The ‘God of the Gaps’ idea (hereafter abbreviated as gotg) is commonly used as a disparaging epithet against anyone who denies that only natural causes have been in effect in the universe’s history. Wikipedia defines it as:
“a view of God as existing in the “gaps” or aspects of reality that are currently unexplained by scientific knowledge, or that otherwise lack a plausible natural explanation….a tendency to postulate acts of God to explain phenomena for which science has yet to give a satisfactory account.” [Emphasis added]
I will ignore the non-sequitur logical fallacy of the gotg argument that, just because you can imagine a plausible natural explanation for an event in the past doesn’t mean that it actually occurred that way. Instead I want to focus on it’s common application to the two worldviews of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and the Intelligent Design movement (ID).
It seems to me that the idea of filling the explanatory gaps in the naturalist theory of origins with ‘god did it’ is most applicable to ID. To explain why this is so, a brief explanation of what ID is, is necessary. Wikipedia defines ID as the:
This means that ID basically accepts every single part of the atheistic model of evolutionary origins, except where atheistic evolution fails to explain how something happened, like the commonly cite bacterial flagellum. So whenever naturalism fails to provide a plausible explanation of how something could have occurred naturally, ID says “god did it” (or to be more accurate: “a designer did it”). So we see that the definition of what ID is, inherently includes the essential logic of the ‘God of the Gaps’ idea.
YEC on the other hand, rejects all forms of evolution (be it atheistic, theistic, deistic etc) totally and utterly. YEC has a totally different model for the origin of life. It completely rejects the idea that all life has commonly descent from bacteria via any form of evolution. YEC rejects the theory that all life has a common ancestry as merely a figment of the imagination, and as a false interpretation of the empirical data that the earth’s rocks provide.
I would consider YEC immune from the gotg allegation, as opposed to ID (or any other variation of theistic naturalism), because YEC doesn’t actually attempt to insert supernaturalism in the gaps of the atheistic framework, but inserts supernaturalism in place of the whole atheistic framework itself!
Thus, if the YEC theory rejects the actual whole fractured framework of evolution, than any accusation that the YEC theory is a gotg type theory is inapplicable since the YEC model rejects the actual framework and thus the gaps that gotg thinking is employed to plug.
Because of this rejection of the atheistic evolution of all species, and the rejection of the corollary gaps in the model that ID tries to fill, YEC is free to interpret nature through supernatural means, immune to the gotg epithet.
It is for this reason that YEC avoids the whole gotg trap that ID inherently falls head-first into.