O NOMA entrou em COMA...

terça-feira, junho 16, 2009

NOMA no more - the great accomoddationism debate

Over the past few weeks, the blogosphere has been alive with a passionate debate about the extent to which science should accommodate religion, leaving it an area in which it has authority - whether it be in respect of truths about morality or truths about a supernatural realm - while denying it authority over empirical claims.

One of the difficulties with all this is that no one has ever distinguished convincingly and sharply between the world of nature and the supposed supernatural realm. After all, if we routinely encountered ancestor spirits that were capable of affecting the world available to us through our senses, and if they behaved in reasonably consistent ways (like human beings and other animals) we would be able to investigate their activities systematically. Their activities would fall into the realm of science, and we might come to think of them as part of "nature". There is no reason why science cannot investigate claims relating to "supernatural" (by commonsense definitions) entities so long as they actually exist, have the power to affect the material world that we can observe, and behave with some consistency.

Over the centuries, science has abandoned explanations that rely on, say, the actions of disembodied intelligences, since those kinds of explanations have been fruitless. But this is not because science is prevented, in principle, from investigating claims about such things if they exist. It has taken this attitude based on its experience of what constitutes a fruitful approach. So-called methodological naturalism - avoiding the use of supernatural hypotheses - is a relatively recent component of the scientific method, resulting from historical experience. It is not that science rules out supernatural things a priori or that it has no capacity to investigate them if it turns out that some do exist.

By now, the reasonable assumption is that such things as ancestor spirits, gods, angels, and demons really do not exist. It is not that they exist in a separate sphere that can be known through religious experience - but is beyond the methods of science. More likely, they don't exist at all.

There is more to be said about this, but I'd like to spend more time on another claim, the idea, popularised by Stephen Jay Gould, that science deals with the empirical world, where it has authority, while religion deals with questions of how we ought to live, essentially the realm of morality, where it has authority. Thus, science and religion have separate spheres of authority and that do not overlap. According to this view, we are entitled to tell religious leaders to keep out of such matters as the age of the Earth and whether Homo sapiens evolved from earlier forms of life. However, so the idea goes, scientists should not challenge the authority of religion in the moral realm.

In my view, this is comprehensively wrong.


Read more here/Leia mais aqui.



Este artigo é para ser lido à luz das recentes tentativas da parte dos darwinistas, até com eventos como o da UNISINOS em setembro de 2009 que pretende cooptar os de concepções religiosas para uma suposta compatibilidade com as hipóteses transformistas de Darwin. Jerry Coyne, biólogo evolucionista de renome internacional, é um darwinista mais honesto: não existe compatibilidade!