I am just looking to identify the following rhetorical illusion (or fallacy), if such has been formally recognized. I have noticed that many critics of science and scientific explanations of natural phenomena seek to fill any as-of-yet unproven theories, or missing links, as a sign of the imperfection of science, or even its inadequacy as the authoritative model for explaining natural phenomena. As a predictable next step they explain those phenomena using theories deploying various degrees of mysticism and superstition.

I consider this a fallacy because science is an evolving matter and has not reached a plateau in its findings. So not having an explanation as of yet is by no means a guarantee of eternal mystery. What kind of logical fallacy does this rhetorical tendency fall into?


I believe you have "God of the gaps" fallacy in mind, it is a particular case of ad ignorantiam, appeal to ignorance, which in its turn is a case of a false dilemma.

The fallacy is to take the absence of contrary evidence for evidence to the contrary, in this case the lack of scientific explanation of a phenomenon as evidence for impossibility of such explanation, and therefore for the necessity of a supernatural explanation (theistic or not). In other words, the fallacy takes the lack of scientific explanation as the evidence for the supernatural. The false dilemma aspect of it is that scientific/supernatural are taken as the only options available, which overlooks the possibility of having insufficient information to decide between the two. Interestingly, the term "God of the gaps" was invented not by critics of religion but by Christian theologians to point out the flaw in the teleological arguments for God's existence.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.