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Interpretive dance

The BioLogos Foundation is making a major, well-funded push to change the way Christians read Genesis and think about Adam and Eve

Interpretive dance

(Krieg Barrie)

Andrea Hallgren/Belmont University

Deb Haarsma, president of BioLogos, speaking to students at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Covenant Seminary

<i>‘Christian doctrine … will come apart if we don't tell the story with the proper beginning.’ —</i>Jack Collins

Associated Press/Photo by Mary Altaffer

John M. Templeton Jr., chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation

Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Just a five-minute stroll from the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., sits the brown brick building that is home since last year to BioLogos, a foundation pushing churches and believers to embrace evolution, and in the process change how they read the Bible.

The brainchild of Francis Collins, who now heads the National Institutes of Health, BioLogos has taken in nearly $9 million from the Templeton Foundation and millions more from other donors. BioLogos in turn offers grants to church, parachurch, and academic leaders and organizations that promote “evolutionary creation.”

BioLogos president Deb Haarsma, former chair of Calvin’s physics and astronomy department, says churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science, and will help college students avoid a crisis of faith when biology professors argue for evolution. The BioLogos website states, “Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.”

But Stephen Meyer, a Discovery Institute leader of the intelligent design movement, told WORLD BioLogos leaders are using “an unsubstantiated and controversial claim to urge pastors and theologians to jettison a straightforward reading of Genesis about the human race arising from one man and one woman. They think ‘the science’ requires such a reinterpretation, but apart from speculative models that make numerous question-begging assumptions, the science does no such thing.”

The BioLogos website gives three options regarding the existence of Adam and Eve: “One option is to view Adam and Eve as a historical pair living among many 10,000 years ago, chosen to represent the rest of humanity before God.  Another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an allegory in which Adam and Eve symbolize the large group of ancestors who lived 150,000 years ago. Yet another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an ‘everyman’ story, a parable of each person’s individual rejection of God.”

BioLogos is now spending $3.6 million (primary funder: Templeton) on 37 projects in the United States and around the world, with grants ranging from $23,000 to $300,000. According to the BioLogos website, funds go to “projects that explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith.” Projects must not “reject the conclusions of mainstream science (e.g. old earth, common descent, etc.).” The requirement is not so stringent on the other side of the spectrum: Proposals cannot reject, but they can “helpfully inform … historic, creedal Christianity (e.g. historical Resurrection, high view of Scripture, etc.).”

The projects include:

  • A video series in Hawaii teaching evolution to Christian high-school students. Curricula for student groups or churches to “promote healthy dialogue on evolution and Christian faith.” Outreach initiatives to Catholics, Nazarenes, Vineyard churches, and Spanish and French speakers.
  • A grant to Gordon College biology professor Craig Story to have 19 pastors spend a week learning from evolution-affirming scientists about DNA, galaxies, and biological change in microbes. “No one had a major meltdown,” said Story. “It was just a really good week.” 
  • A grant to fund a speaking tour for Wheaton College Old Testament professor John Walton, allowing him to share his interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, which he says aren’t about the creation of the physical world. Walton sees Adam as a real person but one whom God did not literally make from the dust of the ground.
  • A grant to Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema to co-write a book about Adam and evolution. Venema said his chapters will show, using measurements of genetic diversity, that modern humans did not originate from a single Adam-and-Eve-like couple, but from a group of ancestors around 10,000 in size. That’s consistent with the BioLogos belief statement that “God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth.”

Eastern University biology professor David Wilcox is using a BioLogos grant to write a book about human origins models. He’s still weighing the options, but leans toward a model where Adam is the “chieftain” of a small, ancient tribe. One possibility for original sin, he says, is that it passed from Adam to his children via a process of enculturation and brain development. “We inherit sin, because we aren’t human unless we’re raised by other humans.”

