Talk:Non-overlapping magisteria

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Michał Heller[edit]

What about a Polish philosopher (professor of philosophy and Catholic priest) Michal Heller? He is one of those who discussed the overlapping or non-overlapping of _The Magisteria_ (ie. Science and Religion). His work has been awarded with the Templeton Prize. A wiki page about him is here: Is there anybody well-read in his works to take on his philosophy? Critto (talk) 00:03, 27 November 2012 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was move. Jafeluv (talk) 20:04, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Non-Overlapping MagisteriaNon-overlapping magisteria — MOS:CAPS, google books suggests that both are acceptable but the latter is in keeping with the manual of style — WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 12:46, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Because the above template didn't let me, here are the results for the google books search - there seems to be both caps and lowercase used, the more "serious" books (including Gould's own) seem to use lower case. I can't think of a reason to use lower upper case, except It Makes It Look Important. The original essay seems to use lower case (and no hyphen). WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:14, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
The move looks a good idea to me. In your above comment you probably mean "can't think of a reason to use upper case". There are several incoming links to be cleaned up, whether the move takes place or not. Johnuniq (talk) 23:57, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Oops :) If the page moves, I have no problem correcting incoming links (thank you popups!) WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 00:19, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
Move makes sense to me. ChildofMidnight (talk) 03:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
Right. It should be lower case. Without the hyphen in the original, with the hyphen in subsequent editions. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 04:10, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
No strong opinion. But WP:MOS does not really support the move. It's somewhat silent on title capitalization, but all the examples in WP:MOSTITLE and WP:LOW seem to use title case.'s not a title, but just a concept. I'm OK with the move. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:20, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Lack of reference for a Dawkins claim[edit]

I am not able to find any reference for Dawkins claiming that "if DNA evidence proved that Jesus had no earthly father, Dawkins claims that the argument of non-overlapping magisteria would be quickly dropped", this looks like 'original research' to me - i.e. somebody is paraphrasing Dawkinses general position to put words into his mouth. Paraphrases don't bother me, but there is a quite idiosyncratic logic to this argument that does not actually sound like Dawkinsian philosophy to me at all (Would Dawkins really claim that finding that Jesus didn't have a father would convince him that religion had been proven correct? I don't think he would). But I could be wrong - people who are more avid readers of Dawkins might know where it is that he says this exact thing. Thoughts?

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:27, 22 January 2010 (UTC) 

This argument is Dawkins' and is from The God Delusion. Dawkins' argument is that religious claims for NOMA would be dropped were scientific evidence supporting religious claims to be found.

It's on page 59: --quote-- To dramatize the point, imagine, by some remarkable set of circumstances, that forensic archaeologists unearthed DNA evidence to show that Jesus really did lack a biological father. Can you imagine religious apologists shrugging their shoulders and saying anything remotely like the following? 'Who cares? Scientific evidence is completely irrelevant to theological questions. Wrong magisterium! We're concerned only with ultimate questions and with moral values. Neither DNA nor any other scientific evidence could ever have any bearing on the matter, one way or the other.' --quote-- — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:43, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Fix up to related article[edit]

i cleaned up the article on Rocks of Ages, which is very much a companion article to this one.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 16:16, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

Reference Sam Harris' "Moral Landscape"[edit]

--this article should reference Sam Harris' book, The Moral Landscape, which claims that science can address issues of morality normally assigned to the religious realm. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:24, 1 August 2011 (UTC)


Er... am I doing this right?

A few paragraphs in the Criticism section are sloppy and use biased language.

Jacoby cites Sam Harris who shows science can frequently demonstrate whether particular beliefs increase or decrease suffering and Harris derives moral values from this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:14, 2 September 2011 (UTC)


The Criticism-section is blown up to more than 50 % of the article. However, it does not address the most relevant questions of Gould's NOMA concept.

One important question seems to be, whether texts of Abrahamitic religions have to be understood in a literal sense only or rather in an allegorical sense. While the allegory is traditionally dominant in the Jewish and Christian hermeneutics (and afaik also Islam), both religious fundamentalists and new atheists only take the literal sense seriously. Natural scientists seem to have a culture of clarity and certainty and often seem to be threatened by ambiguous religious texts. One easy way to resolve the disturbing ambiguity is to declare them as unscientific rubbish, without considering what could be their value, beyond making factual statements.

