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Have you ever seen a video so ironic that they only prove your original point? Well, that’s what Essence of thought (EOT) in his video response to my video “Abusing the God of the gaps fallacy”(1) has done (2). His response only proves the point that non-theist will misrepresent the God of the gaps fallacy and use it as a last resort argument. On a side note given my busy life, I have asked Kyle Alander to co-author this response with me and he will be responsible for the majority of the writing. We will show the irony in EOT response, show his flaws and circular reasoning to demonstrate why he has only proved our original point, and why his rantings are childish gibberish. On the bright side, EOT’s video actually serves to support our case of how crying a god of the gaps is circular reasoning and does nothing to threaten natural theology, so we should thank him for that.
Ending at 0:40, I had to highlight this. So apparently EOT thinks that I (IP), “drown cosmology, the mind, and ethics in its intellectually bankrupt destiny free of [my] regular shitposts.” So he clearly sets a tone of immaturity and mudslinging, which we all know is a sign of cyberbullying and lack of integrity. Anyways EOT seems to imply that even after we have explained why arguments for God are not God of the gaps he thinks that arguments for God’s existence are somehow still God of the gaps. We will see later in the video why he is wrong, but starting off with that type of statement is no way to allow your audience to take you seriously.
At 1:26-2:45, EOT says “God of the gaps simply notes that humanity in its ignorance in certain fields does not permit theist to come along and assert that said gap in our knowledge must be explained by and therefore validate the existence of their God. It really is that simple.”
First, in my original video, I pointed out that this very claim is circular reasoning, by assuming the conclusion of naturalism. If any evidence that theists offer leads to a theistic worldview, naturalists, like EOT, just assume it is a gap in our knowledge and can’t possibly be real evidence theism is true. So he has already committed the fallacy I said naturalist/atheists always commit. Did he really think he would be able to get that one by?
Second, any theist that would understand the arguments for God’s existence wouldn’t be claiming that these arguments are simply gap-fillers for our ignorance. Second, as I explain in my original video, it’s more about the best explanation of the data. EOT seems to think that any evidence for a God must be a gap filler which is not true (assuming naturalism must already be true despite what the evidence might say). Arguments for God simply give you the best explanation of the data and if non-theists have no counter explanation then they have no case. Theism is not a gap in our knowledge rather it is the explanation for the knowledge as a whole. We will get more into this later because he does continue to make the same objections even after it is explained in my original video that theism (a metaphysical theory) is simply the best explanation of the current data and it is not a gap-filler.
At 1:55 EOT says something interesting “God of the gaps does not rely on past failures nor does it has to posit that we will one day find the answer to every question. The way past failures are sometimes brought up is not as evidence the same will be true of the modern-day gap but rather a cautionary tale that shows the flaw in such an argument. A God could very well be an explanation of these things but none of the current evidence supports that claim at all. As for never finding out the answer that is just a sad fact, we may have to face one day yet that does not justify the apologist assertions in any way. As for this being the last resort argument, this may be the last resort because once it’s used the debate is over. Unless you have direct evidence for the existence of God.”
The reason why I say it’s interesting is because of the circular reasoning involved here. EOT claims that the God of the gaps doesn’t rely on past failures but rather the past failures are brought up to show the “cautionary tale” in the arguments for God. Fair enough, but doesn’t really pertain to my video or what I was arguing mainly.
However, he then says that no current evidence supports God which is interesting because we would expect him to explain why the evidence doesn’t support God’s existence, but rather than that he says how things that don’t have an explanation we may never find the answer too. Well, this is the problem. If a non-theist has no explanation (or at least acknowledge there may never be a non-theistic answer) for certain pieces of data then they do not have a better explanation than the theistic one already offered. If there is evidence for something (examples include fine-tuning, emergent space-time/quantum cognition, digital physics, moral values, and duties, etc) that can’t be explained on a non-theistic worldview but the theist can explain such evidence then the theistic explanation is superior to non-theistic views. Thus, EOT starts with the assertion that there is no evidence for God’s existence in theistic arguments on grounds that there may one day be a non-theistic explanation (or lack of explanation), and this is of course because there is no evidence for God. How is this not circular and how does this make his case for a non-theistic worldview better than a theistic one? It’s not clear what EOT counts as “evidence for God” and the fact that he didn’t bother to clarify that makes it more likely that no evidence can count as evidence for God, because he is doing the very thing I said atheists do.
