NOMA is a Myth?

November 13, 2010 | By | 8 Replies More

A FaceBook friend just shared a post called The Myth of Separate Magisteria that argues that Steven Jay Gould’s premise of Non-Overlapping Magisteria is flawed.

He argues,

“One might as well say that conflict arises between men and women only when they stray onto each other’s territories and stir up trouble. Science produces discoveries that challenge long-held beliefs (not only religious ones) based on revelation rather than evidence, and the religious must decide whether to battle or accommodate secular knowledge if it contradicts their teachings.

I usually claim NOMA when pressed on whether Science can disprove God. The realms of revelation vs. evidence can be kept separate as long as religion keeps stepping back as verifiable research claims ever more territory.

Scientific understanding will keep stepping on religions skirts until the faithful stick to claims that can only be held on faith, and stop claiming “truth” about things for which there is contradictory evidence.

God is a fuzzy and non-falsifiable idea. Science will never disprove God. But it has disproved most of what the Bible claims about God’s involvement in nature, the Earth, and the Universe.

So these ways of looking at the universe do overlap, until such time as the weaker one bows out of the territory. As with the flat Earth, the Sin theory of gravity, the God’s Pillars principle of Earthquakes, God’s Wrath principle of extreme weather, the Geocentric universe, the Young Earth, and so on.


Category: Education, Language, nature, Neologism, Religion, Science, scientific method

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (8)

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  1. Pat Whalen says:

    The problem with accepting fantasy as reality, even if science has not dis proven it yet is that it has real world implications.

    For instance if we live on forever after "death" what happens in this life is of no consequence except as it influences the next life. I imagine 1000 years into the next life any troubles we had in this life will be of laughable consequence.

    Why should we worry about justice, equality, the environment etc.?

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    This has generated quite a discussion over on my FaceBook wall. I can't figure out how to link to the post itself, over there.

  3. Dan,

    Click on the post header and copy the URL, then put it in a link on your comments box. I'll do it on mine and see if more cross-talk develops.

  4. Jim Razinha says:

    Daniel Dennett looked at this in his book "Breaking the Spell." He contends they are less non-overlapping than many would like to believe, but takes it further that they shouldn't be near as non-overlapping. Clearly, fact must trump scripture whenever conflicting, but science can and should study religion. That's where I stop. I haven't made up my own mind with respect to religion's involvement in science. Some folks feel there needs to be a morality check on science, and that it naturally should come from the religious sector, but I can't resolve that rationally. Morality via religious doctrine is on a sliding scale. And, obvious to even the most casual observer, quite parochial.

    Erich has posted many times on Frans de Waal's "The Age of Empathy", and though I have not yet read it so can not speak with direct knowledge, I understand it to examine a genetic predisposition toward empathy in the human primate, thus indicating there a scientific basis for morality. That would take yet one more stone from the pile that is all things religious and move it over to rational science, and so would accordingly renew at least a one-sided argument for non-overlapping majesteria.

    I look forward to reading your thread later.

  5. Ben says:

    So I guess that Tolkien Lore and science are also NOMA?

    What about Leprechauns and Science, NOMA?

    Santa Clause/Tooth fairy and Science, do they overlap?

    What about black cats being the spawn of satan, I guess we'll have to remain agnostic on that.

    What is my point?

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Science does keep pushing back the boundary of God's territory.

    God is thus doing more and more about less and less. Someday He'll be doing everything about nothing.

  7. Jim Razinha says:

    Or She will. Maybe Pascal can answer his wager for us?

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