It is also argued that natural sciences could adress moral questions, which is a rather questionable idea, as scientists can aptly describe human behaviour, but hardly develop criteria to evaluate it ethically.--Olag (talk) 19:28, 30 September 2012 (UTC)


These sentences use heavily biased language.

-Religion has too frequently made us feel guilty about enjoying harmless pleasures and reduced happiness. -People want a separate province for their specific religion and exclude other religions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:58, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Correct. All POV should be strictly eliminated, and replaced with strictly objective language. So the objective reading should be:
Religion has systematically encroached on the magisterium of physical and biological science in its moralistic pronouncements over the pursuit of physical pleasures and well-being, and issued moralistic condemnations about the pursuit of happiness and friends, which belongs by essence to the magisterium of biological and psychological science.
Each religion claims absolute validity in its separate magisterium and community and by essence erects itself as an absolute interpretation that excludes and opposes all the interpretations from any different religion. In that sense two religions are incompatible and try to avoid friction by exercising their different magisteria by regulating different communities, and whenever possible, affirming the validity of their specific magisterium in different geographical areas. This essential feature has been observed and recorded in the history of all religions. The question of defining boundaries has proved to be the perennial "fly in the ointment" for co-existence of different religions, and has been a major factor in all wars of religion recorded in history.

--ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 17:40, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Dead Link[edit]

The external link to is no longer valid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:54, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Critical bloat[edit]

Much of what is written in the bloated criticism section of this article seems to be criticizing something that is not NOM. Other statements, in addition to being off topic, violate NPOV.

  • Jacoby maintains that scientists as well as the religious sometimes carefully practise the fictional concept NOMA… Leaving aside the NPOV adjective fictional, we have the implication that scientists and’the religious are non-overlapping sets, which is demonstrably false.
  • [R]eligious people and scientists … have different views about whether a six-day-old embryo is or is not a person. In addition to the issue bulleted above, we also have the issue that whether a fetus is a person is not a scientific question, but a philosophical one. This is not an example of overlap between science and religion.
  • What is said above applies to all of the other objections made to religious morality, such as stem cells, cures, and vaccinations. The counter-morality is not scientifically based, and so is not an example of overlap.
  • [S]cience can frequently demonstrate whether particular beliefs increase or decrease suffering. Not only is this claim dubious, but it is irrelevant, since the belief that increasing or decreasing suffering provides "moral values” is not a scientific belief.

I could go on, but will stop for now. Suffice it to say, these are the most egregious examples. Deleting them will lead to a greatly improved article.

Rwflammang (talk) 23:19, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Point of Order[edit]

I would just like to point out, in the context of NOMA, that no-one here has observed, and perhaps people are unaware, that the Mormon Church--that is, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and /or any belief system descended from the teachings of Joseph Smith--has a very unique perspective on this, in a religious sense. The church does not teach that there is such a thing as scientific truth vs. religious truth. In the context of their scripture Doctrine & Covenants 118:18, they have a saying (easily searchable on their website) that "all truth may be circumscribed in one great whole." The idea being, that IF religious and scientific, or even religious and religious, knowledge appears contradictory, it is only because, in the words of one of their leaders, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we [continue to] search for and [one day] receive more trustworthy information."

I wonder how this compares to other religious or scientific leaders/thinkers of today, and what anyone else's thoughts are? Also, would this point be sufficient, with (easily obtainable) references, to place on the main page, perhaps in the criticism section? Though this position has been held by the Mormon Church by some 180 years, making it more a philosophy in line with Enlightenment thinkers than in opposition to today's NOMA ones. Playerpage (talk) 20:41, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

