Thursday, May 20, 2010

Non-Overlapping Visions

In my wandering about the web the other day, I came across the term "non-overlapping magisteria," which I had not read before. Yes, I don't get out often enough. A quick highlight and right-click of the term took me to the Google, where definitions abound.

According to Wikipedia, non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA, for short) is a term espoused by Stephen Jay Gould:

The magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).
I've offered Gould's direct interpretation here -- the actual Wikipedia definition is a bit abstruse to me.

More succinctly, science and religion occupy two irreconcilable realms of human experience.

Now, back to Google. Just a line or two down from the Wikipedia entry is a Conservapedia entry. Conservapedia, if you don't know, "is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth. We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here."

So, to avoid deception and distortion, Conservapedia has this to say about NOMA:

The idea of Non-overlapping Magisteria proposes to separate science from religion, with each to govern independently in their respective domains. Science gets the what and why, while religion gets meaning and value. (See also fact-value distinction.) The idea is opposed by those who see God as the Author of science (see Creationism).

It is an apologetic put forward by liberal evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould. [1] Gould described NOMA as "a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to ... the supposed conflict between science and religion."

Magisterium is defined as "a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution" and the NOMA principle is "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)."

This theory is demonstrably faulty because it is obvious that the intelligent design of the universe would leave behind perceptible evidence allowing the existence of God to be inferred without reference to faith. (My emphasis) Furthermore the NOMA principle would directly contradict Biblical evidence of miracles which if observable by scientists would be demonstrably true.

To embrace NOMA would be to consign the entirety of scripture to metaphor and storytelling (me again: and your point is?).
Now here I was thinking that Wikipedia was being abstruse. I'm trying to parse the fourth paragraph: This theory is demonstrably faulty. I.e., this theory is wrong; here's why... "because it is obvious." Question: What's obvious? Answer: That God has left behind perceptible evidence of his/her existence. This evidence is apparently so obvious that we are not going to explain what that is. Ah, but wait: this evidence -- if observable by scientists -- makes it demonstrably true. So we only need to transport a scientist to biblical times. If we could, ipso facto, this would be observable. Air-tight logic.

And you laugh at me for believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster! (alternately)

30 comments:

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