Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gaps in the Clockwork

Perhaps the most infamous idea of how God and Science fit together is the 'God of the Gaps' concept. This is the general idea that whatever Science cannot (yet) explain (a 'gap') is God's due. If the explanatory universe is of constant volume, then God's role thus gets smaller and smaller, or at least, more and more involuted.

But the real gap in all religions is more fascinating. The real gap is the one between 'supernatural' and 'natural'. What is 'supernatural'? And if it is 'supernatural', how then does it interface with the 'natural' without being merely 'natural' itself? I use quotes throughout simply because I don't know what these terms really mean, in relation to each other.

In Christianity, the religion to which about 33% of the human world claims allegiance, God is always involved with His creation. He made it, and bridges the gap between it and Himself by unpredictable intervention and communication. He is able to say, "My ways are not your ways," and yet also, "Come, let us reason together." In Him we live and move and have our being, and yet clearly He is not of our substance. Yet, God became Man and dwelt among us.

How does that work? The authors of the Bible, expressing God's thoughts, point out explicitly that the whole thing defeats philosophy. They don't claim that logic will hold in this realm. In fact, they claim that you can attempt to use reason, but God is not bound by it. Once that happens, all bets are off.

The modern rationalist is repulsed by such things. If such a situation maintains, why bother? If ontology trumps epistemology, and deity trumps deontology, it is a farce.

To me, it is an amusement. Logic is like the screwdriver in the toolbox. It uses circular motion to effect linear progress. But it isn't the only tool, let alone the toolbox itself.

Its existence tells us only a few things about the tool-user: 1) makes tools, 2) has occasional need for screws, 3) is capable of effecting a grip-initiated turning motion... and so on. It's a good, very useful tool, but it doesn't even tell us what the other tools are, although it can replace some of them crudely in certain situations.

Some users treat it more like a Swiss Army knife — a multitool of some sort. But it requires a lunatic bravery to rely on a multitool for all your needs, all your life.

I don't think of a 'God of the Gaps'. I think that what we see of the universe is more wonderful than we can think, and if this is so, not all of it is amenable to thinking. I think the explanatory universe is infinite, and that God in His complexity can bridge 'natural' and 'supernatural' since they are only our feeble labels for 'what would exist without us' and 'what may exist but which we will never be able to describe, explain, predict or control'.

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Blogger Aegle said...

Still no Like button.
What an excellent argument. :P

Monday, November 14, 2011 7:56:00 pm  
Blogger slotusch said...

There is so much to discover and understand concerning the workings behind what we presently know exist, yet many prefer scrutinising the 'gaps' by either saying 'there is no god!' or 'god exists!' I'm tired of the clichés from both sides.

I'm most comfortable with gaps in the clockwork... 'cos i'm running out of time trying to even understand just some of the physical world around me.

Haven't read your blog entries for a while now... glad to be reading them again! Thanks for writing :D

Could you please erase the previous comment? my name didn't register... thank you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:09:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Aegle: If you like it, you like it. I will be happy, you will know, and nobody else needs to enjoy it. :)

slotusch: I'm glad you're glad. You're very welcome. And I've dumped the excess comment. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:31:00 am  
Blogger slotusch said...


Wednesday, November 16, 2011 11:58:00 pm  

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