A cartoon shows two scientists looking at a complicated formula on a blackboard. Amid the numbers, letters, and symbols of the various steps are the words “And then a miracle occurs.” One scientist points to that sentence and says to the other, “I think you should be a bit more explicit here in step two.”

The cartoon makes fun of what has been called “the God of the gaps.” Though understood in variegated and nuanced ways, the idea is that when scientists run into a phenomenon they cannot “explain” (a concept exceedingly more complicated than most people imagine), then God’s mysterious working must be the answer. “Creationists eagerly seek a gap in present-day knowledge or understanding,” wrote Richard Dawkins. “If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it.”

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