Another BioLogos grant recipient, Oliver Crisp, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, says of Adam and Eve, “Maybe God implants in this pair a moral awareness and a likeness to God that was not present in other hominids.” Deb Haarsma says BioLogos does not have a set position on whether Adam and Eve were historical individuals or symbolic: “How sin entered the world, when and where it got started, these are questions that we’re researching and discussing.”

BioLogos personnel such as program director Kathryn Applegate discount the idea of miracles in natural history and say the evolution process worked by itself, without special intervention from God along the way: “I don’t think there’s evidence from the science that He supernaturally zapped something into existence.”

Some scientists are standing up against the BioLogos wave. David DeWitt, a biology professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., believes Adam was directly created, and says the genetics measurements supposedly disproving Adam and Eve rely on doubtful “molecular clock” rates calibrated with the assumption that “evolution is true, and that chimps and humans have a common ancestor.”

John West of the Discovery Institute, a leader in the Intelligent Design movement, says of BioLogos, “I don’t see them getting more clear about what it is they actually believe.” Were the first human beings created morally good? Or did they evolve as fundamentally selfish? The latter option would seem opposed to a traditional understanding of the fall, said West: “If you deny that, then when you say Jesus is your Savior—saving you from what? From His own botched creation?”

Jack Collins, a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, is the author of Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? He told me, “The actual historicity of Adam and Eve is extremely important as a fundamental Christian doctrine. … Christian doctrine is best understood as the true story of who we are and how we got to be where we are. ... It will come apart if we don’t tell the story with the proper beginning.”

Collins added, “The Bible leads us to expect a special creation of humankind. … If we take the idea of a purely natural process from molecules to mankind, then I think that is very difficult to square with the Bible. … It might even be impossible.”

Author Os Guinness hopes BioLogos and Intelligent Design leaders will join in helping evangelicals “recover a healthy, fearless, and constructive view of science” while combatting scientism: Guinness says such dialogue “can only bless us all in the end.”

Templeton’s dialogue

The Templeton Foundation is the financial daddy of BioLogos, but it also has some affluent uncles. The Issachar Fund, a private operating foundation in Grand Rapids, Mich., gave $564,958 between 2012 and 2014 to support the BioLogos grant program and aid the organization’s move to Michigan. Issachar president Kurt Berends, a former Calvin College history professor, said BioLogos espouses “a viewpoint that needs to be out there to engage the church.”

Berends said Issachar makes those grants through the National Christian Foundation. The chairman of NCF, Jim Blankemeyer, is also on the board of the Issachar Fund, and along with his wife provided the seed funding for Issachar when it launched two years ago. According to available IRS records, Blankemeyer is also a prominent personal donor to BioLogos, giving a total of $541,649 in 2010 and 2011.

Elsewhere, Templeton is trying to bring Christians to support evolution through funding of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program: The “Dialogue” will award Templeton-subsidized grants worth between $90,000 and $200,000 to 10 Catholic and Protestant seminaries for “pilot programs integrating science into core theological curricula.” Jennifer Wiseman, director of the program, is a BioLogos board member.

Templeton also provided startup funding for the Faraday Institute, a British promoter of theistic evolution. Templeton grants often reflect the eclectic theology of its founder, John Templeton, who tried to meld aspects of Christianity with Eastern religions. An attendee at one Templeton seminar on evolution, Michael Brooks, described in New Scientist “the Templeton version of religion. A stripped-down, vague and woolly notion that there is something ‘other’ out there.” 

For more about the promotion of evolution among Christians and the Templeton Foundation, see “Books of the Year” and “Facing the Pressure,” July 2, 2011. For an examination of the claim that Christians should adopt a version of evolution for the sake of a questioning younger generation, see “Married to Darwin,” WORLD, July 12, 2014. —D.J.D. 

Alexander vs. Meyer

Denis Alexander: Adam and Eve lived long after the first homo sapiens, and were “people whom God assigned as the founders of his new spiritual family on earth. The model therefore envisages Adam and Eve as the Homo divinus—the first human beings to truly know God and walk in fellowship with Him.”

