Why BioLogos—and accommodationism—can’t win

The main mission of BioLogos is to convert evangelical Christians from evolution-deniers to evolution-accepters.  That’s also the goal of many accommodationists, though the smarter ones, recognizing the futility of confronting Biblical literalists, concentrate on more liberal Christians.

And the primary tactic in this mission is to convince evangelicals that their theology is simply wrong: “proper Christianity,” so the argument goes, doesn’t really depend on a literal reading of the Bible.  Adam and Eve, Noah, and much of the rest (but not Jesus and his miracles!) were simply metaphors, fictional characters always intended to represent spiritual rather than material truths. Genesis, too, is just a metaphor, so Darwin was right after all.  This is how BioLogos, the National Center for Science Education, the National Academy of Sciences, and other accommodationist organizations operate.  And that’s why, over the past few months, BioLogos has spent so much time in a ludicrous discussion of Adam and Eve.  They’re trying to convince literalists that although science tells us a pair of Ur-humans didn’t really exist, they could still stand for something.

But anybody who knows evangelical Christians—and BioLogos certainly should—must see that this is hogwash. These efforts are doomed because the faith of most of those Christians absolutely depends on Biblical literalism.  (Granted, even literalists, when pressed, engage in a bit of “interpretation”.)  And if you see Adam and Eve as fictional, well, then other stuff could be fictional too—and where would it all end? The Rock of Ages starts to look like an ice cube.  To keep their faith, evangelicals must defend the redoubt of literalism.

This is absolutely clear from the piece that Baptist bigwig Albert Mohler published last week in The Christian Post:Why the creation-evolution debate is so important.”  Mohler was responding to a manifesto written by BioLogos president Darrel Falk, in which, weirdly enough, Falk claims that God himself is helping BioLogos vanquish those pesky evolution-deniers.  I can barely bring myself to re-post Falks’s final paragraph:

I am convinced, however, that God was at work in our midst in the year of our Lord, 2010. I sensed God’s Spirit all the time, and I’ll bet members of the other groups did too—even those who, so far as I see it, clearly have it wrong. It is true there are enormous challenges, but perhaps they seem greater than they really are. Perhaps, they almost seem overwhelming at times because we tend to look into the future through our own all-too-human lenses. If God really has created through an evolutionary mechanism and if God chooses to use BioLogos and other groups to help the Church come to grips with this issue, then these three huge challenges will begin to melt away as God’s Spirit enables us to look to him and not to ourselves. To the extent that we can do that, and to the extent that we can really forgive each other for our trespasses, then truly the Kingdom will be his Kingdom and not ours. With that our kingdoms will begin to melt away in the very face of the glory of God. May that be so, and may the year, 2011, truly be the year of our Lord.

What a statement from an organization of scientists!  But Mohler will have none of it.  First of all, he rejects BioLogos‘s respect for scientific truth as simple scientism!  LOL! BioLogos is hoist with its own petard!:

[Falk’s words]: Scientific knowledge is not deeply flawed and we cannot allow ourselves to be led down this pathway any longer.

[Mohler]:  That is nothing less than a manifesto for scientism. Science, as a form of knowledge, is here granted a status that can only be described as infallible. The dangers of this proposal are only intensified when we recognize that “scientific knowledge” is not even a stable intellectual construct. Nevertheless, these words do reveal why BioLogos pushes its agenda with such intensity.

And Mohler, pwning Falk completely, asserts that fundamentalists simply aren’t going to swallow a metaphorical approach to scripture:

So, Dr. Falk sees the task as that of convincing us that evangelical theology “doesn’t depend” upon affirmations about the age of the earth or the historicity of Adam as “made directly from dust”—but Falk envisions this task as lasting decades “before it will be convincing to all.” With all due respect, I think he will need a longer calendar. Most frustratingly, Dr. Falk’s statement does not acknowledge the fact that the arguments published by BioLogos go far beyond even these important concerns. Articles at BioLogos go so far as to suggest that the Apostle Paul was simply wrong to believe that Adam was an historical person. A recent BioLogos essay argues that Adam and Eve were likely “a couple of Neolithic farmers in the Near East” to whom God revealed himself “in a special way.” There is a consistent denial of any possibility that Adam and Eve are the genetic parents of the entire human race. The BioLogos approach also denies the historical nature of the Fall, with all of its cosmic consequences. BioLogos has published explicit calls to deny the inerrancy of the Bible. The concerns do not stop here.

The Bible reveals Adam to be an historical human being, the first human being, and the father of all humanity. Adam is included in biblical genealogies, including the genealogy of Jesus Christ. If the arguments offered thus far by BioLogos for resolving the “theological challenges” associated with “evolutionary creation” are any indication of what is likely to come in the future, Dr. Falk and his colleagues will wait a very long time indeed for evangelicals to join their club.

LOL again!  Do you have to be an Einstein to see the problem?

