Leibnizian Argument And God of the Gaps

One of the popular objections to Leibnizian cosmological argument is that it commits god-of-the-gaps fallacy, viz.: filling in God in gaps which we yet cannot naturally explain. I totally agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer in noticing the danger of evoking God into gaps that we yet to understand. Bonhoeffer warned: “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved”¹

Does Leibnizian cosmological argument commit this wrong reasoning? I do not think so. In my previous article, Youth Pastor And Joey the Atheist, I shared a popular deductive form of Leibnizian arguments as follows:

  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe exists.
  4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.(from 1&2)
  5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.(from 2 & 4)

Looking at premise 2, I can see how this form of outlining Leibnizian argument prima facie seems like committing “a-god-of-the-gaps”. But on a closer look one would notice that there is no gaps, in the first place, that needed a god to be pushed in.

Premise 2 could also be outline as follows:

2′. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is in an external cause.

The best of what scientific and philosophic indicates is that this external cause has to have the properties of timelessness, spacelessness, immaterial and non-physical. This is what we know from astrophysics and correct reasoning . There is no gaps that need to be filled here. Therefore this argument cannot be dismissed/swept under “God-of-the-gaps” rug.  As my fictional character Luke explained to Joey:

Joey: Okay, I can see what you are saying but why should that explanation be God?

Luke: Well, think of it, all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy, what we call the universe must have an external cause as the explanation of its existence. This cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time.

Joey: Go on.

Luke: There are only two sorts of beings that could fit this description: abstract object like number or an unembodied mind. We know that abstract objects can’t cause anything so the only candidate must be a transcendent unembodied mind, which we, Christians, call God.

As King David would say “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.”(Psalms 19:1-3 NIV) and Paul of Tarsus “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Roman 1:20 NIV)

What is your objection(s) to Leibnizian cosmological argument?


¹Letters and papers from Prison (1997), p. 311

Article inspired by best friend Brap Gronk‘s comments in Youth Pastor and Joey the Atheist

10 thoughts on “Leibnizian Argument And God of the Gaps

  1. I think your argument merely raises more questions. If everything must have a cause, then what caused God?

    Your description of God as an unembodied mind goes completely against the traditional description of him. How can an unembodied mind love you? Or have a son? Or interfere in human activities?

    • Hej Robert,

      I am sorry I did not see your comment pending Robert. 🙂 Thank you for a wonderful questions.

      I believe, Robert, you have miss the point of premise one, viz., “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.”

      I believe your question, Robert, would be then, what is the explanation of God. To that a classical theist would answer in the necessity of His own nature. But maybe you mixed Kalam Cosmological Argument with Leibnzinan’s Cosmological Argument, which first premise is, ” Everything that begin to exist has a cause”. No theistic philosophers I can think of ever argued that “everything has a cause”. That would be very wrong.

      Could you give the description of God as traditional theist describe? I would answer your last two questions after I understand your description of tradition theist/classical understanding of God.

      Thank you Robert.

      In Christ,

      • Well I was told that we were made in Gods image, that He loved us so much he sent his only son to die for us. Love and having children generally aren’t qualities unembodied minds have. Nor do I see how he can create physical objects like Earth. How can he hear prays or act upon them? How can he have a gender?

        Regardinig Kalam and Leibnzinan, I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

        • Hi Robert,

          With that understanding of God, your were told, I can begin to understand why, Robert, you are in that position.

          What philosophers would call mind, theologians will call spirit. We are said to be icona(image) of God because were reflect the personality, rationality, creativity and moral character of God. I follow Plato-Augustinian and Aristotle-Aquinas dualism, namely that human being possesses body and soul(/spirit/mind).

          We are not biological children of God, but spiritual. That is why, in Gospel accordind to John, only those who accepted, believed and follow Christ as the Lord of everything are children of God.( Not all are children of God).

          I would encourage you to first have an understanding of the classical understanding of God. Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. Plato and Aristotle’s also will help you, since Aquinas and Agustine depended much on them in their writings.

          Robert, I also discover that your not familar with Natural Theology, since I lost you in the arguments for existence of God. As my wife, Lea, help me when I were an atheist, with a provocative wisdom. She said, Prayson, you cannot deny/reject what you do not understand, you atleast need to say you correctly understand, then reasonably and fairly give reasons why you deny/reject.

          My problem was that I thought I knew Christianity, its history, namely historical Jesus and early Church, philosophy namely the argument for existence of God, and theology. I did not.All I had was a 6 years old sundayschool mind. I am far from fully understand it, Robert, but I failed to deny it. I became one 🙂 .

          You may or may not became one, but I believe its wise to understand Christianity at its best, before rejecting it.


        • Hej Robert,

          Sorry it too a long time to get to your question. I can begin to understand the god you are against. But I would encourage to at-least get your hand on
          the classical theism, as presented by Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.

          Many Christians and non-Christians are unfamiliar with Natural Theology and confusing Kalam and Leibnizian cosmological argument is very common. Would you like
          me to in a short and clear explain try to explain them? I give a try in to do Leibnizian in my article: Youth Pastor and Joey the Atheist, in a popular level and I am thinking of doing Kalam, Moral argument, Teleological and Historical Jesus also in a popular level. Sometime to much information is boring :).


  2. Reblogged this on Love to God and commented:
    Not only christians think of god as an unembodied mind, but also muslims think of God as a super unmistakeable unembodied mind that knows every thing

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