The New Atheists are a collective of outspoken individuals who stand in opposition to any theistic worldview, although it's important to point out the new atheists are not saying anything new. They tend to think of themselves as intellectually superior and often sneer at those who believe God created the Universe. This superior attitude was evident in a recent debate between William Lane Craig (one of the world's leading Christian apologists) and Lawrence Krauss (one of the world's leading cosmologists). You can check it out on Youtube and it's worth watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL-RlkY0GbA.
Craig was the model of graciousness (despite provocation) but more importantly he was the voice of reason. Among many of Krauss's criticisms - that bizarrely miss the mark, was what's generally called The God of the Gaps argument. Krauss likes to suggest that most religious types are not interested in science. Whenever they come across something they don't understand, they don't say "let's explore!" they just shrug their shoulders and say, "God did it!" Now Krauss's argument was made in the middle of a debate where his opponent (one of those religious types) was making a powerful and reasonable case for the integration of science and theology. One has to wonder: was he listening?
In Jigsaw, I mention a paper by Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III (one of the world's most respected chemists) www.leaderu.com/offices/schaefer/docs/scientists.html that provides a long list of the giants of science who were inspired by their belief in God. People like Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton and Faraday didn't just stop and say, "God did it!" They were captivated by the wonder of it all and encouraged to learn more about how God did it!
Now back to my father-in-law.
If you want to talk about the internal combustion engine, you'll see Gordon's face light-up and his coffee grow cold. Toss out the names of those who were instrumental in its design and he will not lose any momentum. He already knows there was an intelligence behind it. It didn't surprise him. Neither did it discourage him from digging deeper. He was captivated by the wonder of it all, and this only encouraged to learn more about how they did it!
If someone tries to accuse you of believing in a God-of-the-gaps, be ready to point out that belief in God doesn't road-block science, it encourages and equips us to do science. The history of science proves it! The more we learn to appreciate the universe, the more we learn to appreciate the one responsible for it all, and wonder of the world gives us a magical glimpse into the wonder of God.