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Science, Religion, and Naturalism, continued

Sunday, January 8th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

Paul L. LaClair’s post  is here.

“Unfortunately in my view, however, many people define faith as the basis for belief,” while true, there are also many who do not.

“’the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (The Bible, Hebrews 11:1).” While the KJV translates the passages this way, most modern translations translate hupostasis as assurance or being sure. More importantly, the examples that fill the majority of the chapter follow the pattern of they believed, so they acted. As part of faith 11:19 even says that “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” (NIV) All of which is consistent with the view of faith I put forth.

“A definition nearer to this one is necessary in theology because there isn’t any evidence for the existence of a god.” Sorry but this is just incorrect. It is not necessary, if for nothing else; I do not hold such a belief, nor am I the only one. In addition, there is clearly evidence for the existence of god. It is certainly possible to have legitimate disagreement over whether this evidence is sufficient to constitute “proof”, but that hardly translates into no evidence at all.

“Because religion and theism are cultural phenomena and culture-shapers, what many or most people think matters? That is why I invoked popular belief.” While such statements are acceptable with those who share your beliefs about religion, in discussion such as this with varying points of view such statement amount to circular reasoning, as they presuppose beliefs that are under discussion.

“Of the Big Bang, scientific naturalism says…” I had problems with this paragraph as it seems internally inconsistent. You state first that naturalism “declines to posit that any but a natural explanation will suffice, or be useful.” But then goes on to rule out anything but a natural explanation.

As a factual matter, the claim that a theological framework “is affirmatively harmful because it establishes a framework that is opposed to scientific method and is likely to inject irrelevancies and confusion into any inquiry into objective reality” is simply wrong and either ignorant of history of science, or at the very least highly selective in it view of history. It also assumes a unity in the concept of “theological framework” which simply does not exist. There are in fact a variety of theological frameworks. While some are “affirmatively harmful” not all are.

“You can call that a limitation if you want to, but then you may want to ask whether a limitation is useful.” It is of course a limitation by definition. You are excluding possible explanations a priori and as a result must reject any evidence to the contrary as irrelevant. One thing that is pretty clear from research on the brain is that what does not fit our view of reality, we tend not to see. In short you are biasing any conclusions reached and this, whether you like it or not renders your conclusions suspect, and ultimately irrational, as they fall victim to the fallacy of circular reasoning.

Frankly the main difference I have between scientific naturalist and my view of science is that I think that science should not eliminate any possible answers. In the past, naturalists I have talked to have tried to distort this into claiming that non-natural answers should receive some sort of priority, but that is not my view. In fact, I do not even opposed to giving natural explanation some priority. I just would not exclude non-natural explanations a priori. I for example, find the hysteria over Intelligent Design illustrative. Will Intelligent Design theories ever lead anywhere? I do not know. But I would not ban them as the scientific equivalent of heresy, and I oppose the current inquisition like zeal to root out any who might dare to even consider such answers.

As for you views on consciousness, this is a classic example of the problems with the bias of naturalism. You basically have claimed that only natural answers are permissible, and then claim as support for this view that the only explanations we currently have for consciousness are natural. Do you not see the glaring logical fallacy in this? Frankly we know very little about consciousness, and there are some very significant questions such as the nature of Free Will remain unanswered.

“anyone who criticizes that narrative will face a reaction. It has nothing to do with rationality.” Like the reaction one gets from scientific naturalists when one questions their narrative?

Science, Religion, and Naturalism

Sunday, January 8th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

While traveling I saw a review for Alvin Plantinga new book “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism.”   Checking out the comments on Amazon.com, I noticed a discussion, and decided to jump in.   Here are my replies, with links back to the notes I am replying to. The passages in quotes are taken from the note to which I am responding.

In reply to Paul L. LaClair post:


I was checking out this book and started following this discussion. I found your comment to calcidius that “Most people who say they believe in a god admit they have to rely on “faith,” since they can’t prove it” as particularly problematic for the following reasons,

“Most people” — the fallacy of an appeal to the people. What “most people” say is irrelevant to the truth of a proposition, particularly in the discussion here as “most people” do not think deeply about the philosophical underpinning of their beliefs.

