A rabbi named Adam Jacobs has offered what he says is “A Reasonable Argument for God’s Existence.” And what would that be?
It is that because we have not explained (as yet) how life originated, it can only be due to god. Yes, that same old stale argument, the god of the gaps, gets recycled yet again, this time in the form of the mysterious and supposedly inexplicable appearance of DNA and RNA.
This is pathetic. Even Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian who is now head of the National Institutes of Health, rejects that argument because he has a sufficiently good knowledge of biology to realize that we are making great progress in solving that problem and that any religious person who bases his or her faith on that particular piece of contemporary ignorance is just asking for trouble.
In his book The Language of God, Collins says:
Given the inability of science thus far to explain the profound question of life’s origins, some theists have identified the appearance of RNA and DNA as a possible opportunity for divine creative action . . . 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 for later destruction… [While] the question of the origin of life is a fascinating one, and the inability of modern science to develop a statistically probable mechanism is intriguing, this is not the place for a thoughtful person to wager his faith. (p. 127-129)
Despite Collins’s plea, the god of the gaps will never go away because it is only argument that religion has, since there is no positive evidence for god and every other argument for god has been shot down. In fact, Collins himself is being disingenuous because he too resorts to using the god of the gaps argument except his gaps are different from those of Jacobs’.
Most skeptics now know how to effectively deal with the god of the gaps argument, using the recent advances in science. A recent article in the New York Times says that in order to help believers deal with the strong criticisms they are now facing, some people have developed apps to help believers with rejoinders. Yes, really.
Sean McDowell, the editor of “Fast Facts” and some textbooks for Bible students, said he has become increasingly aware of a skill gap between believers and nonbelievers, who he feels tend to be instinctively more savvy at arguing. “Christians who believe, but cannot explain why they believe, become ‘Bible-thumpers’ who seem dogmatic and insecure about their convictions,” he said. “We have to deal with that.”
“Nowadays, atheists are coming to the forefront at every level of society — from the top of academia all the way down to the level of the average Joe,” added Mr. McDowell, a seminary Ph.D. candidate whose phone app was produced by the B&H Publishing Group, one of the country’s largest distributors of Bibles and religious textbooks.
I don’t think that atheists are ‘instinctively more savvy at arguing’ as McDowell claims. It is that atheists have all the facts, evidence, reason, and logic on their side so that arguing with a religious believer should be a slam-dunk, once you have grasped the basic ideas. What the new atheists have done is put all those things in the hands of the general public. Religious believers’ arguments, by contrast, are based on ignorance (the god of the gaps) or involve plays on words, such as trying to exploit the ambiguity of the word ‘theory’ or whether atheism is a ‘belief’ like religion and thus requires just as much ‘faith’ as belief in god.
So if you are debating religion with a believer and he keeps looking at his smart phone, it may not be that he is checking his text messages. He may be seeking rejoinders.
The article says that atheists are also developing apps to counter the religious apps. So let the app wars begin!