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

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #1

Any comments on the science mentioned in this:

@bjmiller in the future can you just say “evolution” instead of “Darwinian evolution”. This way, mainstream science can at least realize that you are talking about the present knowledge of evolutionary science in 2018 not the knowledge of Darwin in 1859. Thanks

Brian Miller: Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life

Why not ask @bjmiller whether, when he uses the term Darwinism, he is referring to the knowledge of Darwin in 1859 as opposed to the modern synthesis, neo-Darwinism, or even “modern evolutionary theory”?

In fact, if you read his previous article, which he linked to in the article you cite, you can even find what he means by Darwinian evolution.

What really matters though, is which version of “evolutionary science” Denis Lamoureux is selling. So why not deal with that?

(Neil Rickert) #3

I didn’t find much science there.

He is saying that everything he disagrees with is materialism of the gaps. But apparently “god of the gaps” isn’t a fallacy the way that he uses it. And most of that ENV post is a god of the gaps argument.

Personally, I don’t think I have ever used “fallacy” for a god of the gaps arguments. However, I do not find such arguments at all persuasive.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #4

He has a point on the bad design argument being equivalent reasoning. Another reason to avoid it.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #5

The proper term is “evolution” , no adjectives needed if you are talking about the 2018 understanding of evolutionary science.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #6

Denis Lamoureux is not a scientist working in the field of evolutionary science, why is his opinion about evolutionary science relevant?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

Denis did do work on the evolution of teeth in the past. He then got a theology degree, and is one of the leading voices in TE/EC. He is, in fact, the guy who coined the term “Evolutionary Creation.” His representation of evolution does matter because people do care what he thinks (just ask @sygarte and @Randy

He also is not up-to-date on genomic science. That is was never part of his training and expertise.


It is an article that claims ID isn’t an argument of the gaps, and then it almost immediately points to problems with evolution that is meant to imply ID must be right. The article refutes itself.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #9

Why do people care what he thinks? Is he some leading lite in Theology? Because he is certain not a leader in evolutionary science. If his claim to fame is coining the term Evolutionary Creation, wow, what an utterly useless terminology.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #10

Yes, he is a leading light in theology. Almost every book out their in this space is responding to him. There are several recent threads at BioLogos on him if you want to get caught up. That is probably why @bjmiller is writing this series now.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #11

Evangelical Christians have strange heroes.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #12

There is a passing of leadership right now. In about 10 years it will be a whole new landscape.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #13

Yes, I hoping for a shift to secular humanism and away from the Evangelical Christian white guys who now hold too much power in this country.

(T J Runyon) #14

So do you new atheist/ anti-theist types.


might want to see his list of publicationson pubmed–latest is 2018 publication. He works with a friend in U of Alberta Edmonton. on evolutionary biology; has PhD in this and theology. You would also enjoy the debate referred to. Dr Krauss referred to him respectfully as “Doctor, Doctor, Doctor”

J Morphol. 2018 May;279(5):616-625. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20797. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Tooth germ initiation patterns in a developing dentition: An in vivo study of Xenopus laevis tadpoles.

Lamoureux DO1, LeBlanc ARH1, Caldwell MW1.

J Anat. 2017 Dec;231(6):869-885. doi: 10.1111/joa.12686. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Mosasaurs and snakes have a periodontal ligament: timing and extent of calcification, not tissue complexity, determines tooth attachment mode in reptiles.

LeBlanc ARH1, Lamoureux DO2, Caldwell MW1.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #16

I can try out my newly minted title…

I think @Patrick includes Christian secular humanists like myself in this, like myself. I come to a similar set of values by a different route, also wanting A Secular-Confessional Society.

Secular is not atheist. Encountering Jesus, I oppose coercive use of power. Following the one who has already been granted all authority, why grasp for human power?


And he did it by becoming a servant.


I like Lamoureaux and agree with him on a lot.

However, he seems so wedded to the idea of God “setting it all up in the beginning,” that in my opinion, he runs into really big problems regarding his view of the image of God as some sort of naturally emergent property.

This view seems to have incredibly disturbing implications for human rights. Are retarded people half imaged then? What about the aged? The fetus? It seems to me that unless God “gave” humanity an extra component at some point (I don’t care when, neanderthals, or maybe the upper paleolithic) to separate us from the animals, then it becomes very difficult to ground a traditional Christian understanding of the inherent worth of every human being.

I think I would have to opt for C.S. Lewis’s view regarding the image of God or human spirit being bestowed by God in some sort of supernatural act at some point in the evolutionary process. This seems to ground human rights far better than Lamoureaux’s view.

I am curious if you guys think I’m right about this. Perhaps a topic for another thread? Do you see another way to ground traditional Christian teaching if we accept Lamoureaux’s view?


First, I am so glad to see someone else who quotes Randal Rauser. I’m a fan of his kind approach. He’s a friend of Lamoureux but doesn’t hesitate to question him, too.
Second, I think I’ve listened to this one before, but I’ll do it again (I can’t at this very moment, but will try this weekend). George Macdonald’s view that God has a relationship with all of creation, including dogs, horses, and lesser animals, perhaps to a lesser extent with those that have less insight into responsibility, has attractive points to me. Thus, there’s a continuum of responsibility and relationship to God. As we grow in awareness of Him, we become both more responsible and more understanding of His characteristics. Thus, I think that Adam’s parents and great-great-grandparents also had relationship capabilities to God as well; but with the multi-thousandth generation before him, perhaps less, based on their God given intelligence, etc.
This is one option that I don’t think that Rauser or Lamoureux would accept; and while Macdonald acknowledged evolution’s possibility, I don’t think he got that deep into extrapolations. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

If there is a question about relationship between God based and those who have learning challenge, that’s a great point and really needs to come out. Autistic people, for example, may have less interaction than intelligence. I think that we could benchmark them though in terms of potential. Someone who is ill, mentally challenged, should be recognized as having all the potential, but not yet there. Once in Heaven, they’ll be healed.

I am not completely comfortable with this as a definition either. So your feedback is appreciated.


How are we to form an ethical system from this continuum? We put our dogs and cats to sleep, yet orthodox Christians have always been against HUMAN euthanasia. Why? On what basis? If we base this on self-consciousness, then the less self-concious someone is, the more disposable he/she is, and this seems wrong.

I think one possible way of constructing ethics without any outside input from God would be to appeal to some sort of Platonic form of the human person, which could be insantiated in the mind of God. And then we could say that the “form” of humanity is a considerably different form than that of a chimp and should therefore be treated differently. But this seems far too abstract to me.