Then there is the contrast of faith and proof. Proof is a very vague and ultimately subjective concept. What does and does not constitute proof varies from situation to situation, and from person to person. In its general sense, proof is simply the level of evidence needed to conclude that something is true.

Faith, on the other hand, is not a basis for belief, but a reliance on a belief that causes someone to act. In the realm of religion, a person can intellectually believe that God exists, but if that believe has no impact on their life, they do not have faith. However faith is not limited just to religion. Everyone has faith in what they believe, and they structures their lives accordingly, even the scientific naturalist.

While it is possible to have a blind faith in the absence of, or even counter to, the evidence, not all faith is blind. Faith can be supported by the evidence. An engineer could calculate that a bridge will support him, but it is faith in his calculations that allows him to cross the bride.

This is where the contrast of faith with proof is so problematic. It is one of the reasons I rarely talk about proof, preferring rather just to speak of evidence. Is there proof for god? While this would depend on the standard of proof being used, for simplicity sake, I will say no. But the absence of proof should not be taken to mean the absence of evidence, and I do believe that there is evidence for God. In fact, I believe that a theistic worldview has the least problems of all the various ways of understanding reality, including scientific naturalism, and thus is the best explanation.

You can see this difference in your statements such as,

“Good scientists hold many of the questions open, and then make judgments about which avenues of inquiry are most likely to be productive. A reasonable scientist does not spend her time trying to figure out whether ‘God did it’”

But what is “reasonable” and “most likely to be productive” will depend strongly on one’s world view. Thus for example, when considering questions such as the origin of the universe, or the beginning of life, should a scientist be seeking to discover what happened, or should they limit themselves only to natural explanation for these questions? Scientific naturalism argues the latter.

Hitchens – God is not Great XII

Friday, August 29th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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Continuing my extended review of Christopher Hitchens’, “God Is Not Great,” after the first two examples in chapter four, which, as I have show fail to make Hitchens’ claim that religion is hazardous to health, Hitchens proceeds on a tour of the strange and obscure; the practice of some Islamic clerics of issuing a package deal for marriage and divorce certificates permitting men to legally marry and then an hour later divorce a prostitute; the killing of cats in the Middle Ages because it was thought that the Black Death was linked to black magic, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal of blood transfusions, among others.  Hitchens sums up his view when he says, “The attitude of religion to medicine, like the attitude of religion to science, is always necessarily problematic and very often necessarily hostile.”  (46-47)


This brings us to the second of the two fallacies mentioned in an earlier post, Hasty Generalization.  The fallacy of Hasty Generalization occurs when you try to derive general rules form what are inherently individual cases or very small samples. For example, when driving, a man or woman cuts you off, and based on that you claim that all men or all women are bad drivers. That is essentially what Hitchens is doing here.  Some religious people, or even some religious groups, have practices that are harmful to health; therefore religion in general is harmful to health.


But there is an even deeper problem for Hitchens. Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning.  The do not necessarily mean that the conclusion is wrong, only that a particular way of justifying a conclusion does not work. More troublesome for Hitchens is his claim that religion must be hostile to medicine, for it is clearly false and easily demonstrated as such.


While it is true that here have been some groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Christian Scientists who have been hostile to some or all of medicine, they are hardly the norm. In fact the norm at least within Judaism and Christianity has been the opposite.  If Hitchens were correct that religion’s attitude to medicine “is always necessarily problematic and very often necessarily hostile,” then why are there so many Christian hospitals? Why are there so many Christian and Jewish doctors and nurses? Why do so many churches sponsor trips to third world counties to provide health care, clean water, and basic sanitary practices?


Hitchens points to the superstition that surrounded the Black Death, though he does concede that “We may make allowances for the orgies of stupidity and cruelty that were indulged in before humanity had a clear concept of the germ theory of disease.” (pg 47) But has the noted Historian Will Durant points out, while a few clergy hid in fear, “the great majority of them faced the ordeal manfully” (Will Durant, The Reformation, pg 64) and thousand gave their lives doing what little they could for the sick, for it would be over 500 years from the first outbreak before the cause was finally determined.


Even with the germ theory of disease things are not quite so clear.  In school I was taught the germ theory was a clear victory of science over superstition the latter coming in the guise of spontaneous generation.  On more than one occasion I have been told by atheists that it was also a victory of atheism over religion. Nothing can be further from the truth.  In fact, as I recount in my book Christianity and Secularism, the view of those atheist has it backwards.