Stephen Meyer: Alexander’s claim “is not based on evidence, but on a speculative field called theoretical population genetics, [which] assumes but does not establish that humans and lower primates share a common ancestor and that all gene differences between humans and other primates are the result of random mutations.”

Daniel James Devine

Daniel James Devine

Daniel is managing editor of WORLD Magazine and lives in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

Comments

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    DaleCutler, thanks for taking a stand for the truth.  While I may disagree with you about an old earth, you do defend the traditional view against theistic evolution, which in my view is compromising biblical truth.  It is interesting how money becomes available for theistic evolution, while little funding is available for Creationism and Intelligent Design.  No wonder we always face an uphill battle, because so few are trying to solve the questions related to Creationism and Intelligent Design.  Can you imagine where we would be if we had the money of the evolutionists?.Scott B, so you have taken the evolutionary propaganda hook, line and sinker.  You fail to see the many lies and distortion of "science" - the chief one being the exclusion of the possibility of God existing and supernaturally creating our world. Don't you see how this limits science in an artificial way leaving you with the only possibility of evolution, where only natural causes are allowed?  I find the evolutionary stories that are typically written up very entertaining, where ANY biological process or system is explained usually with a lot of hand waving, imagination, mirrors and smoke screens.  Where are the step by step processes showing the "evolutionary advancement"?  Oh, you don't have them?  But does this bode well for your theory?  No, but we already know that ONLY natural causes are scientific, so even if we had NO evidence we would still go on the evolutionary merry-go-round, since it is the only theory with only natural causes!  Oh yes, how convenient, some evolutionist had to IMAGINE how transitional fossils must be rare.  He wrote a paper and now, presto, evolutionary theory now PREDICTS that transitional fossils must be rare!   Hmm, sounds like a good racket to me; tenure, federal money, exotic trips, prestige and position!  All they have to do is sit around and IMAGINE cute little evolutionary stories, throw together a little biology and publish papers on them.  But how do you get into this club?  You got to be a naturalist without any unscientific notions of Creationism or Intelligent Design!  

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    "Lost in a Masquerade: Horizontal Gene Transfer Impersonates Common Ancestry",http://www.reasons.org/articles/lost-in-a-masquerade-horizontal-gene-transfer-impersonates-common-an...Ü 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Hey, Scott --I missed reading this: "Evolutionary biologist: 'Twist of fate' responsible for important human protein", http://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/evolutionary_biologist_twist_of_fate_responsible_for_important_human...I also missed your commenting there. 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    servantofgood --Thanks for looking into the background of the players to the depth you did. I wiki'd the John Templeton Foundation and went to BioLogos briefly, and not at all at Francis Collins. I didn't need to go to the NIH.I'm not sure I'm catching your drift on "the rabbit hole that most commenters jumped headlong into", though.And speaking of paradoxes, you might enjoy my favorite extra-biblical quote of all time:"You have to believe in free will, you have no choice." ÜI.B. Singer 