Finally, Mohler states flatly:

I am willing to accept the authority of science on any number of issues. I am fundamentally agnostic about a host of other scientific concerns—but not where the fundamental truth of the Gospel and the clear teachings of the Bible are at stake.

And that sentence, dear readers, explains why the BioLogos mission is doomed.  I predict BioLogos‘s downfall—or at least a considerable downsizing—in the next year or two.  They can chug along with their Adam-and-Eveing, perhaps helped by the big name of ex-president Francis Collins, but there will come a time when they see that it’s all futile.

Before you can get rid of creationism, you have to get rid of religion—or at least that huge swath of religion that sees scripture as the literal word of God.  And you can’t solve the problem by telling the faithful that their theology simply needs some tweaking.

h/t:  Scott

76 Comments

  1. Sigmund
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Jerry said:
    “I predict BioLogos‘s downfall—or at least a considerable downsizing—in the next year or two.”
    Why? Are the Templetons going to disown them? You seem to be taking Biologos at face value as an organization dedicated to swaying evangelical Christians towards accepting evolution. I think that Biologos is much more of a standard Templeton shopfront, placed there as a way of publicly offering a face of evangelical Christianity that isn’t downright hostile to science. They don’t have to convince a single evangelical to give up literalism to be doing the job Templeton requires of them (“see – even evangelical Christianity is compatible with science!”).
    That said if Templeton DID withdraw funding they would collapse in an instant.

    • Posted January 17, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Additionally, just like any other kind of theology, BioLogos’ theology is well-armed against any outside criticism. It possesses plenty of rationalizations, movable goalposts and obfuscation to reduce cognitive dissonance and keep wishful thinking alive.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Very true, for its vast audience of 15 people. 🙂

    • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Methinks Dr. JC hath prescience.

    • qbsmd
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I’ve never been convinced that “The main mission of BioLogos is to convert evangelical Christians from evolution-deniers to evolution-accepters”. Interestingly, Mohler seems to notice the same thing; he describes the motivation of Biologos:

      “Dr. Falk and his colleagues at BioLogos believe… that those of us who oppose evolutionary science are doing the church a great disservice, leading the church into an intellectual disaster, and robbing Christianity of intellectual credibility among scientists.”

      The Biologos people are more of a mirror image of accomodationists, trying to get Mohler to shut up so they can convert scientists.

  2. Dominic
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    “The dangers of this proposal are only intensified when we recognize that “scientific knowledge” is not even a stable intellectual construct.”
    Post-modernist bullshit alert!

    This guy Mohler really is an idiot. Just because one bit of science is ‘wrong’ it does not make it all wrong as science is not based on faith & ‘feelings’. Oooh! I feel all spiritual! God’s ‘spirit’ must be with me as I spout religious guff!

    Oh then we are told –
    “The Bible reveals Adam to be an historical human being, the first human being, and the father of all humanity. Adam is included in biblical genealogies, including the genealogy of Jesus Christ.”

    Which genealogy are we supposed to follow?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogy_of_Jesus

    Grrrrr….

    • Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      I’ve always thought that both genealogies of the Jesus character should be treated as canonical. You see, we’re always being told how Jesus was this radical love god. Well, those two genealogies, put together, demonstrate just how radical a love god Jesus was.

      Either Joseph had two daddies, Heli and Jacob, or Jesus himself had three daddies: Joseph ben Heli, Joseph ben Jacob, and himself.

      And Fred Phelps’s line about “GOD HATES FAGS”? It fits right in with what Jesus himself said about how the only way to love him (and thus earn the right to kiss his ass for eternity) is by hating your own family. And, since either his fathers were gay or his paternal grandfathers were gay, well, that just demonstrates Jesus’s true love for himself.

      It’s just your garden variety daytime TV with zombies when it comes right down to it. Very Freudian.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Sajanas
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        What’s really funny is they put those genealogies in for Joesph even though he is not Jesus’s real father. What does his paternal decent matter when his father is God?
        And he’s still a bastard, cause I didn’t see God putting a ring on any finger.

        • Smith Powell
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          I love the story about God exhibiting fatigue on the throne one day. Archangel Michael suggested that he need a vacation. God agreed byt demurred at Michael’s suggestion that he visit the Orion group as it was too hot there. He also nixed the suggestion that he visit the Canis Major group as he found it boring. Michael brightened and suggest that he return to Earth as he always enjoyed his stay there. God reacted with horror. Oh, no, I can’t visit there. When I visited there two millenia ago, I knocked up a Jewish girl and they haven’t stopped talking about it yet!”

        • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

          “…I didn’t see God putting a ring on any finger.”

