I was wrong: BioLogos promotes Jesus, not evolution

For a while some of my readers (especially Sigmund) have been trying to convince me that BioLogos—the organization founded by NIH director Francis Collins, and funded by Templeton to the tune of over two million dollars—was designed to promote the acceptance not of evolution, but of Jesus.  I resisted this interpretation, probably because I didn’t think that even Christians could be that duplicitous, but now I see I was in error.  A post this week by Darrel Falk, the president of BioLogos, has convinced me that I was wrong and the readers were right.

To be sure, I had good reasons: I was going by the funding statements of Templeton and the mission statement of BioLogos, both of which implied that pushing evolution was a big priority. Here’s how Templeton describes its $2,028,238 grant to BioLogos, which expires next February:

These grants support the launch of the BioLogos Foundation with the creation of a website and a series of workshops on the compatibility of theism and evolutionary science. The website will serve as a forum for Francis Collins and other expert consultants to address common questions about the relationship between faith and science. The invitation-only workshops will bring scientists and evangelical leaders together to seek a theology more accepting of science, specifically evolutionary biology. These projects will allow the BioLogos Foundation to build a reputation as a source of sympathetic, authoritative, and accessible thought on matters of science and faith.

And here’s BioLogos‘s own description of its mission:

The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians, many of whom are professional scientists, biblical scholars, philosophers, theologians, pastors, and educators, who are concerned about the long history of disharmony between the findings of science and large sectors of the Christian faith. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We also believe that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation. Founded by Dr. Francis Collins, BioLogos addresses the escalating culture war between science and faith, promoting dialog and exploring the harmony between the two. We are committed to helping the church – and students, in particular – develop worldviews that embrace both of these complex belief structures, and that allow science and faith to co-exist peacefully.

But Falk’s new essay on the BioLogos site, “The Crutch,” clearly shows that the main goal of BioLogos is not to convince evangelical Christians that faith and evolution are compatible so that they’ll accept evolution, but so that they don’t reject Jesus.

Falk’s piece is poorly written, but its import is clear.  The “crutch” to which he refers is the perceived incompatibility between science and faith.  This crutch is used by atheists or dissatisfied Christians as an excuse to live wantonly and immorally, for if evolution is true, then you have to reject Jesus:

It is true that “belief in evolution” is used by some to prop up their desire to live life their way and not God’s. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, they are looking for an excuse to become—as the serpent put it to Eve—“like God,” and to be masters of their own fate. The perception that evolution is incompatible with Christianity does provide many with what seems to be the perfect excuse. They do indeed use that excuse to prop up their non-Christian lifestyle. However, the crutch they use to support their rejection of the Christian life is not belief in evolution itself, but rather that Christianity and evolution are incompatible. That is the crutch.

The curious thing is what Falk sees as the source of this crutch.  Accommodationists like Chris Mooney, Nick Matzke, Michael Ruse and their ilk always fault atheists for arguing that people have to make a choice between science and faith.  That, they say, is guaranteed to make religious people reject science. (To be sure, I’ve never said that people have to make that choice, but have pointed out that the incompatibility causes cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.)  Falk, however—and there’s some truth in his claim—says that this choice is  forced on people not by atheists, but by Christians:

Where does this crutch come from, however? Who manufactures this crutch? If the crutch is simply the proposition that evolution and real Christianity are incompatible, where did that idea come from? Did it not come from us? Many Christians have been telling non-believers that belief in evolution is inconsistent with real Christianity. So if non-believers are looking for an excuse to justify their apostate lifestyle—and they are—Christians have played right into their hand, by passing them the crutch they are seeking. If evolution is true, they hear many Christians say, theology falls apart. If evolution is true, they hear many Christians say, the Bible is untrustworthy. Many evangelical Christians have poured their financial resources into the construction of organizations dedicated to building crutches for non-believers. I think that selling the principle that if evolution is true Christianity fails, is profoundly harmful. Heaven forbid that we Christians should be creating the very crutch that non-believers long to have, but I think that is precisely what we are doing. All of science makes it abundantly clear that evolution has taken place. People everywhere are looking for crutches that will allow them to follow in Eve’s footsteps. And what do we Christians do? We pass them a crutch. Unwittingly, it is almost as though we give them license to conclude: “If evolution is true, God’s Word is a lie, and I am free to do anything I want.” God help us!

Falk then paints a scenario in which young evangelicals, faith propped up by their crutch, limp off to college and learn that the crutch is rotten: evolution is true!  OMG!  What happens? They abandon Jesus and, inspired by Satan, become wanton, drunken fornicators, generally living in a way that will guarantee admission to hell:

Step by step, they are shown why almost all biology scholars have concluded that evolution has occurred. With that, the very crutch that had been used to prop up their Christian faith as teenagers (the perception that real Christianity and evolution are incompatible), becomes the exact tool that Satan needs as he comes along with his words first posed in the story of the Garden: “You don’t need God.” “You can live life your way. “ “Do whatever feels good.” “Did God really say…?” “ Is there really a God who holds you accountable anyway?”

With that, the crutch they learned to lean on as young people now becomes a prop for a different life. It holds up their new unbelief as they embark upon the life of the prodigal son or prodigal daughter. All we can do is hope and pray that they come back into the loving arms of the waiting Father having thrown away the prop that we, heaven forbid, constructed according to our own well-reasoned, good-intentioned, but-oh-so-unfortunate and oh-so-misguided ways.

Satan!  Falk believes in the devil! Isn’t this starting to sound like a Jack Chick comic, the one in which a sweating, bearded professor uses evolution to wrench students away from Jesus?

As the essay proceeds, Falk sounds less and less like a rational scholar and more like a Bible-thumping preacher.  And he soon makes it perfectly clear that the whole mission of BioLogos is to use accomodationism to keep people in the arms of Jesus (my emphasis):

I pray for the day when all Christians will throw away this crutch. I don’t mean that I’m praying they will come to accept that God created through evolution. Most people are not scientists and they are too busy doing other important things to explore the science. What I do pray for, though, is that we will stop portraying that belief in evolution is not consistent with biblical Christianity. This proposition is exactly what gives atheists the excuse they are looking for, and this far-too-human proposition ought not be propping up young people’s walk with God.

This, of course, explains why BioLogos has been busy showing that there may be some truth in the story of Adam and Eve, that God has designed evolution to produce humans, and why they’ve been engaging in apologetics, theodicy, and other nonsensical and nonscientific activities. The organization doesn’t much care that evangelical Christians get an accurate view of evolution.  It cares only that Christians hear that evolution is compatible with faith, and thereby stay in the church, avoiding a life of sin.  If BioLogos wants to characterize evolution as a god-guided process that involves the installation of souls in Homo erectus, or the designation of two individuals by God as Honorary Ancestors, that’s fine.  Anything will do so long as the kids don’t walk.

At the end, Falk abandons accommodation completely and starts babbling to his savior:

And I hope and pray that children and young people won’t be made to feel that the choice is between his view and a life of apostasy.

       In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In Christ alone, we put our hope. The question of whether creation and evolution are compatible is another matter altogether. Regardless of how we each personally feel about that matter, let’s pray that it not be used as a crutch to support apostasy, or that which is deemed necessary to the vitality of a young person’s walk with Jesus.

Yes, I was wrong all along.  BioLogos‘s fear is not that atheism weans people away from evolution, but that evolution weans people away from Christianity.   I should have realized this given the strength of faith among evangelical Christians like Falk.  As he makes perfectly clear, Jesus is far more important than Darwin.

And Templeton people, if you’re reading this, pay attention.  You’re giving your money not so the faithful can learn about and accept science, but so that Christians don’t leave the fold.  You’re not helping sell evolution—you’re helping prop up faith.

193 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    I didn’t read the whole article, but it was enough when I read the word “Templeton”.

    OK, call me biased, but this is the second time TODAY that I read “Templeton” promoting religious views.

  2. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    “who are concerned about the long history of disharmony between the findings of science and large sectors of the Christian faith”

    Because the fact is that religion is bullshit perhaps?

    The argument that people accept evolution in order to reject god and live their lives the way they wish just doesn’t make sense. If this is the ONLY reason they accept evolution then they do so believing that god is real and they will be punished anyway, thus they don’t need evolution to start with.

    • wilzard
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Good point.

      I’ve noticed that they mostly direct the comment to other christians like “Your cousin jim has turned from god and now believes in evolution.” Rather than an accusatory statement directed at non-believers such as “You reject god and believe in evolution so you don’t have to follow the bible (and live a moral life).”

      I see the former much more than the latter.

  3. Sajanas
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    The guy does have a point. When you deliberately lie to people about the evidence for evolution and its its importance, they get really angry when they find out how true it is.

    Its a shame he doesn’t realize he’s doing the same thing by suggesting that Adam, Eve, and a talking snake are real. I wonder if he also believes in the flood too. If he is suggesting that religion accommodate or at least play down the importance of real facts, he should realize he’s got to leave pretty much all of the Bible by the way side. Because people are going to be just as angry at men lying to them that Moses is real as they are about people lying to them about the evidence for evolution.

  4. JoeBuddha
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Ouch. That was painful to read. What can be more evil than taking responsibility for your own life? Not to mention how desperately we are searching for some excuse, ANY excuse, to NOT be a Christian, so we can soak ourselves in debauchary. Yeesh.

    • Chayanov
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Falk’s screed reads a lot like a Chick tract.

      • Chayanov
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Yeesh, I should read more closely.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      who needs an excuse to soak oneself in debauchery?

      everyone in the pool!

      • Teg
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Come join me in the deep end! 🙂

  5. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    As if atheists need any excuses to apply rational thinking to religion. As if we need Christians to tell us Christianity has a problem with evolution, and comes apart at the seams if there was no Adam and Eve and no original sin.

    Falk still seems to buy into the ridiculous notion that we only reject God so we can do what we want. Actually, it’s easier to do what you want as a Christian, because there is no divine forgiveness for atheists.

    • Teg
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Yeah, we have to deal with our own conscience. If you’re a Christian you don’t need one of those (and judging from the behaviour of some of them, they don’t seem to have one). You just have to repent after the fact (or confess and say a few Hail Maries, if you’re a Catholic).

  6. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    “BioLogos‘s fear is not that atheism weans people away from evolution, but that it weans people away from Christianity.”