At 4:16-4:50 EOT says “Drummonds special pleading in willfully sacrificing the field of science while refusing the apply the same standards to philosophy, in general, is not a saving grace. It’s a fatal flaw instead of an addition of God of the gaps one which has been patched in updated versions which apply the very same reasoning comprehensively. The very facts that humanity acknowledge its ignorance in certain fields does not then permit theist to come along and assert that said gap in our knowledge must be explained by, and therefore, validates the existence of their God is equally applicable to all philosophy as it is [with] science”.
Okay, any freshman majoring in philosophy should see the blatant philosophical error here. But, EOT has had trouble with philosophy before, so this doesn’t surprise me. First, when we transition from science to philosophy we are dealing with the bigger questions of reality. Roughly speaking, science deals with how things happen, whereas philosophy deals with why things happen. In the case of theism, it explains why things happen or why there is even science, to begin with. Theism is not a scientific theory it is a philosophical or metaphysical theory of why reality works the way it does, in the same way, naturalism or materialism are metaphysical theories.
Second, saying that God of the gap applies to all philosophy is just plain wrong. There is nothing in philosophy that, a priori, gives us justification to say that all non-theistic explanations are superior to theistic ones since from the start, theism and non-theism are both philosophical positions and it would be absurd for me to say that a non-theistic explanation in philosophy is a gap that a theistic explanation will one day explain (or that we lack an explanation). That would be an absurd way to argue and assuming my conclusion, and yet that is exactly what EOT is doing in reverse.
Continuing after 4:50, EOT asserts that the moral argument is a God of the gaps because we don’t understand morality so one cannot assume God explains morality. Then he goes on to say that the origin of the universe is a field of science and that it will find an explanation without God.
First, claiming that we will find an explanation without God for things like the origin of the universe is committing the very error I pointed out in my original video. It is like he didn’t even watch it and just assumes he can keep using the same horrible reasoning.
Second, getting back to ethics, I’m getting hints he assumes morality is a science because he seems to be implying morality is a science. That would only be true if ethical naturalism or a form of non-cognitivism was true. Both of these positions are riddled with problems [Link 1] [Link2].
Morality is not a science because it does not use empiricism and we can’t scientifically test morality. One has to use reason in order to figure out morality and the moral argument simply leads to the conclusion that God is the best explanation of morality. If non-theists cannot come up with an explanation then theists have a reasonable case to the best explanation. Now I know EOT will try to claim that it’s just a god of the gaps (because he keeps assuming his conclusion of naturalism), however, I could do the same thing regarding whatever his non-theistic account of morality is. Using his logic, a theist can respond to non-theistic accounts of morality by saying “Non-theistic accounts are just naturalism of the gaps.” It is all circular reasoning since I could turn it around on him. In reality, we argue to the best explanation from the data, and I have done that in my videos [insert hyperlinks to videos]. If he claims he doesn’t know how morality can be explained then he has no explanation and theism is the best inference.
Ending at 6:52, EOT seems to claim the supernatural (or non-materialist explanations) is magic. This is what happens when one equates their metaphysical view as the only one that doesn’t include magic. Non-materialistic metaphysics (such as idealism, or dualism) are not magic, they simply put a priority on the mind rather than matter. It’s clear that EOT does not understand metaphysics at all and unfortunately, this is probably why he likes to equate his metaphysical views as the only non-magical (whatever that means) explanations. We will get more into this later, however, by making this claim it is really showing his ignorance on how metaphysical theories actually work.
Starting at 6:55-7:55, EOT says, in speaking of materialistic versus theistic worldviews that, “it’s a massive false equivalence. We have evidence that both the naturalistic and material exist. Meanwhile, we have exactly no evidence to even suggest that the apparent non-naturalistic, non-material exist. Now based on those facts there is absolutely no justification to assert that things we lack currently answers to are not are simply the product of the unproven non-naturalistic, non-material entities…Arguing from our testable knowledge as the counter-apologist does is not equivalent to arguing from willful ignorance as the apologist does… I base my materialistic perspective on the scientific basis that all we have yet observed is naturalistic and material but I am happy to change that if you supply evidence for the supernatural and non-material.”