          Didn’t Beyonce sing a song about that? (If ya like it, then ya betta put a ring on it-whoa oh oh…)

      • pilot22a
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        This must have happened lots in the past, before DNA forensics was around and available, when a woman came up pregnant and had to make some explanation to her husband, who knew why a female became pregnant and the guy knew it wasn’t his. In the case of Joseph and Mary, (if they really existed,) Mary was lots smarter than Joseph, or Joseph was really really gullible.

        • Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          People have known since very ancient times that women don’t get pregnant without men, end of story. As in, they probably had that figured out before they figured out how to brew beer. And people no more would have fallen for the “it was a god” story coming from a living teenager then than today.

          In the Classical era when the Jesus myth was crafted, a mortal woman, often virginal, giving birth to the child of a god was one of the calling cards, if you will, of a demigod. The woman was often betrothed, married, or otherwise the property of somebody, and that man always gets some attention in the story. Jesus couldn’t have been the demigod that he was unless his birth story was what it was, any more than Hercules or Perseus or the rest of them could have been demigods without their own genealogies.

          The fact that Jesus was born of a virgin isn’t evidence that Mary got knocked up by a centurion, it’s as close to proof as one gets in history that the people who wrote the Gospels believed he was a demigod. And people in those days didn’t make mortals into demigods — at least, there’s no evidence to support such a claim and mounds of evidence to counter it.

          There’re other common calling cards of demigods, especially ones cast in the mold of Osiris / Dionysus. The gods turn water into wine, they’re brutally killed yet conquer death, they walk on water, they heal the sick, they offer salvation and / or judgement, and so on. For an extended list of specific examples, read what Justin Martyr wrote about the various “sons of Jupiter,” as he described them, and how and why Jesus is indistinguishable from them.

          It’s like vampires with fangs. You can’t be a vampire unless you’ve got fangs, so every vampire has fangs. It’s how you know that this particular evil dude is a vampire. Vampires get fangs, werewolves get lots of body hair, mummies get wrapped in toilet paper, zombies get gaping chest wounds, and demigods had their fathers cuckolded by invisible skymen.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Sajanas
            Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            Your examples are especially pertinent when you consider that the Gospels were written by people literate in Greek, and likely former Greek pagans themselves.

            The oldest Gospel, Mark, mentions absolutely nothing about Jesus’s birth. Matthew and Luke had very different birth stories, both of which sought to attach Jesus to the myths of David, and to give his ancestry that added boost. I do like that you suggest it wasn’t an intentional counter to some sort of rumor of infidelity, but rather a connection to Classical hero myths. Even Alexander the Great had such things rumored about him.

            • Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

              [T]he Gospels were written by people literate in Greek, and likely former Greek pagans themselves.

              As I like to observe, the Gospels are warmed-over retellings of ancient and favorite Greek stories about Greek heroes that Greek parents had been telling to their Greek children in their Greek cradles for centuries. They’re steeped in Greek philosophy, Greek spirituality, and Greek numerology. They were written in literary Greek by educated Greeks who attended Greek schools, and at least one of them was addressed to a Greek man with a Greek name.

              To claim that Jesus was Jewish, not Greek, makes as much sense as to claim that Orpheus was Thracian, not Greek.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Sajanas
                Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

                It really makes you wonder just how it was that Jesus got so entrenched in Greece so soon after Jesus’s death, rather than say, Egypt or Rome. The Greeks had a huge hand in shaping Christianity’s base, but they don’t really get any credit for it now.
                It must have been a fascinating history… its a shame its all mostly lost now.

              • Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                Well, Christianity is entirely the invention of Greeks and Hellenized Jews, so it’s hardly surprising that that’s where all the action was.

                But the Egyptians and Romans got in on the action, too. The Ophites, for example, were an Egyptian cult that worshipped Jesus as some kind of a snake god. And a couple centuries later the Romans adopted Christianity as their official religion and along the way incorporated their own stuff like Saturnalia.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • truthspeaker
                Posted January 18, 2011 at 5:40 am | Permalink

                Sajanas, at the time, Greek culture was found in a much larger area than the country we now call Greece. Jesus lived in a client state of the part of the Roman empire that was Greek-speaking and steeped in Greek culture.

            • r
              Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

              the virgin thing came into the jesus story because the greek version of isaiah mistranslated the word for “young woman” as “virgin.” so it was prophesied the messiah would be born of a “virgin” so they wrote the story to fulfill the prophecy.

              • Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

                Erm…you’ve got that backwards.

                Jesus had to be born of a virgin, so the author went looking for back material. He found the mistranslation and ran with it.

                Even if Isaiah had been translated properly, Jesus still would have been born of a virgin. That there was a “prophecy” was just icing on the cake, but the virginal birth definitely came first.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

                I asked an OT scholar about this “mistranslation” and his take was that it really does not qualify as such because a young woman would be synonymous with virgin. However, either way, Ben’s analysis still holds up – gods generally can’t be born of two humans.

              • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

                “…gistory”

                for cryin’ out loud.

