The term goes back to the 19th century. It has critics on both the scientific and theological sides of the issue of explaining ultimate reality. Scientists argue that it is silly to use God as a miracle worker wherever there is a scientific gap in our knowledge. On the other side of the aisle some theologians feel that God is not limited to action in such “gaps” or to areas unexplained by current physical law and therefore the Divine operates continuously in all things.
The other problem is that gaps in scientific knowledge (natural law) are closing up and getting smaller all the time. So there are seemingly less and less places to insert supernatural causes within models of reality.
However, having studied the cosmologies of Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff, I have found new appreciation for this highly criticized idea. Both men have provided a new twist to the theme of “gaps.” These gaps lawfully occur because the act of creation proceeds through top-down distinct steps rather than as a continuously smooth process. God took conscious advantage of these gaps to perfect creation on different scales.
All things of the universe are interconnected and unified thanks to mathematically precise, ontological causal gaps that have been purposefully designed into all coherent and comprehensive wholes. These gaps provide the apertures through which novelty and creativity can emerge out of constancy. These gaps represent lawful places were new orders of complexity arise, bringing about new orders of reciprocal sharing.
God perfects his grand cosmic design (mathematical intuition of ends) through these causal gaps. In the human species these gaps are represented by the mouth, nose and five senses where inputs (food, air and information) from the outside world enter into a person’s being and sustain life and its quality (otherwise the common bond between chains of mediate causes breaks down). True religion also takes into account certain gaps whereby it becomes the sacred means by which human potential and evolution can continue into a non-physical realm (Spiritual World)! This evolutionary trajectory is activated when specific information about spiritual values and lessons enter into one’s being and is both chosen and acted upon.
In the human heart and mind there is a real gap between living an ordinary terrestrial life and a spiritual life sustained by sincere mutual love. Religion was designed by the Lord God to help the human race fill this important gap to eternal happiness—which science and nature (and false religious doctrine) do not provide.