I am not aware of any church that teaches scientific truth vs. religious truth. Averoes and Siger of Brabant are both sometime claimed to have taught such a distinction, but that thesis, even if they asserted it, was specifically condemned in the middle ages. Rwflammang (talk) 01:36, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I kind of thought that was the the thrust of NOMA. There is Science, and there is Religion, and never the twain shall meet.
I know in a PRACTICAL sense there aren't a whole lot of religions out there trying to make their members parse dogma from the observed, scientific world, but there are a great deal--most of them, I would feel confident saying--who teach the NOMA-style separation of experiences. I was merely trying to point out that the Mormon Church is the only (Western, Abrahamic) religion I know of that eliminates that separation, not just practically but also theologically. Playerpage (talk) 07:47, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
I guess you missed a critical distinction. There are two magisteria, but only one truth. The magisteria do not overlap, but logic, reason, critical thinking, in sum, truth, apply to both. As for religions other than Mormonism that "eliminate that separation", they all do, or at least, I know of none which do not. Making a distinction between religious and scientific truth makes no more sense in those religions than making a distinction between scientific truth and mathematical truth. Nevertheless, science and math represent two distinct magisteria. Rwflammang (talk) 03:39, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, if I missed it, then the entire study of NOMA seems to have done the same. When dealing with NOMA and magisteria, I have TRIED to look up even a simple definition of what magisteria IS, but the top 50 results--even from sites such as Webster--are usually variations on "magisterial." I finally found a site, Wordnik, that placed all uses it could find of the word side-by-side, and just let me figure it out on my own. ( From what I can gather, the way you use the word, you intend for me to understand the definition of "magisteria" to be "domains of teaching" (see the reference to Conservapedia's entry), but that does not appear to be the universal definition. After all, Stephen Jay Gould's "Rock of Ages" argued that science and religion are "distinct realms of understanding" under NOMA. That does not sound to me like a "many paths up the mountain" approach to finding The One True Truth that you claim it is.
Even here, on this page--in this very "Talk Section"--users argue that religion is the problem, and not the correct path to truth. (See the NPOV section above.) If NOMA is merely an argument for separating methodologies, not separating Truth Itself, then yes, I--and a whole lot of people have missed something.
I am merely arguing that, as NOMA advocates on this board have made several claims that science and religion work best separately, and that religion in particular is hostile to science, there is at least one Western religion--The Joseph Smith Restorationist Movement--that does not hold that worldview, or at least did not have to be "brought around" to it, because it was not hostile to science from the start. I'm sure there were others. And if you need an example of current churches that ARE hostile to science, and do not regard what it uncovers as "truth," just look up Creationism. Playerpage (talk) 18:59, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
Plurals are not usually listed in the dictionary. Try looking it up under its singular form, "magisterium". Here, for instance. Rwflammang (talk) 20:12, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Oh, and also, a definition is given in the article. Rwflammang (talk) 20:16, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that. The definitions in the article and in the link you provided do point to a "separate area of study/domain of teaching" view of the word. It would be helpful if the article didn't assume that everyone reading it understood Latin, and simply pointed out that one is the plural of the other. Still, my original point stands, I believe. There are many scientists who believe you cannot be religious and truly scientific, and there are many religious people who will turn to their religious authorities (living or written) far ahead of any announced scientific theory or finding--just witness the anti-vax craze. I still think a religion, be it LDS or any other, that attempts to bridge that gap officially and theologically should be investigated and reported on in an article such as this. I admit finding a place in the current make-up of the article would be difficult. Playerpage (talk) 23:16, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
What does the anti-vax craze have to do with religion? It is based on bad science which was looking for a scapegoat for autism. I suspect that most religious people turned to scientific authorities for scientific opinions and religious authorities for religious opinions. And I suspect that "many scientists", at least irreligious ones, are bothered by that last part.
If you don't think the anti-vax craze has anything to do with religion you really haven't been paying attention. Playerpage (talk) 22:28, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
If you don't think the craze has anything to do with bad science, you really haven't been paying attention. Rwflammang (talk) 22:09, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Dawkins quote[edit]

The quote by Professor Dawkins recently added to the article seems to bear only on God's existence, and does not contain any direct criticisms of NOMA. As such it appears off topic and would best be deleted. Rwflammang (talk) 03:44, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

God of the gaps[edit]

I've added God of the gaps as a see-also for this article, as NOMA is frequently cited as a counter-argument to this. -- The Anome (talk) 09:36, 11 April 2016 (UTC)