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The God of the Gaps is coming from inside the house

I’ve long thought it was sus that the “New Atheist” writers were so eager to criticize the beliefs of the Foreign Other to a much greater extent than their own cultures.

The core of the New Atheist argument is that beliefs in non-proven supernatural entities should not unduly influence human behavior, society, and policy without a strong basis in evidence.

They come across as not overly fond of arguments like Spinoza that want to combine appreciation for the natural world with the gratitude attitude, or like Kierkegaard who saw the world as ultimately an unknowable absurdity of crawlies and forces but put up an “I Want To Believe” poster in his office regardless.

A flying saucer over trees and the text "I Want To Believe", from the X-Files TV show (a poster designed by Chris Carter inspired by artist Ed Ruscha)

Criticizing Spinoza and Kierkegaard is fair game! Science is about things we know and society should be based on what we do know.

And yet…

Scientists place their faith in supernatural things all the time!

The New Atheists hate the God of the gaps but don’t raise concern against strings, selectrons, dark matter and other modern day “angels”.

String theory isn’t falsifiable since the mathematical equations are so mutable. The strings are like Russell’s Teapot, swirling around in space and can’t be disproven since you can’t look everywhere at once.

Don’t get me wrong! I love that these theories were put forth and that they’ve had so much care & thought behind them. The only way forward for science is to come up with new wild ideas and then test them. Occam’s Razor is just a guideline, not literal fact.

However, belief in some of these or “teapots” have been impactful on people’s lives even though they ended up not being there once we were able to look. People have staked their careers and dreams on these li’l angels when they were still “supernatural”, which they ultimately turned out to be.

They say the original sinners never felt a drop of pain until that second in the garden, then they felt it each and every day. So draw back your bows, you hunters who have never felt that flame! All the absolute beginners are safe in the shade for today.