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

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Wed Oct 14 2009 - 22:51:13 EDT


The difficulty, as I understand your depiction of the TE position, is
that God does not clearly speak with regard to the possibilities of the
natural world. As such, we are left with what we can make of the
natural world by any means we think best.

However, God has, I'm certain you will agree, spoken clearly with regard
to some events that are usally referred to as miraculous. Were science
to argue or be committed to the impossibility of such events, you would,
I am certain, stand in opposition. I am, of course, thinking of the
Resurrection, but there are likely many more that science cannot
explain. Were the science of tomorrow to adopt a positivist perspective
on science, such events would be judged to be nonsense. Now one might
interpret that to mean that "from the point of view of science" they are
nonsense, but they might make sense in some other context. Still it
seems possible to me that science might conclude that such events are
impossible (men don't raise from the dead and water can't be changed
into water, etc.)

How would you respond to "scientific" efforts to prove the impossibility
of such events?


On Wed, 14 Oct 2009, Merv Bitikofer wrote:

> 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.
> --Merv
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Oct 14 22:51:34 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Oct 14 2009 - 22:51:34 EDT