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A Miscellany 426
What The 'God Of The Gaps' Teaches Us About Science

by: Marcelo Gleiser
submitted by: Paul Neubauer

From the Cosmos & Culture blog on NPR

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"God of the Gaps": When God is invoked to fill in the blanks in scientific knowledge. An old-fashioned and doomed theological approach, but one that is nevertheless very much alive in the minds of many.

In the General Scholium, a sort of epilogue to his monumental Mathematical Principles of Mathematical Philosophy, Isaac Newton wrote (I use the I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman translation):

"This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.

And if the fixed stars are the centers of similar systems, they will all be constructed according to a similar design and subject to the dominion of the One ... And so that the system of the fixed stars will not fall upon one another as a result of their gravity, he has placed them at immense distances from one another."

We can see that Newton made direct use of the God of the Gaps approach, whereupon God is invoked to explain something science can't.

Continue reading on the NPR website

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