The Germ theory was put forth by Pastor, and defended by Lister, both of whom were Christians, while the opposition to the germ theory came from secularist who needs spontaneous generation to explain the origin of life apart form religion.  It was only after Darwin’s theory of evolution was adapted to try and explain the origin of live that the opposition to the germ theory was finally dropped.  In this case it was the secular, not the religious, who were a hazard to health.


To be clear, I do not use this example as an attack on secularism, but rather to show that the traits Hitchens is attacking in religion, are not inherently religious traits, but traits that extent to all of humanity, including even atheists.


Towards the end of Chapter four, Hitchens summarizes his argument as, “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women, and coercive towards children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.”  It is very true that far too many examples can be found of religious people who fit into these categories.


But it is equally true that even more examples can be found of religious people who not only do not fit into these categories, but precisely because they were religious have argued and fought against these very things, some even giving their lives in the process.  Just to take the first one, violence, during the Middle Ages the Church sought to limit the violence in the wars between the European kingdoms, and it is just an historical fact that the weakening of the Church in the Renaissance, brought about a marked increase, not a decrease in violence. In short Hitchens’ claims are not only logically fallacious and at their core irrational, they are just wrong.


This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.  

Christianity and Secularism

Evidence for the Bible


Rational Evil II

Friday, June 6th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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This week I continue my discussion of the development of secular thought following the holocaust. To briefly summarize, the Holocaust had its roots in the attempt to apply the principles of evolution to society, from which the sciences of Social Darwinism and Eugenics flowed.  These new sciences were rightly rejected following the holocaust because the results they produced conflicted with Human Rights, a concept grounded in the belief that we were created by God and are equal in his eyes.


As society became more secular the religious foundations of Human rights was abandoned and equal in God’s eyes became merely equal; but such an undefined equality is threatened by our clear individuality, which is defined by our differences. This attempt to maintain Human Rights in a secular worldview defined by evolution has resulted in a number of competing, and at times contradictory, lines of thought.


The first has been that since differences pose such a danger, their existence is simply denied, or at least relegated to insignificance. In short, despite any differences, we are all really the same, and therefore since we are the same, we are all equal. A whole range of absurdities have flowed from this intellectual strategy, not the least of which is the belief that there is no difference between men and women.


While historically women have not had equal status in virtually any society, that seems to have come from the importance of strength in early cultures and the role it played in survival, and from the fact that in general men are stronger than women.  It did not come from the religious teachings of the Bible, but ran contrary to it. Starting in the first chapter of Genesis, God has made it clear that He views men and women as equal, and both are created in his image.   As Genesis 1:27 says,

So God created mankind in his own image;

in his own image God created him;

male and female he created them.

In the New Testament, Paul also makes this explicitly clear. “Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.”  (Galatians  3:28 ISV)


Men and women have different strengths and different weakness. They react to things differently, and have different natures. But despite all of our differences, men and women are equal it the place that it matters most, in the eyes of God. Human nature being what it is, this core equality has not, and in some places today is not, always recognized, but where and when it has been, it has not been contrary too, but in line with, Biblical teaching.


But as equal in God’s eyes, became merely equal, this equality was difficult to maintain given all the clear differences. Something had to go, and since equality was needed for human rights, even though the differences are pretty clear to most, not to mention common sense, they were simply denied.


But then common sense was one of the first things that had to be tossed out, if one is going to maintain equality among differences that are clearly not equal. So common sense was rejected as unscientific and untrustworthy. In its place was the study. In fact I have heard more than one college professor say that they won’t believe anything unless there is a study to support it.


Such thinking, (or unthinking as the case may be) has been very convenient for secularist as the results of studies are very strongly influenced by what questions researchers seek answers to.  There are pros and cons to most things. Look for the pros of any given issue and you can probably find supporting evidence.  Look for the cons, and you can find negative evidence.  Thus what “the research” states for any given issue will be strongly influenced by what questions the researchers are asking.


Another factor for men and women being the same was that it was so taken for granted, that it had not really been studied. Thus through a mixture of scientific mumbo-jumbo, and an absence studies showing they were different, men and women were proclaimed to be the same. 


