Reader “Sigmund” (Martin Corcoran), who is this site’s Official BioLogos Watchdog™, just noticed that the accommodationist organization has awarded a series of large grants addressing the relationship between evolution and Christianity. I asked him to write a brief post about the awards, which contain the usual signs of Templetonian nepotism and some unintentional LOLs.
BioLogos announces winners of its Evolution and Christian Faith grants.
This past week BioLogos announced the chosen projects from amongst the applicants for its ‘Evolution and Christian Faith’ grant program. This involves 3 million dollars of Templeton Foundation funds to be distributed to groups or individuals working to “address theological and philosophical concerns which certain branches of Christianity have about evolutionary creation.”
According to BioLogos the applicants had to to fulfill certain criteria:
“All projects will explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith. Proposals were not considered if they rejected (or at least did not helpfully inform) historic, creedal Christianity (e.g. historical Resurrection, high view of Scripture, etc.) or if they rejected the conclusions of mainstream science (e.g. old earth, common descent, etc.). Please note that this does not mean all grantees are necessarily ardent supporters of evolutionary creation.”
In other words, applicants need to be believing Christians who accept an old-earth timescale and some—although not necessarily all—elements of evolutionary theory.
The grants, ranging from $23,000 to $300,000, were awarded to 37 individuals or groups.
The projects funded fit into two main categories. First, the vexatious question of how to reconcile scientific data on human origins with the biblical account of Adam and Eve. No fewer than eight of the projects directly tackle this issue.
Most of these seem to be desperate attempts to contrive a plausible interpretation of Genesis that somehow encompasses the current scientific consensus on human evolution. Only one: “Adam, Paul and Evolution: what Evangelicals need to know”, run by a team from Trinity Western University, appears to include a strong scientific input from Dennis Venema, a geneticist who is frequent contributor to BioLogos on subjects dealing with human evolution. The rest are content to play the evangelical horses and men, bravely trying to put the Humpty Dumpty of Adam and Eve together again after it was cruelly pushed from the wall (by science.)
The other major theme, with 18 of the grants in this category, is the promotion of theistic evolution in various Christian communities, including those in the Spanish- and French-speaking world, amongst Evangelicals in Holland and Korea, and amongst high school students.
Of the rest of the grantees, only one provides a hope of producing meaningful data, namely that run by Dr Jonathan Hill of Calvin College, whose proposal involves a longitudinal survey of 3000 members of the US population, designed to “profile how faith commitments and social context influence beliefs about human origins.”
As can be expected with BioLogos, there is abundant evidence of the standard Templeton Foundation gravy-training: quite a few of the ‘winners’ are BioLogos contributors, including the newly appointed BioLogos scholar Jeffrey Schloss as well as Loren Haarsma, the husband of newly appointed BioLogos president Deborah Haarsma.
There is also some unintentional hilarity. This section, from the abstract of Dr Adam Johnson of Bethel University, explains why evangelicals might have problems accepting evolution.
Constructing a coherent account of human origins requires vast memory resources and comprehension– more than most people freely have available in our busy world. We hypothesize that the cognitive burden embedded within human origins discussions produce a variety of emotional responses that influence origins discussions. Overly complicated discussions produce negative emotions such as exhaustion, frustration and cognitive dissonance. We tend to avoid ideas and explanations that produce such negative emotions. As a result, it’s often less cognitively and emotionally burdensome to neglect theological commitments – as in atheistic evolutionary accounts – or philosophical and scientific commitments – as in biblically literalist accounts. The cognitive perspective suggests that theistic evolutionary accounts frequently pose a variety of cognitive and emotional burdens that atheistic evolutionary and biblical literalist accounts do not pose.
In other words, knowing scientific facts tends to make it difficult to accept biblical stories as literal truth.
You know, I think I can relate to this.
I had a similar issue around the age of seven when I learned the truth about the aeronautical abilities of reindeer.
Finally, it is worth viewing the image that BioLogos uses on its website to promote the program:
Two praying Charles Darwins? That’s one more than Lady Hope claimed!