The Humanist Codex is a collection of critiques of theism and counters to common theistic arguments. These are in the form of five-minute essential essays which explain the argument and its faults in five minutes or less. These essays are broken up into critiques, apologies, and positions, so that if you know the argument or position your looking for, you can find it easily.
The Codex’s Critique of theism revolves around two central assertions.
The first is that the God of the Gaps argument is the most failed argument in human history.
This is not a difficult position to defend. Any time someone asked what causes the tides to come in and out, what causes death and disease, what causes storms, mudslides, birth-defects, rainbows, or those little points of light we call stars, every time someone asked that and answered, “I don’t know, it must be God”, someone made a gaps argument.
One can think back to the first cave men seeing a red moon in the sky, or a strange tree or rock formation, and saying God placed it there for a purpose—to ward off evil or as a sign of danger. You can go through the dark ages and think of hundreds if not thousands of more examples, from the bubonic plague to planets that seemed to change direction mid orbit. Arriving at the modern age, you see the Gaps employed no less often, with dark mater, the big bang, and string theory. At every turn, every missing link in the evolutionary chain, every unexplained phenomenon, every natural force that stumps science, there you see a gaps proof for God.
It boggles the mind, trying to think just how often the gaps argument has been used. Billions of billions of times, if you were really to try to tally it, still seems low.
And in each instance, those who employed this argument were utterly convinced of its success as a proof of God. The person who today says dark matter proves the Lord Almighty is no less convinced of that than the person who thousands of years ago thought that God must exist because otherwise how would rainbows know what order to get the colors in—and get the order right every, single, time.
So, while I can’t prove any modern Gaps argument wrong, it is perhaps the easiest inductive reference in human history to say that not one has ever, ever, ever worked in the past, and that we can therefore unilaterally dismiss all gaps arguments. If we can inductively deduce anything at all, certainly that must be it.
The second assertion is that every single argument for the existence of god, every single one, when reduced to its core, is a gaps argument.
A number of these are preface obvious. Any prime mover argument, for example, whereby one says, “We don’t know how the universe started, so it must have been God”, is a gaps argument. But more complex arguments, too, are just as flawed. Arguments from the existence of miracles—we don’t know how this man’s caner was cured, it must be God—are just as bad.
Even arguments from revelation—where people saw and spoke to God himself—are gaps arguments. The phenomena of people having divine religious experiences is nothing new, and has existed across every religion, in every time in history. Zeus has appeared to people, Apollo, Vishnu, Quatzequatel…. They’ve appeared to believers and non-believers alike. Indeed, this is the same phenomena as alien abductions—people who can pass lie detector tests, who would bet their lives they’ve been abducted… maybe they have (this would seem to disprove the Christian God, who makes no room for aliens), but if not, the Christian who saw and spoke to God must contend with the farmer who was abducted and sexually molested by aliens. Indeed, it seems to be a natural part of the human condition, a natural phenomenon to our species, to have these extraordinary experiences which can not be explained, which we don’t understand, but which are completely and in every measurable way real to the person who experienced it, regardless of culture or time in history. We simply don’t know how or why these things happen to people, but what can be said is that when these phenomena are used as evidence for god… you’ve got a gaps argument.
In the end, every single argument for the existence of any theistic god is, in fact, a gaps argument.
If the God of the Gaps is the worst, most failed argument in human history, and every argument for the existence of God is in fact a Gaps argument, this leaves us with no even remotely credible argument for the existence of God.