  • servantofgood
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    I take a very different view of this article, it's approach and it's contents than the rabbit hole that most commenters jumped headlong into. And I don't appreciate  how World Magazine and author Devine for leading us there with sparse references to otherwise very important characters, their backgrounds and agendas.I ask myself: Who is Francis Collins? Why does he care to be involved in science and faith? Does his involvement with NIH have anything to do with it? Dr. Collins is indisputably one of the great scientists of our day. His achievements go so far that his bio on the NIH web site only discusses the high awards he's achieved and his high accomplishments.What is the Templeton Foundation? Let's ask Wikipedia about John Templeton: "Templeton eschewed dogma and declared relatively little was known about the divine through scripture, espousing what he called a "humble approach" to theology and remaining open to the benefits and values of other faiths." Very convenient for a man whose life was so dedicated to making billions of dollars. And his views fit very well with the PCA, a church which slid far down the slope of relativistic interpretation of scripture. So now we are relying on Templeton Foundation, an organization that truly waters down the Bible and Christian faith to help us understand the crucial intersection of the origin of life and Genesis? Really?Is it possible that this entire span of events has as much to do with the mundane and practical as it does with faith? I will ask readers to consider this possibility, as well as the possibility that this World Magazine article may have missed at least half the real story.You see there is a pragmatic fact that was completely ignored. NIH is the largest single granting entity of biological research money. The very large majority of biological research programs rely heavily on NIH funding. On paper NIH will not grant funds to private Christian schools because private Christian schools discriminate based on faith and sexuality. But NIH also discriminates in practice against schools/researchers that hold creationist/ID points of view and in favor of schools/researchers that hold evolutionary points of view. This is a primary reason why there is practically no biological research going on at private Christian schools; why there are practically no PhD programs (which requires research) in any category of life sciences at private Christian schools.So, one asks, what interest does a person have who eventually becomes the head of NIH--a multi-billion dollar granting organization--in promoting evolutionary-based faith? Might it be that he wishes to help private Christian schools gain NIH grant funding by turning the belief of private Christian schools to evolution? Because I can tell you that NIH is happy to sponsor the research work of godless atheistic scientists who head up the study of evolutionary biology.Did any responder visit the Biologos web site? If you did you could view the early pre-NIH blog of Francis Collins, including the entry at the bottom of the page where Collins picks and chooses from theologians like BB Warfield and St. Augustine to justify his position. In particular he uses the allegorical theology of Augustine in Genesis. But Augustine's allegorical method of interpretation has been categorically rejected by Protestant evangelical churches. Why? Because it demands a low view of scripture. It completely rejects any sort of literal scriptural interpretation. And it introduces the method of reinterpreting any and all scripture which the modern reader feels is anachronistic and makes it irrelevant. For instance, this is the approach which finds a Christian home for homosexuality; and I suspect that you will find a good deal of moral equivocation in various ways among "evolutionary Christians".As I have been running God's race for a few decades now I have become comfortable with the concept of paradox. If you read Collins you will find he is not comfortable with this concept. He wishes to explain everything in a perfect, humanly understandable concordance. I would even venture to say that this is a Calvinistic weakness (now there is a hotbox I will not pursue further at this time!) Collins makes the comment in one of his blog entries: He is not comfortable saying that God would allow the weakness of a damaged vitamin C production complex in the human genome versus the perfect vitamin C manufacturing complex in other mammals. Why not? Is there injustice in lesser mammals not having human higher functioning cranial capabilities?There are paradoxes of faith that I believe God leaves for us, which brings us to wonder at the true glory of who He is. How can the God of Justice create people who all end up being imperfect, practice evil, sin, and need redemption? That explanation is available but for another time. But it is a paradox, and only one of many. My point: That if there is a paradox in God, it's OK to accept it. But please, do not come back at me and say that "God could be a paradox to create man through evolution." That is not a paradox.But let us not hang our hat so reliably on science. Science has determined uncountably many truths that are useful in everyday life, I fully acknowledge and accept that. But a "law of science" is not the same as evolution. What is 'scientific truth" so often changes--based on it's own research--that reliance on its "truth" should be done more with humility than with arrogance. I'm glad it's OK that God can be God without humans having to be able to perfectly understand, categorize and analyze God. It is the dividing point between God and man, is it not? When man fully understands God, man thinks he has bagged God. Truly laughable and tragic at the same time.

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    This morning's Spurgeon scripture included Leviticus 19:17 -- "...you shall reason frankly with your neighbor..." ESV. http://www.heartlight.org/spurgeon/1129-am.html -- an example of Father's special providential timing (and affirmation?) in my times. Ü It merited a log entry. 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    I'm not sure, Scott, was that adieu? Or rather, à Dieu? 

