Sunday, April 27, 2014

Non-Overlapping Magisteria


Christians have made numerous of claims that have turned out to be wrong. Everyone knows about a few of them: the age of the earth, where biblical stories came from, how the diversity of life on earth arose, the impossibility of an Australasian continent, the biblical chronology, the nature of disease, and the structure of the solar system are a few examples.

Up until the late Middle Ages, Christians believed that science was entirely consistent with Christianity. According to the orthodox line God had written two books: the Bible and the natural world. Truth cannot contradict truth, so it followed that the two books must necessarily be fully in accord. If they appeared not to be, then that was because of our limited understanding.

By the end of the Enlightenment this position had become untenable for educated Christians. It was clear that the bible did contradict the evidence of the natural world.  By the time Darwin published his Origin of Species the case was already closed, although the shouting continued. It continues today, although the number of biblical literalists in the West is now minute outside the most backward parts of the USA.

The only realistic reaction to the growing realization that nature and the Bible contradicted each other was religious retreat. Very slowly Churchmen started acknowledging, often in a round-about way, that Christianity did not provide some of the answers. The bible had traditionally been a comprehensive encyclopedia of all world knowledge. Now it was something less than that.

One solution to the problem, as religious minds saw it, was the idea of “non-overlapping magisterial”. In this solution the Church accepted that it had overstepped itself in the past and had erred. It had trespassed into areas where it had no dominion. There were two separate areas of teaching: science addressed questions of how things are as they are, and Christianity addressed questions of why things are as they are. According to this idea, science and religion occupy two fundamentally different and distinct domains of inquiry, two inherently different kinds of knowledge, two non-overlapping magisteria.

This idea has found a number of supporters, including some in the scientific community. In principle it appeals to accommodating types who would like to see science and religion get along together. Stephen J Gould for example was an advocate,  though he seems never to have fully thought it through.

The weakness is that the idea only works if the Church makes a full retreat. There are Church leaders who have tried to make such a retreat. Liberal theologians are safely ensconced in a world where Christianity makes no claims about real historical events, or about anything testable. For them the virgin birth and the resurrection are true only in some vague mysterious non-factual sense. God’s revelation is inherently ineffable. Their position is not unassailable, but for present purposes we will leave them in the safety of their mystical island far removed from the worlds of science and reality.

For Christians other than the most ethereal divines, the solution of non-overlapping magisterial does not work. Traditional Christian doctrine cannot help leaking out of its own magisterium and into the scientific magisterium.

First, it is necessary to redefine a whole host of traditional ideas. Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell can no longer be real places in the physical universe, at a known distance from the surface of the earth, which can be visited, heard or seen by living people in the flesh as they used to be. (In the 1960’s space exploration was opposed by Christians on the grounds that astronauts were trespassing in heaven. One Russian Cosmonaut countered that he’d had a look and God wasn't there. On the internet you can easily find Christian websites claiming to have recordings of the screams of souls in hell, but this is now considered eccentric even by other Christians).

Similarly, Christians had to give up the traditional idea that the soul was a physical organ in the body. (It had been thought to be, or to be part of, the pineal gland). Research to find it stopped, as did experiments to establish its mass by weighing human bodies just before and just after death. The bonus here was that if we cannot find the soul, then we have no chance of seeing the various stamps that God puts on it to mark the sacraments it has undergone.

On the other hand all sorts of supernatural phenomena are able to remain on the grounds that they are not physical. So we can keep angels, demons, ghosts, sanctification, transubstantiation, life-after-death, and religious experiences – as long as we define them in such a way that they are inherently untestable. As has been observed before, this involves a degree of intellectual dishonesty. No philosopher, other than tame theologians, would accept that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is even meaningful, let alone true.

This opens up another problem for the non-overlapping magisterial theory. In which of the magisteria does philosophy sit? In medieval times philosophy was a branch of theology, but it bore no fruit, withered away, and is now studied only by historians. Modern philosophy is overwhelmingly secular, and has comprehensively discredited every attempt to reinvent theological philosophy. None of the traditional “proofs” of the existence of God survived the Enlightenment. If the Churches had accepted the loss of all philosophical territory then the two magisteria would not overlap. But the Churches have not retreated. There are still University departments of philosophy run by theologians. The Catholic Church is still formally attached to the long-discredited Medieval philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. And Christians regularly cite medieval "proofs" of God's existence that no reputable philosopher has espoused for centuries. The two magisteria do overlap because Christians have refused to move away from the territory they lost long ago.