First, we have argued for a theistic worldview. I have done several prior videos on the evidence. By EOT just asserting his conclusion (non-theism) and not even addressing the evidence (I hint to throughout my original video) it just shows his dishonesty or bias against the evidence. I don’t care if he is not convinced, I care about the evidence, and just crying “god of the gaps” when theists present evidence is a bad argument. That was the whole point of my video, which he seemed to have missed.
Second, it is interesting what EOT’s definition for the material would be, because given what modern physics has shown what space-time is, it will lead to equivocations. Typically, matter is defined by everything that takes up space-time as it would make no sense for matter to exist in a non-spatial location. So given that we actually do have evidence for the non-material, if we define the material as that which only exists in space-time. For example, the collapse of the wave function requires a conscious mind as it is the simplest explanation of the data and before people start to make objections, we already have videos that respond to these criticisms (3). Even biology (4) and cosmology (5) give us strong scientific reasons to consider the fact that there is more to the universe than space-time and matter. These are dealt with in other videos, but the claim that science can only study matter has been challenged with the advances in modern physics for quite some time now. We can only observe matter, but what we are able to study may go beyond that.
Second, even without modern physics, it is actually wrong to assert we only experience the material. I don’t think EOT realizes that we only ever interact with a mental world. This is one of the main points of idealists. As Keith Ward explains:
“Any physicist will say that brains are mostly empty space, in which molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks, and other strange particles buzz about in complicated ways. It seems as though physical objects, when not being observed, have no colors, and no sounds, smells, or taste or sensations. Things do not smell like, taste like or feel like anything when nobody is smelling, tasting or feeling them. The physical world it seems is totally vacuous. No colors, sounds, smells, taste or sensations. What on earth is left?” (6)
The point that Keith ward is explaining is that we only ever experience a mental world and not a material one. So it’s simply wrong to assert that we only experience a material world when the opposite happens to be the case. All in all, EOT is still just assuming his conclusion of naturalism/materialism, the very fallacious reasoning in identified in my original video. His very words are proving my point, that atheists just assume the conclusion of non-theism when they cry “god of the gaps,” instead of addressing our arguments.
Ending at 9:32, EOT tries to say that whenever “secular” philosophy fails to account for something then God must be the explanation and then he compares God to random entities like the flying spaghetti monster (FSM) and says there is no difference. Then he asserts that theists have a bad understanding of how science works.
First off, if we are comparing God with a FSM people can already see the problem. A FSM (if it did exist) would exist in space-time as well as lacking the attributes that God would have. So the comparison doesn’t work. Also, a FSM fails to account for things like morality and fails to explain the evidence for theism in general. The fact that EOT didn’t go on to explain why a FSM (or any other of his examples) would be a better explanation than theism only shows his ignorance on how explanations in metaphysics work. So just like theism can better explain the evidence over non-theistic accounts, theism also explains the evidence better than a FSM, or the magical fairy, or whatever random possibility he wants to make up.
Ending at 10:16 EOT asserts that cosmological arguments are gaps in understanding the origin of our universe.
First off, as I explained in my original video, he has not given a non-theistic model of the universe’s origin that can better explain the data than that of theism. While we cannot deny the possibility of there being a non-theistic account for this it is dishonest to claim that non-theistic accounts are more probable. Especially if you cannot provide a better inference. All the evidence leads to classical space-time having a beginning and that would include all the matter in the universe. This can go deep into things like quantum gravity, however, even in that field theism explains the evidence far better than non-theism. This is explored more in the videos linked before, but since the evidence can be better explained on theism then theism is the more probable option than non-theism with regards to cosmological arguments. If EOT disagrees, then at this point, after we have provided a theistic explanation, the onus is on him to provide a better non-theistic explanation.
