Re: [asa] Miracles and God of the Gaps

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Jan 23 2009 - 19:24:08 EST

Apropos the snip below:

As I think has been recognized in this thread, the term "TE" is quite ambiguous. But one thing that's clear is that TEs accept biological evolution, believing God to be (somehow) involved in the process. This being, the case, TE is falsifiable to the extent that biological evolution is. E.g., mammalian fossils in the Cambrian would pose a serious threat to it. (I do not say "would falsify it" because the idea of absolute falsification is questionable - we can always maintain the core idea of our theory by modifying secondary features of our theory or introduce new ones.)

I think that the real question at issue here is whether or not the claim that God acts in the world is falsifiable. & if "falsifiable" means "shown to be in conflict with observational data" then I think the answer is no. Consider an astronomical example instead of a biological one. A naive explanation of solar energy is that the sun is a big sphere of coal & oxygen & is literally burning. A more satisfactory view held in the 19th century was that the energy emitted from the sun comes from its gravitational contraction. Today we think it's due to nuclear fusion reactions. The theological claim that God makes the sun shine by cooperating with the physical processes going on in the sun says nothing about what those processes are - oxidation, gravitational contraction, or nuclear fusion.

Does this mean that such a theology is committed to NOMA? No, because (a) the theology still refers to physical processes & (b) more fundamentally, it must be part of a more complete Christian theology which talks about other things like the origin of the universe and the resurrection of Jesus. & that theology has to be evaluated, not simply in terms of observational data about the world (though it must be consistent with them) but in terms of the extent to which that theology makes sense of the totality of our experience of ourselves and the world. Again I'll refer to my article at .


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jon Tandy" <>
To: "'asa'" <>
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 1:37 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Miracles and God of the Gaps

> I think the struggle to find some way that TE could be falsified is elusive,
> because TEs themselves (I expect) would claim that it wasn't meant to be
> falsified. I grant that this is reasonable, if it's just a theological
> belief. In fact it seems to me that the TE position is trying to take the
> non-overlapping magisterial (NOMA) approach. It is said that the TE
> position is strictly theological and thus doesn't make any claims on
> scientific concerns, while their science is strictly limited to natural
> cause and effect. But this is the very claim that I am challenging. If
> God's providence is a necessary component to explain the origin of natural
> things, then it's not strictly a theological pursuit. It's not
> non-overlapping with scientific (i.e. natural) concerns, unless origins are
> excluded ad hoc from scientific investigation.

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Received on Fri Jan 23 19:24:25 2009

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