Stephen Meyer and other proponents of intelligent design theory are often accused of committing the “God of the gaps” fallacy, or GOTG for short. Just what does that mean? And is the accusation true? GOTG is one form of a logical fallacy called the argument from ignorance. It goes like this:
- 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲: Cause A cannot produce or explain evidence E.
- 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻: Therefore, cause B produced or explains E.
Now, that’s an obvious error in logic. Does ID theory commit the same error? However often critics say that it does, it does not.
ID theory does not rely simply on establishing one cause as inadequate to produce a given effect. It also establishes that a particular other cause is adequate, where no other is.
So, critics often characterize ID as having this fallacious form:
- 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲: Material causes cannot produce or explain specified information.
- 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻: Therefore, an intelligent cause produced the specified information in life.
In reality, the logic of ID theory is this:
- 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗢𝗻𝗲: Despite a thorough search, no materialistic causes have been discovered with the power to produce the large amounts of specified information necessary to produce the first cell.
- 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗧𝘄𝗼: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
- 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of the specified information in the cell.
This post has been adapted from Dr. Meyer’s book Return of the God Hypothesis, Chapter 20, in which Dr. Meyer explains the logic of intelligent design in depth. I challenge critics to respond to the actual arguments in the book, which is available in print, Kindle, and audiobook formats from all major book retailers and many libraries!