believer because I can’t even imagine such an event ever happening.


  3. Ultimately, I don’t think this guys tack of making the non believer responsible for the terms of his belief is honest or fair. It’s not up to the non believer to say what he will and will not accept as evidence, before the evidence is even offered. It’s totally on the believer to fulfill his responsibility to offer evidence, then we can evaluate and accept or reject. Only THEN will the believer have any right or propriety to question the unbelievers rejection. Not before. Its plain old mean spirited, insecure authoritarian burden shifting. I call bs on bishop and the jerk who he got the article from

    Liked by 1 person

  4. God of the gaps is never a good way to reason. “We don’t know the reason for x, therefore I can draw the conclusion that the reason is definitely y.” is never going to get you to a valid conclusion. If all the theist has are “god of the gaps” arguments, they can just quit right now.

    But also, there’s another reason to avoid this reasoning. Oddly enough, this was said to my spouse by a Methodist minister. If you are fitting your god into the gaps in our knowledge, then whenever we find out something new that fills one of those gaps, your god gets smaller. That’s a bad basis for belief.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Why would I need to stipulate the terms?
    Surely an omniscient entity would know exactly what evidence would convince me.

    Bishop is simply pulling out the old ”Gotcha” clause; commonly known by all non-believers as the Spot the Disingenuous Nob Argument.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The bonus question on the original post should illustrate the questionable integrity and honesty of the original blogger…
    “Bonus question: I’ll provide evidence for God’s existence, but can you first provide evidence that you are capable of considering my evidence in an open- and fair-minded manner?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I would be satisfied with the same evidence that it would take for him (the Christian) to believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snow Man, or Big Foot. No more. No less.”

      I suggest that that is very fair and open-minded.


      1. Just came across this saying on a FB meme …

        If your proposed “god” entity is invisible, inaudible, incorporeal, immaterial, exists outside of the universe, is timeless, not observable, immeasurable, does nothing and leaves no evidence of its existence …

        That pretty much satisfies the exact definition of “Imaginary.”

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Here is an interesting take on the God of the Gaps Argument:

    —God of the gaps (or a divine fallacy) is logical fallacy that occurs when Goddidit (or a variant) is invoked to explain some natural phenomena that science cannot (at the time of the argument). This concept is similar to what systems theorists refer to as an “explanatory principle.” “God of the gaps” is a bad argument not only on logical grounds, but on empirical grounds: there is a long history of “gaps” being filled and the gap for God thus getting smaller and smaller, suggesting “we don’t know yet” as an alternative that works better in practice; naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena are always possible, especially in the future where more information may be uncovered.[1] The God of the Gaps is a “didit” fallacy and an ad hoc fallacy, as well as an argument from incredulity or an argument from ignorance, and is thus an informal fallacy.


  8. My concrete argument would be, it seems pretty easy to go back through history and fill the “gaps” once explained by God. For example, it turns out the sun would have come back after an eclipse even without sacrificing all those virgins.
    My philosophical argument would be, even if there is a bona fide “gap,” who says it must be filled with God? Is it possible that a human flaw precludes us from grasping a certain truth? Is it possible that time travel, aliens, invisible microbes, or mass delusion could fill some of those gaps? I like to throw theists for a loop when I remind them that there is exactly as much evidence that we are creating this entire universe from our own imagination, as there is that a “god figure” created it, rendering either possibility an equal contender to “fill the gaps.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. To the theists…

      Divide a sheet of paper into two columns labeled:

      1. Things once attributed to God but now explained by natural phenomena

      2. Things once attributed to natural phenomena but now explained by God

      … and see which column contains the most entries.

      Liked by 2 people

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