    You mean “wean people towards evolution”

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      I think he said what he meant. Atheism drives people from science because we gnus say that science and religion are incompatible.

      • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        To me, it reads more to say that atheism drives people from religion. Falk appears to consider this a bigger loss than people not accepting science.

        • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

          I’d say Falk definitely considers it that way.

    • idahogie
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I think the phrase means “atheism scares (faithful) people away from evolution.” But that phrasing loses the intended symmetry.

  7. Hamilton Jacobi
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    He’s got me dead to rights. The only reason I ever believed in evolution was the promise of endless guilt-free wanking and debauchery and fornicating. But now my faith lies in ruins. O Darwin, why hast thou forsaken me?!?!

    • Kevin
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget the baby roasts. And drowning kittens in the river. And driving 5 miles and hour over the speed limit.

      • Daniel Schealler
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Not least to mention the kitten roasts, baby drownings, and driving 10 miles an hour under the speed limit… in the fast lane!

        Muhahahahahaha!

        • Teg
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          You know what this reminds me of? It sounds like he thinks atheists are like what Medieval Christians thought Jews were like. Supposedly the Jews were always doing things like sacrificing Christian children and poisoning wells and stuff.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      The field of theology shows us that religious faith is not incompatible with endless guilt-free wanking.

      • Rob
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Didn’t a recent survey show it was guiltful wanking?

        /sorry had to

        • Teg
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

          Ahh but mental wanking is perfectly acceptable.

  8. Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    It is funny how these evangelicals still consider science to be “a crutch” to allow an immoral lifestyle. Have they ever looked at the lifestyle of their own leaders?

    These people have no idea what honest inquiry is like.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      JAC:

      I resisted this interpretation, probably because I didn’t think that even Christians could be that duplicitous,

      Hahahahaha!

      Seriously, most of these people who try to blend religion and science are not stupid. They are just used to being dishonest, where religion is concerned.

      It’s better to bend the truth than to let people — especially oneself! — go to hell.

      but now I see I was in error.

      Yes, unfortunately more cynicism was needed.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      These people have no idea what honest inquiry is like.

      obvious statement is obvious?

      If they did, they wouldn’t BE religious.

      Being religious is all about fooling YOURSELF into believing the nonsense.

      faith? bullshit. these people have no faith, even as THEY define it. What they have are inane rationalizations for believing fiction is real.

      • Teg
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        How *do* they define faith, anyway? I thought it was just a bunch of hand waving (like most Christian theology).

  9. Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    And Templeton people, if you’re reading this, pay attention. You’re giving your money not so the faithful can learn about and accept science, but so that Christians don’t leave the fold. You’re not helping sell evolution—you’re helping prop up faith.

    I suspect the Templeton people know this already, and regard it as a feature, not a bug.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      I thought that was the entire point of the Templeton enterprise.

      • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

        That’s what I thought too (and clearly so did gk4c4 below).

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:56 am | Permalink

          Ditto.

          • Kevin
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

            I agree with Polly-O!

            • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

              <aol>Oh, Polly! With thou I dost agree!</aol>

              b&

  10. gk4c4
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I enjoy this essay until the end that confuses me:

    And Templeton people, if you’re reading this, pay attention. You’re giving your money not so the faithful can learn about and accept science, but so that Christians don’t leave the fold. You’re not helping sell evolution—you’re helping prop up faith.

    WTF? Why Jerry needs to state the obvious? I think Temp people are very clear that’s the real aim of BioL. That’s exactly the 2-mil question …
    In my opinion this Falk article is part of efforts aiming toward renewal of the above mentioned grant.. (“we are the true ones …- don’t confuse us with others, esteemed sirs!”)

    LOL!

  11. CDubya
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    In short, “it’s obvious to an honest and intelligent person we were wrong about evolution being a lie so stop telling that particular lie. The lie that Christianity equals morality and everything else is immoral is still okay, though.”

  12. Paula Kirby
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Whilst everything you say here is absolutely true, Jerry, as a former Christian myself, it comes as no surprise to me at all. It is in the very nature of Christianity that it should be so. To a devout Christian, there is simply nothing more important than God. The ultimate aim of everything they do is to glorify God and bring more people to him. This is why NOMA is such a con: to the devout Christian, science isn’t a separate magesterium from religion: it is a subset of religion and must always be subservient to it. A devout Christian learns science, not to learn more about the world and the universe, but to marvel at God’s powers of creation (even if he doesn’t mean Creation-with-a-capital-C). Anything else would be a betrayal of the primary demand of Christianity: to put God before everything, to see God in everything, and to serve God before everything.

    There is absolutely no way that a devout Christian could embark on science honestly and with the requisite objectivity, open mind and willingness to follow wherever the evidence leads, because he already has a prior, overriding commitment – to God. He already “knows” the bigger answer behind whatever answers might emerge from scientific enquiry, because he “knows” that, no matter what science reveals, God is behind it. And his primary duty will always be to promote God, not science. He may well be quite sincere in thinking he can do both (even though, plainly, he cannot); but when it comes to a conflict between the two, his perceived duty to God will come first. Every time. Every single time. It is not possible for a devout Christian to set up a foundation to show that science and religion are compatible and not to be primarily driven by his religion in the process. Of course his primary aim is to serve religion, not science! That’s the definition of a devout Christian. His religion will trump science every single time, because his religion demands that it trump science every single time: it’s part of the deal. It’s at the very heart of the deal. And he won’t understand that he’s being dishonest, because he believes that his religion IS the honest truth, the ultimate truth, the only truth that really matters. That’s what being a devout Christian means. It’s what being a devout Christian scientist means. It’s why religion and science can never, will never, be truly compatible because, to a Christian, science will always be the junior partner in the arrangement – and the dispensable partner, if push comes to shove. His faith demands no less.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Well said.

      Ray (another former Christian)

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Nicely said!

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Yes, that’s where the real conflict lies: which has more authority, science or religion? Like I’ve said before, even accommodationists can’t hide the fact that telling a Christian to change their theology because of evolution means telling them that science trumps religion. You might as well be honest about it and give arguments why science does trump religion.

    • Sigmund
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Well NOMA is not accepted by the religious. It is simply a tool that accomodationists use to say “but you cannot talk about religion!”
      While it is a very flawed model in practice, I still find parts of it useful. Look at what Gould said.
      “The first commandment for all versions of NOMA might be summarized by stating: “Thou shalt not mix the magisteria by claiming that God directly ordains important events in the history of nature by special interference knowable only through revelation and not accessible to science.” ”
      What this means is that any claims of revelation or miracle is deemed an interference in the natural magisteria – in other words all theism based on books about a Gods interaction with humans is seen as stepping on science’s turf.
      Theists realize this and hate NOMA for that reason. Perhaps its time to update NOMA to something that is genuinely non overlapping.
      GNOMA?

      • Paula Kirby
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        That’s true: a devout Christian cannot accept NOMA, because to a devout Christian there cannot be any sphere of activity that is not ultimately subordinate to God: there is no sphere of activity where God will obey a ‘Keep Out’ sign. The accommodationists betray a deep misunderstanding of the nature of religion when they try to pretend that this is not so. And in that connection, I would be interested to know how many of the prominent accommodationists were themselves ever sincerely and devoutly religious: it seems to me (though this is only a hunch based on the people I’ve personally encountered) that those of us who were once sufficiently taken in by religion to really understand how it works tend more to the gnu approach, and that the accommodationist line tends to be taken more often by those who have never personally got close enough to religion to see just how warty and ugly and distorting it really can be. It is easy to be tolerant of a phenomenon if you are unaware of just how harmful it can be. As I say: just a hunch.

        • Sigmund
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          My favorite analogy of the accomodationist use of NOMA is that of the classic ‘Two Ronnies’ sketch about insurance.
          Ronnie Corbet goes to the insurance office after his house has been burned down in a fire and speaks to the insurance agent (Ronnie Barker).
          Corbet: “Excuse me, but my house has been destroyed in a fire and I’d like to make a claim on my insurance policy”
          Barker: “I’m very sorry but I don’t see how I can help you.”
          Corbet: “But I have a household insurance policy from your company!”
          Barker: “I’m afraid you don’t seem to understand the how insurance works.”
          Corbet: “How does it work then?
          Barker: “Well, its like this; every month you give us a sum of money that is called the ‘insurance premium’…
          Corbet: “…and?”
          Barker: “Well thats it!”

          Accomodationists treat NOMA in the same way. We are supposed to avoid talking about religion (‘its the wrong magisteria’) but there is never any reciprocal warning to the religious. It is the religious themselves that realize the limitations that NOMA entails and that is why they avoid it.

        • llewelly
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          Paula Kirby
          May 23, 2011 at 7:19 am:

          And in that connection, I would be interested to know how many of the prominent accommodationists were themselves ever sincerely and devoutly religious: it seems to me (though this is only a hunch based on the people I’ve personally encountered) that those of us who were once sufficiently taken in by religion to really understand how it works tend more to the gnu approach, and that the accommodationist line tends to be taken more often by those who have never personally got close enough to religion to see just how warty and ugly and distorting it really can be. It is easy to be tolerant of a phenomenon if you are unaware of just how harmful it can be. As I say: just a hunch.

          I share the same hunch. It comes to my mind that Chris Mooney, Josh Rosenau(sp?), and Matt Nisbet were all raised with little or no religion. Correspondingly, Hector Avalos and Dan Barker both come from strong religious backgrounds. On the other hand – PZ, Jerry Coyne, Victor Stenger, and Richard Dawkins all came from backgrounds with little or no religion. Obviously this is not necessarily a representative sample, but it seems to me it is a factor, probably even an important factor, but not the only one.

          • Paula Kirby
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting that ONLY those who have previously had a severe infection with the religion virus can become gnus. Previous close exposure to religion is clearly not the only route to gnu-ism. My hunch is simply that few of us who HAVE been so infected in the past are likely to favour an accommodationist approach towards it, and that those who think we gnus are too hard on it probably don’t know the beast as well as we do. I think it’s probably easier to feel accommodating towards the stink of the skunk if you’ve never actually experienced it in your own sitting room.
            Apologies for the shouty capitals – I don’t post here often and can’t see how to do italics.

