Conflating Magisteria

Religionists are upset about the upcoming release of The Golden Compass, which should be recommendation enough.

The movie is based on the His Dark Materials trilogy by British author Philip Pullman. The series revolves around preteen orphan, Lyra Belacqua, who’s pursued by a murderous institution known as “the Magisterium.”

The term Magisterium (Latin, teacher) has clearly been borrowed from a technical ecclesiastical term of the Roman Catholic Church that refers to the teaching authority of the church. RC Magisterium is taken to be embodied in the episcopacy (bishops), and is led by the the Pope.

Stephen Jay Gould used the term nonoverlapping magisteria, or NOMA to separate religious 'understanding' from scientific understanding. According to Gould each "magisterium describes a domain of understanding in which only one form of investigation or teaching possesses the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution.

The notion of NOMA protects religion from scientific scrutiny even though 'scientific' claims including genesis, floods, and miracles are described in the Bible. Gould's suggestion has been criticized by evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and by philosopher of science as applied to evolutionary biology, Michael Ruse."

In The Golden Compass, "Magisterium" refers to “the Holy Church.”
"In its quest to eradicate sin, the Church sanctions experiments involving the kidnap and torture of hundreds of children—experiments that separate body from soul and leave the children to stumble around zombie-like, and then die." from

Christians are whining about the pro-atheist aspects of books and movie, though some Christians have managed to mine the works for "inspiring Christian theology".

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