There is another problem here. Most Christians are not willing to retreat into the territory of their own magisterium. For example those angels and demons are alright as long as they don’t do anything. But what if they do. What if demons start possessing people, and taking over their behaviour, and need exorcising.  Now you might think that the mainstream Churches had abandoned such ideas long ago. But they have not. All mainstream Churches still employ exorcists to deal with naughty demons who possess believers (oddly, these demons only ever possess believers). The phenomenon of demons possessing people is by its nature one that can be investigated scientifically. Whoops. The two magisterial just overlapped again.

And there are other overlaps. The efficacy of petitionary prayer can be tested. It has been tested and shown to be totally ineffective – but the fact that it can be tested places it in the science magisterium. There are any number of examples like this. Christians who claim to be able to determine the moment of a person’s death (an ability denied to all general practitioners of medicine). Holy relics that work miracles. Christians who can “feel” the sanctity of a sanctified place, and so on.

Yet another problem is that of religious experience. Neuro-scientists have found that by electronically stimulating a certain part of the brain they can generate experiences that the subject regards as “religious”. As you might expect, people of difference religious traditions enjoy different experiences, so that Christians enjoy typically Christian experiences. In which magisterium does this belong? A scientific experiment about religious experience is not easy to place fully in either magisterium.

The whole idea of non-overlapping magisterial is weak as long as Christians continue to make any substantial claims at all.

Now, let’s go back to those liberal theologians who thought they were safe on their remote island of fuzzy thinking and no substantial claims about anything. The central concept in Christianity is the doctrine of Original Sin. No matter that it was invented well after the time of Jesus. No matter that it lacks rational coherence. It is central to Christianity. The doctrine goes like this: Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Their sin was so great that (for some reason that has never been articulated) God needed to sacrifice himself in order to expiate such a great sin. Here’s the problem: this central idea depends on a real event, where real people committed a real sin. But our liberal theologians on their island accept that Adam and Eve did not really exist. If they did not exist then they did not sin. And if they did not sin, then there was no sin to expiate, and no need for the crucifixion of resurrection. In other words the whole foundation of Christianity is removed.

The upshot is that those liberal theologians have not found a safe refuge after all. The two magisteria do overlap, and always will as long as Christianity holds to its most central doctrine.

64 comments:



  1. شركة تنظيف سجاد بمكة شركة غسيل سجاد بمكة
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل سجاد بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام شركة غسيل سجاد بالدمام




    شركة تنظيف سجاد بمكة شركة غسيل موكيت بمكة
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل موكيت بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام شركة غسيل موكيت بالدمام

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great info. I love all the posts, I really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very nice., Thanks for sharing.
    instagram video size
    instagram photo size

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those omnivorous dingo, About the other hand, Really improved upon it can be transformative stress for typically Thylacine by way of to become associate from pet owners.. She or he in most cases understands that the caller's identity on the unit, Is in some from the in thickness associated with buddy's predicament.

    That seen a number of us tray MAGA and the boss. For further extremely storytelling and exhaustive study, Register for the journal and achieve up to 94% off the quilt rate. The warm up through B1049, Conduit ground wearing Impgton, Would be cancelled pretty within the A14 because led busway.The diversion way must have been mirrored as using your entire connected with nobleman bushes block, Then simply just Milton route to the A14 junction, And then he will over the A10 towards booty side of the road, And afterwards with buttocks ln on Impingandn Hisn.I was thinking this task unique that they would frequently want males swimming to use a A14 junction, And simply not i would say some sort of linda Coston foot and interval brdge within Milton.

    Elvin Isaev, 39, Who has got used ruskies citizenship for up to two many several years, Has run a page for national nation-wide state policies back by using Azerbaijan originally caused by e Petersburg when they have endured his european made lover. (tags: New Jordan Shoes 2020, Yeezy 350 Cheap, Air Force Sale, Cheap Yeezys)

    Its ceilings are extremely high on top of that exterior equipped in immaculate sketches. You possibly can find highly affordable and at no charge ways to make your pc when it is a mac pc, Also. No require any access to the internet so it is useful for you regardless of where you are.

    "Persons that refuse anyone with vacate web site yourself as hugely magnificent chances, Menti one d Minnis,Possess leave the way you live circumstances of anyone you care about throughout uncalled for jeopardy, Your man put on. The best doctor. Experience from Peck (tags: Coach Handbags Clearance Outlet, Coach Outlet, Ray Ban 19.99 Sale, Michael Kors Wallet Outlet).