This thinking so strongly influenced people that parents began giving their boys dolls, and their little girls trucks.  Distinctions in clothing began to disappear as did any distinction in roles.  Those who tried to point out differences were shouted down as sexists.


Of course the problem is that men and women are different, not just in their biology, but in their natures.  But the belief that men and women are the same still remain entrenched in many universities and still has a strong influence over social policy, as for example in the same sex marriage debate.


It has been one of the ironies that while we were supposedly throwing off the chains of sexual repression so as to allow boys and girls to be what they wanted to be, society was at the same time very strongly pushing them to be something they were not: the same.  The result has been untold unhappiness and pain.


But this was not the only absurdity to develop out of the post WWII secularist attempt to maintain human rights apart from God. Next week I look at a different approach that has also led not only to absurdity, but also to unhappiness and pain.

This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

Free Will

Friday, December 14th, 2007 by Elgin Hushbeck

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Dec 14, 2007, Wausau, Wi —  Last time I looked at the issue of Free Inquiry and the skeptic’s false claim that they were free to go wherever the evidence leads, while Christians were limited by their religious beliefs.  But there is a deeper more subtle problem with the skeptic’s claim that they are free to go wherever the evidence leads them.  This problem concerns freedom itself.

Inherent in the skeptic’s belief to be free is the belief that they are free to make a decisions.  In fact much of the skeptic’s criticism of religion centers around the concept of freedom.  Skeptics believe that Christians surrender their freedom to false religious beliefs.  Christians choose certain behaviors, not because they want to, but because the Bible says so. The problem for the skeptic, however, is how they can account for this freedom in the first place. 

Now this problem can be difficult to see because the freedom to choose is something we all just take for granted.  Of course we have a freedom to choose.  Our entire view of our daily lives, our interactions with others and everything we do is dependent upon our freedom to choose.  In fact it is difficult to conceive of how we would view the world if we didn’t make the assumption that we have a freedom to choose.  For example, the entire legal system and its concept of punishment for crimes is based on the assumption that the criminal had a choice whether or not to commit the crime.

The problem for the skeptic is not so much that we have free will, but rather how can they explain that we have free will.  While the concept of free will is difficult for every one religious believers and skeptics alike, it is particularly difficult for the skeptic who has a naturalistic view of the world.  For the skeptic, the natural universe governed by natural laws is the only thing that exists.  Miracles are rejected because they would violate the laws of nature.  For the skeptic, everything is governed by the laws of nature.  There is no room for God.

What the skeptic often over looks is that free will, the freedom to choose, is inconsistent with their naturalistic view of a universe governed by natural law.  Now again, this can be difficult to see because the idea that we have free will, that we have the freedom to make some decisions, is something we just take for granted.  We don’t even think about it.  We certainly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how it can happen.

For the skeptic, we’re simply animals, the result of a long evolutionary process.  Our origin and everything about us, just like everything else in the universe, can be explained by the laws of nature.  There is no soul.  There’s nothing beyond the material body.  Our actions are completely explained by the electrochemical interactions taking place in our brain and in the rest of our body, or at least will be once science can figure everything out.  But therein lies the problem.  If everything can be explained by the electrochemical interactions taking place in our brain and in our body, where is there room for freedom of choice?

Now skeptics often claim that what we call consciousness is the result of the electrochemical interactions in the brain, and it is our consciousness that makes our decisions.  But while this may be a nice explanation for the skeptic, again how does this happen.  Even if for sake of argument we assume that they are correct and consciousness is nothing more than the electrochemical interactions taking place in our brain, how do those electrochemical interactions actually make the choice?

The simple fact is that the concept of choice is incompatible with a universe governed by natural laws.  A rock falling down the side of a cliff, does not make a choice to bounce right or left when it hits the side of the cliff.  Every aspect of its fall is determined by the laws of nature.  A choice, on the other hand, transcends the laws of nature.  It is not determined by the laws of nature; it is determined by something else.  If it was determined by the laws of nature it would not be a choice. 

So if choice is nothing more than the result of consciousness which is itself the result of the electrochemical interactions taking place in our brain, then at some point these electrochemical interactions that are governed by the laws of nature must somehow transcend the laws of nature so as to make a choice.