Ending at 11:40, EOT makes some objections to fine-tuning by saying that we always observe complexity arising from simplicity and then claims that I have confirmation bias (sounds like a psychological project from him). He then talks about how the mind not being explained by the brain is a gap argument for the soul and therefore god of the gaps.
So I guess he just going to continue to keep assume naturalism is true, doing exactly what I said atheists do in my original video when they cannot offer a better explanation of the data (just mischaracterize the arguments from natural theology and cry god of the gaps). Now, complexity from simplicity happens because of the laws of nature. However, fine-tuning has to do with the physical constants (a.k.a. laws of nature) we have in order for life to emerge. The mechanism by which complex things emerge from simple things only happens because of the laws of that mechanism. However, that does not explain why the mechanism is even there, to begin with. Fine-tuning has to do with what chose the mechanism that was needed for life to begin. So EOT stating that complexity arising from simplicity refutes fine-tuning is extremely flawed. Even the multiverse would require fine-tuning of its own so this does not explain fine-tuning on a non-theistic account. This shows how little he understands natural theology and the arguments that are made, yet he wants to lecture theists on how to do proper philosophy.
Second, regarding the mind, EOT doesn’t get into that much. I doubt he has even studied philosophy of mind, which gets into things like the hard problem of consciousness for how subjectivity arises from objectivity. If the mind is not the byproduct of the space-time universe and if our minds arose at one point then it must have a personal source which we refer to as God. This is simply the best explanation of the data (7). EOT calling it a gap is dishonest, especially if he doesn’t have an alternative explanation. But as we have seen he doesn’t care to provide one. He instead wants to follow the script of the fallacious reasoning I said atheists follow in my original video when they cry god of gaps, instead of looking at the evidence. Again, it is like he didn’t even watch it.
Ending at 15:40, EOT makes multiple points which will be listed out.
- The effects of gravity are observable and theism is not so the two are not alike.
- Theism has zero explanatory power.
- IP has not explained why theism accounts for the evidence.
- Theism requires too much, such as consciousness without a mind (he clarifies it in the description), the existence of the supernatural, and has to assume it’s their God.
- Good explanations should have predictive power and theism lacks predictive power
- Good explanations should be falsifiable
Response 1. Theists do not claim God is the best scientific explanation rather he is the best metaphysical explanation. Did he forget the first part of my video already? Again, we are comparing gravity because gravity is the best explanation in science regarding how things fall to the earth. Theism is the best philosophical explanation for why reality exists and why things are the way they are. It’s an analogy. Try to keep up, EOT.
Response 2. Theism again is not a scientific theory it is a metaphysical theory. It will explain the nature of reality, whereas something like quantum mechanics will explain subatomic particles. You can have the scientific theories integrate with a metaphysical theory but they are still not the same since the metaphysical theories will explain the nature of reality as a whole rather than only specific areas of physical reality.
Response 3. They are explained in my other videos, which I hinted to throughout my original video on abusing god of the gaps fallacy. Again, did EOT pay attention?
Response 4. First, arguments in natural theory do not argue for any specific God only that there is a God that created reality. With regards to which religion is true, there are different arguments for that. The evidence that favors theism would imply the existence of what he calls the supernatural. It is simply the conclusion (best explanation) of the evidence. If the evidence favors theism it is on the burden for non-theist to come up with a better explanation, of which EOT has failed to do time and time again.
Response 5 & 6. We cannot stress this enough theism is not a scientific theory, so it does not follow the same rules as a scientific theory would. Both materialism and naturalism are not falsifiable, yet EOT doesn’t mind assuming they are true. All theism requires for it to work is that it’s the best explanation for reality as a whole and that is true for all metaphysical theories.
Ending at 16:38, EOT continues to push the false idea that theism should be treated as a scientific theory. Once again, showing how bad he is at philosophy. Again, of course, God won’t be mentioned in scientific journals. That is because God IS NOT a scientific theory. That’s why God is mentioned mostly in philosophy journals and theistic philosophers and atheist philosophers offer their arguments in those journals (8). Theism explains all the scientific theories as a whole but is not itself a scientific theory.
At 17:14 EOT says “All we are actually saying is that shared ignorance of humanity on certain topics is no justification to assert God.”