            • Steve A. E.
              Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

              I’m pretty delighted to see you commenting here, Ms. Kirby, as I’ve been extremely impressed by the pieces of yours I’ve read in the Washington Post and am eager to read more of your writing wherever it appears.

              • Paula Kirby
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

                That’s kind of you, Steve – thank you. Please call me Paula: ‘Ms Kirby’ always makes me feel as if I’m in trouble!

            • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

              Paula, I think this formulation works better than your earlier one: that those who grew up with a toxic religious experience are less likely to be accommodating when they come to their senses, full stop. I’m about as gnu as they come and my religious upbringing was limited to interrupting a really, really good feast at Passover and Chanukah in order to mumble some incomprehensible phrases in a weird language.

              When you want to type in <i>italics</i> do something like <i>this</i>.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

              All great stuff, Paula – three stakes in the heart of accommodationism.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

                Seeing that vampires technically are zombies, I think we are on common grounds here.

                Zombie quiz: Who is more lethal, Jesus the Zombie or Dracula the Vampire?

                A: Dracula drinks your blood and make you his devout disciple. Jesus makes you drink his blood, but only if you already are a devout disciple.

                Dracula wins.

            • Aquaria
              Posted May 24, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

              I think your concept of being a devout Christian making you more gnu is interesting, if you expand it to people who may not have been raised particularly religious, but lived in a relgion-soaked hellhole like Alabama or East Texas, and thus are familiar with the stupidities and other assorted brain farts of rah-rah Xianity from exposure.

              We tend to be very gnu as well.

              • Paula Kirby
                Posted May 24, 2011 at 3:16 am | Permalink

                That makes sense to me, Aquaria. The less closely someone has come into contact with religion, the less likely they are to see it as harmful, and the more likely to think the rest of us are overstating the case against it. If you have only experienced religion from a safe distance, then all you will really know about it is what you hear the religious saying about it – i.e. that it gives their lives meaning, structure, purpose, hope blah blah. If you don’t have close experience of what that actually means in practice, and all the other, far more negative things that bundled into the package, then it stands to reason that you might think the gnus mean to try to nudge believers away from it. If you’ve been exposed to it at some length and depth, it’s easier to see that the meaning, structure, purpose and hope come at a very high – too high – price, both for the individuals concerned and for society as a whole.

              • CanadianChick
                Posted May 25, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

                Absolutely. I grew up in a really really liberal church (ordaining women since the 20s, gays since the 80s) and there was no creationism, no literalism, etc. It didn’t take me long to leave myself, but it wasn’t traumatic. It took me even longer to get angry about religious poison and accommodationism because I never saw the poison up close. One of my dearest friends is still part of that church, still believes that evolution is true, still thinks literalists are whackjobs…it’s hard NOT to be accommodating to that sort of mild belief.

    • ritebrother
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      So, in your opinion, is Francis Collins being dishonest in his public assertions regarding the “compatibility” of science and theism, even if he retreats to a NOMA-type defense? If so, how is that dishonesty justified in the theist’s mind (is it because it is done in the service of God)?

      • Paula Kirby
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        I wouldn’t like to suggest that Collins is being knowingly dishonest. If someone genuinely sees science as a subset of religion – just another way to find out about how God works – then it’s not dishonest of him to regard those two things as compatible. How can a subset be incompatible with its mother-set?

        The incompatibility – and dishonesty – arises in a slightly different way, in my view, i.e. in the way that religious scientists do science. They do it using the rules of religion, rather than the rules of science: there are certain boundaries to the permissible enquiries and certain answers which are simply ruled out from the very beginning.

        But it is the nature of the infection – and the more I think about it, the more apposite I find the metaphor – that the infected person is blind to this dishonesty. And why? Because he is absolutely committed to the view that certain answers (eg. that all the evidence points to no god having been required) simply CANNOT be, and ARE not, right. And if you genuinely believe something to be true, how can you be aware that you are being dishonest when you allow it to limit your enquiries and interpretations? This is the ultimate problem with religious scientists: they always think that, no matter what science shows, they have a bigger, truer, Truth, which they have arrived at through faith.

        I do think it’s a dishonest stance; but I also think the nature of religious infection is such that the victim is not necessarily aware of it.

        • ritebrother
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          Paula,

          Thanks for that. It does clarify the mindset involved. The perspective that the religious framework delimits the boundaries of rational inquiry a priori is something I haven’t fully appreciated.

        • H.H.
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          I do think it’s a dishonest stance; but I also think the nature of religious infection is such that the victim is not necessarily aware of it.

          I’m not sure. I they they are aware of it on some level, they just suppress it. One faithful man who traveled 3,000 miles to California to witness the recent “rapture” said this when it didn’t occur: “I had some scepticism but I was trying to push the scepticism away because I believe in God.”

          That’s telling, isn’t it? Christians are capable of reason, they just suppress it like sexual urges or any other “sinful” predilection because they believe doubt is bad and faith shall be rewarded. The mission of Biologos is to reduce the cognitive dissonance of believers to the point when they can comfortably ignore their doubts again and put that part of their brain back to sleep. As a proponent of skepticism and critical thinking, it is a goal I could not more oppose.

          • Paula Kirby
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

            I think you’re on to something here too, H.H. But it still fits into the bigger picture, I think. Christianity cleverly deals with doubt by warning its followers a) that it is a normal part of the Christian path, b) that it is a sin, c) that it is their duty as a Christian to resist it with all their might and d) (in the least savoury versions) that they’ll burn in hell for all eternity if they don’t succeed. So it’s possible for a believer to doubt, yet still hold on to the bigger picture and believe that to be true. Religion teaches that reason is the enemy of faith; and of course, when a believer starts reasoning, he quickly discovers that to be true; but to someone who is still seriously infected, that itself can seem to reinforce the ‘truth’ of the original teachings, which predicted that very thing.

            Religion, in my view, is such a successful mind-virus because it mushes the critical faculties to such an extent that, even when they begin to flicker back to life and show signs of recovery, that too is interpreted as reinforcing the truth of the original myth!

        • Chuck
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          I love this analogy and agree with it. My experience since leaving the faith is that encounters with devout friends is reminiscent of past encounters with chronic substance abusers. There is no comprehension to the binge drinker as to the negative effects his lifestyle has on himself or the surrounding community, likewise the devout religious believer somehow thinks he is promoting for himself and others a fully real life while basing it on imaginary worlds. Good stuff.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          They do it using the rules of religion, rather than the rules of science: there are certain boundaries to the permissible enquiries and certain answers which are simply ruled out from the very beginning.

          it’s interesting that most religious people I’ve debated science with always end up with accusing science of apriori materialism, and refusing to include the realm of the supernatural, thus it’s no wonder they don’t acknowledge god.

          translation:

          it’s nothing but projection on their part, as you clearly point out.

        • madamX
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          “The incompatibility – and dishonesty – arises in a slightly different way, in my view, i.e. in the way that religious scientists do science. They do it using the rules of religion, rather than the rules of science: there are certain boundaries to the permissible enquiries and certain answers which are simply ruled out from the very beginning.”

          Exactly right. When Francisco Ayala said with absolute certainty that science has nothing to say about morality because its “legitimate boundary” was limited to religion, a shiver went up my spine. Imagine him refereeing grant applications or papers and dismissing them outright because those inquiries are limited to religion. Scary. But what is even worse is that he can so confidently make these assertions and feel perfectly secure in his scientific position. Super scarier.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            Imagine him refereeing grant applications or papers and dismissing them outright because those inquiries are limited to religion.

            Yup, it’s a bit unnerving.

            Imagine someone with similar religious leanings heading an entire funding agency devoted to funding basic research on behavior…

            oh, sorry, no need to imagine it!

            Francis Collins is still heading NIH, isn’t he?

            Well, I guess it’s not entirely fair to make this implied claim. After all, he did come through on stem cell research.

            but then, I’d bet Ayala would have too.

      • Sigmund
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Francis Collins has publicly disavowed the stance of NOMA as being too restrictive for religion. He did so in the introduction to his book of collected Christian apologetics from a couple of years ago.

        • Paula Kirby
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          That makes perfect sense to me. I don’t see how NOMA is compatible with anything more than token Christianity. Some Christians may choose to adopt it as a cover for trying to advance their cause and put their opponents off their guard, but I doubt very much that, deep down, they truly believe in it.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

            where NOMA works:

            In group proceedings, hearings, and in court.

            I’ve seen it used many times to head off creationist attempts at modifying school curriculum.

            It was obvious nobody actually believed it applied directly to THEM, and yet it appears “reasonable” on the face of it, so everyone can save face.

            Saw it with an event in Ohio a couple years back, and Richard B Hoppe could exactly testify to the details of it, since he was there.

            so, NOMA can work as a tactical face-saving measure.

            past that? Even those that accept it as a face-saving measure don’t think it actually has any merit!

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Very well put.

      However, as we all know, if any Christian scientists who do explore reality honestly come out the other side as non-Christians they probably (obviously) weren’t True Christians (TM) to begin with. OR they had a deathbed re-conversion. OR never really renounced their faith at all.

    • Teg
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      That was a great post, Paula. May I suggest you start a blog if you don’t have one already?

      I guess we were hoping they wouldn’t be quite so devout. 🙂

  13. Kevin
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Based on the work of BioLogos, I wish to ask whether there is evidence of either:
    1. Atheists (scientists or not) who believe in evolution have “come to Jesus”.
    2. A change in any official position of any Christian denomination or sect away from a rejection of evolution (which implies a rejection of that sect’s form of biblical literalism).

    Of course, we’ve talked about the difficulty of proving a negative, so I won’t ask BioLogos to prove that Christians who believed in evolution at the outset were prevented from leaving the church due to their activity.

    The entire organization seems to have no clear direction other than flailing its hands and attempting to change the minds of other Christians with regard to the science. Seems like a fool’s errand to me … and I’ve been called a fool “in my heart” many times.

    • Teg
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      > Of course, we’ve talked about the difficulty of proving a negative, so I won’t ask BioLogos to prove that Christians who believed in evolution at the outset were prevented from leaving the church due to their activity.

      I don’t think that’s a negative in the way that nonexistence of something is a negative. Actually, this is proving *existence* of something, namely, a person who had been “losing faith” (or whatever) but found it again thanks to BioLogos.

