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

From: dfsiemensjr <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 16:53:19 EDT

For a bit of nitpicking, you need to make a distinction between what
science can say is impossible scientifically and what is "absolutely"
impossible. For example, changing water to wine is possible
scientifically, for hydrogen can be transformed into carbon. It happens
continuously in stars. Of course, it would have made Cana uninhabitable
in the process. So we may say that transforming water into wine under
circumstances of continuous human observation would be impossible. On the
other hand, the scientific restrictions do not apply to the Creator. He
can raise a person from the dead, either restoring human life or
producing the transformed life of Christ. Of this, science can say
nothing. But there are theological restrictions, such as that God cannot
lie and God acts in love. There is also the near impossibility of
persuading one who "knows" that scientism is true that there may be more
than matter--at least in this life.
Dave (ASA)

On Wed, 14 Oct 2009 23:37:21 -0500 Merv Bitikofer <>
> My responses inserted below.
> Bill Powers wrote
> > Merv:
> >
> > 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.
> Agreed. One of those 'means' that we collectively seem to agree has
> a
> pretty good track record is that thing we generally call 'science'.
> And
> yet that assertion that I just made is not itself a scientifically
> supported statement but must lean entirely on things outside of
> science. And I'm quite willing to agree that science is entirely
> inadequate for many modes of explanation.
> More below.
> > 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?
> >
> > bill
> >
> 'water into wine' --I presume you meant in the last sentences.
> If 'science' were to somehow establish the impossibility of such
> things
> (& I'm at loss to think how such a thing could be established as
> 'impossible' --even in principle) then, yes, I would be forced to
> choose between my faith and science. And this certainly applies for
> the
> resurrection --yes. Other items such as how miracles may have
> occurred
> or were they mediated by other events that might provide partially
> recognizable explanation --or are some of them even more of the
> 'parable' sort of story that don't necessarily require all the
> details
> of the reading to be historical in a modern sense (thinking of Jonah
> &
> the whale, for example) --on many such items I try to leave my
> thinking
> non-committal on what seems to me to be peripheral to the message in
> the
> story. This isn't so much me thinking: 'CAN God make a person
> survive
> three days inside a fish' as it is me thinking 'DID God make it
> happen
> this way ...' but then better yet, going beyond this modernistic
> obsession entirely and asking 'WHAT did God tell his people by using
> this story and what should I be taking from it?' To this end, it
> fascinates me how N.Testament figures used Scripture in their day
> --especially Jesus, of course. [An unrelated aside is that even
> Jesus
> doesn't seem to have been above creative word play and proof-texting
> for
> the purpose of befuddling the Pharisees --and maybe taking some
> pleasure
> in it. I'm thinking of passages like John10:34 where Jesus
> answered
> them, "Isn't it written in your law, 'I said, you are gods?' If he
> called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture
> can't
> be broken), ..."
> One can almost hear modern seminary professors clucking in
> disapproval
> over literal word play here, but Jesus doesn't seem to have been
> above
> dishing the Pharisees own medicine right back at them regarding how
> they
> used Scripture. ]
> So I guess my response would be to affirm what you already seem to
> be
> suggesting by putting "scientific" in quotes --- that such efforts
> are
> not themselves motivated by science. But if science ever somehow
> did
> tell me that 'no man has ever risen from the dead', then the choice
> would become forced at that point. What science rightfully says now
> is: "we've never seen or documented a case (to the satisfaction of
> ___)
> in modern times." That is the most a scientist speaking as a
> scientist could ever rightfully state. The next leap beyond that
> --
> that since x hasn't recently been observed, therefore x has never
> ever
> happened, ...that is to leap completely out of scientific bounds.
> What
> science legitimately contributes to such situations is to help us
> recognize and establish the *miraculous nature* of any such claimed
> event. [and I should add --and the importance of this today can't
> be
> underestimated -- that when science *does* show to our satisfaction
> how
> something may have happened; it is not one whit less Divine than it
> was
> before. I.e. We thank God for our daily bread as much as for any
> miracles, explained or otherwise.]
> --Merv
> > 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
> >>> 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
> >>
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Received on Thu Oct 15 18:29:28 2009

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