A redated post.
Since the God of the Gaps issue has been discussed in several places, I thought I would redate this post from a month ago relevant to that issue.
We are often told that "God did it" explanations are "cheating" that they are "pseudo-explanations." I saw this in reading the combox on Tom Gilson's Thinking Christian site, to which I link here. But what if God actually did it? "The butler did it" is a bad explanation unless, well, the butler did it. Does that mean that we, as rational people, are condemned to not believing the truth because to accept a true explanations would be to accept an unacceptable explanation? Are there any limits on the ban on theistic explanations? Consider this passage from Norwood Russell Hanson:
Suppose that on next Tuesday morning, just after breakfast, all of us in this one world are knocked to our knees by a percussive and ear shattering thunderclap. Snow swirls; leaves drop from trees; The earth heaves and buckles; Buildings topple and towers tumble; The sky is ablaze with an eerie, silvery light. Just then, as all the people of this world look up, the heavens open—The clouds pull apart—Revealing an unbelievably immense and radiant Zeus-like figure, towering above us like a hundred Everests. He frowns darkly as lightning plays across the features of His Michelangeloid face. He then points down at me and exclaims, for every man, woman and child to hear, “I have had quite enough of your too-clever logic-chopping and word-watching in matters of Theology. Be assured, N. R. Hanson that I do most certainly exist. 1
Keith Parsons, in his debate with William Lane Craig, says that if that were to happen he would be on the front row of the church. I once asked Keith this question: Suppose I were God, and I decided to do everything I could to convince you that I existed. What would I have to do? (Keith had sent me a paper defending a broadly Humean position on miracles). He said "If the sky were to spell out the words "TURN OR BURN THIS MEANS YOU PARSONS" he said, he would turn. In fact examples like these are often used as a basis for challenging believers to provide evidence for belief in God. But why demand that theists provide evidence, if, whatever the circumstances, there couldn't be enough evidence. If "God did it" explanations are really verboten, then it hardly makes sense to complain that theists haven't provided evidence for their position. By definition, that's the one thing they can't do.