  14. Sigmund
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Like others have said, that Biologos, with Collins or without, has little effect on their evangelical targets is besides the point for Templeton.
    The whole point of Biologos for the Templetons was to have a big name scientist, Francis Collins, proclaiming science is compatible with religion. If Collins is not going to return due to his NIH directorship then the incentive for continued support is gone. If you have paid attention to Biologos over the past couple of years you would notice a slide towards ‘worship’ rather than science. Without a strong figurehead like Collins running the show you end up with an organisation that is running scared of its evangelical base, avoiding stirring up trouble in exactly the area they need to do some stirring.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Sigmund makes several very good points:

      1 – Templeton has always been biased toward funding ‘big name’ scientists who will espouse their perspective that science and faith need not be in conflict. The ‘lesser lights’ who have tried to obtain Templeton funding and failed all have similar stories regarding the vagaries of the review and decision-making processes;

      2 – Let’s remember that from the get-go of BioLogos, Collins has said “it is possible to embrace both science and faith” and that
      “our conviction [is] that the universe, and the life within it, can be understood as a manifestation of God’s creative purpose.” BioLogos’ foundational purpose is to keep young evangelical students from losing their faith, not in convincing evangelicals that evolution is true. This is theological endeavor, not a scientific one.

      3. The departure of the avuncular Giberson and the diminished theological voice of Enns are indicators of a shift away from the liberal end of the evangelical community toward the ‘traditional’ base, who apparently have to be ‘accommodated’.

      4. Let’s also remember that BioLogos and Falk don’t particularly care what the gnus think – they surely understand that they will have no impact on that particular demographic.

  15. Matt G
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    A crutch – how ironic! Excuse me now while I go off to fornicate and pillage.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget your evolutionist zimmerframe!

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Don’t you mean “nisbetframe”?

  16. NickMatzke
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Yes, Falk’s idea that atheism is about the justification of being immoral, instead of being an intellectual position, is mostly silly. It may make a little more sense within a conservative evangelical community which is very tight-laced / socially repressive, and where that itself provides pressure for some people to leave the faith. In that situation it is conceivable that someone could leave the church for primarily emotional reasons with the intellectual part allowing this to happen, but not providing the major push. And this could be misinterpreted in the way Falk does it.

    That said, about the larger issue, Jerry writes,

    Yes, I was wrong all along. BioLogos‘s fear is not that atheism weans people away from evolution, but that evolution weans people away from Christianity.

    It’s always been clear that it’s been both. Christian fundamentalists and hard-core atheists argue that science and religion are incompatible and you, me, and everyone *has* to pick one or the other or suffer the scorn of the righteous. Moderate Christians and non-Christians think the matter is more complicated. It has always been thus. So what’s new here?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      What’s new here is the explicit admission by an evolution-faith “ambassador” that the acceptance of evolution by Christians isn’t really something that’s a very high priority. What’s really important is that evolution not take them away from Jesus. It may be “both” issues, as you say, but clearly the issue of leaving Jesus is far more important at least by Falk’s lights.

      And since no amount of tap-dancing by accommodationists is going to convince evangelicals that evolution really is compatible with their faith, the BioLogos mission–and accommodationism–will fail. The way to solve the problem is not to tell evangelicals that they actually have the wrong kind of faith, and if they just tweaked it they could come to Darwin, but rather to get people to stop believing in magic fairy stories.

      In the end, all accommodationism does is prop up faith by telling religious people that their beliefs are basically okay. So accommodationist atheists are in the business of buttressing superstitions that they themselves reject.

      • H.H.
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        And how much of this “confusion” can be placed at the feet of the enablers, excuse me, accommodationists who keep telling us that we need respected Christian scientists to help convince the faithful that evolution is true. “Build bridges! They share our goals!” we are constantly admonished.

        Well, now that the true goals of Biologos are revealed and it is clear that they aren’t really interested in promoting science education and are instead merely engaging in theological damage control, will the accommodationists change their tune? Will we get any admissions that they were duped in regards to Biologos’ motives? I suspect not.

        • ckitching
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          I’m not even sure the accomodationists who were such enthusiastic cheerleaders for Biologos in the past will realize that they’ve just been thrown under the bus here. I’m sure they will still be endorsing the organization by next year.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Falk’s essay also shows just how vile Matzke’s erstwhile “allies” are.

    • Sigmund
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Nick, the context of this piece is the recent article by Karl Giberson that admits that Francis Collins, and by implication Biologos as a whole, holds no influence with evangelicals in matters of science. Giberson states that Ken Ham is the person they turn to in order to learn about science. Falk seems to echo this lack of faith in the ability of Biologos to get more evangelicals to accept evolution.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t actually read the piece, but did Giberson really say they rely on the “expertise” of Ken Ham?

      • NickMatzke
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        Re: Giberson/Collins statements about “no influence”, I would be careful to not overinterpret that. It’s obviously true they don’t have as much influence as they would like, thus they mention this fact and argue for why it should change. But there’s no way to say they have “no influence” — they have appeared favorably in major evangelical publications like Christianity Today, as well as the national press, they have worried the fundamentalists/conservatives, they are members of the theistic evolutionist group which now (it wasn’t always this way) rules the ASA, the major organization of scientists who are evangelicals, etc. This is harder to prove but my sense of it is that their views would be dominant at evangelical colleges as well (e.g. places like Wheaton, Messiah, Calvin, Baylor), excluding straight-up fundamentalist Bible colleges like Biola.

        The fact that Albert Mohler (especially) and others on the fundamentalist side have gone out of their way to argue with BioLogos, a very young group with little more than a blog and some op-eds and conference appearances, can be interpreted as evidence that the fundamentalists are worried that BioLogos might be getting through to evangelicals.

        In general the question of “influence” on evangelicals is a very complicated one. It’s easy to forget that we’re not talking about a few people, we’re basically talking about a country-within-a-country, made up of maybe 100 million people (1/3 of the U.S. population), complete with its own magazines, TV channels, educational system, colleges, publishers, etc., not to mention of course churches and seminaries and thousands of freelance “ministries” devoted to every specialty issue one can imagine.

        It’s a group with its own opinion-makers and scholars, and like with U.S. public opinion generally, the role of scholarship and nonprofits in that community is really to attempt to move the debate amongst the opinion leaders and then very very slowly this filters out to the general evangelical population via the evangelical schools, magazines, etc.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          “It’s a group with its own opinion-makers and scholars, and like with U.S. public opinion generally, the role of scholarship and nonprofits in that community is really to attempt to move the debate amongst the opinion leaders and then very very slowly this filters out to the general evangelical population via the evangelical schools, magazines, etc.”

          Wow. What a messed up model for communicating ideas. No wonder the American public is so misinformed about so many things.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      It’s always been clear that it’s been both. Christian fundamentalists and hard-core atheists argue that science and religion are incompatible and you, me, and everyone *has* to pick one or the other or suffer the scorn of the righteous. Moderate Christians and non-Christians think the matter is more complicated.

      Nick, would you be so kind as to provide an example of a “Moderate Christian” whose take on the origins of species is fully compatible with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and Random Mutation? And, when doing so, would you please limit your selection to prominent members of large denominations? And please leave the deists and pantheists out of the mix, restricting yourself to those who proclaim the divinity of Jesus and his doctrine of salvation.

      Last I checked, even the most liberal of the “Moderate Christians” preach some form of theistic creationism, whereby one or more of their gods mucks around in the works in very significant ways that aren’t even hinted at by the evidence presented to date in peer-reviewed publications. Sure, lots of them will go along with the timelines and the genealogies, but, when the rubber hits the road, they reject the central premise that was Darwin’s insight and that remains to this day: that evolution is a wholly natural, unguided, mindless process that is an emergent property of the statistical nature of the environment and the organisms.

      Unless you can provide evidence that a significant number of religious Christians really do “get it,” I’m afraid that I’ll have to continue to equate attempts at reconciling Evolution and Christianity with attempts at reconciling Chemistry and Alchemy or Astronomy and Astrology. Sure, modern astrologers use NASA data to calculate the positions of the heavenly bodies, but they still think those positions control our destinies. And, okay, alchemists have the Periodic Chart taped to their walls, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find the Philosopher’s Stone.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • hallucigenia
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        I think we could probably produce a list of thousands–maybe even millions–of ‘moderate Christians’ who nonetheless are orthodox about evolution. But how about just one big one–Theodosius Dobzhansky?

        Ah, but you’ll probably say he was really a deist or something (despite the fact that he considered himself an eastern orthodox christian). That’s the problem, though, with your line of reasoning: in order to exclude examples that contradict your hypothesis, you end up defining what a ‘proper’ Christian really is. That seems like a pretty strange thing for an atheist do be doing, doesn’t it?

        And don’t you think it’s unfair to demand specific references and examples from other commenters, while at the same time making statements like

        Last I checked, even the most liberal of the “Moderate Christians” preach some form of theistic creationism

        Checked? Checked where? The internet?

        Yes, lots of Christians hold views that are clearly incompatible with or impediments to full acceptance of evolution. But lots of people who consider themselves Christians don’t. Why do you get to decide a) what a ‘real Christian’ believes, and b) what a ‘real evolutionist’ believes? I would also point out that the “Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and Random Mutation” is not a theory of the origin of life, or of the universe, as we so often have to remind the creationists. So even “theistic creationists” like Ken Miller who believe God ‘mucks about’ with the universe outside of peer review can still be perfectly good evolutionists.

        • Chuck
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          I think that an atheist can easily defeat the notion that Christians are compatible with Darwinian evolution simply by citing the first stanza of their most popular creed,
          “I believe in one God,
          the Father Almighty,
          maker of heaven and earth,
          and of all things visible and invisible;”

          If one doesn’t believe this then I’d wonder if they are a Christian and if they do then I would say they don’t accept Darwinian evolution as stated.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          you end up defining what a ‘proper’ Christian really is.

          …and we all know there is no such thing.

          your statement is ridiculous, because there are over 40 THOUSAND sects of xianity.

          IOW, they make this shit up as they go anyway.

          No “proper” xian is about as understated as one can put it!

          • Ichthyic
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            Why do you get to decide a) what a ‘real Christian’ believes, and b) what a ‘real evolutionist’ believes?

            on a:

            because it’s imaginary. which is the point: Who indeed gets to decide what is official dogma there, and what isn’t.

            again…. 40 THOUSAND sects.

