Sunday, April 20, 2008

[LIF] Full Moon

Wow it has been an interesting day. I was supposed to be studying, after all I have two exams tomorrow! But a dear friend called and needed me, so off I went. There is always something awkward but precious about being there for someone. So dinner rolls around and it turns out Elyssa is sick, poor girl. So her mom took care of her while I took our friend home. When we got the kids settled another friend called, this time needing my excellent wife's ear. Sharon comes down after a tiring day and says, "full moon." If only it were that easy.

Despite this I do feel ready for tomorrow. I'd like to have prepared a bit more for the study group in the afternoon, but I did a fair bit last night. I actually got quite a surprising amount of work done and still make it to my friend Poulsen's going away party. You will be missed my friend. For those who don't know, Poulsen has a pro-hockey playing brother (CHL I think, I am not a sports person) and told us to youtube his brother's name. Chris Poulsen is way cooler than that!

I begin the morning with my von Balthasar exam. At the party I was chatting with a friend who is swaying from Moltmann to Balthasar? I don't get that switch. There are things about Balthasar I like, but I don't find him near as challenging as Moltmann. I think it is because he doesn't hit me where I live ecclesially. I'm not Barth and apparently if I was that'd make a big difference!

I get a break, probably a nap, and then meet up with my director for her exam. My topic is why theology needs evolution. That is sweet because I actually think that it does. Last time I brought the subject up Kenny threw out Gould's NOMA (non-overlapping magesterial authority), which is a notion that science and religion/theology are two completely seperate spheres of knowledge/inquiry. My big issue with NOMA is that if we are dealing with the same reality, that is reality as it presents itself to us, then this sort of division is false. Various disciplines definitely ask different questions, but they cannot ignore one another. Evolution has serious implications on theology. To ignore it is to not allow science to have a fair voice in the conversation, the same thing we complain science does to religion. It doesn't wash for me.

After that I have a study group for my last exam. I am hoping it is mostly in English because it is the French that was tripping me up. My next project is to take a two week immersion programme!


Thom said...

Frank, you are getting too smart for me to even understand your posts: you don't find Balthasar as challenging as Moltmann! The problem there is relevance, perhaps--as I can never get through Balthasar's incessant Aristotelian metaphysics of substance and accidence. The Herrlichkeit jumps right into it, and I can't stop myself screaming, "Hello, this way of thinking no longer applies." At any rate, I agree with you that Gould's NOUMA is unhelpful. Nevertheless, there is definitely a yawning void in, at the very least vocabulary, when it comes to knowing how to apply theology to science and science to theology. As you say, "they cannot ignore one another", but what sort of framework exists for their awareness?

One of Freedom said...

I think I find Moltmann more practical, so it challenges me in that way. Balthasar is sort of like poetry or music, it doesn't always make me feel like I can get to the application or that he even offers a unique contribution in the area of applied theology. I do find him amusing when he gets on something he dislikes - like liberal theology.

That's a great question about frameworks. I think there are several workable frameworks (Ian Barbour is the name that jumps to mind) but they require a bit of cross-talk. I had to deal with that (implications) in my exam today. What I think would be helpful is that we consider the scientifically inclined in our midst as bridges to that world. Similar to how thoelogians function in the church, mediating theology and traditions to the local context and the local context (incipient theology) into the academy. At least that is one function that theologians should/could serve. The scientists should likewise be invited as full participants in the conversation.

I know scientists in congregations who are instead forced to make faith claims that are quite contradictory to their life in science. So they build two worlds. It is quite odd to see. This is really what I think needs to stop.

I'll have to look up NOUMA, I don't remember the U. :-)

kns said...

"My big issue with NOMA is that if we are dealing with the same reality, that is reality as it presents itself to us, then this sort of division is false."

So if I describe the growth of a flower as a poet and then as a scientist, I'm wrong because I'm using two kinds of discourse to describe things? And what would you say is the point of talking about a unified reality anyway? Is it going to provide some kind of objective standard or?

One of Freedom said...

There is a world of difference between a theologian and a poet. The problem is that NOMA reinforces a false dichotomy. There is one reality and while there are different ways of describing this reality, it is unhelpful when we say that the discourse of science is completely dissimilar to the discourse of theology or any other discipline.

kns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kns said...

Obviously at issue, though, is the relationship between reality and the languages and paradigms used to describe it. Wouldn't some argue that all we have are paradigms, there's no "reality" behind it? And it seems to me there are plenty of theologians engaging with science and vice versa, no? (John Polkinghorne, for example.)