Some time ago I predicted that the Templeton Foundation wouldn’t renew the big grant it gave to BioLogos, an organization founded to move evangelical Christians toward accepting evolution. I didn’t see that BioLogos was having much success with this endeavor, and they kicked out two of their more science-friendly bigwigs, apparently because their hard line against Adam and Eve (and other religious fables) was too much for the fundamentalists whom the organization wished to convert. I predicted that the Adam and Eve controversy—for BioLogos takes no official position on their historical reality—would be its death vis-a-vis Templeton, which, after all, claims to support pure science.
I was wrong. As reader Sigmund notes in the guest essay below, Templeton not only renewed BioLogos‘s grant, but BioLogos admits that it has changed its mission.
It looks like BioLogos is here to stay
What happens when you completely fail in your initial aims, lose your best team members and finally abruptly change strategy? Well, if your organization is BioLogos and your funder is the Templeton Foundation, the answer is – you still get your grant renewed!
The Templeton Foundation has been financially propping up BioLogos to the tune of $2 million since the inception of the Francis Collins’ founded organization. The initial supporting grants were, however, due to end in February 2008, and it was unclear whether the Templeton Foundation would judge they had gotten their money’s worth. BioLogos, having lost two of their best known founding members, Collins and Karl Giberson, are not a happy ship.
The initial aim of BioLogos, that of promoting the acceptance of the scientific consensus on evolution amongst the Christian evangelical community, or, as they put it themselves: “to seek a theology more accepting of science, specifically evolutionary biology”, has met with fierce resistance amongst the leadership of mainstream evangelicism. In particular, the question of how to integrate the clear implications of modern population genetics with the biblical account of Adam and Eve has brought matters to a head. With the evangelical leadership refusing to budge on whether Adam and Eve existed as the first historical human couple, it was BioLogos that was the first to blink. Echoing the Discovery Institute’s refusal to take a stand on the age of the Earth, BioLogos likewise refused to take an official position that endorsed the scientific consensus on the genetic ancestry of humanity.
This refusal to stand up for good science is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident. A gradual shift from promotion of evolution towards more ‘worship’ based writings has characterized the output of BioLogos over the past year, a rightward shift that has coincided with the loss of Giberson and the decision by BioLogos not to renew the contract of biblical scholar Peter Enns, who had argued against the conservative literalist position.
In a new post, entitled BioLoguration II, Darrel Falk, the current head of BioLogos announced that they are “blessed to receive a renewal of our Templeton funds” - although perhaps at a lower level than previously as he spends most of the post pleading for additional cash donations from BioLogos supporters.
More interesting is the explicit acknowledgement by Falk that they have abandoned their original objective. Instead of persuading evangelicals as a whole to accept science, Falk admits the much less ambitious aim of promoting toleration of the minority of evangelicals that do accept evolution.
We believe, with near certainty, that God created through the evolutionary process, but our task is not to get everyone to see it our way. Our task is, however, to help everyone embrace the many Christians who already do think this way.
So, as we suggested previously, the objective is no longer to change the evangelical scientific environment, it is now merely to set up a theological nature reserve, with their fellow evangelical evolutionists playing the role of the pandas.