But if skeptics are correct and somehow our consciousness does transcend the laws of nature so as to make a choice, than this would violate one of their fundamental starting premise is which is that everything is governed by the laws of nature.

So the skeptic is caught in a real quandary.  They must either deny freewill, which is virtually impossible for them to account for anyway, or they must accept that there are things that are not governed by the laws of nature.  If they deny freewill, they are denying something so obvious that we simply take it for granted. Yet if they accept that there are some things not governed by the laws of nature, they deny one of their fundamental premises. Either way they have major problems.

This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact. 

Free Inquiry

Friday, December 7th, 2007 by Elgin Hushbeck

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Dec 7, 2007, Wausau, Wi —  An issue that commonly comes up in discussions with skeptics is the role of free inquiry.  Skeptics frequently see themselves as being free to ask questions and to go wherever the answers may take them, while religious believers are bound by the teachings of their religion.  Religion, then, is automatically seen as bad because it limits our ability to learn.  As with many of the criticisms of skeptics this view is not only self-serving, but false.

Built into our very being is the desire to seek explanations.  Parents see this desire all the time in young children and their seemingly never ending question of “Why?”  To be sure these questions can at times be very frustrating for the parent, or even teacher, who has reached the limits of their own personal knowledge, but such questions are the foundation of our quest for knowledge, of our seeking to understand.

Over time, most cultures have decided that questions can dangerous to the status quo, and this decision is not completely without reason.  All societies are based on some sort of agreement, either formal, as in the case of laws, or informal as in the rules of etiquette.   Some of these agreements are arbitrary, such as where on the road should one drive. But just imagine what would happen if tomorrow the societal agreement about driving was somehow removed from everyone’s memory. It would be chaos. And this is just driving.  Such societal norms govern virtually every aspect of our interactions with each other, often without our even realizing it. For us, the reasons are lost in antiquity and it is now just how things are done. 

Thus there is, and must be, some sort of balance between norms and questions.  Societies that stress the norms too much stagnate.  Societies that question the norms too much, loose the cohesion to remain a society and collapse. Loss of societal cohesion was one of the factors in the fall of Rome.

So whether from desire to maintain society, or just simply the frustration at not knowing the answers, at some point all societies teach their children to limit their questions in some fashion. 

One of the things that made Western Civilization different is that at during some periods in our history there have been groups that encouraged questions, beginning with the early Greek city states. Granted such freedom of thought was not unlimited, nor necessarily was it for the general public, as questions could still lead to dangerous ideas that could undermine society.  But it was allowed for a few, and still had some limits, as Socrates sadly found out.

As we saw last time, contrary to how history is commonly taught, this freedom of inquiry appeared again in the Middle Ages.  The Middle Ages were a time or great intellectual development that, rather than suppressing inquiry, actually laid the intellectual foundations for the Renaissance and modern science.  To be sure there still were some limits on inquiry, and a thinker who strayed too far beyond those limits could find themselves, like Socrates, in trouble.

Modern critics act as if these limits were some sort of aberration to be condemned.  The problem is that, at least until very recently, the norm has never been free inquiry, but rather limits on inquiry and normally quite strong limits.  What was unique about the Middle Ages was not that there were limits, but rather that those limits were loosen enough to allow for intellectual development, development that led to things like our current understanding of human rights, democracy and science. In addition these were not seen as contrary to Christianity, but were developed from it.  The origin of Human Rights for examine has its roots in the belief that we are all created in the image of God, and what God has given no one can arbitrarily take away, not even the King.

Contrary to the skeptic’s self-perception, they also have limits on inquiry.  During the Middle Ages, if one questioned church orthodoxy, one could be in trouble. Today, if one questions scientific orthodoxy, one can also be in trouble. The history of science if full of people who questioned the established science of their time, to find themselves ridiculed, rejected, denied employment, or otherwise punished. The theories of some of these people were later shown to be correct and have since become part of the established science of today. 

This limiting of inquiry continues today, as scientists who question the theory evolution a little too much, or who begin to consider the possibility of intelligent design have found out. The only thing that has really changed is where the limits are and what the societal norms for punishment should be if one challenges those limits.  Contrary to the charges of skeptics the punishment during the Middle Ages was not always burning at the stake. As with most things punishment was determined by the norms of the time. During some periods it was simply excommunication from the church.

