Re: [asa] Where does TE differ from NOMA? (was: Re: Schools and NOMA)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Wed Oct 28 2009 - 19:14:49 EDT

While I would not guarantee that Gould would have considered their
understanding of NOMA as matching his, the statement in M. Young and
P. Strode in Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) may be of
"Gould, however, was seriously mistaken in thinking that science and
religion are separate magesteria and have nothing to say to each
other." (p. 191). Not to imply that Young and Strode have a solid
grasp on theology, but that the fundamental problem of NOMA in my eyes
is the claim that these are separate compartments, and even
nonbelievers like Young and Strode can acknowledge that.

>What I am saying, Keith, is that the position you have sketched here is, if not identical with NOMA, close to it even in theory, and very close to identical with it in practice. The fact that Gould does not have Christian motivations for parcelling out the magisteria in the way that he does, does not mean that he parcels them out any differently than you would. <

Keith's and my position is diametrically opposed to NOMA in theory.
We both assert that science is, from the Christian perspective, a
subset of religion. Placing science as an entirely contained subset
of religion is the opposite of saying that they do not overlap.

>Would you say that Gould has mapped out the territories of knowledge quite accurately, and that the main difference between you and Gould is that he personally is not a Christian, and therefore does not handle questions that belong to non-scientific magisteria in the same way that you do?<

No, I would say that he has mapped out the territory of science quite
accurately and the territory of religion quite inaccurately.

> And would you say that Gould's position would make it possible, in principle, for the two of you to study science together for decades, and never disagree on a strictly scientific matter, no matter what the object of investigation -- rocks, fossils, evolutionary mechanisms, the causes of sexual attraction, the causes of emotional responses, the causes of dreams, etc.? Or, to put it another way: what might you disagree with Gould about, that would impair your co-operating with him in describing nature, deriving laws of nature, inferring past or present natural processes, etc.?<

Gould's position and mine, for different reasons, hold that science
deals with honest assessment of the physical evidence. Thus, there is
nothing inherent in the difference between NOMA and my view that would
produce scientific disagreement. On the other hand, the particular
set of extra-scientific views held by Gould influenced his scientific
ideas (ironically in violation of NOMA). His excessive emphasis on
contingency and the apparent disparity in the Cambrian radiation
probably relates to his lack of belief in ultimate meaning and his
political commitment to equal opportunity. However, my judgement of
his position as excessive is based primarily on scientific
considerations. Theologically, I am confident that God could achieve
His goals whether we can scientifically detect direction or whether,
as far as the science goes, everything seems contingent.

It may be of note that he speaks well of my paper in his preface to
The Bivalvia: an Eon of Evolution because we did not assume that the
novel results of our analyses were definitively refuting previous
models- more of a philosophical than a scientific issue.

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 Oct 28 19:15:08 2009

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