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Hi Dale,
    First, I hope you are enjoying good times with family on this long weekend.
    re your # 43 -- To validly critique a theory, one needs to show there is some logical inconsistency within it, or that some firm prediction from it does not match the evidence (that exists). So if self-consistent evolutionary theory predicts that we should not find many transitional fossils, and if fact we do not find many transitional fossils, it seems to me that this cannot be seen as a problem for evolution.
    in my #32 I explained why, within evolutionary theory , we should not expect to find a lot of transitional fossils [overall rarity of fossilization; transitional forms in small, isolate populations; observed fossils more like to be from side branches of lineages]. Then in #37 you stated that the fossil record should be "rife with transitional forms."
    This left me wondering whether (a) You did not understand what I wrote in #32 (which was pretty abbreviated), or (b) You did understand that evolutionary theory predicts very few transitional fossils should be discovered, but you just wanted to state your opinion, based on whatever overall view of the physical world you hold. So in #39 I tried to address both possibilities, i.e. by offering a little more explanation on the mainstream scientific view, but also by acknowledging that you might have some other viewpoint. I certainly did not mean to cause any offence. I would not invest the time I have in trying to answer your questions/objections to the best of my ability if I did not respect your basic acumen, which is clear in many of your other comments here.
    You are correct that " many (most?) recent discoveries are on their own new branch", but that, too, is as predicted by evolutionary theory. It is hard to discuss this branching issue without resorting to diagrams, such as provided here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/
    It is all too easy to give and to take offence in email-type exchanges. I have learned the hard way at work to always try to talk with the other guy in person if the subject is touchy. Just last month I was cc'd on an email exchange between two guys in my team and watched with dismay as their irritation level rose and rose as they misinterpreted each other's comments as subtle insults. That did not end well. Anyway, I'm sure you and I could have a spirited but friendly conversation in person over a big plate of nachos. :-)

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Hi, Scott --Some thoughts, per your request Ü:Comment #36 has not been addressed."You are welcome to your opinion but" is superfluous, and, again, maybe dismissive and condescending? As might be "I've already explained this", "Just to unpack this a little more" and "of course"? I'm pretty sure "Most objective observers..." is, too. But that's objective in a naturalistic faith or belief system. Conspiracists think they've interpreted the available evidence accurately and that they're being objective, too... but try to convince one otherwise. Please refer also to the first paragraph of #37, above.I wish we could pursue this congenially, modestly (I'm probably no one to speak) and graciously (that's partially redundant, and I'm way more probably no one to speak)."Just to unpack this a little more: Population genetics theory, which is confirmed in experiments..." Population genetics theory is based on evolutionary theory, and the experiments and mathematics  are based on micro-evolutionary populations and the results are extrapolated and presumed, unjustifiably, to be legitimate on a macro-evolutionary scale with merely inferred, not actual, ancestral relationships."Unless we are prepared to claim that an Intelligent Agent supernaturally re-created these modern coelacanths, we must acknowledge that some population of these fish has existed for the past 80 million years but without leaving a trace in the fossil record." I am prepared to claim that there have been mass extinction events (cf. http://www.reasons.org/articles/mass-extinction-periodicity-design) and that (as an artist and engineer who has recreated) the superlative Artist and Engineer can recreate as appropriate to his plan and pleasure (á la Psalm 104 -- speaking of which: http://m.imgur.com/UEuKyzC Ü). Father is not allowed to be prolific in his creativity? And might not these "modern" coelacanths still be up to a couple of tens of millions of years old (not as individuals -- as a species Ü)? But 80M is okay, too.So I'm not distressed about the undiscovered, destroyed or nonexistent fossil of a species, extant or extinct, however old. The undiscovered fossil of a nonexistent species isn't a problem either.I don't have to penetrate a fitness landscape.I have no clue where "feel so threatened" came from.About Zeno, I'd long since forgotten his name, but I do remember the one about the $100 bill on the other side of the room, the mathematician and the engineer. (Do you know the one about the mathematical biologist? Ü) The point was not so much literal, but since there are so way more missing links and enormous gaps than evolutionists care to recognize publicly or to themselves, that it might as well have been."And the trend is that... the gaps in transitional forms get filled in with each passing decade." My impression has been that many (most?) recent discoveries are on their own new branch, not filling in gaps but creating new ones -- but I haven't kept a tally nor read the journals. Of course (Ü), I'm using "branch" and "gap" in a strictly taxonomic sense since the continuously connected mutually ancestored tree (or bush, per Craig Venter Ü) of life doesn't exist. And when is a gap filled in? How close do two species have to be morphologically before one is considered an immediate successor on a branch or twig of a detailed phylogenetic tree? There aren't two more gaps created when a presumed intermediate is found?"...the fossils that are found will likely represent side branches of the family tree, rather than the core transitional 'trunk'." (I won't revisit micro/macro evolution here... any more than I just did. Ü) Doesn't that contradict "And the trend is that... the gaps in transitional forms get filled in with each passing decade."?I think it very cool that modern cosmology and astrophysics have shown that space and time had a beginning, corresponding to the Bible's very first verse. The succession following is good, too. AddendumBach, in his exploration of preludes and fugues, the wonderful The Well-Tempered Clavier, gives each piece a life of its own. Mozart does, too, in his sonatas, concerti, symphonies and all; Beethoven, in his delightful bagatelles: the same; Monet's water lilies, haystacks and Notre Dames... the list could go on and on and into any of the fine or practical artistic and aesthetic endeavors, including architecture and engineering.Now imagine that the "life of its own" of each piece in a study or style not being figurative, but literal biological life, created in time and sequence, as art is, and imagine that the observer, aficionado, connoisseur or critic, even if an expert in the medium, did not realize, or refused to believe, that they were independent creative works of art. They would be compelled to believe and argue for the literal hereditary and genetic connectedness of the independent compositions. (The correct thing to infer would be that the study in variations had a common composer, designer, engineer and artist.) Then there are those individual works that stand alone and are classes unto themselves, possibly monumental.Today, with the advent of bioengineering and the advances in understanding of cellular and molecular biology, it's not such a total stretch to imagine a similar scenario becoming reality, with actual life created in the lab using synthetic biology. But I don't think Father will let the Tower of Babel get too high. Maybe in the process, though, more will come to recognize that life in all its vastness and complexity was designed, engineered and crafted -- designed, engineered and crafted to be amazing, enjoyable, beautiful, extreme, cute, bizzare, ...and funny. Ü   

