The Gods of the Gaps: a Simple Metaphor

The theory of evolution is an extraordinary scientific achievement. The richness of detail and the amazing complementary data from many disciplines, not to mention its predictive successes all speak of a very refined framework. But like all science there are gaps in what we know. A lot of people get fixated on the fact that the theory of evolution has a few holes in it here and there - a missing transition species here, an undefined biochemical mechanism there, etc. Scientists don't seem as concerned about this as the lay public because they see a very different path than does the average Joe.

Imagine that you come upon the scene below.
Now imagine that you are asked to suggest a plausible explanation about what the missing section looked like. Not too hard, is it. Now imagine a slightly larger gap like the one below.
Is it any harder to deduce what the path looked like on the basis of these images? Would your first inclination be to imagine a wild and circuitous route like the one below leading 'who knows where'?

Probably not. You might not know the exact details of how the bridge was constructed but you probably wouldn't imagine it levitated...

1 comment:

Harvey said...

The "God of the gaps" argument acknowledges that there are fewer and fewer goles in our knowledge of the Universe. If you are a believer, you must either accept your particular choice of scripture as being totally correct and, therefore, explanatory of everything, or you must retreat into using such terms as "allegorical/parable/not literal/etc." In such situations one must either deny what we may have learned about the Universe since Scripture was compiled or must go through considerable mental contortions to continue to believe. Hence the circuitous reconstructions of destroyed bridges becomes necessary.