Imagine sitting in a cozy coffee shop called Credo House, sipping on a Luther Latte, a delightful vanilla latte exclusive to this quaint establishment. You strike up a conversation with an atheist friend over your warm caffeine. Eager to share the hope and love of Jesus, little do you know this chat will take an unexpected turn…


You are discussing your faith and the transformative power of the Gospel with your atheist friend and he sits quietly and nods politely. You believe you are having an effect as you share some of the ways God has brought you hope in the most despairing times. Drunk with enthusiasm, you believe you are getting to him. Little did you know, he was just biding his time. As you explain how God is the answer to everything, he suddenly puts his hand up signaling for you to stop. You think he is going to ask how to accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, but he throws you a curb ball.

“Did you say God is the answer to everything?” he asks with a piercing gaze. You nod, a hint of unease setting in as you detect a challenge in his tone. He leans forward, his voice steady and confident. “Throughout history, people have attributed the unknown to God or supernatural beings. Take thunder, for example. Ancient cultures believed thunder was the voice of an angry god. But now, thanks to science, we know it’s the result of the rapid expansion and contraction of air around a lightning bolt.”

He continues, “Remember how people once believed that sleep paralysis was caused by demons sitting on one’s chest? Science has since explained it as a disruption in the transition between sleep stages. And what about illnesses? They were once thought to be the result of Satan’s influence or divine punishment. Now, we have medical explanations and treatments for many diseases.”

He pauses, allowing his words to sink in. “Every time we’ve filled a gap in our knowledge, it’s been with science, not God. As our understanding grows, the need for a divine explanation diminishes.”

You swallow hard, feeling a weight in your chest. The room seems to close in around you as you grapple with his words.


Many Christians face doubt when presented with the God of the Gaps argument. But fear not, for we’re about to uncover an ironic twist in this insufficient answer.

Five Responses to the God of the Gaps Argument

1: Remain Calm: Acknowledge the Wonders of Science

Science has undeniably filled many gaps in our understanding. We’ve benefited from countless advancements—from medicine to tech. However, this progress doesn’t negate God. Christians see science not as an adversary, but as a tool to unveil the wonders of God’s creation. In other words, Christianity is not afraid of science.

2: Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Christians Created Science!

It’s essential to emphasize that many of the early pioneers of modern science were devout Christians who played a pivotal role in closing the gaps in our understanding. Mention individuals like Isaac Newton, who was not only a scientist but also a devout Christian. Newton saw his scientific pursuits as a means of exploring the intricacies of God’s creation. Highlight that the scientific method, a cornerstone of modern science, was developed by individuals who believed in a rational, orderly universe created by God. In essence, Christians played a central role in the birth and evolution of scientific exploration.

Furthermore, clarify that the scientific method, with its emphasis on empirical observation and systematic investigation, emerged from the assumption of an orderly universe created by God. It wasn’t science squeezing God out; instead, it was God introducing science to provide a deeper understanding of how He created the natural and miraculous worlds within the context of His universe.

3: Define Faith: Everyone Has Faith in Their System

Emphasize the fundamental role of faith in the very foundations of reasoning and scientific inquiry. Acknowledge that even those who consider themselves rational and grounded in the scientific method still place their faith in essential principles. This includes faith in the reliability of the scientific method, faith in the consistency of the laws of logic, and faith in the superiority of objective conclusions. Highlight that faith is not a blind leap into the dark but a step into the light of understanding. Faith, whether in scientific principles or religious beliefs, is an integral part of human experience, guiding us toward a deeper comprehension of the world.

4: Flip the Script: The Science of the Gaps

Let’s flip the narrative with a novel concept: the Science of the Gaps. Science, too, grapples with its knowledge gaps. Consider life’s origin, the resurrection of Christ, near-death experiences, or the universe’s fine-tuning. What about consciousness, purpose, or morality?—science is yet to meaningfully elucidate these mysteries. Or, as I argue below, Christians have no gaps while atheists have no holes filled at all without God

5: Applaud the Magician: Science Without God is Magic

Engage in a thoughtful comparison between religious faith and godless scientific inquiry. Address the common accusation of those who believe in God as having a “Magic man in the sky” who provides a full-stop answer to all questions. Emphasize that, in reality, it’s the atheistic scientific perspective that must resort to magic. While theists acknowledge the belief in a higher power capable of initiating existence, godless science is without a possible answer. In attempting to explain how something can come from nothing without any reason at all, how life emerges from non-life, or how intelligence can be birthed from non-intelligence, atheists find themselves on enigmatic terrain. Here is where the irony exists once again: Faced with gaps in scientific comprehension, skeptics inadvertently lean on ‘magical’ explanations.

Conclusion: God and the Ultimate Explanation of Everything

In the end, one thing becomes abundantly clear. The unbeliever does not reject God because the Christian answers are insufficient while their atheistic answers fill all the gaps.

