My New Republic piece on “atheism of the gaps”

The New Republic has published a revised version of my “atheism of the gaps” post from yesterday. In the magazine it’s now called “Atheists could learn a lot from religious people about how to win debates”.

Give ’em a click to keep the love and secularism flowing.  I’ve added a few references and a couple new “religion of the gaps” arguments.  Thanks to the readers for weighing in.

The faitheists and believers aren’t gonna like this one. Expect some explanations for things like evil and Jesus’s broken promise to appear in his contemporaries’ lifetime.



  1. Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink


    …and I still think you belong on TV, too….


  2. Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I blame Donald G. Fisher and Doris F. Fisher for all of these gaps.

    • Maria
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

      You know I had to Google them. Very funny. 🙂

  3. Rich
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    UD has already drafted a response. It links to such “sophisticated theological rebuttals” as this:

    Checkmate, atheists!!!!11111one

  4. Filippo
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink


  5. Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    In fairness to Jesus, he never said explicitly that he’d be the one to come encircle Jerusalem and lay the temple low, and about exactly 40 years later somebody did come and do just that. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, no doubt. So that’s not too inaccurate of a “prophecy”. Turns out, the guy who did it was a true son of god, in the legal sense of being deified by the Roman senate.

    So, is it a later insertion or part of the original story? There is reason to think the latter, and if so it may say something about who were the true authors of the gospels.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      There’s no “original story” or “insertion” there, those texts are written _after_ the Roman conquest of the area. It’s poorly conceived even for a myth…

  6. Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Whilst on the subject of sticking it the faithists I thought I might weigh in with this one.

    Tell me. How does the American Republican party et al comport their love of money with their religious fervor with respect to the camel passing through the eye of a needle parable?

    • Doug
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

      When I was a kid, it was explained to me that the “needle” was an obelisk in Jerusalem [did they have obelisks in Jerusalem?] with a doorway through it [did obelisks have doorways?] The only way a camel could get through the “eye” [doorway] was on its knees–so, it’s okay to be rich, just as long as you’re humble before God. See? God wants you to be rich!

      • Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:06 am | Permalink

        Thanks. I had heard this one before but wondered if anyone could really take it seriously. The parable would simply make no sense at all. What is it trying to say? If He is telling us all to be rich why be so obscure?

    • frothingslosh
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      The scary part is that there’s a whole theology built around the idea. It’s most popular, of course, in the US of A. It’s called Prosperity Theology (or as I learned it, “Name-It-And-Claim-It Theology”), and a lot of people buy into it. There’s a reasonably solid article about it on Wikipedia.

  7. Posted April 23, 2014 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    If you consider religious arguments to be specious, surely you can’t propose to “learn” from them. It shouldn’t be about winning a particular argument with clever logic (you can’t be reasoned out of something you weren’t reasoned into, anyway, so “winning” the argument will only impress your own side), but about presenting a genuine attempt to understand reality. In other words, sincerity before sophistry.

  8. jomike
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Rod Dreher has informed us that fatuous Professor Coyne is fatuous:

    “I do hope that Hart will not wait quite so long to have the fatuous atheist critic Jerry Coyne for lunch. The rigidly ideological Coyne is one of the least-interesting critics of theism, precisely because he routinely gives scant evidence of understanding the position of his opponents (see Edward Feser on this point).”

    Yeah, Edward Feser, that even-tempered paragon of lucidity and professionalism! Take THAT, shallow materialist professor man!

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      Something tells me that to be an interesting critic of theism, you have to argue for the existance of God, not just any God; Dreher’s God.

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