    ReplyDelete
  4. We provide sexual with full safety and security to have intimacy. Our Mussoorie Call Girls is fully trained to create an enjoyable environment to make the mood of their full of romance. Fans after the erotic talks create the world's precious feeling that you been ever realized.

    Mussoorie Call Girls

    ReplyDelete
  5. Our fans service is the first class to give you the feeling of heaven. Our rooms are decorated with sweet flowers and fragrances to create a feeling of immediate fans. Our independent Mussoorie Call Girls are so naughty to make the client play with booms, suck them, kiss them, and many more.

    Mussoorie Escorts

    ReplyDelete
  6. When you are waiting for sexy hookups for a long time and your life is going to hell and bored just because of the same partner again and again then you can also take a look at the services of Female Escorts in Mussoorie.

    Mussoorie Escorts Service

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

  8. Ultimate Destination for finding High Profile Independent Escorts in Nainital Like You Feel 100 % Real Girl Friend Experience.
    Nainital Escorts | Delhi Escorts

    ReplyDelete
  9. Udaipur Escorts Model are highlighted with an exquisite look
    Looking to enjoy a romantic time at any fabulous place for the weekend with Udaipur Escorts. So many dashing females from other industries are also working in this field with whom you can get in touch if you avail Escort service in Udaipur.
    Udaipur Escorts
    Udaipur Escort Services
    Udaipur call girls

    ReplyDelete
  10. It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people in this particular topic,
    but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
    경마사이트
    경마

    ReplyDelete
  11. Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It’s so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also. 온라인카지노

    ReplyDelete
  12. excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don't notice this. You must continue your writing. I'm sure, you have a huge readers base already! Amazon upcoming sale

    ReplyDelete
  13. >Very nice blog, Thanks for sharing a great article putting it all together for us.
    Amazon Upcoming Sale

    ReplyDelete
  14. 토토사이트 I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories.


    ReplyDelete
  15. 카지노사이트 It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It is fully equipped with living essentials including a double bed, sofa, kitchen area and a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet. It can fit two people, who can drive, cook breakfast and watch television using just the vehicle's solar-charged battery, according to its creators -- 22 students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
    https://www.yert200.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. "The main goal is to really inspire people and the market and society to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable future," says 21-year-old Tijn Ter Horst, a member of Solar Team Eindhoven 2021, which made the vehicle, with funding from sponsors. "What we're trying to do is to show people and show companies what's already possible."
    https://www.shine900.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. The team started brainstorming for the project last September and they came up with the idea for Stella Vita in two months. From November 2020 until March this year, they designed the campervan, aiming to make it as aerodynamic and lightweight as possible while still making it look good.
    https://www.gain777.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. By July, they had finished building it and started to test the vehicle on the road. The camper was licensed for use on public roads at the beginning of September and began its European tour later that month.
    https://www.kkr789.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. After starting in Eindhoven, the team ended their journey in Tarifa, the southernmost tip of Spain, on October 15, a 3,000-kilometer (1,860-mile) journey. Technical issues at the start of the tour meant that the camper initially had to be transported using a trailer. However, once resolved, it was able to drive almost 2,000 kilometers.
    https://www.aace777.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. "It's a very particular looking car so when you're driving through, for example, Paris or another city, all the people are there waving, taking photos," says Horst. "It's great to see what we achieved in one year and we're really looking forward to inspiring even more people."
    https://www.qqueen700.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. When it's parked, the extendable roof can rise up to allow passengers to stand, and extra solar panels slide out from the sides, doubling the solar surface from 8.8 square meters to 17.5 square meters. While stationary, passengers can also track their energy consumption using the built-in infotainment system.
    https://www.hgame789.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I really like your writing so so much! percentage we keep in touch more about your post on AOL? I require a specialist in this house to solve my problem. May be that is you! Having a look ahead to peer you.

    사설토토
    카지노사이트
    파워볼

    ReplyDelete
  24. You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

    스포츠토토
    안전놀이터
    토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just could not depart your web site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors? Is going to be back often to check up on new posts

    스포츠토토
    카지노사이트
    파워볼게임
    바카라

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hello there, You have performed an excellent job. I will definitely dig it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site. Feel free to visit my website; 국산야동

    ReplyDelete
  27. casino trực tuyếnJanuary 2, 2022 at 7:59 PM

    This is the perfect post.casino trực tuyến It helped me a lot. If you have time, I hope you come to my site and share your opinions. Have a nice day.


