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god of the gaps
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 Related Terms
• argument from ignorance
• theism


The phrase "god of the gaps" is used to describe the attempts by some people to justify the rationality of theism by relying upon "gaps" in scientific knowledge. In other words, because science cannot explain some event or object, then it is reasonable to believe that a god is responsible for the event or object.

Obviously, this "god of the gaps" argument is simply a variation of the informal fallacy argumentum ad ignorantium, or argument from ignorance. The mere fact that we do cannot explain something is not a valid justification to rely upon something else, even more mysterious, as an "explanation." Such a tactic is also risky here because, as science progresses the "gaps" in scientific explanation grow smaller. The theist who uses this to rationalize their beliefs may find that, at some point, there simply isn't enough room for their god anymore.

This "god of the gaps" is sometimes also called deus ex machina ("god out of the machine"), a term used in classical drama and theater. In a play when the plot reaches some important point where the author cannot find a natural resolution, a mechanistic apparatus will lower a god down onto the stage for a supernatural resolution. This is seen as a cheat or contrivance of the author who is stuck due to his own lack of imagination or foresight.

Also Known As: deus ex machina, divine fallacy

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: none

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What is the Philosophy of Religion?
Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion.

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