Denis Lamoureux on the God-of-the-Gaps Fallacy

Thanks for your reply. Sorry–I was adding another part on there, and messed it up. I am not familiar Plato, unfortunately (“what do they teach children in these schools?” to appropriate Lewis). I"d be interested in what you think of that addendum.

The “potential” part would only work if there were some human ESSENCE. The severely retarded person has no potential to become anything other than that (as far as I am aware). However, if the person is invested with a spirit or soul or SOMETHING, this would easily separate him/her out as intrinsically valuable. Just seems like the easiest solution.

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on another note, you don’t agree with Lamoureaux that there probably was no historical Adam? That’s where I agree with him. Haha

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Thank you. I don’t know–I think that the children who have anencephaly or severe mental retardation bear marks of how they should be. Last week, a nice young man who looked initially normal quickly declared himself with a severe learning disorder as he repeated himself with friendly overtures when he cleaned the play place at our local McDonald’s where I watched my 5 year old girl play. (McDonald’s has a program that gives people with disabilities a sense of self worth when they pay them with fries, drink and a sandwich for work). I caught myself wondering how his parents would react to him in Heaven when they saw him healed and interacting intelligently and normally. Mental retardation is often from brain damage in birth, a genetic abnormality, or something else that is not the normal for a human.

There’s something about Lewis’ and Macdonald’s yearning for the real source of our shadowlands that tugs at the heart, isn’t there?

I am not certain, nor dogmatic, about the continuum–but I would have a hard time imagining being an Adam with a parent who would never see God, but was in all other ways like me.

Thanks for the discussion. I have to head for bed, but I look forward to more wisdom. God bless.

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Thanks for your thoughts. I got a chance to listen to the interview. It was good to refresh. Lamoureux says that the point of the image of God coming to us is a mystery. It reminds me of Lewis’ musing about what we would look like in Aslan’s Country–he sort of implied that for Tirian, his father would look young again, but would be an adult. But who is to say that that is the ideal image of God? So, would a fetus who miscarried appear as a child, or as an adult to his/her mother/father in Heaven?

It seems to me (conjecture only) that as we get our definition from God first and second from others He blesses us to meet, He would decide that, but maybe translate that to our understanding as what we were capable of learning–but that is pretty hard for me to conjecture, as I don’t really know what Heaven would be like (I was using it as a way to guess what an ideal would be).

I jumped over something–I don’t think there was a historical Adam, either. I think that the problem of a punctuated spot of choosing Adam would be a problem as theoretically, he and everyone around him would look just alike, and I personally have difficulty thinking of God choosing Adam over his parents to go to Heaven, etc. I think a continuum of interaction with God makes more sense to me, but I’m willing to say I could be way off. We were discussing this here too:

Anthony Guthry had trouble with that too…

Thanks for your thoughts.

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I guess what got me thinking about this was Nancy Pearcey’s new book and WLC’s interaction with one of her interviews on it.

On your continuum theory, what would the ethical reason be for letting an old woman who can no longer think clearly, speak, see or hear continue living if she’s sucking up too much money from her family? If they can’t afford to pay for her to stay alive, why not kill her? One answer would be because at some point in evolution, God caused to descend upon creatures a spirit that was lacking in the other aninals. That woman has this spirit and should therefore be treated differently than an advanced chimp although her cognitive functioning may be BELOW that of a very smart chimp.

How would this scenario work on the continuum view?

And as far as Lamoureux’s natural abortion comments, (I’m Eastern Orthodox), there is a divide in EO over whether life begins at conception or at fertilization. I would probably go with the conception side. As far as I am aware, no one would say it begins any time AFTER conception. Everyone seems to agree that it would begin AT conception if not sooner. So that’s how I’d answer that question. At conception, a fetus obtains negative rights- a right NOT to be killed, or aggressed against, stolen from, etc…

Most of the natural abortions he is talking about occur before conception I believe (I could be wrong).

Great conversation. Let me know what you think!

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@swamidass, @jongarvey, anyone else…thoughts? We have 2 “no Adam” people here disagreeing over this. What about you guys?


I’m not sure how replacing Adam with a continuum helps this particular problem. We take Abraham and he can, in your shorthand, be “chosen by God to go to heaven.”

We take his common ancestor with the chimpanzee and say, perhaps, that it doesn’t “go to heaven” or know God.

