As we approach the inevitable end of the ill-conceived BioLogos organization (I predict that the money will dry up when its Templeton funding expires in February), it behooves us to review how it has morphed into an organization that has become more and more accepting of the nonsense claims of evangelical Christianity. (Recall that its mission was to convince evangelical Christians that their fairy stories were wrong and that science was right.)
A few tidbits:
- The Atlantic has published a profile of BioLogos president Darrel Falk, “Man of science, man of faith.” It’s pretty even-handed, including a quote by Kathryn Applegate, BioLogos program director:
We have to take away the plain reading. The idea of God literally creating is told in a way to be relevant, like a myth or legend. And if you look at it that way, you’re on a slippery slope,” Falk adds. “All it takes is being able to recognize the genre of the Scripture. The Old Testament is purely poetic: The stories are beautiful, and there’s a very specific message — Adam and Eve were alienated from God, from being naked and unashamed — but they’re still just beautiful stories.”
but also some criticism that shows why this strategy isn’t working:
BioLogos has drawn criticism from secular and religious organizations, from creationists and atheists alike. Ken Ham, a young-Earth creationist and advocate for the literal interpretation of Genesis, declared that “it is compromisers like [Francis] Collins who cause people to doubt and disbelieve the Bible — causing them to walk away from the church.” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, says that BioLogos “wants to discredit evangelical objections to evolution and to convince the evangelical public that an acceptance of evolution is a means of furthering the gospel.” University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne called the endeavor ”the latest forcible endeavor to marry science and faith.”
- For further evidence that BioLogos will fail to convert evangelical Christians to evolution, see the piece at Creation Ministries International, ”The non-mythical Adam and Eve! Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos.” This piece purports to use science to support the idea that Adam and Eve were real people. It all looks very impressive, but to get the presently observed distribution of genetic variation it has to assume not only Noah’s Flood, reducing the human population size to eight, but multiple Flood-like events, about which the Bible says nothing. (They’re making stuff up again!) It also ignores the coalescent approach used in the recent paper by Li and Durban showing that our lineage could never been smaller than about 1200 people. The point is that when fundamentalists start supporting the Bible stories using psedudoscience—a technique that will sound convincing to Christians who aren’t trained as population geneticists—then BioLogos has no hope.
- BioLogos has posted <a href=”http://biologos.org/blog/where-we-come-from-and-who-we-are”>a new video featuring Ard Louis, a young physicist, who pushes the idea of God-directed evolution—or at least decries the idea of purposeless evolution, which is of course the view of evolution that scientists have. Here’s a transcript of part of the video, kindly provided by alert reader Sigmund:
“I think that what’s really happening is that Christians are hearing what non-Christians are telling them about what evolution means and they are believing it.
I think that a lot of the ‘Young-Earth’ arguments are hugely beneficial to Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists because it’s exactly what they’ve been saying all along. They say: “See, evolution tells you that you are X,Y,Z. Evolution tells you that you don’t have any deep purpose.”
Evolution tells you that there are no Gods, and the young earth creationists agree. They say: “yes, evolution does tell you that. But evolution is wrong.”
And I think the problem with both of those viewpoints is that they basically look at something in nature and try to extract theology from it.
And both of them are doing it in a very, very poor way.
Both of them are agreeing on the fundamental premise that where we come from determines who we are.
We think that where we come from determines who we are and how we should live.
But that’s not what the Bible says: the Bible tells us that our value comes from what God thinks about us.
God determines how we should live.
God determines who we are, not by the details of how we are made.
This has a very different impact in how you understand evolution because the way it’s often taught in schools, underlying it are, are in fact, a world view or philosophical assumption that say “oh, it’s all purposeless”. And instead of believing it they should say “No, stop!”
Well, I teach evolution in college, and though I don’t recall saying it’s “purposeless,” I do say that it’s completely caused by the disposition of randomly created genetic variation by either a deterministic process (natural selection) or a random process (genetic drift). And I may have said that evolution is unguided, though I don’t recall. But I wouldn’t have any problem saying that, because evolution is unguided as far as we can see. That’s the whole beauty if it: the appearance of purpose and design is produced without any external purpose and design.
- Also at BioLogos, Pastor David Swaim has published a two-part sermon, “Maker of Heaven and Earth” (part 2 here) urging reconciliation of science and faith. But to do so, he has to say nice things about young-earth creationism:
“Science has been right about so many things, so some Christians have embraced evolution and felt forced to abandon their trust, not only in the truth of Scripture, but also in the God it describes. Other Christians, including many renowned scientists, have fought back by pointing out the many flaws in evolutionary theory and proposing alternative theories of their own. These include Young Earth Creation, which asserts that the earth was created in six days six thousand years ago, and offers thoughtful explanations to reconcile the findings of science with the words of Genesis 1.
- In part two of Swaim’s sermon, he continues his laudable assertion that Genesis isn’t a book of science (although the New Testament might be!), but what’s interesting here is a comment added by BioLogos president Darrel Falk himself. After one commenter suggested that people should treat the Adam and Eve story as symbolic rather than literal, Falk added:
“It is important to point out that nothing that has been said (either here in this sermon, nor by being attentive to that which emerges from the scientific data) necessitates “making Adam and Eve symbolic.”
Nothing that has emerged from the scientific data necessitates making Adam and Eve symbolic? Here we see the real problem of BioLogos and why its stated mission is doomed. The scientific data absolutely mandates that Adam and Eve did not exist as the sole ancestors of all humanity. Yet when push comes to shove, Falk simply can’t bring himself to admit that all the data refuting the Adam and Eve myth—the data from archaeology, anthropology and, most important, population genetics—show that Adam and Eve did not exist. If they are to have any meaning at all, then they must either be pure fiction, to be dismissed as a fairy tale, or transformed into a metaphor, i.e., become “symbolic”.
Recall as well that the two biggest proponents of the Adam-and-Eve-is-fiction stand, Uncle Karl Giberson and Pete Enns, have now left BioLogos.
Having failed to convert evangelicals to evolution, BioLogos must now move toward the evangelical philosophy, praising their silly Biblical myths, patting young-earth creationists on the back, and arguing that perhaps the fictions of the Bible may have some basis in fact. In other words, to get evangelicals to embrace science, BioLogos is starting, tentatively and quietly, to embrace pseudoscience.
Dear Dr. Falk,
Could you just give up the Adam and Eve story as fiction. Please? And while you’re at it, would it be possible to refrain from insisting that God is guiding the evolutionary process? That’s not the way we teach evolution.
The community of scientists
h/t: Steven, whirladervish, Sigmund