Basket of Figs

Published 2002-7

Bud Powell

Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs


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A God of the Gaps?

“Your God is just a God of the Gaps.”  “God is for superstitious types who drag God into things that they can’t explain.  It was o.k. for the old days, but science is rolling back the horizons of knowledge, and we simply don’t need God anymore.”

Modern man doesn’t like contingent things, things that may or may not come to pass.  Before the age of science people needed God because they did not know what caused diseases, earthquakes, lightning, and such things.  Science has shown us about causes, and we don’t need to think about God anymore.  We have learned that there is a cause for everything.  If we can remove the cause, the thing will not come to pass.

Thus, we have overcome smallpox and polio.  We have solved the problem of production so that no one has to be hungry anymore, and greater days are still ahead.  We have rolled back pollution and solved communication problems.  No one will need to be lost anymore.  Everyone can carry a device which communicates with a satellite and will always know where he is. 

We don’t even need God as a First Cause.  Who caused the First Cause? A Super-First Cause?  And is there a Super-Duper-First Cause who caused the Super-First Cause?  “Christians are just going in circles.  We don’t need it any more.  Science is going to find the causes for everything, and we don’t need God anymore.”   So it goes.

The other day I was reading Albert Borgmann’s article “Contingency and Grace in an Age of Science and Technology,” in the April, 2002, issue of Theology Today, where he is wrestling with the problem of contingency.  If we finally explain the causes for everything, what room will there be in our universe for God?  I was feeling a little low, for we Christian types often feel that we are trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom.

Shortly after I had read Borgmann’s article, I heard on the radio about a bitter disillusioned German boy who had gone into a school and shot and killed almost twenty of his classmates.  I thought of Columbine, 9-11, and other “contingencies.”  As Solomon would have put it, I understood wisdom, a little bit anyway.  Man in control?  You’ve got to be kidding.  Maybe that is why our twenty-first century, jaded, and cynical generation paused a little after 9-11 and thought of God.

What control do we have after all?  Isn’t it just an illusion of control?  We can claim a measure of control if we limit that which is knowable to the physical world.  But how do we control the dark and gloomy spirits that would drive airplanes into buildings, in the service of their dark gods?  What good is all our technology and control if we cannot control the imaginations of a murderer?  How can we put the soul under the microscope and learn its substance, to separate the dark strands from the light?  What about the dark angels that serve God’s purposes?  There are such, you know.  One of them slew all the firstborn of Egypt.  Another dispatched 180,000 Assyrians in one night.

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  He has not told us most of what He has decreed so that we might trust and rest in Him.   This is why we are not to boast and say that tomorrow we will go to town and do this or that.  We do not know what a day will bring forth, because we do not know the mind of God.  We labor in the Bible to know what is revealed.  For the rest we trust.


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