G-d of the Gaps

The pagans worshipped deities to drive out the fear of the unknown. Blaming lightning on Thor does give the person hopes to control lightning by appeasing its god. But logically prior to that, blaming it on Thor takes it out of the realm of the unknown. And so the pagan associates the gods with things they don’t understand and can’t get a handle on. And thus the pagan stops seeing his gods in things they can explain philosophically or scientifically. This is the “God of the Gaps” — the god who lives only in the gaps in human knowledge.

And this mentality apparently motivates much of our internal science-and-Torah debates. On one side, we have people who feel that if we don’t accept every miraculous claim of every medrash in its maximal and most extreme sense, we reduce G-d. They see G-d in the gaps, and therefore are maximizing G-d by insisting on the greatest possible gaps. On the other side, we have people with a near deist conception of G-d, where only that which cannot be explained in natural terms are left as miracles. His Wisdom is seen as being within nature, and miracles a concession. But they too are obsessing on G-d in relation to the gaps.

In contrast, our rishonim found the need for miracle to be problematic. Why would a perfect G-d be unable to design a universe that could run without His further intervention? This is part of why the Seforno mentions in his introduction to parashas Chuqas and the Rambam (on Avos 5:6) place the design of miracles within the week of creation. They may be unique events, but they are placed within the original design.

Science is evidence of a single unique G-d who implemented the universe with Divine Wisdom and a specific design. A pagan’s world of events happening on the whim of warring gods could never produce science. Even the Greeks who started Natural Philosophy, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, rolling rejected their own gods as mythical or irrelevant, and discussed the world in terms of a single Creator.

Belief in G-d is to explain questions of ought — morality and ethics — and of purpose. Religion only overlaps with science incidentally.

With pride and confidence in science and technology, a real believer feels more in control by placing G-d within science.

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  1. nachum stone says:

    i think you have seriously misrepresented Rambam here. contact me for MM

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