God of the Gaps

If the strangeness of the title of this article has increased your interest in it, let me begin with the statement that this is not a study of some strange, newly discovered cult. This is not some group called the Gaps, whose deity we are studying.

The title refers to those areas, those gaps in science, which man cannot explain or has not discovered and the fact that as modern inventions and discoveries fill these gaps God is diminished. In this article an attempt will be made to analyze this situation, to see the dangers of such a diminishing and to offer some guidelines to prevent this.

Man has always tried to formulate some sort of explanation for what he observes in the world about him. Men of old have developed elaborate mythologies to explain much of the phenomenon of the world in which we live. Even as scientists today refuse to see God in the operation of His creation, so these men of old corrupted what they saw in the creation according to the vain imaginations of their hearts. These modern day scientists accuse us, the Church, of being as these ancient people in holding to outmoded mythological explanations of the world about us instead of seeking knowledge in the “scientific method”. As modern man more and more discovers the logical structure of the creation, sees the beautiful unity inherent in it, he wants to push the gods and God out of the picture. The way in which God governs His creation gives way to the all important laws of science.

As we approach these same areas in our studies, especially in the area of science courses, we also are in danger of looking so closely at the many laws of science that we lose sight of the fact that these laws are statements of the ways in which God controls and governs His creation. God is only called upon to fill the gaps that the scientific laws fail to explain. This is not only true in the area of science, with the modern math curriculum today more emphasis is placed on the structure of number systems and the mathematical laws. As these laws occupy a greater place in our studies, we have an increased danger that the laws become the object of our studies, the understanding of these laws the goals of our science and mathematics education.

In this process we fail to see and emphasize that all these laws are ultimately God’s laws. These are not finally natural laws, chemical laws, physical laws, biological laws, mathematical laws, etc. All these laws are the laws which God placed in operation the creation.

Our approach to this problem must be found in our unique approach to the whole area of education. The object of studies in the fields of science and mathematics is the same as that in all subject matter. We are studying God’s revelation, as He reveals Himself in His creation, guided by His revelation in His Word and His revelation through the Spirit as He speaks to us in that Word. As we increase in knowledge of the things of this creation we should increase in our knowledge of God, His Godhead and His power.

Does this mean that our studies in these subjects have no practical benefit? That as modern inventions and discoveries give us greater insight into the operation of the creation we are not concerned with the usefulness of this knowledge in our lives? Certainly, this is not the case. This should be another objective of our education. As we gain greater insight and understanding of the world about us we have a greater potential as stewards of these gifts of God. We today have a greater potential of using this world in the service of God or in the service of sin than our forefathers. As the inventions and discoveries increase, as they are very rapidly today, we furnish ourselves with greater potential for good works but also for sin. This too is a result of the study of science. As we learn more we also must become stewards over greater things.

Does all the above mean that we should change the whole set of laws that have been developed in the fields of science and mathematics? Is something to be gained by changing the many names which have been applied to these discoveries and inventions to names such as God’s law for this and God’s law for that? Law, the kinetic theory of gases, the Pythagorean Theorem, the associative property of addition? Will the problem of making God a God of only the gaps in our knowledge be solved in this way? Substituting new names for all these discoveries will not solve any problems. The defense against this danger is the proper objectives in the study of these discoveries and modern inventions.

Our emphasis must always be that we are studying the work of God’s hand and that in this work He reveals Himself. That the goal of this study is a greater understanding of the Creator must be emphasized. He has made us so that we are able to see God revealed in His handiwork. By His Grace we are capable of using these gifts to His honor and glory. We must see God in all areas of our scientific study. God should not be called upon to explain only those gaps which we cannot explain with our discoveries. Let us not make Him a God of the Gaps.