            It’s just as legitimate to say xianity is completely incompatible with any particular aspect of science as to say it isn’t!

            b. This, OTOH, has an objective answer, and you know it. There’s only one theory of evolution that’s been supported by experiment and its predictions borne out time and time again.

            • Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

              Just as a small aside, I don’t think we really need to mention the thousands of sects that exist when discussing who’s a “true” Christian and who’s not.

              Just the fact that there is *more than one* kind of Christianity (or any given religion) is sufficient to cast doubt on the enterprise as a whole.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

                Just the fact that there is *more than one*

                good point.

        • Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          Theodosius Dobzhansky

          He’s been dead since the Vietnam War.

          That’s the problem, though, with your line of reasoning: in order to exclude examples that contradict your hypothesis, you end up defining what a ‘proper’ Christian really is.

          I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to limit my inquiry to Christians who accept the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of salvation. Do you?

          Checked? Checked where? The internet?

          Fair enough. Permit me to rephrase: I can’t recall a single instance of a “Moderate Christian” who preached anything other than theistic creation (even if it’s a very watered-down version of such). Can you offer any counter-examples?

          So even “theistic creationists” like Ken Miller who believe God ‘mucks about’ with the universe outside of peer review can still be perfectly good evolutionists.

          No, they can’t.

          A god that mucks about with the universe is one that leaves its fingerprints all over the place. Specifically, Mr. Miller believes there was at least one instance of divinely-caused human parthenogenesis resulting in a male birth. And that’s really, really, really bad science.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Ichthyic
            Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            yup, I can’t myself recall the part of the ToE where it says it needs any deity to explain the observations used to form and test the theory.

            so, then there IS an objective answer as to what we can say about what a “real” evolutionist believes.

            It’s spelled out in the theory, and theory doesn’t include any mention of deities of any kind.

            so, to say like Collins does, that the Abrahamic God must have played a role at some point in the evolution of humans, is saying that he is not an “evolutionist”.

            To say, like Miller does, that the same God must operate within “quantum fields” to accomplish his tinkering, is, likewise, saying the same thing.

            • hallucigenia
              Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

              Ichthyic:

              It’s just as legitimate to say xianity is completely incompatible with any particular aspect of science as to say it isn’t!

              My point exactly.

              There’s only one theory of evolution that’s been supported by experiment and its predictions borne out time and time again.

              Really? Was that Darwin’s version? Mayr’s? Simpson’s? Gould’s? David Sloan Wilson’s? The FACT of evolution doesn’t change. The THEORY does. That’s pretty elementary.

              I can’t myself recall the part of the ToE where it says it needs any deity to explain the observations used to form and test the theory.

              Sorry, to which document are you referring? The one Darwin brought down from the mountaintop on stone tablets? Can’t you see that you’re being as dogmatic here as Christians are about their bible? The ToE is not scripture, it isn’t written down in any one book, and it does not prescribe or proscribe beliefs.

              so, then there IS an objective answer as to what we can say about what a “real” evolutionist believes.

              Now that’s just asinine. Scientists never talk this way about their theories. And no evolutionary biologist I know–and I would imagine even Jerry would be included here–would disqualify a colleague simply because he or she professed belief in a deity (assuming, that is, that no references or appeals to said deity appeared in his/her scientific work).

              It’s spelled out in the theory, and theory doesn’t include any mention of deities of any kind.

              Right, which is why it’s not appropriate to invoke deities in discussions of, say, population genetics. But that does not mean, as you seem to think it does, that therefore the ToE has any position on the existence of deities. You’re free to muster evidence from biology, chemistry, physics, etc. to make an ARGUMENT about the (non)existence of deities (and it might be a very good one), but those theories themselves say nothing about God.

              Ben Goren:

              He’s been dead since the Vietnam War.

              So–does that disqualify him? He was also one of the founders of modern evolutionary genetics. You aren’t making the argument that Dobzhansky get’s a pass because people believed funny thinks in the past, are you? Because that would be ridiculous. Either one of the towering figures in evolutionary biology was a ‘proper’ evolutionist, or he wasn’t. Which is it?

              I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to limit my inquiry to Christians who accept the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of salvation. Do you?

              Yes, obviously I do. It may come as a surprise, but there are lots of individual Catholics, Episcopalians, UCC’ers, etc. who reject some or all of the more supernatural elements of the bible. But they still go to church, they still revere Jesus’ teachings, and they still consider themselves Christians. I see no reason why you, I, or anyone else should tell them otherwise. Of course ‘accomodationism’ looks ridiculous to you–because you’ve excluded the very population that most so-called ‘accomodationists’ want to reach!

              Mr. Miller believes there was at least one instance of divinely-caused human parthenogenesis resulting in a male birth. And that’s really, really, really bad science.

              No, it’s not, because Ken Miller does not advance that as a scientific claim. Show me where he has, and I’ll agree with you. But he has made it very clear that he regards his faith as something outside of science. I admit I find it hard to understand how Miller can maintain his faith despite everything he knows and accepts about science, but that’s his business, and he doesn’t try to tell anyone they should believe what he believes. And I think it’s out of line (and horribly presumptuous) to call him a bad scientist, or to suggest that he can’t be a ‘real’ evolutionist.

              • Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                Because that would be ridiculous. Either one of the towering figures in evolutionary biology was a ‘proper’ evolutionist, or he wasn’t.

                It’s hard to be a more towering figure in science than Newton, and he bought into all sorts of religious wackloonery. He’s also ancient history. Dobzhansky isn’t ancient history, but he’s hardly at the modern forefront.

                There are lots of individual Catholics, Episcopalians, UCC’ers, etc. who reject some or all of the more supernatural elements of the bible.

                Okay. Give me one example of a position in authority in each of those denominations whose theology is fully compatible with the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection.

                But they still go to church, they still revere Jesus’ teachings, and they still consider themselves Christians.

                Give me one prominent example each of a member of those same three denominations of somebody who explicitly rejects both the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of salvation.

                Ken Miller does not advance [the Virgin Birth] as a scientific claim.

                Wait — you think this helps your position?

                You’re acknowledging that the man holds dear to unscientific bullshit directly related to the field of hereditary biology, and you think that’s somehow okay because he admits that he knows it’s unscientific bullshit but still holds it dear anyway?

                Are you even bothering to poorfread your posts before you click the button?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

                Was that Darwin’s version? Mayr’s? Simpson’s? Gould’s? David Sloan Wilson’s? The FACT of evolution doesn’t change. The THEORY does. That’s pretty elementary.

                what’s pretty obvious is that you don’t understand what a theory is, vs. the mechanisms it incorporates.

                fact is, the ToE incorporates ALL of the mechanisms mentioned in your list, well except Sloan Wilson’s (:P)

                so all you’ve done is more false equivalence, based on pure ignorance.

                you haven’t proven your point; you’ve refuted it!

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                damnit, I really hate nested commentary!!!

                Sorry, to which document are you referring?

                right, so you don’t even know what the modern theory of evolution actually IS, but you’re more than happy to equate it to religious dogma.

                you’re an idiot.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

                Scientists never talk this way about their theories.

                I was working within the framework YOU set up.

                Indeed, scientists DON’T.

                They don’t need to.

                In fact, in my day to day life, bullshit like yours doesn’t even come up when I’m working.

                It only comes up when we consider the horrible influence religion itself has had on science education and funding in the US and the rest of the world.

                here’s the bottom line for you, which you fail to understand:

                religion and science ARE incompatible epistemologies.

                there simply is no way around that.

                for a scientist to claim that any specific religion and any specific science are “compatible” is simply to say that for a specific reality claim they do not attack one another. That’s the best that can be claimed, and typically even then, falls apart when pressed.

                examples being Collins and Miller.

                and for Ben:

                Miller is NOT an evolutionary biologist, FYI, he’s a cell biologist.

                likewise Collins is also not an evolutionary biologist.

                You will not find one single evolutionary biologist ever claiming anything close to things Miller or Collins says.

                not one.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

                and for Ben:

                scratch that part.

                did I mention how much I hate nested comments?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

                I just noticed.

                perhaps

                “hallucinogenia”

                would be a more appropriate nym?

                oh, and just to stress one more time:

                there really is only ONE THEORY of evolution out there accepted by the scientific community. ONE.

                get that?

                ONE.

                It contains many mechanisms and hypotheses still under vigorous debate (ever attended a conference on sexual selection?), but none of this changes the fundamental nature of the theory itself.

                ..of which there is only one, and one is which it is, too.

                did I mention my sister’s name is Anne Elk?

              • Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

                Miller is NOT an evolutionary biologist, FYI, he’s a cell biologist.

                likewise Collins is also not an evolutionary biologist.

                True…but does it really matter?

                I mean, we wouldn’t be forgiving of a planetary geologist who rejected Relativity in favor of the Electric Universe simply because he’s not a cosmologist, would we?

                You can’t claim competence in a branch of a discipline if you reject the foundational principles of that discipline in favor of primitive superstition.

                Especially when not a single one of those who do specialize in the foundational principles rejects them.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

                True…but does it really matter?

                well, it was not actually directed at you, but since you responded:

                Yes, it does.

                why?

                why would it matter if someone who built bridges their whole life commented on building bridges, vs. someone who took a course in physics and understood the basic forces involved in properly constructing a bridge?

                Those who live this stuff, meaning make studying evolutionary biology an actual career, end up discarding more readily that which is not compatible with it.

                being a cell biologist, Miller doesn’t spend time in the field, seeing how evolution actually works.

                this DOES have an impact on what one tends to think of being as “compatible”.

                a lifetime of experience does tend to instruct one on what actually is compatible and what isn’t.

                Which is why I mentioned you will not be able to find a single person who actually IS a practicing evolutionary biologist (meaning they actually publish field or lab studies on the subject), who makes claims of compatibility of religion and evolutionary biology, or hell, even science in general.

                It just isn’t “there”.

                In short:

                why does it matter if Jerry Coyne wrote a book called “Why Evolution is True” as opposed to say, Stephen Hawking?