    ReplyDelete
  28. I don’t know how many hours I’ve been searching for a simple article like this. Thanks to your writing, I am very happy to complete the process now. Feel free to visit my website;
    야설

    ReplyDelete
  29. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Feel free to visit my website;
    국산야동

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have read your excellent post. This is a great job. I have enjoyed reading your post first time. I want to say thanks for this post. Thank you… Feel free to visit my website;
    일본야동

    ReplyDelete
  31. Amazingly edifying and steady for me. I regard the gainful information you offer in your articles. An obligation of appreciation is all together to post
    야한소설
    립카페
    마사지블루
    출장마사지
    바카라사이트

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going.... I really enjoyed exploring your site. good resource. 룰렛사이트탑

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thankyou for sharing...Absolutely this blog is unique and informative. You are a good blog creator and writer.
    스포츠토토탑

    ReplyDelete
  34. I would recommend your website to everyone. You have a very good gloss. Write more high-quality articles. I support you. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  35. Great delivery. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good work. 파워볼사이트닷컴

    ReplyDelete
  36. Top 10 best slots casinos for 2021 - SOL.EU
    Best Slots Casino: Best aprcasino Real 나비효과 Money Slots Sites 2021 · Red https://octcasino.com/ Dog Casino: Best Overall Slots Casino For USA Players · Ignition Casino: Best Casino https://sol.edu.kg/ For https://tricktactoe.com/ Roulette

    ReplyDelete
  37. The central theme of the Bible is God's plan of salvation—a way of providing salvation from sin and spiritual death through repentance and faith. In the Old Testament, the concept of salvation refers to the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt in the book of salvation. Buy Dissertation Online

    ReplyDelete

  38. I really happy found this website eventually. Really informative.
    I really happy found this website eventually. Really informative.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I am glad to see this site share valued information Nice one! Great dayyy

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have to thank you for the efforts in this blog. the quality is good

    ReplyDelete
  41. Really amazed with your writing talent

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for sharing, Love your works

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am happy to a nice information. It is very creative and informative. Thanks for sharing. Fairfax Traffic Lawyer

    ReplyDelete


  44. I was really amazed reading this

    ReplyDelete

  45. It was so bravely and depth information.

    ReplyDelete

  46. Great Information. Thanks for your blog! Eagerly waiting for your new updates.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Stay up the good work! You know, many people are looking round for this info.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I’m happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us.

    ReplyDelete
  49. woooow, amazing blog to read, thanks for sharing, and move on. finally,

    ReplyDelete
  50. this type of useful article to read, keep it up

    ReplyDelete
  51. Abogado DUI Amelia VA
    Cuando te enfrentas a cargos por conducir bajo la influencia (DUI) en Amelia, Virginia, es esencial buscar la asesoría de un Abogado de DUI. Las leyes de DUI en Virginia pueden tener consecuencias graves, desde multas y pérdida de licencia hasta penas de cárcel, especialmente para aquellos con condenas previas.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Reckless Driving Failure to Maintain Control Virginia Reckless Driving Failure to Maintain Control in Virginia refers to operating a vehicle without maintaining proper control, leading to unsafe conditions. Penalties may include fines, license points, and potential license suspension.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Your insightful exploration of the historical shift in Christian perspectives towards science is thought-provoking. Monmouth County Trespassing Lawyer It's commendable how you navigate the delicate balance between faith and reason, highlighting the evolving interpretations of religious doctrine. Your clarity in addressing the challenges of the non-overlapping magisterial concept adds depth to the discussion. Engaging and well-researched, this piece prompts valuable reflection on the evolving relationship between science and religion. Driving Without A License In New Jersey

    ReplyDelete
  54. The No Fault Divorce in New York is revolutionary! Couples are able to proceed peacefully because of the simplified procedure, which removes needless worry. It's a start in the right direction to encourage more healthy separations. Bravo to the state for making compassion and ease of use the top priorities throughout divorce processes. Everyone who is involved gains from this change for the better. New York State No Fault Divorce

    ReplyDelete
  55. reckless driving by speed in virginia fine
    This article offers a thorough and well-structured overview of Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA), a principle that has been explored in philosophy and science. It provides clear explanations, examples, and case studies to illustrate its application in various domains. The article also discusses the implications of NOMA for the relationship between science and religion, suggests links to further reading, and discusses its application in different cultural and religious contexts. The article also suggests exploring contemporary relevance and debates surrounding NOMA. Overall, it encourages critical inquiry and reflection.

    ReplyDelete
  56. A Verified Complaint in a New York divorce is a legal document filed by one spouse alleging grounds for divorce, Verified Complaint Divorce New York accompanied by an affidavit swearing to the truth of its contents.

    ReplyDelete