                *history*

            • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

              Sanjas– go pick up Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God. I’d recommend reading all four volumes, but if time is an issue, get Vol. 3–Occidental Mythology.

              However, in contrast to all other myths of this order, the hero here is not an individual–not even Moses–but the Jewish folk. It is highly significant that the later festival of the Passover which, as we have seen, was first celebrated 621B.C. in commemoration of the Exodus, occurs on the date of the annual resurrection of Adonis, which in the Christian cult (!)became Easter. In both the pagan cult and the Christian, the resurrection is of a god, whereas in the Jewish it is of the Chosen People–who received the knowledge and support of their God while in the torment of the underworld of the King of Death. Thus a fundamental distinction emerges, which throughout the gistory of Judaism has remained its second point of high distinction among the religions of the world: namely, that whereas elsewhere the principle of divine life is symbolized as a divine individual (Dumuzi-Adonis-Attis-Dionysos-Christ), in Judaism it is the People of Israel whose mythic history thus serves the function that in other cults belongs to an incarnation or manifestation of God.

              I love how “christ” is just casually appended at the end of a long list of *other* gods-born-of-a-virgin…
              Joseph Campbell rocks–The Masks of God is what knocked the house of cards down for me…;-))

              Yoroshiku!

    • gillt
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Notice how Mohler is a postmodernist when it suits his needs and a biblical literalist when it suits his needs.

    • Reverend Lawrence
      Posted April 19, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Come on! The ealiest known record is the so-called Moses, who wrote Genesis in approximately 1500bce. This means he covered 2,500 years of history, according to the chronology of the bible. Obviously, he made it all up as he wrote, including the mythology of the Adam and Eve tale.

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of the Firesign Theater album title: “How can you be two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?”

    (which you can listen to here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UCQShAm5vo)

  4. Posted January 17, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    This is also why the accommodationists accusation that atheists don’t properly respect the beliefs of the religious fails: when it comes down to it, the religious don’t respect the beliefs of other types of religion either. BioLogos doesn’t respect the beliefs of biblical literalists, and Mohler doesn’t respect the beliefs of BioLogos either.

    Yet we never see articles written by accommodationists attacking BioLogos or biblical literalists for being disrespectful of people’s beliefs, while articles about atheists being disrespectful appear as if they’re rolling off a production line. Weird that.

    • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Yet we never see articles written by accommodationists attacking BioLogos or biblical literalists for being disrespectful of people’s beliefs, while articles about atheists being disrespectful appear as if they’re rolling off a production line. Weird that.

      No, not really.

      The accommodationists are interested in getting people to sign up to their “team,” and team membership to them is defined as acknowledging the fact (not theory) of evolution.

      The Gnus couldn’t give a flying fuck about this level of petty politics, and just care about observations and conclusions that can rationally be made based on those observations.

      To an accommodationist, what matters most is numbers rallying around a banner. Their tactics reflect that, and are actually pretty well suited to it. They’re not well suited to helping people reach their own rational, evidence-based conclusions, but that’s not what they’re trying to do.

      You see, as far as the accommodationists are concerned, the little people can’t be trusted to think for themselves, so they have to be told what to think by whatever means are most effective at getting them to spout the party line. It’s actually a very Christian approach, one that Eusebius shamelessly stole from Plato.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • truthspeaker
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        “You see, as far as the accommodationists are concerned, the little people can’t be trusted to think for themselves, so they have to be told what to think by whatever means are most effective at getting them to spout the party line. It’s actually a very Christian approach, one that Eusebius shamelessly stole from Plato.”

        Well said, Ben.

  5. Luke
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “There is a consistent denial of any possibility that Adam and Eve are the genetic parents of the entire human race.”

    Yes, of course. Because to entertain that notion in public would be to completely defeat the purpose of BioLogos as an organization seeking to *reconcile* Christianity and science. If you respect scientific reason and evidence, a single isolated couple as our great, great, great … grandparents is completely falsified – to say nothing of the incredible (and invisible) genetic bottleneck that was Noah’s Flood.

  6. Insightful Ape
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I have to say the accomodationist approach is extremely condescending. To the point that they remind me of the taleban.
    By what right are the biologos people telling Mohler how to practice his faith? Are they privy to some 21st century revelations no one knows about? They are in essence claiming their theology is superior to Mohler’s.
    They deserve all the ridicule in the world.

    • Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      They are in essence claiming their theology is superior to Mohler’s.

      Of course, Mohler is claiming the same about BioLogos. And, as is usual in theological disputes, neither has any idea on how to resolve it.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        And neither side has an objective standard by which you can evaluate the correctness of a particular theology.

        • Wowbagger
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          And neither side has an objective standard by which you can evaluate the correctness of a particular theology.

          Exactly. This has to be pointed out over and over and over again whenever the ‘No True Scotsman’ defence is used Christians to try and distance themselves from other Christians.

