Monday, 10 October 2011


Over at Uncommon Descent, Gil Dodgen points out another of Dawkins' errors.

You should download Gil's free piano albums, they are here.

Dawkins is one exponent of what we should call the "atheism-of-the-gaps" argument.

When theists point out something that materialism (which Dawkins often mis-labels as "science") can't explain, the atheist often replies, "Ah, that's just a God-of-the-gaps argument - one day, science will explain that - and then your God will no longer be needed to explain it!"

This is a circular argument. It assumes, in advance and without proof, that materialism is true and can somehow account for everything. It assumes that the gaps can actually be closed.

If materialism isn't true, then there will be things that materialism can't explain. "Gaps", if you like, in materialism's explanatory capabilities. The village atheist's error when he makes this cheap rejoinder, is in failing to distinguish between "gaps" which are of the "I don't understand X, and therefore X cannot be understood" type, and gaps which are of the "we understand X very well, and there is a demonstrable disconnect between X and the explanatory possibilities of the model we're discussing" type. The former do not necessarily prove anything; the latter are significant.

Materialism cannot explain the origin of matter or of life or of the coded information in the genome. That's not just because we don't know how these things can happen. It's because all the scientific knowledge we have positively accumulated testifies that these things do not "just happen". The village atheist crowd are guilty of using "atheism-of-the-gaps" arguments when they say, as Dawkins in the above article, that "science is working on it". "Science" has been working on it, and the work done shows that materialism doesn't cut it as an explanation. The evidence points to intelligent intervention, a.k.a. supernaturalism.

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