A hole shaped God

We all heard the “God shaped hole in your soul” story. Well, most of us. The common Christian cry is that everyone has a God shaped hole they trying to fill, and only God can fill it.

This tickles me a little, if there’s any discontent in your life, then it must be because you’re lacking God, not because you’re overworked and underpaid, and haven’t had leave in five years. Just like, any gap in your knowledge can easily be filled with God.

An example, since deconverting, I frequently get asked (before the shocked expressions subside) why I don’t believe in God. The answer is always the same, despite me having good reasons not to. I simply explain that I don’t need a reason, I’d need a reason to believe in God. After chewing on this for a bit, I’d say, 90% of people then say, “so where did the universe come from.” Again, my answer is always the same. I could make some appeal to Big Bang, or a creator being logically unnecessary a priory (I will get to this in a future post). I don’t, I say, “me not knowing doesn’t make you correct.” Normally the debate subsides, and I’ve avoided what could have been a serious argument. Oh, I give reasons online.

That answer, can stop most arguments for God’s existence dead, simply put, humans not having found an explanation, doesn’t mean that goddidit. So while Christians claim we all have a “God shaped hole,” they also seem to believe in a hole shaped God, one who fits neatly into every gap in our knowledge. This is the god of the gaps argument.

From Wikipedia

Atheists contest that the more we learn, the less relevant gods become, because the less gaps in our knowledge they have to fill. Which really seems to be the case, from earthquakes being the wrath of God, to mere results of plate movement, and from bipolar being demon possession to being a chemical imbalance. This is, of course exactly what happens.

Christians do contest that while many of these things have natural explanations, God is involved, in some cases God can be blamed for hurricanes due to his intense dislike of homosexuality. What they’re saying is, explained stuff needs an extra explanation, which there is no reason to believe.

I think Tim Minchin explains the God of the Gaps argument best in Storm:

“Every mystery
Ever solved has turned out to be
Not Magic.

Me personally, if you keep appealing to stuff that is simply not known to back up your belief, you simply have a hole shaped god.


5 thoughts on “A hole shaped God”

  1. The Universe always existed as the Universe is the set of all things that exist so asking where it comes from can only have the answer of something that exists or something that doesn’t. If it is something that exists then one hasn’t actually answered the question at all (or has given an answer like the Bad Wolf from Doctor Who that creates itself, which is circular). If it is something that doesn’t exist then why are we talking about a non-existent thing and how does something that doesn’t exist create something that does? Which is where you get the statements from Medieval theologians that God doesn’t exist and is literally not a thing (nothing).

    Personally I believe in a God that does exist, and a universe full of things that are co-eternal with God who merely frames and merely shapes (to reference the Popal Vuh) what is already existing.

    That we know how Hurricanes form does not actually mean that a being may not form a Hurricane for a purpose; given sufficient power (and insane amounts of computing) it would be possible for humans to create a hurricane and direct its path (and due to the nature of such things if one had sufficient knowledge and computing power doing so wouldn’t really require a lot of effort (outside of the computations)), So theoretically Katrina could be God/(or a god, or other being with sufficient resources) expressing intense dislike of homosexuality (or perhaps shrimp gumbo). Of course knowing that it was (and the reason it was) would require either knowing by what laws God operates sufficiently well or God telling someone. Likewise with the other stuff.

    So if Tyre were to sink into the sea, for example, due to an earthquake then because it seems like there may be a prophecy about it that God may have caused it, in this hypothetical.

    Of course one can also take the view that a being that is some from of all knowing and some form of all powerful is implicitly responsible for nearly everything. Minority Report plays a little bit with that idea subject to moral agency, the type of all knowing could complicate that view greatly.

    In neither of those two views does using God as an explanation of things seem useful, which is what science is all about. God using a Hurricane or Earthquake requires the potential for a Hurricane or Earthquake hitting the area to exist and that potential can be measured and the damage caused mitigated. God being somewhat responsible for everything is also not useful as not only would God be responsible for the good and bad things that happen but also responsible for our ability to plan and observe the universe to quote Galileo:

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use

    If “Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of God” per Cicero then that idea can not be derived via an investigation into the rational reasons that people give for God. If we have a God shaped hole then that hole is a part of us and not a logical construct with reasons behind it, one doesn’t really have logical reasons for liking chocolate or ones sexual orientation and can’t really change those things via logic either. Science can investigate why someone would like chocolate, why they may have a sexual orientation, or potentially why there is a desire towards God. It may even come up with a pill to change any or all of those, which becomes more of an ethical issue and doesn’t mean that ones sexual orientation is not real, or that chocolate is not good, or tell us wether or not God actually exists.

    1. I should also point out that having a God shaped hole can be used as evidence for the existence of God it is also very much not a proof of Gods existence (unless one resorts to circular reasoning, which tells us nothing). Being once one has identified that people have a “God shaped hole” the question becomes why and what purpose does it fill, and one needs to set aside the view of God creating humans in investigating the hole if one wishes to prove the existence of deity (otherwise one assumes the conclusion). The view of God creating the God shaped hole may be useful in other settings but it is essentially an axiomatic expression, not a proof.

      Given that religion creates highly effective and enduring social structures which are able to, for instance, build Cathedrals over the span of generations and ties both generations together and people living in vastly different places and speaking vastly different languages together then some of the evolutionary advantages of having a God shaped hole are pretty clear. Which fits the hypothesis of God (providing supporting evidence) but also can be viewed independently of whether or not God actually exists. That alone does not provide any data as to which God either.

      Of course if one accepts that a God shaped hole is caused by a God then one could argue that the God that best fits that hole is correct; however that does make the assumption that everyone has precisely the same hole, which, like sexuality, may not be the case. As if God actually desire that everyone behave sexually in precisely the same way and there is variation as to the sexual desires of individuals then that any individual, or group of individuals, has a particular sexual desire doesn’t provide strong evidence that God desires that they act or don’t act on that desire. One could use an argument of ad populum, which could provide some evidence towards a certain view, but the question is if everyone believing a certain view is doing so because it fits best or because the social pressure, tradition, or cost/benefits are best under that view. Both essentially boil down to a more complete version of Pascal’s Wager.

      1. Pascal’s Wager is nothing more than a mob protection racket threat.

        People building cathedrals and temples with money they’ve swindled off people who live in shacks isn’t evidence that there is a god. It is an appeal to popular opinion, therefore it isn’t evidence of any god. It is evidence that people make up things to steal from others, it’s called a con. If anything, it’s evidence that there isn’t a god, certainly not one who cares about people, or he’d have stopped the temple building centuries ago.

        There is no evidence of a god shaped whole, it is just another gap that theologians made up to prop up their failing ideas.

    2. Assigning god to an unknown, we don’t know where the universe came from, is just putting something you don’t know exists in a gap in knowledge because you want evidence, not because there is evidence. That’s pretty much all I need to say, the fact that the design argument is logically, and statistically invalid, doesn’t seem to bother anyone anyway, it doesn’t prove anything. The comological argument is complete garbage, and also just putting god there. Something must have been the first cause, therefore god. The first cause was the eternal baboon, and I have as much support for that as you do for a god.

      1. Not sure that you understand what I was saying, as I destroyed the cosmological argument in my comment, and most versions of design.

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