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

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 15:29:44 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.

Not entirely. Although the Bible does not tell us much about the
natural world (being only incidental to the main topic), it does tell
us that it is created by and under the control of God, and that
understanding how it works is part of our job as stewards of it.
Thus, we have good reason to think that the natural world will behave
regularly and that studying it is worthwhile.

As for miracles, we in one sense agree with the materialist: those are
things that don't happen naturally. Their error is in thinking that
doesn't happen naturally=impossible. Also, miracles are quite rare
and tightly constrained in use. Hume is correct that a randomly
selected event will probably be explicable in terms of natural laws.
Where he goes wrong is to try to conclude that a non-randomly selected
event is therefore safely assumed to be explicable in terms of natural
laws. About a dozen years ago, someone wrote to Science using the
same reasoning to prove that the Pope is an alien because the odds of
a randomly selected human being the Pope are about 1 in 6 billion;
they knew that was incorrect but didn't spot their error and the
editor evidently thought it worth publishing.

Even materialists can recognize that some attempts at explaining
miracles "naturally" are no good, such as the idea that Elijah was
really pouring lighter fluid, not water, over his altar or the study
that noted that the presence of springs under the Sea of Galilee
produces patches with different temperatures and salinity, potentially
creating a local patch of ice when the rest of the surface is
unfrozen. That part is perfectly good science, but the idea that it
could explain the walking on the water does not hold up well under
consideration of how someone is supposed to balance and steer into a
headwind. I'd take a highly kenotic view of Jesus' surfing skills.

I would strongly echo Merv's rejection of NOMA in favor of the science
as a subset of religion view. But much opposition to evolution
consists of buying into NOMA and trying to take origins away from
science's magesteria.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Thu Oct 15 15:29:58 2009

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