        • qbsmd
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          I wonder if someone could set up a debate between Mohler and someone from Biologos. It might be amusing, especially with a skeptic as moderator.

      • Buzz
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        “And, as is usual in theological disputes, neither has any idea on how to resolve it.”

        This immediately reminded me of how John Godfrey Saxe put it:

        So oft in theologic wars,
        The disputants, I ween,
        Rail on in utter ignorance
        Of what each other mean,
        And prate about an Elephant
        Not one of them has seen!

        • Insightful Ape
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          And no one ever will.

        • Buzz
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          And now, I am further reminded that when I first encountered Saxe’s “The Blind Men and the Elephant” in a high school English text, this last stanza (which is the “Moral”) was left out. It just goes to show the ridiculously privileged status of religion in our culture.

  7. Divalent
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I dunno. Seems to me that Mohler is one of the high priests of the literalist segment, and I can’t imagine that Biologos views people like him as their primary target. Rather, I think they are trying to address their arguments to people that have less at stake if the Biologos way of viewing things becomes more prevalent.

    Of the millions of people who consider themselves literalists, I suspect precious few really understand the nature of the conflict, nor understand exactly what they must reject on the science side to remain true to their religious dogma. That Mohler feels the need to attack back suggests Biologos is making them nervous.

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Mohler is an extremely influential character. I don’t think he can be dismissed as unrepresentative.
      Polls have shown that about 40% of the public have a young earth creationists point of view. Is that suddenly going to change just because biologs demands so?

    • Kevin
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Au contraire. Mohler is precisely who the BioIllogical folks want to influence.

      • Microraptor
        Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        While having zero chance of doing so.

  8. Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Gosh, that final paragraph! Biologos may not meet its Waterloo, but surely, no matter how much it keeps repeating itself that science reveals what God is saying as well as the Bible, the Bible is going to win, because people think they can understand the Bible, and most of them know that they can’t understand the science. And they can’t understand the science because the Bible contradicts it, and you can monkey with the words as much as you like, the words, just as they stand, are going to win out against metaphor, because, you know, metaphor is just too unpredictable. You can make the words saying anything, if you’re clever enough. Believers don’t want things that won’t stay put. They demand certainty, and by God, certainty is the only thing they’ll stand for.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Of course, certainty about what god wants is within the current cultural context.

      2000 years ago, you could be stoned to death for adultery, because that’s what god commanded.

      200 years ago, you could own another person, because that’s what god allowed.

      So, it appears that certainty evolves.

  9. Kevin
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Glad to see the debate shifting away from us nasty atheists.

    Pass the popcorn.

    • Wowbagger
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      I like to refer to this kind of thing as a ‘kook fight’. Where’s the beer?

  10. MadScientist
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    So they can have god’s spirit around and still get things wrong? What’s the use of god then?

    That “it’s not meant to be taken literally” shtick is even older than me – and way back then I thought it was a lame kindergarten excuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “not to be taken literally” thing goes back a few centuries. Who knows- maybe it was even around during the Hippo’s era?

  11. Ken Pidcock
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I’d been waiting to hear from Al, and he doesn’t disappoint. But I don’t predict the immanent demise of BioLogos. While Mohler holds considerable stature (by definition as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), he doesn’t dictate to everybody. I imagine there a good number of educated evangelicals concerned about losing the next generation over this nonsense, and BioLogos serves their interest. ‘Course that might be it: I imagine

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      My suspicion is that if they lose memeber it won’t hace much to do with this.
      The secularization trend, related to overall social well being, likely will ultimately come to the US. It is here already to some extent.
      Which is why Templeton is wasting all the money it pours into accomodationism.
      Biologos will not die. But it will become even more irrelevant than it currently is.

  12. Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I’m not so sure that Biologos aims to convert fundies to their way of thinking. I think they see themselves as providing a place for a soft landing, for those who choose to drop out of fundamentalism.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

    • Leigh Jackson
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      And, I believe, perhaps most important of all now, to stop existing theistic evoutionists from dropping out into agnosticism/atheism.

  13. pilot22a
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    It was mind-numbing to read Mohler’s column. It seems that to ever overcome the religionists, atheists must out-breed them, and that won’t happen anytime soon. The other option, and it’s probably anti-humanist, is to refuse to support the religionists offspring and hope that they all die off eventually.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      The third option is to lure their offspring away from the religion of their parents. It happens.

      • Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Not lure; mock.

        Kids think zombies are cool, and they even get a kick out of losing themselves in the fantasy in all sorts of ways. But try to tell them that it’s really real, and they’ll think you’re nuts. Probably a creepy weirdo psycho, to boot.

        The way that Zombie Jesus is taking root in popular culture…well, it’s doing more to de-Christianize the next generation than anything the Four Horsemen could ever do.

        Get people to laugh at the thought of taking religion seriously and religion dies a quick and painless death.

