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

From: Keith Miller <>
Date: Wed Oct 28 2009 - 21:43:39 EDT

Cameron asked:

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.

My understanding of Gould's NOMA is that science stands autonomously and
sealed off from theology. By contrast, I see science as radically
contingent on theology and philosophy that provide its necessary
foundation. Furthermore, the physical universe is radically contingent on
God's continuing providential action. God is the first cause of all
creaturely action. From yet another perspective, I see my involvement in
science as a spiritual vocation that flows from my relational position to
God as an image-bearer. So science is not detached from, and independent
of, my theology but thoroughly embedded within it.

> I am not arguing at this point that subscribing to NOMA is automatically
> wrong (though I have some objections to NOMA which I've pointed out to Ted
> and others). I am just trying to find out if you in fact subscribe to NOMA
> or something very close to it. 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? 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.?

When constructing scientific theories (recognizing patterns in the data and
interpreting them in terms of natural processes and causal agency), science
practitioners all look at the same observational data and apply the same
methodologies, and thus may, and often do, reach a consensus. That
scientists from very different theological and philosophical worldviews can
reach a common scientific consensus is a consequence of the way scientific
investigation works. Science as a discipline cuts across both cultural and
theological divides.

However, how that science is understood in a broader context varies
dramatically based on ones theological/philosophical views.


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Received on Wed Oct 28 21:44:09 2009

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