Magisteria

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The current issue of "The Progressive Christian" features a friendly dialogue between Del Brown and Jim Adams, in which they discuss their respective visions of what Progressive Christianity means to them (and no, their visions are not identical.)

Here is a quote from Jim Adams that I like:

Unless Christians make a major change in the way they present their story, except for small cult-like groups, I am afraid that the church will be dead by the end of the century. My hope is that Christians can adopt the point of view proposed by the late Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote about "non-overlapping magisteria." Science and religion each has a magisterium, a particular area of concern.

Although "magisterium" seems a bit pretentious, the proposal is that science deals primarily with verifiable facts and functions and employs the language of data, description, and mathematics. Religion deals primarily with matters of contemporary morality and ultimate meaning, and its language is myth and metaphor, poetry and song. Although both science and religion may have an interest in the well-being of the earth in general and human beings in particular, they should not be in conflict with one another. My hope is that by being science-friendly, the church will attract sufficient numbers of thinking people to make sure that the resources of the Christian tradition will be available for generations to come.
This absolutely jibes with my own understanding of the proper relationship between science and religion. I am not sure what to make of the fact that Del Brown responded by saying he was not "content" with Stephen Jay Gould's doctrine of "two magisteria", without elaborating further.

2 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Del Brown was one of my theology professors when I was in seminary in Denver. He's got a lot on the ball, so I hope you get some answers to your questions.

Mystical Seeker said...

Ms. Kitty,

That's interesting that you have a connection with Jim Adams. I haven't really found out any further explanation to his point of view on this subject, so I guess for now it will remain a mystery.