Imagine a scenario where this atheist in our story stands before God resolute in following his methodology. He asks God all the questions that science has yet to answer and those that create all the gaps that Christians have filled with God. God, in His infinite knowledge and understanding, does not say, “I don’t know how I raised Jesus from the dead or how I created everything from nothing. I just did.” He actually provides answers, sharing the divine formulas and methods he used to create and sustain the universe and raise Jesus from death’s grip. Yet, instead of embracing this revelation as a confirmation of God’s existence, the scientist turns to a fellow human and exclaims, ‘I just figured it out! I don’t need God to fill those gaps anymore. Science can explain it.” Such is the stubbornness of some skeptics. No answer will satisfy.

God isn’t just a gap-filler; He’s the very foundation of our knowledge and understanding. Science is his and impossible without him.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    4 replies to "Who Really Believes in Magic? Five Responses to the “God of the Gaps” Argument"

    • Eric Quek

      Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.
      Albert Einstein

      Often portrayed as loggerhead is Science and Faith. In essence it is a Euthyphro dilemma. Here is why.
      Fluidity of Faith: In both religion and science, faith anchors one as a foundation in their belief, the other a trust in empirical respectively. This serves to highlight that both religious and non-religious individuals operate with a certain level of faith, in different forms.
      Omnipresence is the knowledge of gaps: There is no field of knowledge, in science or religion that has all the answers. Such gaps do not diminish the value of theology, scientific inquire but underscore the continuous nature of the quest for knowledge.
      Missing the forest for the tree: Important to recognize each serve different function—science strives to understand the natural world, faith provides many with a sense of purpose and morality and both coexist and enrich us.
      Novel way to look at this “God of the Gaps”: Drawing parallel with our body’s immune system and basic belief in God. Our immune system consists of two types of immunity:
      a) Innate—immediate reaction to external threats without having previous exposure to them, the belief in God is often an inherent and immediate response to existential questions and the search for purpose in life. It’s a natural, built in mechanism for guidance, comfort, and understanding, even without formal religious teachings.
      b) Adaptive or acquired—as “God of the Gaps” When confronted with new challenges or information gaps, this second immune system (acquired) kicks in, learning and creating specific antibodies for targeted defense. Drawing a parallel, as humans face challenges in understanding the world, they adapt, seek explanations. FOLLOW me and reread as this is very Novel and hard to understand but simplified as best as I can as I have to lay down some basic foundations: 1) Recognition—Pathogens enter body, specific immune cells –antigen-presenting cells (APCs) capture these invaders known as pathogens on their surfaces. 2) Activation—T-cells, recognize these antigens, get activated. They multiply and transform in subsets and activate B cells. 3) Production—B cells recognize the antigen and mature to plasma cells (imagine gearing up ammunition, armor) which produce antibodies that are specifically designed to counter that unique pathogen. 4) Memory—beyond the immediate response, the body preps for the future, should the same threat show up again. ANALOGY with FAITH & GOD OF THE GAPS.: When mankind faces the unknown, it’s like the body being exposed to a new pathogen. They search for meanings and answers. Responses include: 1) RECOGNITION—encountering unexplained phenomena like complexity of the universe, intricacies of life, or profound personal experiences, many of us seek explanations by delving into it. This search mirrors the body’s recognition of unfamiliar pathogens. 2) ACTIVATION—faith acts as an illuminating guide, offering insights and explanations when empirical data might be absent. This faith driven understanding, akin to the T cell’s activation, provides solace, direction, and a framework to interpret the mysteries of life. 3) PRODUCTION—over generations, faith crystallizes into rituals, traditions, and sacred scriptures, providing guidance and strength to believers, much like antibodies offering specific protection. 4) MEMORY—science with its empirical way, has provided explanations for many previously mysterious phenomena. Yet, faith remains resilient, not as a mere substitute for gaps in knowledge but as a rich tapestry of spiritual insights, ethical guidelines, and communal memories. It acts as a reservoir of wisdom, akin to the immune stem’s memory cells, always ready to guide and support.
      Viewing from eagle’s view: The innate and adaptive immune system function beautifully parallel humanity’s journey of faith. As we navigate the uncertainties of life, faith offers a beacon of hope, understanding, and continuity, much like our immune system offering protection, adaptation and memory.

      Michael and my response view this topic from different angles. Michael directly address and challenge specific atheistic arguments while I view this from metaphorical view to explain the interplay of science and faith and that they are two sides of the same coin. Michael acknowledges the wonders of science but is primarily centered on defending faith against specific criticisms. My analogy emphasizes the processes of recognition, adaptation, and memory in our journey of faith, while the five responses emphasize the historical and rational foundations of religious belief, aiming to position faith as not only compatible with but foundational to science. Both, in finality aim to bridge the gap between science and faith by using different strategies.
      Well done Michael! Thanks again for stimulating us and assisting us in our growth.

    • C Michael Patton

      Wow Eric! I’m catching a theme with you! What do you do for a living?

    • Eric Quek

      Would you believe I am now a farmer! I grow “Blood Oranges” My previous life…background a medical doctor. (retired) I see so much potential in your endeavor especially in the area of science, health, theology and would love to share my thoughts with you. Could I reach out to you and discuss via other modality? Or you can reach out to me as you have “met” Chen recently.

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