              • truthspeaker
                Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

                “Ken Miller does not advance that as a scientific claim”

                And yet he still claims it happened. The fact that he thinks something can happen in reality that is “outside” of science is what makes him a bad scientist.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

              But he has made it very clear that he regards his faith as something outside of science.

              You really don’t get that you just defeated your compatibility argument, do you?

              Separate does not mean compatible.

              Just because humans are capable of compartmentalizing tremendously disparate ideas, does not make those ideas compatible!

              Just because Miller exists, and is a scientist, does not make the two wholly disparate epistemologies compatible!!

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                Ichthyic, my name is David Sepkoski, and I invite you to look up my qualifications for discussing (and understanding) evolutionary theory.Nothing I wrote to you was personal or insulting, but you apparently would rather shout at your opponents and make ignorant claims about their intelligence and education than have a respectful, reasoned debate. My mistake–this is the internet, after all.

                So, Mr. Expert, who are YOU…?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

                then why are you failing at it so badly?

                So, Mr. Expert, who are YOU…?

                -graduate degree UCB in zoology, with published papers in evolutionary biology and behavior of fishes.

                I didn’t call your credentials into account.

                I called your account of evolutionary theory into account, and even your understanding of what a THEORY even is.

                I don’t care WHO you are.

                If Jerry said the same stupid shit you did, I’d call him out on it too.

                He never has though.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

                Nothing I wrote to you was personal or insulting

                not insulting?

                LOL

                somehow, I think in your studies of the HISTORY of evolution, you lost track of what the difference is between theory and hypothesis is.

                Is it really the case that in your book you also claim there is more than one accepted theory of evolution?

                well?

                seriously, you insult all of science, not just me, if you claim that there being only one theory means I’m implying it is dogma, as you did earlier.

                I hope you did better in your book than you did here.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

                btw, I do hope this IS the same Sepkoski that wrote this book:

                http://people.uncw.edu/sepkoskid/index_files/paleorev.htm

                because I’m really laughing my ass off at who your co-author is….

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

                Ichthyic, I just went back through your several outraged responses, and I fail to note even one that states in what way I’ve failed to understand evolutionary theory, or engages substantively with any of the points I made. You just like shouting, don’t you? Well, have fun (and by the way, you haven’t really told me who you are, have you…?).

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

                fail to note even one that states in what way I’ve failed to understand evolutionary theory

                curse you for making me scroll through nested comments.

                here you go:

                me:

                There’s only one theory of evolution that’s been supported by experiment and its predictions borne out time and time again.

                you:

                Really? Was that Darwin’s version? Mayr’s? Simpson’s? Gould’s? David Sloan Wilson’s?

                which demonstrates exactly why I said you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes the theory of evolution, AND why I said you also have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of a what a theory even is.

                There really is only one theory, and you flailing about mentioning various HYPOTHESES (involved or not, which most certainly Sloan-Wilson’s are not), clearly spells out you do not understand this.

                answer my questions though:

                is that your book that is co-authored with Michael Ruse?

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

                Sure, Michael was the co-EDITOR of the book. What’s the problem with that? Take a look at the list of contributors: do you doubt the credentials of Jim Valentine? Dave Jablonski? Richard Bambach? Tim White? (etc. etc.). Am I supposed to feel some kind of guilt by association? I guess you don’t like what Ruse says about ‘accomodation.’ Well, I don’t always agree with him, either. But this book isn’t about religion–it’s about science. And there are lots of reviews out there that indicate what a good book it is. Again, you’re welcome to look them up.

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

                Wait, I missed this earlier: do you really think theories never change? Perhaps you SHOULD read some history, friend.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

                whatever, it’s obvious you don’t like it when people point out you’re wrong, and you instead decide to deflect focus on tone instead.

                Here’s the takehome message as to why you piss me off:

                because you claimed that because xianity is malleable to any capricious whim, and theories change in science, that makes the two equivalent!

                you think talking about the fact that xianity has 40K sects MAKES YOUR POINT??

                nothing of the kind. What it shows us is that religious ideology HAS NO INDEPENDENT WAY OF REFUTING ITSELF.

                Science, OTOH, does.

                this is exactly WHY there is only one theory of evolution, and 40K sects of xianity alone. That you want to paint me as dogmatic for saying there is only one theory of evolution is another thing that makes you an ass.

                If you can’t see why this makes the two epistemologies incompatible, then you really need to re-examine your thinking on these issues carefully.

                I would suggest, as a first step, avoiding taking anything Ruse has to say on the subject seriously.

                He really has been horribly wrong about this.

                hell, just scan this very site for the many ways Ruse has managed to get it wrong.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                Wait, I missed this earlier: do you really think theories never change? Perhaps you SHOULD read some history, friend.

                Strawman.

                I never said that, anywhwere.

                and you wonder why you piss me off.

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                I never, ever, ever, ever said that science and theology are equivalent. Show me where I did. At least have the courtesy to attack me for what I DID say, and not what you imagine I said.

                What I DID say is the OPPOSITE: namely, treating scientific theories as if they are static, unchanging entities runs the risk of treating science like scripture. That’s completely different. Go back to my first post if you don’t believe me.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

                Take a look at the list of contributors: do you doubt the credentials of Jim Valentine? Dave Jablonski? Richard Bambach? Tim White?

                you’re really hung up on this authority thing, aren’t you?

                gees, do I even need to point you to a list of basic fallacies?

                one of which BEING the argument from authority?

                here, try this on for size:

                You know of the “documentary” Expelled, yes?

                That one can cite Richard Dawkins as a contributor!

                do you doubt the credentials of Dawkins to speak on issues of the history of evolutionary biology and science?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

                I never, ever, ever, ever said that science and theology are equivalent. Show me where I did.

                I already did.

                try again?

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

                No, but I doubt yours.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

                this is ridiculous.

                having a running debate in a nested system is just too hard.

                do you have a site where I can continue this with you?

                post the link here, if you feel the need to advertise your defense of your mistakes.

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

                I think this fighting has gone far enough for here; could you people take it offline?

                kthxbye

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

                No, but I doubt yours.

                that’s nice.

                entirely irrelevant though.

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

                Anyway, I’m sorry it came to all this shouting. I really don’t enjoy that, even if I get caught up with it in the moment. It’s actually too bad, because we probably agree on 99% of the substantive issues here, and might have had an interesting conversation about the remaining 1%. Ah, scratch that last one. It doesn’t matter, and I’ve no desire to cast aspersions on your intelligence or training. Anyway, for what it’s worth, I apologize on principle if I DID say anything offensive. Exchanges like these are no good for the blood pressure, or much of anything else…

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, Jerry–my last post anticipated yours. I don’t feel proud about bickering like this.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

                and might have had an interesting conversation about the remaining 1%.

                perhaps so.

                do you not have a website to continue this on?

                vehement debate does not mean resolution is impossible.

                bottom line though:

                when you said this

                Why do you get to decide a) what a ‘real Christian’ believes, and b) what a ‘real evolutionist’ believes?

                my point exactly was that someone who claims xianity can make up whatever ideology they wish. There is no independent way to judge what that means, only a way to judge whether any particular religious ideology is compatible with any particular SECT, which is also made up ideology.

                OTOH, we DO get to decide, objectively, what fits into the theory of evolution and what doesn’t.

                We don’t call Ken Ham an evolutionary biologist, regardless of whether or not he has ideas on how evolution works.

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                No website, but feel free to email me–should be easy to find my address. If not, have a nice evening, and perhaps our next online interaction will be friendlier.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                No website, but feel free to email me

                That’s a generous offer. I think I might take you up on that. I actually do enjoy debating this subject, in case it wasn’t obvious.

                your faculty email should work, yes?

              • hallucigenia
                Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

                Yes, that will work. I’ll look forward to the conversation if you decide to write.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          I would also point out that the “Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and Random Mutation” is not a theory of the origin of life, or of the universe, as we so often have to remind the creationists. So even “theistic creationists” like Ken Miller who believe God ‘mucks about’ with the universe outside of peer review can still be perfectly good evolutionists.

          Abiogenesis isn’t what Miller (and the catholics) is about, as noted earlier. But as for that topic, you are mistaking the dependencies and so the testing involved.

          Evolution, as a fact and as a theory, isn’t dependent on abiogenesis. Which is what we must remind many creationists of when they claim that lack of specific pathways constitute a test for evolution.

          On the other hand there is no reason to believe that abiogenesis did not depend on selection and variation, and in fact every reason to believe it did. So it is valuable for abiogenesis theory, such as it is, that evolution has tested out correct.

          Conversely, it any form of creationism, late or early, is a problem in the context of biology.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        “Nick, would you be so kind as to provide an example of a “Moderate Christian” whose take on the origins of species is fully compatible with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and Random Mutation?”

        Easy (although that definition of evolution isn’t perfect):

        Kenneth Miller. The Society for the Study of Evolution (current president: Jerry Coyne) is even giving him an award at the meeting in June this year.

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          Look, Nick, you imply that I had something to do with that award, and that’s not true. The award is chosen by a special committee of which I am not a part.

          Can’t you just post something without the attendant snark?

          • NickMatzke
            Posted May 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

            Hi Jerry, just saw this. Apologies, I had no intention of implying that you specifically had something to do with the award. Your criticisms of Ken Miller are well-known, of course.

            And I don’t think by brief post was snarky at all, particularly not when judged against the standards of typical blog comments (there’s a little snark for you!).

            Regardless, SSE’s award to Ken Miller is an excellent riposte to Ben Goren’s question, at least if he is willing to grant that SSE has some authority on the question of who is getting their evolutionary theory correct.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Why would Matzke be interested in defending an organization that mostly or fully props up faith instead of promoting evolution?

      Christian fundamentalists and hard-core atheists argue that science and religion are incompatible and you, me, and everyone *has* to pick one or the other or suffer the scorn of the righteous.

      The facile conflation does not get rid of the fact that these two groups have nothing in common.

      Fundamentalists argue that science and religion are incompatible from supposition. Nothing has ever or will ever move that.

      Atheists argue that science and religion are incompatible from observation. This position was movable and remains so.

      If accommodationists wants to move the later position they are welcome to present their results that invalidates earlier observation. (Say, observation on religious organizations prioritizing religion over science.)

      Funnily, accommodationists never seem able or willing to do so.

      • Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Point very well made. Dogma and science are incompatible.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Why would Matzke be interested in defending an organization that mostly or fully props up faith instead of promoting evolution?

