Re: Schools and NOMA (was Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....)

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Wed Oct 14 2009 - 22:00:01 EDT

Cameron Wybrow wrote:
> I don't know how many people here are champions of NOMA, but many of
> the arguments advanced here smell strongly of NOMA. However, I have
> no great stake in this point, and am willing to withdraw it if
> everyone here renounces NOMA as a ploy of the devil. :-) However, in
> that case, I would ask the renouncers to specify at least *one* area
> in which science and religion *do* overlap, and in which, at least
> potentially, a believer could be forced to choose between the teaching
> of Christianity and the teaching of science. So far, I have heard
> people here say that there *is* a conflict between YEC Christianity
> and science, but the same people say that YEC is a *flawed* form of
> Christianity, so from my point of view, that doesn't count against
> belief in NOMA. What would count is if someone believed that even the
> "correct" form of Christianity could, at least in principle, be
> opposed to certain statements strongly affirmed by the majority of
> scientists. Such a person would be acknowledging that in matters of
> religion, truth is more important than peaceful coexistence with
> science (or with any other aspect of worldly culture). NOMA believers
> insist that such a choice would never have to be made. But that
> insistence is arbitrary, following circularly from the rigged
> definitions of religion and science which NOMA employs, not from a
> careful independent analysis of the separate contents of Christianity
> and science.
> Cameron.
As a non-accepter of NOMA, I'll give some reply to your "rounouncer"
challenge. Thinking as a TE (my currently native intellectual
landscape) I will say that not only will I specify merely one area of
overlap, but that the entirety of science (and pretty much everything
else --in fact I can't think what would be excluded) is a *subset* of
religion. I.e. the entirety of a man's life consists from within his
religion. I realize people (anthropologists & other self-styled
intellectuals perhaps) want to define away religion as something in a
corner over there that we can pick up and 'objectively' study when the
fit or desire for amusement puts them in the mood, but I'll not join
them in that bit of naivety. I think of religion much more broadly in a
world-view kind of way that encompasses everybody probably from even
before they made the wet trip down the birth canal. So if it's overlap
you want. You name it. I'll claim it overlaps --indeed, for the TE,
what else could it do?

Much more puzzling or challenging to me, though, is your continued
challenge to the effect of: What count's is if I can, in principle,
find my 'correct' Christianity in opposition to something affirmed by a
majority of scientists -- or shall we just say 'by science itself'.
This appears to be a quest for something falsifiable from the TE crowd
--- sort of a "demonstrate the mettle of your religious world view and
make a prediction so that it can be tested ..." challenge. After all,
ID is attempting to get itself into (or show itself to be in) that
scientific arena where it can be subjected to scrutiny and ridicule if
it doesn't turn out --so where are the TE risk takers? Do I capture the
vein of your challenge correctly?

Fair enough. I'll reply by noting that, if it is only in the scientific
arena that these challenges can be arbitrated, then TE offers nothing
extra that was not already recognized as science quite apart from any
overtly recognized theology. So I argue that your test, if I've
understood it correctly, is already designed to ensure TE failure. If
it is part of somebody's religion that the earth is 6000 years old, then
science encroaches on their religious belief, and the TE agrees --but as
the critic in this case, not the belief holder. If the TE believes that
all creation is an expression of God's creative activity and His order
(the beautiful & noble, the ugly & cruel .... ALL of it) then how is
the TE supposed to take observations about this reality and pit them
against her religious beliefs that she sees as encompassing that
reality? In addition, the reality as apprehended by science is really
much too small. There is a bigger arena with potentially more
interesting tests for religious belief. But even there, how is anyone
who believes that God is sovereign over ALL supposed to pit any part of
even that larger reality against their sovereign God? If God Himself
stood before me and announced to me in terms that could not be
misunderstood that the literal Sun will literally not rise tomorrow, and
then the next morning I observed the Sun rising I would still be at a
loss to see this as satisfying your test for falsifiability. Because I
would simply be forced to conclude that the apparition I had witnessed
must not have been God, making me a victim of somebody's trick or of my
own hallucinations. Because the God I believe in is a God of truth.
That means that nothing in His creation is going to contradict His own
existence or work in creation.

Now --through your eyes, I think I recognize this as the ultimate WIMP
out! I.e. -- TEs would seem to be just a bunch of religious
laissez-faire floaters -- just rolling with the punches, going
where-ever the fashionable currents may blow --never resisting anything,
but accepting everything (from science anyway) without one muscle of
theological criticism ever so much as twitching with any reaction. This
would be, I think, a mostly unfair criticism. I say mostly because in
one significant sense, you are right --if reality dishes up something,
then what choice do TEs have but to roll with the punches? But they
have a lot of company in this. After all what is the alternative? To
divorce God from reality? But when we leave the play-pen of science,
then those who are TEs can (and do) take up their theological crankiness
and they cross swords with any and everybody else who also has forayed
out of the science play-pen even while some of them imagine they are
still in it.

In conclusion, I think we essentially fail your test --but then (as many
a feisty student has done) --we deny the validity of the test in the
first place and argue that there is a broader playing field on which TEs
(and others) can be more properly evaluated.
That broader playing field, by the way, is still under the domain of
Scripture (according to any Christian TEs) and there we can take our own
beatings and bruisings, growing and learning, sometimes inflicting it on
others. As I've grown as a Christian, my own impressions of God have
sometimes had to succumb to reality --and each time I'm faced with a
choice: If I can't let go of the god that I thought I had a handle on,
I'll probably see myself as falling away from faith altogether. OR I
roll with the punch and realize that God hasn't run out of surprises for
me with my preconceptions & that I will need to grow and change if I
want to track with Him. May the Lord grant that for me and in spite of
me! And less selfishly, may the Lord grant the same for any others here
who need it as well. Amen.


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Oct 14 22:00:33 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Oct 14 2009 - 22:00:33 EDT