God of the Gaps? Wrong question.

August 13, 2010

Many Christians and almost all atheists today share a conception of world events that is not a biblical one. It is the idea that God (whether or not he exists) must be proven by showing that he actually intervenes in the world. Christians spend long hours trying to show that miracles are real. Atheists spend long hours showing that they are not. Atheists accuse Christians of believing in a ‘God of the gaps’ (a god whose existence is shown only in the events we do not understand). Christians respond by arguing that if miracles were real they would be by definition ‘gaps.’ These arguments are at times interesting and not altogether worthless. But they are not very biblical. You do not see them being asked by anyone in the Bible.

Why? Because the Biblical God doesn’t “intervene”. That is a Epicurean world view being over laid onto the Christian Bible. In ancient Rome the epicureans believed that if the gods (or God) existed they were distant and rarely if ever intervened. This Epicurean philosophy saw a great revival in the Enlightenment and it was represented by Deists of that era. As a result of the Enlightenment attacks on miracles (in good Epicurean fashion the Deists were suspicious of miracles) the debate, unfortunately in my opinion, became framed as one that took place “in the gaps”.

But the Biblical God doesn’t sit back and occasionally intervene. He causes the wind to blow. He feeds the birds. He causes humans to grow. He opens the flowers in the field. He tells birds to fly. He hardens and softens human hearts. He makes the horse neigh and the rooster crow. He tells the water where to stop on the beaches. He tells the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening. He tells the clouds to release rain.

So, does God do the stuff we don’t understand (the gaps)? Yes. But he also does the stuff we do understand. He is the author of all things.


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