        Not saying I agree, but I *think* I understand why Matzke wold defend Bilogos.

        He’s mentioned not a few times that he thinks that placating the religious that are trying to tear down science is the best way of reducing the problems and impacts of evolution denialism, has he not?

        Think:

        “Tell the mobs with pitchforks and torches that Frankenstein is not their enemy!”

        …and we all saw how well that worked out.

        Come to think of it, I’m guessing Nick thinks of it more like the Mel Brooks version than the Mary Shelley version.

        *shrug*

        Well, anywho, it seems clear to me why Nick would want to defend Biologos.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          In a comment above, he also seems to embrace an authoritarian idea of communication – change the opinion of authority figures first, and then wait for them to change the opinions of the people who look to those authority figures for guidance. From that worldview, sucking up to douchebags like Falk might seem like a worthy goal.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      William Lane Craig is, I think, often supposed to be a moderately moderate Christian, the sort of person whom accommodationists like to get into bed with to conduct their curious amours, but just look at the video of the man trotting out ignorant and dishonest rubblish about micro- and macro-evolution in a conversation with Lewis Wolpert – the video is posted on Eric MacDonald’s blog, in a post about Dawkins’ entirely justified refusal to debate with WLC.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        as an aside, did you catch the “debate” between Harris and Craig last month?

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/sam-harriswilliam-craig-debate-now-available/

        • Tim Harris
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          Have just watched it on your recommendation, if it was one! I’m not sure I want to say thank you for directing me to it – it was pretty dire. Sam Harris was of course far better – Craig, with his petty distinctions that he blew up to be of huge importance so that he remained confined in his little box throughout said nothing of any interest whatsoever: I was reminded of the ‘match’ between Muhammad Ali and the Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki, who spent all his time flat on the canvas as Ali circled about him…

  17. yesmyliege
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    And here I thought I was just doing my job, running chores, cooking dinner, having some friends over for drinks. Turns out, what I *really* was doing was living the Apostate Lifestyle! Who knew?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      rejoice!

  18. Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    So if non-believers are looking for an excuse to justify their apostate lifestyle—and they are—

    The arrogance is appalling. They need to leave other people the hell alone.

    Satan! Falk believes in the devil! Isn’t this starting to sound like a Jack Chick comic, the one in which a sweating, bearded professor uses evolution to wrench students away from Jesus?

    Yes. And the accommodationists’ cozying up to these people, who don’t just think we’re wrong but actually suggest that we’re immoral and even Satanic, and then turning around and criticizing us for speaking plainly is stupid and indefensible.

    • Sigmund
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Does he really think we are satanists or is he simply speaking in evangelicaleese?
      That sort of language really gets my goat (which is annoying since the coven and I plan to sacrifice it next full moon!)

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      From an evangelical Christian point of view, everyone that’s not “saved” is Satanic: blinded by the devil and doing his evil will, even if we don’t know it. And what better evidence could there be that someone is unsaved than that they reject God’s Word or don’t even accept Jesus?

      Of course it (usually) goes without saying that we’re dishonest and immoral, although occasionally someone does actually say that as Falk just did. I mean, just what else would Satanic people but up to except evil?

      Of course, none of this is incompatible with science. [/snark]

      • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        I’ve actually been saved several times – in more than one state, in fact. When they would call out for people to come up and be saved, I would. Beat sitting around in the audience waiting while other kids were doing it. Amazingly, no one ever called me on it.

        So I’m covered if I want to cavort with Satan. Which of course I do.

  19. Posted May 23, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I am pretty sure this is not news to Templeton. It is kind of symmetric, isn’t it? How can you make science compatible with religion without making religion compatible with science?

    And the argument rings true. If science and religion are incompatible, then that means adherents of either one must make a choice and give up the other. And science has the stronger case, what with all the observable evidence and everything. That’s why so many of the religious fall back on cognitive dissonance and hand waving about the science where there is a conflict. They don’t really want to give up science completely, they know that it speaks truth. So they give up parts of it and stick their fingers in their ears.

    Really, if you were starting a new religion today, would it even get off the ground if it asserted things like the flood, or creation? Imagine the traction the Cult of the Flat Earth or the Brothers of the Turtles All the Way Down would get?

  20. Ryedo
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Religions poison everything. Christianity, especially, hijacks and moulds in its image whatever it can to survive. Accommodationists are playing right into their hands

  21. Zoe
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    What you have quoted is really an incoherent rant. It starts off fairly rational (if questionable) and gradually escalates to something resembling Davros at his most Hitleresque. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGjn47Y-MTg

    The writer should have put it on a shelf or in a drawer for at least six months and then come back to it and read it through. If he still wanted to publish it, I would recommend instead that he volunteered to be committed for a psychiatric evaluation.

    No, hang on. Did someone say, ‘Catch 22’?

  22. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Falk really pisses me off.

    It is true that “belief in evolution” is used by some to prop up their desire to live life their way and not God’s.

    Yes that’s right, you authoritarian piece of crap – I do want to live my way and not that of an imaginary cosmic dictator interpreted by real and bossy male human beings. I want to live my way and not Darrel Falk’s way as derived from centuries of extrapolation from an ancient book written by some not very educated men.

    Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, they are looking for an excuse to become—as the serpent put it to Eve—“like God,” and to be masters of their own fate.

    No, not an excuse, you authoritarian piece of crap – I don’t need an excuse. I just naturally do want to be master of my own fate, because the alternative you give is to hand it over to some priest. Priests hate women and they’re wrong about almost everything. I don’t want to be “like God”; I just don’t want to be a groveling subject. Mind your own god damn business.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      I felt puzzled when I read Falk’s complaint about people wanting to be masters of their own fate. On reflection, your outrage is far more appropriate.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Humxm
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I agree. I don’t want to be like God at all. According to all those stories in their Book, he was one mean S.O.B. I’m trying my best NOT to be like that.

    • Karmakin
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      *nod*

      It would be one thing if these people had any semblance of right and wrong. But they don’t.

      Not only are they wanting to enforce an authoritarian morality, but a BAD authoritarian morality at that. That said, one could make the argument (and that I would agree) that it’s basically impossible to get a positive morality from an authoritarian source. Any source that would demand control would be almost by definition have no concept of real right and wrong in the first place.

    • Paula Kirby
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Absolutely right. There’s not the slightest need to feel defensive about the kind of silly accusations that Falk has come out with here. Guilty as charged – and proud of it. I would be ashamed to live in servile submission to a mythical tyrant who demands we suspend our every critical faculty and wallow in guilt merely for being human. As for morals, I’ll put mine up against God’s any day: at least I am able to forgive people who wrong me without torturing someone to death first. I also have the considerable advantage of actually existing.

      • Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        I also have the considerable advantage of actually existing.

        I dunno…how do you know you’re not just a figment of my imagination?

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Paula Kirby
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          Because I’m pretty sure you’re just a figment of mine, of course. 😉

          • Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            Oh, no, I’m afraid that’s simply not possible. You see, it’s already been conclusively proven that I’m a figment of my cat’s imagination, and you’re not him, so QED and all that.

            I’d explain further, but I’m rubbing his belly right now. As soon as I stop, he’ll forget all about me (until dinnertime, natch), at which point we’ll both cease to exist….

            Cheers,

            b&

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      The more I read this twisted rant, the more outrageous it appears. He thinks we’ve chosen to disbelieve precisely so that we can be selfish and immoral, using science to “excuse” or “justify” ourselves. If no gods exist, we don’t have to answer to anyone, so we (say we?) don’t believe.

      Unwittingly, it is almost as though we give them license to conclude: “If evolution is true, God’s Word is a lie, and I am free to do anything I want.” God help us!

      …What I do pray for, though, is that we will stop portraying that belief in evolution is not consistent with biblical Christianity. This proposition is exactly what gives atheists the excuse they are looking for,

      It really is all about authoritarianism. He couldn’t care less about science. His only concern is that people don’t free themselves from the control of churches and their grotesque vision of morality.

    • Your Name's not Bruce?
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Yes; submission to the dictates of theistic religion is submission to the will of men, pure and simple. Atheists aren’t “rejecting”, “hating” or “disobeying” any god, we are resisting the dictates of authoritarian humans (pretty much all men) who are using something called god a a prop and authority. “pay no attention to the imam/priest/rabbi behind the curtain. There’s no god to which one can submit, no satan for whom one can work.

      • wilzard
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Not as much resisting the dictates of authoritarian humans as it is rejecting their dictates, assertions and proclimations.
        As it should be, since we have evidence (and reason) on our side.

        • Your Name's not Bruce?
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Yes.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        And just to be clear, it would be equally bad if the dictates came from authoritarian women.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      No, Mr Falk, I don’t actually want to be like your god.

      Even if I believed Falk’s god existed I’d still think he was a volatile, jealous, blackmailing, bribing, multiple genocidal maniac, fucking incompetent communicator and incessant guilt-trip artist who manages to inspire the very worst in thought, word and deed in a great many people while at the same time making them think they’re paragons of faithful virtue.

      Screw Falk and his petty little goblin-king.

  23. Sastra
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Creationism is Christianity shooting itself in the foot. They not only make a “test” for God, but they make a test that they are going to lose. Short term political or social gains won’t win out over the fact that evolution actually did happen. Reality is on the side of science, and science is on the side of naturalism all the way down.

    For a long time then, whenever an accomodationist whined that, in agreeing that evolution doesn’t fit in with Christianity, gnu atheists were playing right into the Creationists’ hands, I always replied that it was the other way around. On the contrary, the Creationists were playing right into the atheists’ hands. They were setting up their religion in a way that made it falsifiable — and falsified. They were walking into a rational trap.

    And the consequences were not going to be good for Christianity. If it were just a matter of numbers and not a matter of science, honesty, and truth, the gnu atheists ought to fund Ham and his ilk. Way to go, you bozos.

    We are not locked in a room with them: they are locked in a room with us.

    It sounds to me as if Biologos is now conceding this point. Creationism isn’t just false — it’s giving the atheists the upper hand! We need to stop promoting creationism not just because it’s bad science or even ‘bad theology’ — it’s bad strategy! Creationism destroys faith.

    And we can’t destroy faith. That would make us evil, like the atheists.

