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

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Wed Oct 21 2009 - 13:45:47 EDT

David, is your remark about NOMA and anti-evolution aimed at YEC people, ID
people, or both? Here is what you wrote:

> But much opposition to evolution consists of buying into NOMA and trying
> to take origins away from science's magesteria [magisterium].

I can't speak for the anti-ID wing of YEC with any confidence, but I am in
regular contact with a large number of ID supporters, of all types,
including YECs, OECs, religious syncretists, and even hard-boiled agnostics.
Some of them are on-side with macroevolution; others reject it. But one
thing that all of them, or almost all of them, have in common, is a hatred
of NOMA.

Further, many of these people would see NOMA as closely allied with TE.
From the ID point of view, many if not most TEs believe that all events
happen due to natural causes (however much God may be mysteriously
"co-operating" with those causes), and their acceptance of Darwinian
evolution (which is 100% naturalistic), is directly connected with that.
And again from the ID point of view, while the religious sincerity of most
TEs is not denied, it looks as if religion for TEs belongs in the private
world of faith. For example, in the insistence of many TEs that not even
God's bare existence can be established through the observation of nature,
ID people see a cleavage, a sort of schizophrenia between the "science" half
of the soul and the "religion" half of the soul, where "science" knows the
external world, and "faith" knows God, and never the twain shall meet.
Science can't talk about God, and faith can't talk about nature. And from
the ID point of view, that sounds an awful lot like NOMA.

This why I asked, in another conversation, what it would take, for a TE, to
put Christianity at risk. If NOMA applies, then Christianity is
bulletproof, at least on the side of science. No conceivable fact uncovered
by science, no conceivable law or theory or scheme of the world uncovered by
science, could ever put Christian teaching in doubt. And TEs appear to
believe that Christianity is scientifically bulletproof. So if NOMA is not
the basis of this invulnerability of Christianity to any possible discovery
of science, what is?

On the other hand, if we say that Christian theology describes the world,
and modern science describes the world, and it's the same world they are
both trying to describe, then at least potentially there could be a
conflict. But both NOMA and TE appear to deny any such possibility, whereas
both Dawkins-atheism and ID believe that the possibility is real. So I'm
having trouble locating TE -- or at least your version of TE -- in relation
to ID and to NOMA.

I agree with you about the inadequacy of "scientific" explanations of
miracle tales, but your sentence, "I'd take a highly kenotic view of Jesus'
surfing skills", is utterly incomprehensible to me. I know what "kenosis"
means, but have no clue how it would apply to the episode you are
discussing. Perhaps you could use this Gospel story to illustrate the
difference between TE and NOMA. How would Stephen Jay Gould explain Jesus's
walk on the sea, and how would a TE? Or better still, how would you?


----- Original Message -----
From: "David Campbell" <>
To: "asa" <>
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 3:29 PM
Subject: Re: Schools and NOMA (was Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's

>>> 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 Wed, 21 Oct 2009 13:45:47 -0400

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