  • Nicholas Voss
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    No longer let Scripture interpret Scripture be the hermeneutical norm.  BioLogos insists we must allow science to interpret Scripture.  What could possibly go wrong?

  • Nicholas Voss
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Why Tim Keller, a PCA pastor and evangelical rock star, is permitted to contribute articles promoting evolution to BioLogos is a mystery to me.  In these articles he mocks and ridicules Christians who hold the traditional interpretation of Genesis 1-3.

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Dean,
    I don't want to get into a never-ending discussion on genetic information, so I'll just offer some information on one topic.
    First, I agree that that "The odds in getting a functional protein through random search are estimated at 1 in 10^65" or therabouts. That is why, as I noted above, I have seen no scientific explanation, yet, for the origin of life, i.e. for the first cells with all their complex microstructure and interacting chemistry pathways. (You can get wall posters which trace out hundreds of the key metabolic reactions -- pretty impressive). I found much to agree with in Signature in the Cell regarding probabilities, but this book was mainly about the origin of life, not about evolution of subsequent life-forms.
    However, and this is the only point I have here, the evidence I have seen indicates that subsequent genetic modifications do not usually occur with a hundred unselective changes all happening at once. It seems more common that genetic modifications occur one or two steps at a time, being either neutral or with some incremental advantage for each step.
    Micheal Behe has argued that it is essentially impossible for an organism to evolve a new protein binding ability, if that modification involves multiple mutations. As your link notes, the odds of any particular mutation are low, and for multiple mutations you start raising these numbers to powers of 3 or 4, etc. which makes the odds essentially zero. However, the real world does not conform to Behe's model. Sets of mutations do occur which do result in new protein binding ability or other new functionality. His error seems to be in assuming that the fitness landscape is so sparse that it is nearly impossible to make any move without losing fitness. I agree with you that fitness landscapes are complex, but that does not mean they are impenetrable. Their very complexity offers many options.
    As an example, the Lenski group observed the evolution of a gene in the bacteriophage lambda which enables the binding of a second protein. Since the binding ability to the original protein is retained this is, despite Behe's protestations, a gain-of-function mutation. This mutation it involves at least 4 amino acid substitutions which are sequential (the new binding functionality does not appear until the fourth mutation is completed) , and which can be "found" (via many different mutational paths) by the phage in repeated experiments. The explanation seems to be that the first three mutations had some incremental fitness value (i.e. the fitness landscape is not so sparse), which then enabled the fourth step. This is discussed here: http://biologos.org/blog/understanding-evolution-evolutionary-origins-of-irreducible-complexity-5