    Unfortunately, the gnu atheists are not all about the strategy and the numbers. For us, it is about the science, and honesty, and truth. And in trying to frame the science/religion divide as some dishonest atheist game designed to do evil the Christians are once again blithely setting themselves against reality.

    We do not say that science is at odds with religion so we can reject ethics. We do so because it is fundamentally correct. Turn science on God, be honest, and watch what happens.

  24. Chuck
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    The ignorance of the author of the article to understand how the bait and switch he plays with is demotivating to faith helps strengthen the moral force behind my apostasy. I left Evangelical Christianity when I realized that faith arguments relied on fear appeals and not proper evidence. When I realized that almost everything my pastors preached as to historical evidence for the Bible was exaggeration or lies, I left in anger. I hoped to find a path towards truth in Christianity and instead discovered it to be nothing more than a privileged superstition animated by self-loathing and fear.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I left Evangelical Christianity when I realized that faith arguments relied on fear appeals and not proper evidence.

      See that’s a killer point. It’s not just a matter of naughty gnus telling believers their beliefs are mistaken and thus entrenching them even deeper, as Mooney thinks. It’s also, or instead, a matter of telling believers it’s a fraud and a con by a bunch of (male) human beings, who derive power over them from the fraud. People don’t like being lied to and conned!

      As gnu atheism spreads, this aspect of the thing will become more and more obvious.

  25. 386sx
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I was wrong:

    Errr, I thought it was fairly obvious what they are about. All the articles are “kook” articles written by kooks. Lol. I thought the esteemed blog manager already knew that. I didn’t know he was even wrong. (I.e. I thought he already knew.)

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Well, it is better than being “not even wrong”. [Pauli, lamenting sadly on some young physicist’s paper.]

      • 386sx
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        He’s not even not even wrong. It’s sounds worse but it’s really better.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          It sounds random.

          I doubt BioLogos thinks that is better (“evolution is random” la la la). LOL!

  26. Thomasn Cunningham
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I am ever amazed that those Jesus defenders/promoters cannot see the obvious about themselves and their ilk: They do not possess the ability to be “good”, that is respectful, responsible, compassionate people. They need the “promise” of the afterlife to do what most of us feel compelled to do, in their relationships with their fellow humans. This observation is apparent when one sees that the low nature of these people always seems to manifest: be it hatred toward various groups of people, support of “righteous” wars, tendencies toward sadism.

  27. 386sx
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    What I do pray for, though, is that we will stop portraying that belief in evolution is not consistent with biblical Christianity.

    He could have left out the “biblical” part. Whatever Christianity it is, it isn’t “biblical” Christianity. Putting the “biblical” in there just looks like kooky wishful thinking.

  28. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Good one.

    But I have to nitpick, since I hit a recurrent snag in reading:

    This, of course, explains why BioLogos has been busy showing that there may be some truth in the story of Adam and Eve, that God has designed evolution to produce humans,

    Maybe I’m reading too many biologist blogs, or it is a language/culture thing.

    But it seems to me biologists are prone to lazy subject perspective, making genomes “adapt to” instead of becoming adapted, and here making religious “showing” instead of trying to show (and failing miserably).

    I wouldn’t mind so much if, when you are reading at some clip, you hit an illogical construction and have to parse it.

    From some third actor perspective and a deluded perspective to boot. Suddenly you move at sloth pace. =D

  29. Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    “So if non-believers are looking for an excuse to justify their apostate lifestyle—and they are—…”

    Well, snip my pickle and call me Schlomo! Nobody outside the religious gives a flying fuck about apostasy. Damn damn fuckitty fuck! These morons are so dense!

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Two thumbs up.

      Religionists need to realise that non-religious people aren’t going to be swayed by religiously-based arguments, insults, threats or bribes. You’d think that’d be a no-brainer, but I’ve lost count of the faithful who’ve said to me “But what about your eternal soul?” or “You know God, you just hate him” or some other nugget of wisdom.

      Then again, the kind of people who say such things only have a religious frame through which to view life. Non-belief to them is as close to literally incomprehensible as it possible. Better to just shut the conversation down at that point, in my experience.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I was never a Christian so I’m not an apostate.

  30. NelsonMuntz
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I stopped at “evolution, properly understood”

  31. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Poor Falk. It seems a common affliction of the uber-faithful: total denial that anyone could possibly not believe in their god (or any god); an almost hard-wired inability to view the world in a way other than through the lens of theism or even to accept that others do not share that view. Denial so strong that it warps their perception and leads them to paint us as wilful contrary children; as spiritual punk rockers giving the finger to their god in an act of futile adolescent rebellion.

    Well, no, Mr Falk: we live without fear not because we mock your monster, but because we’ve actually looked under the bed and seen only dust.

  32. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I am now an atheist. I am amazed that some former Christian friends and parishioners think I am now a decadent, licentious heathen. Supposedly Believing in God was the only thing keeping me from being a serial killer.

    Truth is my lifestyle has changed very little. What has changed is how I view the lifestyles of others.

    Evolution is a new and exciting subject for me. Living for 50 years with the belief that the earth is 6-10,000 years old and that Genesis 1-3 is literal (and good science)has left me at a real disadvantage when it comes to science. I am learning but it is quite evident that I have much to learn concerning matters of science and evolution.

    Thank you for blogging on these issues. I find your blog helpful in my new life of godlessness.

    Bruce

    • Marta
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for telling some of your story here.

    • Your Name's not Bruce?
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      So you discovered that you’re 13 billion years behind on your cosmic history! Welcome to reality as we know it.

    • Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Congratulations on your escape. Enjoy the thrill of learning.

  33. jose
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    “…becomes the exact tool that Satan needs as he comes along with his words first posed in the story of the Garden”

    I’m sorry but I lol’d at this. I think it’s hilarious that he talks about Satan as a real guy. Satan’s gonna getcha!

    • truthspeaker
      Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      If he really followed “Biblical” Christianity, he would know that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Satan being in the garden, let alone speaking any words there.

  34. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s clear to me why Uncle Karl departed Biologos.

    He just didn’t have enough natural rhythm to Dance with Morons.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      though he did try,

      he really really did!

      • Ichthyic
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Here he is, trying to get rhythm:

  35. 386sx
    Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    He says that evolution and Christianity are okay, then says that Satan says words that were in a creation story, but he doesn’t say what he means by “story” or why Satan would say words in real life that were in a story. We are left wondering WTF. Theology is very complicated sometimes.

    • Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Theology is actually deceptively simple: say whatever you want as long as it props up – or appears to prop up – what you already *know*.

      Where it gets complicated is when two theologians disagree, e.g. with regard to allegorical v. literal interpretations. When that occurs you see an acrobatic Crouching Tiger-style aerial bible-fu dance-fight where the combatants seek to simultaneously defeat their opponent while continuing to shore up their shared faith.

      Perhaps imagine Zhang Zi Yi and Michelle Yeoh at either end of the same rope which has been hung over a beam: if either combatant “wins” and cuts the other down, they too will fall. Somehow they need to keep that rope intact. No meant feat – maybe that’s why they award doctorates in this “field of inquiry”.

    • Posted May 24, 2011 at 5:46 am | Permalink

      Well, as you’re not supposed to be able to understand God, it automatically follows that you also should not be able to understand theology.

  36. Diane G.
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    (subscribing)

  37. Papalinton
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    I have been commenting at Biologos for some time now, and have noticed the quite perceptible shift towards attracting the more ‘fundie’ commenter of late. On this particular theme, “The Crutch”, I have offered a number including the following:

    “Oh Dear. So many gods, so little reason.
    It is without doubt, the further modern investigative research peers into the tiny spaces of the quantum world, and telescopes peer into the macro world of cosmology through astronomy, and the neurosciences of various forms begin to tell a consistent and compelling narrative of the human inner world, through the exponential growth of our understanding and knowledge of the human condition and our relationship to the environment, the world, and the universe, there is an equally exponential and inverse relationship with theology and religion as the dominant paradigm for understanding the world. It is becoming less so as a source of all information about us and our relationship with others.
    I can understand the almost manic and certainly desperate need to keep the bible from sinking into the morass of irrelevancy and relative obscurity of classical literature, but that trend is palpable. There really is no need to contort and contrive a position for the bible in modern thinking. People such as Darrel, Mike Gene, Roger Sawtelle and others must begin to understand and acknowledge that the rearguard action in ‘maintaining the rage’ has simple begun to flag. The bible already holds a position of esteem in being the one of the first and great books describing how humans thought of their world and society in the context of its time. But it has grown old and tired, and we should learn to retire it gracefully.
    There are far more exciting and far greater interesting discoveries that we should be looking towards to appease, mollify and soothe the ‘inner turmoil’ we all share as part of the human condition. And there are many sources for maintaining this inner balance.

    The ###-for-tat, ‘he said-he said’ commentary characterised in Mike Gene’s responses to Apostate’s comments, clearly demonstrates the doggedness in defending a position which simply does not permit new thoughts and evidences to be considered within that old religious paradigm.”

    Reaction to it and other comments that I have made, have prompted largely reactionary fundamental responses more in keeping and consistent with the more arch-fundie sites as Triablogue, a site for somewhat fanatical Calvinists.

    There is no question Falk is predominantly concerned with saving jesus than getting the science right.

  38. Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    “And Templeton people, if you’re reading this, pay attention. You’re giving your money not so the faithful can learn about and accept science, but so that Christians don’t leave the fold. You’re not helping sell evolution—you’re helping prop up faith.”

    Come on, you don’t understand the Templeton up to now? It has been insidiously helping prop up faith to erode science for a long long time!

  39. truthspeaker
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “And Templeton people, if you’re reading this, pay attention. You’re giving your money not so the faithful can learn about and accept science, but so that Christians don’t leave the fold. You’re not helping sell evolution—you’re helping prop up faith.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s been their goal all along.

  40. Posted March 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    The ironic part about him whining that atheists want to be “like God” is that, in the context of the Bible verses he’s talking about, “being like God” means “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So… what’s this immorality thing he’s rambling on about, again? He’s afraid that we’ll be like God… in that we’re autonomous moral authorities with an objectively correct morality? It doesn’t even make sense from a Christian perspective… Ah, well. I guess you couldn’t expect much more than convoluted nonsense.


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