Stephen Jay Gould gave as the first commandment of NOMA “Thou shalt not mix magisteria by claiming that God directly ordains important events in the history of nature by special interference knowable only through revelation and not accessible to science.” Michael Ruse allows that scientists can be Christian as long as Christianity can be made compatible with unbreakable natural law. “Even the supreme miracle of the resurrection requires no law-breaking return from the dead. One can think of Jesus in a trance, or more likely that he really was physically dead but that on the third day a group of people, hitherto downcast, were filled with great joy and hope.” Alan Lightman refers to this overarching naturalism as the Central Doctrine of Science. “All properties and events in the physical universe are governed by laws, and those laws are true at every time and place in the universe.”
A simple deism, with God well contained, can possibly be compatible with science … or more accurately with natural materialism as a worldview.
This won’t do, of course. Christianity is a religion which – if true – cannot be contained. The supreme miracle of the resurrection requires law-breaking. But the biggest miracle is not resurrection but incarnation. There is a God and he is intimately involved in his creation in relationship with his creatures.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
This is not natural and cannot be made to conform to a natural materialism. Without this Christianity isn’t worth defending, just one of a myriad of effective philosophies of life, morality, and society.
It is fitting that we celebrate this every year.
If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.