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:
- Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe exists.
- The universe has an explanation of its existence.(from 1&2)
- 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