So the skeptic’s view that religion limits inquiry while they are free, is simply false. While it is true that Christians have at time suppressed inquiry, history shows that this is the norm. It is also true that contrary to the norm, Christians played a role in expanding inquiry.  After all as Paul wrote, “Test everything, hold on to the good.” (1 Thess 4:7)

This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact. 

Of Gods and Gaps

Friday, June 15th, 2007 by Elgin Hushbeck

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June 15, 2007, Wausau, Wi— Many skeptics see religion as little more than how people tried to make sense of the mysterious world around them, before the emergence of modern science.   Lightening was seen coming down from the clouds so there must be something in the clouds throwing it down, and this something powerful enough to cast down lightening must be a god.

With the emergence of modern science and the understanding of nature that we have gained as a result, the need for religion has diminished.  So now we have a much better understanding of the physical basis of lightening and thus no longer need the lightening god to explain it.   With each advancement of science,  the need for religion has diminished.  Or at least so the argument goes.

Skeptics now tend to write off every claim that God has not been excluded by claiming it is nothing more than a God-of-the-Gaps argument.   God is only invoked to explain those areas where there is a gap in our scientific knowledge.  

Now there is no doubt that the God-of-the-gaps charge is at times accurate.  But even so, that does not make it always accurate, nor does it mean that atheistic charge does not have problems of its own.

One of the problems is the skeptics view of religion that sees it as little more than an explanation for nature to be supplanted later by science. Most religions, and in particular Christianity, are much, much more than just an explanation for nature.  In fact for Christianity, explaining nature is at best just a backdrop to the primary focus which is our relationship to God.  Christianity does maintain that God created the universe and everything in it, but it also believes in a creation governed by reason. In fact much of modern science came out the desire to understand the creator by studying the creation, in the same way you would study a painter by studying their paintings.

But a more serious problem is that while Christians are sometimes guilty of gap arguments, not all arguments pointing to the problems of science are gap arguments.  The problems with gap argument is that they are based on the absence of evidence, and thus commits the fallacy of an argument from ignorance, we do not know, therefore it must be God.

However, if instead of pointing to an absence of evidence, an argument points to the evidence against, it is no longer a gaps argument.  For example, if one looks at the evidence for the origin of the universe, it clearly points to a beginning. There are two main competing scientific theories for how this took place both of which cannot explain how the whole process could started on in first place.  An objective look at the evidence says that the universe had a beginning. Either the universe created itself, (and absurd idea) or there was some other creator. This is not a gaps argument because it is simply going where the evidence points. 

Much the same can be said for the origin of life where the more it is examined, the more impossible it seems to get.  Again this not a gap argument because is not grounded on the lack of an explanation, but on the evidence that it is impossible.

In fact, in both of these areas, if anyone has a gap type argument, it is the atheist. But rather filling the gap with appeals to God, they appeal to chance. Whereas Christians believe that God can do anything, atheist believe that chance can do anything if given enough time.  This chance-of-the-gaps type argument takes many forms. For life, the belief is that regardless of how impossible the evidences says the origin of life would be, there is always a small chance, however tiny,  that it could have happened so it is not completely impossible. But arguing something is not completely impossible is not quite the same as arguing that is happened.   

One popular incarnation of this chance argument is to postulate an infinite number of universes and then claim that we just happen to be in the universe where all these seemingly impossible things did actually happen by chance.

What is often overlooked by atheists and agnostics in all these appeals to chance, is that by their very nature, these arguments run contrary to the evidence.  After all, if the evidence clearly supported natural processes, there would be not be any need to appeal to chance.  For example, one does not need to appeal to an infinite number of universes to explain the possibility of lightening. 

When dealing with the unknown,  one can either go where the evidence currently points, or try to explain away the evidence so as to maintain current beliefs.  For both the origin of the universe and life, the evidence is currently against it being completely natural.  Attempting to explain this away so and to maintain a worldview that precludes the existence of God and the supernatural,  is putting faith in the worldview above evidence and reason, and in doing so theses skeptics are guilty of exactly what they accuse Christians of doing. Claiming that unknowns can be explained by chance is a chance-of-the-gaps reasoning.  It is placing one’s faith in chance ahead of the evidence.