On the ‘God of the Gaps’

“I’ve heard it called a ‘God of the gaps’ argument,” I was saying. “He thinks there are some things science can’t explain, and that’s what proves there is a God.”

“If I were a theologian,” Mr. Magundi replied, “I’d never allow anyone to make such a foolish argument in my presence. The idea seems to be that God exists in the empty spaces in our knowledge; the inevitable corollary would be that, as we fill in our understanding of the way the world works, eventually God will be squeezed out like the last drop of toothpaste.

“If I were a theologian, I’d say your friend has it exactly backwards. Wherever we know that the world is explainable; wherever it operates according to elegant and simple mathematical laws; wherever astonishing complexity rises from utter simplicity with beautiful inevitability—there is where we see God plainly. Where there are gaps in our scientific knowledge, those are the places where we don’t quite see God yet. But we keep working toward filling in those gaps, coming to a closer and closer understanding of the mind of God.

“That’s what I’d say if I were a theologian. But, since I’m not a theologian, you’re free to pretend I never said it.”

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On Organized Crime

“They bring their gangs along with them,” Mr. Bates was saying. “That’s what worries me most.”

“Yes,” Mr. Magundi agreed, “it’s a regrettable truth that immigrant groups have always brought their criminal organizations with them from the old country. The Italians brought the Mafia; the Chinese brought the tongs; and the English brought industrial capitalism.”