        Fortunately, it’s not all that hard. Just point out that the book opens with a story about a magic garden with talking animals and an angry giant. It features a talking plant (on fire, no less!) that gives magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero. And it ends with a bizarre zombie snuff porn fantasy with a guy who reanimates putrid corpses, whose death inspires a zombie invasion, and who later commands his thralls to fondle his intestines through his gaping chest wound. And a modern shaman can intone a magic spell over stale bread and cheap wine, thereby turning it into the reanimated flesh and blood of the ancient zombie, and anybody who cannibalizes him will also become an undead zombie vampire. And that’s somehow supposed to be a good thing. Oh — and don’t forget the immanent zombie apocalypse, too! Can’t have a zombie story without a zombie apocalypse, with graves opening and corpses flying through the air and the living being terrified by the dead and all that jazz.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • truthspeaker
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          But that’s not civil! *clutches pearls*

        • Kevin
          Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Of course, it’s actually WORSE than that…

          Because deeply embedded in the dogma of Christianity is the firm conviction that EVERYONE who believes will be bodily resurrected and then live happily ever after. As a zombie. Apparently, they will feast on the brains of the living…or something…it’s kind of vague on the details.

          If only the writers of the bible had started their story with “Once upon a time” instead of “In the beginning” and ended it with “and they lived happily ever after” rather than “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” a lot of trouble could have been avoided.

          • Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

            Oohhh…

            If only the writers of the bible had started their story with “Once upon a time” instead of “In the beginning” and ended it with “and they lived happily ever after” rather than “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” a lot of trouble could have been avoided.

            Sounds like a good re-write to me. If we could publish bibles that started and ended that way, maybe it will make the whole “It is all a myth” thing stick.

  14. Leigh Jackson
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve attempted, unsuccessfully, to comment at Biologos a couple of times. Once on the Adam and Eve theme and on a recent blog about Polkinghorne on fine tuning.

    Pathetic.

    They removed the following comment:

    The laws of physics concisely describe the properties and relationships of the supposed material correlate of that aspect of human experience termed “the world” – or more generally: “the universe”. To ask “why does the universe have these particular laws?” is to mean “why is the universe the way it is?” In other words: why do we live in this universe and not another? Fine tuning implies that we have to live in this one. Different laws would mean we wouldn’t be here or there; this universe wouldn’t exist and any other couldn’t contain us. In another universe with the same laws, on the other hand, others like us might well be asking the same question.
    The question of why our universe has the laws it does have, naturally gives rise to the concept of alternative universes with the same or similar or very different laws. Of course, it is conceivable that one day we might discover that only our laws are possible – only this universe or identical copies of it can exist.
    Thus, it is presently a brute scientific fact that we do not know why the universe is the way it is. What is not a brute fact is the existence of a divine agent. A brute fact is an unexplained fact. God is not an unexplained fact.
    It is not materialist metaphysics that takes the laws of nature as brute fact – it’s science. Science investigates brute facts in order to try to explain them. The concept of the multiverse arises in science in several independent ways – fine tuning being indirect evidence of a possible case. A multiverse also pops out of inflationary theory. There are other cases. Logically and theoretically, philosophically and scientifically, the multiverse concept arises spontaneously. The same cannot be said for the concept of God – unless one accepts Spinoza’s formula “Deus sive Natura”: God is identical with Nature.
    Otherwise, God is an entirely metaphysical concept. Science has abandoned all such. The multiverse is no more a metaphysical concept than was antimatter before its discovery – predicted by Dirac’s equation. The multiverse is a hypothesis, at present. Science is about testing hypotheses; but even if science never finds a way to test the multiverse hypothesis, it will remain a scientific hypothesis. Metaphysical entities, on the other hand, are removed even from the bounds of scientific theory.
    http://biologos.org/blog/john-polkinghorne-on-natural-theology-part-iv/

    • Kevin
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      I don’t even bother reading the BioIllogical site anymore, because of this well-known issue.

      They only let people who agree with them to a large extent comment. They want to convey the false perception that their ideas resonate.

      They are, therefore, liars.

      Lying for Jesus: A Christian tradition since the year 1.

  15. Tim
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Scientist though I am, BioLogos nonsense reinforces my preference for Hitchen’s line of attack. The artifice, the eye-rolling silliness of maintaining the wonderfulness of “the Lord” gets so tiresome that it seems to me that Hitchens has it right: hit the idiots right where they think they’re strongest: Why on earth do they twist themselves into pretzels of illogic to preserve what is a fundamentally system, Christianity? The Adam and Eve story is not only mythical, it’s degrading. Noah’s ark is not only mythical, it’s monstrous. The resurrection story is not only mythical, it’s barbaric. Arguing with the Bible stories using fact is like shooting fish in a barrel; I think the most effective attack on fundamentalism and “moderate” religion is to attack the immorality of so much of it.