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Dale,
    re "wherever evidence exists, past or present, it should be rife with transitional forms. " - -You are welcome to your opinion, but that is not what evolutionary theory predicts.
    I already explained this: "We know from basic population genetics that transitional forms are most likely to develop in some small, isolated subpopulation that is unlikely to leave a fossil trace. This also means that the fossils that are found will likely represent side branches of the family tree, rather than the core transitional "trunk". We also know that fossilization in general is a rare event, and the odds decrease for a fossil being preserved in a usable state in the older the rocks, since over the ages they are more likely to get deeply buried and smeared beyond recognition, or to get raised up and eroded away. "
    Just to unpack this a little more: Population genetics theory, which is confirmed in experiments, shows that it is much harder to establish a new mutation in a big population than in a small one. Thus, significant change over time is much more likely to occur in a small population, but that sort of transitional population is intrinsically unlikely to leave fossils. If its later (post-transitional) form becomes successful as a large population, it is then both more likely to leave fossils and to remain in relative stasis. Anti-evolutionists may pooh-pooh this, but it is just basic math.
    Is it realistic to think that species could exist for millions of years and leave no discovered fossils? Just to consider one case, Coelacanth order of fishes was once widespread in the ancient seas. Coelacanths peaked in the fossil record about 240 million years ago, and then declined. The most recent known fossil dates back to about 80 million years ago. It was thought that they had become extinct. In 1938, however, a live coelacanth was discovered in the Indian Ocean. Since then a number of others have been caught. Unless we are prepared to claim that an Intelligent Agent supernaturally re-created these modern coelacanths, we must acknowledge that some population of these fish has existed for the past 80 million years but without leaving a trace in the fossil record.
    We should expect to observe many gaps like this in the fossil record. Wikipedia provides a list of other "Lazarus taxa" which disappear from the fossil record for millions of years, but appear again later: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarus_taxon
    As I noted earlier, the broad sweep of the fossils that have been found is consistent with evolution. And the trend is that, however slowly, the gaps in transitional forms get filled in with each passing decade.

    re your: " Q: What happens when you find a transitional form?
    A: You've created two more (ex nihilo) that need to be found.
    (Etc., ad infinitum.) "
    I ignored that earlier because I thought you were just being whimsical. That is like saying you can never actually walk through a doorway because first you have to walk halfway, then walk half of the new distance to the door, then halfway again, ad infinitum. This, of course, is Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox. This paradox is resolved by noting that, as the number of steps increases, the size of the steps or gaps gets smaller and smaller.
    Most objective observers would agree that finding transitional forms of the type predicted , in the geological timeframe expected, (e.g. transitional reptile/mammal with two jaw joints, or the Tiktaalik fish with tetrapod-like features) is confirmatory of evolution. However, if someone wants to propose that all these animals happened to be specially created at those times, that is a possibility. Is that how you explain the existence of these fossils?
     