Then we take a being halfway in between, along some continuum of knowing God, a bit. Does he half “go to heaven,” or what? The fact that process is slow doesn’t solve dichotomies.

And then , by contrast, we have Peter who is on his way to heaven, and Judas, who looks very much like him and lives next door, who is not. It seems that discontinuity in close proximity is not unknown in God’s dealings. It’s no injustice to a creature whose nature lacks a particular spiritual dimension to be treated accordingly by the Lord.

You have medical confusion here, Mark - maybe you mean “fertilization and implantation” which are the two points most cited… or at least, sincethe 1960s when abortion became legal. Before that, embryologists took the simple view that life began at fertilization, ie conception (for example, my embryology textbook at Medical School was quite explicit on the matter). Since then, the “continuum” view has expanded to variable degrees to make life begin at viability, and other points are possible if you classify “human” by cognitive or physiological standards. Granny then becomes a problem at the other end of life, as you rightly say.

Spontaneous abortions are, in my view as a medic, a red herring. Most (numerically) happen before implantaion and are undiagnosed. Most first trimester miscarriages after implantation are probably related to fetal disorders which are “screened” because unviable. The few later micarriages are more often due to maternal factors.

But in any case, if we assume for now that they happen because “something goes wrong in nature”, what possible bearing does that have on deliberate human actions? In most societies before now, a majority of children died in infancy, but I don’t recall any Christians arguing that that made infanticide a moral dilemma. That was because life and death were justly in God’s hands as Creator, but not in our hands as creatures.

The model for considering such things in a “spiritual” setting is surely the resurrection of the body, which is our hope in Christ. So far, we have one instance in Jesus, who dies in the prime of life and, apparently rose in an equivalent state. God has, I’m sure, an appropriate plan that doesn’t depend on spending eternity with false teeth and dementia, or alternatively in an incubator.



You are right, that’s what I meant. I was mostly going by this podcast, but it’s been a while since I listened to it.

He and Fr John Breck disagree over whether life begins at fertilization (Breck), or implantation (Fr Harakas). Breck-

So other than the historical Adam part, I take it you have no problem with my tentative view (which is essentially Lewis’s)?

@Djordje, my EO brother, any opinion on this discussion?

What’s the question? Euthanasia? Abortion? Both? Something third?

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Here is the basic topic under discussion:


I’m honestly not sure what the image of God even entails. It’s certainly not the way we look, I highly doubt that God looks human-like. He could take human form, certainly, but I doubt that’s it. It might be souls, but soul is also a concept we don’t know much about. But if he’s arguing that image of God is intelligence, I doubt it, for if God meant intelligence to be the image of God we would all be omniscient.

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Pretty much - I would make a clear break at Adam, allowing for rational consciousness and even a spiritual awareness - but not the ability for communion with God - prior to him. That, of course, is in the fraework of Genealogical Adam, with which I’ve been working for 8 years or so now.


An even bigger problem, to me, is why one would want to assume that the eternal God would put all his “eggs” into one moment in time at all, not least because his sustaining of creation, which many see as an aspect of creation, has continued ever since.

The only answers I’ve seen is that it would be very clever (that argument goes back to Leibniz) or that the universe is scientifically a closed causal system (which goes back to Deism and doesn’t seem that compelling nowadays).

There are significant problems with understanding how deterministic the world would have to be to generate the human body by evolution, let alone man’s spiritual qualities.

I just see a problem with being so adamant that “God could not intervene.” It seems to me that a happy agnosticism that alows for the possibility of supernatural guidance is a better policy.


God certainly can and did intervene, I don’t understand why anyone would think that He “can’t” intervene.

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Other than regarding the issue under discussion. If the origin of life occured supernaturally, that would be cool. But if it occurred naturally, that would be cool too. The second scenario would still require an incredible degree of fine tuning, it seems to me.

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I’m not sure if I’m understanding right. I think dr. Lamoureux is a Pentecostal. When I took his course, he said that he had daily answers to prayer. It sounds like a bit of A contradiction. I’d be interested to hear what he says. You can actually email him at his website email.

For Lamoureaux, it seems that if God intervened, it would screw up his theology because he prefers to think of God as setting up the world so well in the beginning that he wouldn’t have to “intervene again.”

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