    • Tim
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      oops, that should have read …fundamentally immoral system…

    • Posted January 18, 2011 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      Yes, that’s the weak point of the “you should read it metaphorically” argument: what exactly is it a metaphor for? Adam and Eve: obey God or you and all your decendants will be punished forever? Women are worse then men? Noah: God can make mistakes on the scale of global genocide? A rainbow is an appropriate way to say “sorry”? Jesus’ sacrifice: people can be punished for other people’s sins?

      Even if you read it metaphorically, the Bible is still wrong about many, many things.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted January 18, 2011 at 5:44 am | Permalink

        Yeah, obviously it should be read as a piece of literature if you read it at all, but why privilege it over other pieces of literature?

  16. Posted January 18, 2011 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Tim, how true! God is hate!

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 18, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    BioLogos may have several functions, but foremost among them are likely the usual religious front for lifting money from donors and tax payers. I don’t see why we should play nice with them and pretend that they would have an, um, literal impact.

    Do you have to be an Einstein

    Seriously, this is the place to pull that popular but false meme down.

    Yes, Einstein was independent, able and creative, a well rounded humanitarian as well as scientist. But he wasn’t much of a deep and measured thinker, AFAIK Bohr and other quantum physicists run circles around him on science and philosophy both.

    More seriously perhaps, Einstein could have continued to contribute in the forefront of physics he had almost single handed broken through to. Instead he dug himself an unproductive trench on field theories and gedanken experiments. He contributed little of value in his last 3 decades what I know of.

    I would draw a lance for Darwin instead, which really thought things through of what I’ve seen. And, I believe, remained productive throughout.

    They can chug along with their Adam-and-Eveing,

    Between fundamentalists and BioLogos, more like Cain and ibn-Abel.

  18. Jeff B
    Posted January 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Without a literal interpretation of the Adam & Eve story, the entire Christian religion makes no sense. For it was through Adam & Eve than sin enetered the world, and subsequently required Jesus to die in order to save us in the first place. The whole redemption story makes no sense unless the Adam & Eve story actually happened as advertised. Why would Jesus die for an allegory? And besides, all the biblical references to Genesis presume a literal interpretation of it as well.

    So that leaves us with a very simple deduction…

    1) If Adam & Eve did not really exist, then Adam & Eve could not have sinned.

    2) If Adam & Eve did not sin then Jesus did not have to die for sins.

    3) If Jesus did not have to die for sins, then he probably didn’t.

    This is why Christians are so loathe to abandon a literal interpretation of the bible, because it cannot but lead to a complete rejection of their core beliefs.

    I really enjoyed your book, and now I enjoy the blog too. cheers.

  19. Robert Hagedorn
    Posted January 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Allegories do contain truths, at least insofar as the allegory is concerned, i.e. the literal story. Of course, if all we are are machines made of flesh and blood this first statement may very well be false. Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

  20. Jeff
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Coyne’s portrayal of evangelicals as being unyielding is ironic because he is likely to be equally unyielding in his criticism of Bio Logos and un-open to honest investigation.

    Yes, there will be evangelicals who cannot abide some things in Bio-logos (there are points where I have disagreement in that they push things too far).

    Yet, there are countless evangelicals, like myself, who were once young-earth creationists who now, through a study of the Scriptures in their cultural-literary-historical context, realize that Genesis 1-2 cannot be read literally or as straight history (not because there aren’t parts – even in Genesis that are more historical in nature – 12-50; or parts of Scripture that are intended to be taken as historically valid – the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection).

    Mr. Coyle – perhaps in his obsession to critique all things Biblical – is unwilling to see the fallacy of his position on two levels:

    1) A very significant % of those who have come to believe in evolutionary creationism were once evangelicals who were young earth creationists. That fact undermines his core point.

    2) That believers in the Scripture as inspired have long recognized that there are different genres written at different points in history that need to be read differently from a strict, wooden literalism. Yet, they still hold to the text as inspired.

    One wonders if Mr. Coyle has the objectivity to see these points. I don’t hold much hope, but we’ll see.

    • Microraptor
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      It’s not that we fail to understand what BioLogos’s stated goals are, it’s that most people here just don’t see it as being an effective tactic.

      Your personal story aside, the idea that evolution and religion don’t contradict each other has existed since Darwin’s time, but the number of people who profess a literal belief in the Bible and a young Earth in the US hasn’t changed significantly since long before BioLogos was formed.

      What they’re doing simply isn’t working.

    • Evildonthepirate
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      It’s too bad progressive Christians like you weren’t around to tell Jesus, Paul, and other first century Biblical characters they had misinterpreted Genesis when they referred to it as historical to support their teachings.

    • Jeff B
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see that Mr. Coyne’s position makes him guilty of being closed-minded toward another view. But an alternative view like yours, which seems to allow that some parts of the Bible can be read literally while others may not be, needs to offer a reasonable and dependable criteria for determining which group a passage belongs in.