I am not going to quote what he said right after that since it is just an immature insult. Anyway, at this point, I am just repeating myself. We are only ignorant if we have no explanation for something. This idea that God is equivalent to magic comes from a false idea of what God actually is. Theism explains nature as a whole, if non-theists can come up with something that explains reality as a whole that is better than the theistic explanation then they should present it, otherwise repeating “god of the gaps” does nothing to discredit the theistic account. The theist can do the same exact thing against any non-theistic explanation. Finally, once again, no one is arguing for God’s existence from ignorance. This mischaracterization and straw man is pathetic. EOT clearly has not even bothered to look at our arguments.
At 18:20 What EOT says next is very ironic “That’s the whole basis for the god of the gaps that what we currently don’t know as a species what will at a later date turn out to confirm God. Of course, throughout history, this has never turned out to be the case. Every advancement in science has shown nothing but purely naturalist and material processes without the need of magic. I don’t assert that what we will know in future will validate non-theism, maybe we will one day discover evidence for your God but that possibility no way impacts reality right here right now.”
The funny thing is science has actually given us data from over the past one hundred years to advance some of the best arguments for God existence. Science is not burying God but revealing Him. EOT didn’t even bother to mention that things like the big bang, fine-tuning, or emergent space-time have only been discovered recently and have given us stronger cases for theism. But we can already predict his reply, “that is is just a god of the gaps argument!” He should watch the original video he is attempting to respond to because it is clear from his response he did not pay attention and just asserted the objections that video already dealt with.
Second, it’s ironic because EOT keeps mentioning in the past that we have found non-theistic explanations for phenomena and keeps making that comparison. His biggest failure here is that he does not provide a non-theistic explanation for the current arguments for God that theist often use. We have already gone over why there is evidence for the non-material and why materialism fails to account for certain data. The only way EOT can win here is to defend his metaphysical position of materialism, however, he has failed to do that, which makes theism more likely than non-theism.
After 21:00 and for the rest of the video EOT goes on a big rant about why things non-theist cannot account for are “just the ignorance of humanity.” Of course, at the end of the day, this is circular reasoning. He accuses us of lying without showing evidence for this. He continues to think that theism must go through the “peer review process of science”. Of course, we already went over why God is not a scientific theory. Finally, EOT asserts that the gaps are theistic gaps and that God is just a filler and is not an answer but just an assertion. This has already been refuted repeatedly since God is the METAPHYSICAL explanation for reality as a whole. It would be like me saying that any explanation for consciousness under materialism is not an answer but an assertion. That would be fallacious for a theist to say, but atheist like to pretend its solid reasoning when they do this.
The rest of the video is just a bunch of insults and appeal to ridicules, so it’s no use in trying to respond to someone that acts like a child. EOT has only confirmed the argument of my original video, that atheists don’t even look at the evidence for theism, assume their conclusion of naturalism or materialism, that they are lazy when they cry god of the gaps, and the evidence doesn’t support their worldview. Perhaps one day EOT will make a reasonable and respectful video on philosophy and won’t act like a cyber bully, throwing a tantrum, but that seems to be a gap in abilities and knowledge.
- “Abusing the God of the Gaps Fallacy – YouTube.” 5 Oct. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1hY3o6G37c. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “Are Atheists Abusing The God Of The Gaps Fallacy? | RE – YouTube.” 21 Oct. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuYs025H-8Y. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “The Death of Materialism – YouTube.” 4 May. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM0IKLv7KrE. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “Was Life Inevitable? – YouTube.” 1 Jun. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H0yoBiBM5s. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “The Emergent Universe – YouTube.” 6 Jul. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFEBOGLjuq4. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “More Than Matter?: Is There More to Life Than Molecules?: Keith Ward,” Page 246 https://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Matter-There-Molecules/dp/0802866603. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “The Cosmic Conscious Argument for God’s Existence – YouTube.” 20 Jul. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r74vcMxwUk. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.
- “Journals // Center for Philosophy of Religion // University of Notre Dame.” https://philreligion.nd.edu/cpr-resources/journals/. Accessed 21 Oct. 2018.