God of the Gaps

There are many statements of the "God of the gaps" problem, in which we use some gap or exception in our understanding of nature to point to an instance where God must have intervened in a supernatural way. But this begs consideration of St. Augustine's reserve, because if subsequent investigation reveals a perfectly natural explanation for the phenomenon, then this is seen as one more instance where God does not need to act. The ultimate projection was stated by Carl Sagan in his confident assertion there was "nothing for a god to do".

Collins' statement of part of the dilemma, in the context of the origin of life on Earth :

"This could be an appealing hypothesis, given that no serious scientist today would claim that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is at hand. But that is true today, and it may not be true tomorrow. A word of caution is needed when inserting specific divine action by God in this or any other area where scientific understanding is currently lacking. From solar eclipses in olden times to the movement of the planets in the middle ages, to the origin of life today, this "God of the gaps" approach has all too often done a disservice to religion (and by implication, to God, if that's possible). Faith that places God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world may be headed for crisis if advances in science subsequently fill those gaps. Faced with incomplete understanding of the natural world, believers should be cautious about invoking the divine in areas of current mystery, lest they build an unnecessary theological argument that is doomed to later destruction. There are good reasons to believe in God, including the existence of mathematical principles and order in creation. They are positive reasons, based on knowledge, rather than default assumptions based on (a temporary) lack of knowledge."

"In summary, while the question of the origin of life is a fascinating one, and the inability of modern science to develop a statistically probably mechanism is intriguing, this is not the place for a thoughtful person to wager his faith."

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
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