Friday, January 22, 2010

Alien in the Gaps Fallacy

Those in the intelligent design camp propose there are proofs that God exists in nature. An example being the irreducible complexity in the anatomy of the eye or bacterial flagella. The common retort to these claims is to cite the God of the Gaps fallacy.
The God of the Gaps fallacy can be defined as - a tendency to postulate acts of God to explain phenomena for which science has yet to give a satisfactory account.

This intelligent design line of thinking is, of course, a rather weak position. As soon as a scientific explanation is able to find an answer, the argument dies an embarrassing death. If one’s faith is built on one of these, it could be shattered in an instant. I’m not a microbiologist, so there may yet be a reason to be confident, but from a spectator’s viewpoint it seems rather tenuous.

The age old claim against God is the lack of evidence. Most people have some sort of mystical experiences, but these aren’t reproducible as required by science.

What shocked me, though, was the end of Ben Stein’s Expelled. When questioned by Mr. Stein, noted atheist scholar, Richard Dawkins, said that he thought it was possible that life had been brought to earth from another planet. This is the same person who believes that a belief in God is completely irrational.

I am agnostic on the subject of aliens, but his line of thinking seems a bit preposterous. We have been to the moon, we have been to Mars. We thought we found life on Mars, but we didn’t. We photographed the planets and their moons, and no visible life has been found. We have sundry instruments listening for rays and waves coming from outer space in hopes that there might be life on other planets. Yet, nothing. Absolutely nothing. The universe is deafeningly silent.

There is no evidence, yet many intelligent people assert that there is a probability. Surely, in all the universe, with billions of stars and planets, life exists somewhere else. Yet we haven’t seen a thing.

Even with this utter lack of evidence, Dawkins believes that it is a possibility that a race of super intelligent aliens, that we have never seen, nor have any evidence, went flying through the universe 5 billion years ago and dropped off some bacteria that evolved into us. Really? This is rational, but a supernatural being is not? We have barely scraped the universe which is why we haven’t found alien life, but by the same limited measure we can with certainty exclude a God. Really?

I dub this the Alien in the Gaps fallacy.

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