      For example, you place Genesis 1-2 in the allegory camp, and gospel accounts of Jesus’ life in the valid history camp. Yet if you read Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, Luke traces the life of Jesus all the way back to Adam. Therefore Luke must have taken Genesis 1-2 to be literally true. I suppose one could say that Genesis 1-2 should be taken as allegory, and Genesis 3 can be taken literally (or some other arbitrary passage), but that would open one to the criticism that inclusion or exclusion of a passage from valid history is mere ad hoc scrambling intended only to conform to a predetermined doctrinal view.

      I’ve never heard anything from any Christian apologist that effectively addresses this problem, but I would sure love to. I’m sure that Mr. Coyne would too. We all would.

      Jeff B –the other jeff

  21. Posted January 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Jeff – presumably you have donned your flameproof suit 🙂 I have stated elsewhere on this site what you have noted – a major goal of BioLogos is to help YEC evangelicals in becoming TE evangelicals.

  22. CH
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    The existence of BioLogos is evidence that the science is changing minds.
    The “default mode” for Christians is YEC. As scientific knowledge is assimilated into the culture at large and by individuals in the church there is a segment of the church which will drift away from YEC. The study of geology has moved many to an old earth position, biology has moved some to a TE position.

    The science is now more compelling to the lay person than ever. We can’t underestimate the force of the new genetic and fossil evidence made clear to the wider public over the last 10 or so years – before this evolution may have been just as compelling to scientists, but to the lay person much of the evidence was obscure and easily distorted by YEC apologists. The genetic and fossil discoveries of the last decade have brought the evidence a bit closer to the living rooms of the average American. DNA sequence evidence like shared pseudogenes, ERVs, and chromosome mixing is easier to explain and grasp than the evidence that existed before sequencing was common (like protein binding). Also the YEC case has been made a bit more difficult to defend by the discovery of prominent “missing links” in the fossil record – like Tiktaalik, the whale series, feathered dinos, the wealth of hominid fossils, etc.

    Christian’s are torn between two worlds of cognitive dissonance – conservative evangelicals like Mohler face an increasingly clear and embarrassing conflict between science and faith. The more liberal BioLogos followers make peace with science, but give up the firm moorings provided by a consistent literal interpretation of scripture.

    As the science continues to uncover compelling evidence and as these evidences are increasingly communicated to the larger public there will continue to be more and more conservative evangelicals who try to make the leap to accepting the sciences. I don’t make any predictions about BioLogos’ in particular as the vagaries of funding and personalities can dominate their future, but I do think they represent a larger trend that will redefine American conservative Christianity over the next decade. The likes of Mohler and Ham will not disappear, but their following and influence will continue to decline.

  23. Posted January 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    It should be possible to change yecs into oecs by using the gap theory as discussed here.

    http://www.secularcafe.org/showthread.php?t=10450

  24. Bubah
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    I think you’ve misunderstood Biologos. It’s not there necessarily for Creationists, but it’s a response to Richard Dawkins, and many other people who claim religion and science cannot coexist. No Creationist claims that the two are completely incompatible (see Mohler’s quote in your post), although many Neo-Atheists will.

    Biologos is much bigger than the evolution argument. Their scope is everything scientific, from scientific history to stem cells.

    Furthermore, you fundamentally misrepresent Biologos’s main position on the Bible. To them, stories like Adam and Eve are not metaphor, but true, just not in the ways we’ve embellished them – as someone who speaks Hebrew, much of the English OT comes from traditional interpretations, but the words don’t have to mean what they’re commonly said to mean – IE: In the story of the “global” flood, the word used for “the whole word” is “ha’aretz” – meaning “The land, Israel, country, OR Earth.” Simple issues like this don’t change the underlying meaning of the text, but do change superficial details that have become barriers to modern readers. If God flooded the whole land instead of the whole Earth, that barrier comes down, and the story is plausible, if not made possible by geological data. Perhaps as time went on, we came to take the grander definitions of words because in not being there, and in not having the proper sciences, simply didn’t know better. Now we do, and perhaps that interpretation is much more accurate to the original text, and event. Biologos seeks to break down these barriers, making the message beneath these stories more available to modern readers.

    Fact or Myth, all Christians will tell you that these scenarios are in the Bible not simply for history, but because these are instances that God delivered a message for us to learn from – there’s morals within their reality – and Biologos is correct to assert that is the most important thing to glean from the Bible, but they’re also right to point out we don’t have to sacrifice believing the Bible as an accurate representation of history. It’s not the reality of what’s in the Bible that they’re contesting, but how literalists often interpret things that literally aren’t present in the text. Genesis never claims Adam was the first man, indeed, there’s much to suggest he was not (see Cain’s exile to the Land of Nod).

    • Microraptor
      Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Special pleading.


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