Re: Teaching Evolution - Childs Perspective

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Fri Sep 16 2005 - 12:58:14 EDT


While I don't agree with Gould's NOMO, I still maintain that even
with his leaning toward religion as only applying in the area of
morality and values (not sure that's a "purely subjective world" as
you suggest) that he respected the role of the "human moral
sensibility" and the "religious". He argued vehemently against the
likes of Dawkins who seems to have no place for such.

Janice's quote illustrates his position nicely in my opinion:

1992: "To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth million
time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science
simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of
God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny
it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists. If some of our crowd
have made untoward statements claiming that Darwinism disproves God,
then I will find Mrs. McInerney and have their knuckles rapped for it
(as long as she can equally treat those members of our crowd who have
argued that Darwinism must be God's method of action). Science can
work only with naturalistic explanations; it can neither affirm nor
deny other types of actors (like God) in other spheres (the moral
realm, for example)." Stephen Jay Gould, "Impeaching a Self-Appointed
Judge," Scientific American, 267(1), July 1992; from Liz R. Hughes,
ed., Reviews of Creationist Books, Berkely, CA: The National Center
for Science Education, Inc., 1992, pp. 79-84. Freethought Zone

I'm almost prepared to agree with Gould here, although I'm a bit more
reluctant to adopt the "strict complementarism" that he advocates. I
do fully agree that "science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of
God's possible superintendence of nature". The "naturalist" assumes
that the regularities observed in "nature" are "just there". The
"providentialist" assumes that they are due to God's directing hand.
These two views both assert/observe that there are regularities that
scientific methodology can work with. It seems to me that there are
very few differences between naturalists and providentialists in the
way we conduct and talk about science beyond that starting point.

I also agree that you can't scientifically argue that "Darwinism must
be God's method of action". However, when we put our scientist selves
together with our "providentialist" religious selves together we may
argue that Darwinism is God's method of action. It's just not a
scientific claim--that's all the Gould is saying above.

I am a bit surprised by the 1988 quote that Janice cites. I will need
to see the fuller context in order to comment further on that one.

Of course, miracles (God doing things in a manner different from His
regular operations for the purpose of special revelation) are in a
different category.


On Sep 16, 2005, at 5:49 AM, Mccarrick, Alan D CIV NSWCCD
Philadelphia, 9212 wrote:

> Terry,
> I always found Gould a very entertaining writer. He certainly held
> strongly that science and religion occupied exclusive arenas (NOMA
> - Non Overlapping Magestera - my Latin spelling is suspect - did
> Gould invert this term?). Science occupies the "real" world of
> facts, and religion... well.. uh... um... makes us feel better...
> says things about morals (which science should better inform us)...
> comforts us in sickness and death. I sensed that he relegated
> religion to a purely subjective world. Polkinghorn describes this
> view of religion as "whistling in the dark" and "loving lies" told
> to comfort children. I think that describes Gould's religion.
> Yes, Gould sees a role for religion - a small silly role indeed.
> I wish I new more about Gould's last days, whether he wrote or
> talked much about spiritual things.
> Al McCarrick
> Terry wrote:
> I'm quite surprised that you lump Gould and Dawkins together. I
> never counted Gould as a believer, but I never counted him in any
> way as an advocate of scientism.

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Fri Sep 16 12:59:20 2005

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