    I am genuinely grateful for your correcting my earlier, loose wording. My desire is to be accurate and truthful.
    BTW, I enjoyed the link you posted earlier, "A layman's view of problems with evolution theory". The writer there is not disputing the fossil and other evidence in support of evolution. He raises a different question, of how to account for the development of "mentality" (consciousness). I see this issue as a more urgent one than evolution for thinking Christians to address. As neurology closes in on tying every mental event to a physical event in the brain, yet these physical events (electrochemical interactions between neurons) are governed by the ordinary laws of physics, the reductionists are claiming victory. I don't have an answer or position here, and, as noted earlier, whatever happened hundreds of generations back in the formation of humanity does not seem to solve this current observation on our current brains. I'm just noting that I see an increasing challenge coming against the common Christian belief (which I share) that we have meaningful free will. The most potent defence I have read is kind of a negative one, that if no mind exists beyond matter, then we cannot trust any of our thinking, including the thinking of reductionists. That's good, but I'd be more comfortable with a more positive explanatory framework. Thoughts?

  • Dean from Ohio
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Scott, Thanks for your comments.I have to disagree with you on several points. First, the evidence doesn't lead toward macroevolution via random mutation & natural selection; it is ambiguous in some regards, but the fitness landscapes are incredibly complex. Second, it is chemicals AND information, more complex and specified information that anyone can comprehend. Genes are only part of the picture; there are other information-bearing structures that regulate the genes as well. Third, as a systems engineer, I have seen highly complex systems refuse to function because one bit of one digital message was set incorrectly. If something works, it was designed. The odds in getting a functional protein through random search are estimated at 1 in 10^65 (http://www.uncommondescent.com/irreducible-complexity/video-doug-axe-on-making-odds-on-getting-to-a-...). That's on the order of this: if each known working human protein were a bb, they would all fit in your hand. The possible number of all proteins in combinatorial space, on the other hand, would fill a sphere containing the solar system. Randomly distribute those hundreds of working proteins through that sphere and find all of them, one after another without missing any, blindfolded.Macroevolution through random mutation and natural selection not only did not happen; it could not have happened.

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Hi, Scott --Scientific consensus has not been and is still not always indicative of the truth of a matter, i.e., truth is not based on the results of a poll or vote. (That was not a political statement Ü: Tim Keller speaks of the self-righteousness of both the Democrats and the Republicans in Generous Justice.)Regarding chemistry, Lego pieces stick together in prescribed ways, too, but it's going to take a long time in a sack being shaken to create the operating pendulum clock my son made from basic pieces, shafts and gears ...assuming you have a sack. (Please recall "just chemistry": https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gbycQf1TbM0.) So maybe we should agree on the hand of God directly? We might be able to agree not to include panspermia.I stand by my comments regarding complexity and statistical improbabilities.I have no clue where "feel so threatened" came from."We know from basic population genetics that transitional forms..." We also know that population genetics presumes the validity of the evolutionary paradigm."In science we deal mainly with evidence that does exist, not that doesn't exist." The verbiage regarding the non-existing evidence of and merely presumed transitional forms belies that and explains why "missing link" is considered an unscientific term by evolutionists. (Maybe merit's second paragraph in comment #12 over at http://www.worldmag.com/2014/11/unscientific_method is applicable here?) The Q&A in comment #29 above also applies: wherever evidence exists, past or present, it should be rife with transitional forms.Re "all us scientists" and "nearly all the other practicing scientists": please refer back to the first paragraph.Some of us might prefer to be labeled something other than "fundamentalist" (I am familiar with the word, and "conservative" might do as a replacement Ü). I may have noticed a negative connotation with the word "fundamentalist" of late... maybe more like a definite implication?Your use of "really engage" and "closely engage" makes me ponder how esoteric scriptural truth is. Thank you for removing "A thousand objections..." and "There it is for anyone who is interested in the facts." Maybe I should have mentioned "There it is for any reader who is interested in why 500,000..." That still seems kind of condescending and like you're granting the reader special revelation. And "Thank you for your input here" seemed disingenuous... but I might be being hypersensitive.All that being said, I have recently been accused here of being prideful and verbose, and I will certainly allow that I have been less than gracious or patient on more than one occasion, here (and maybe now) and elsewhere. So comparing your righteousness to mine and then that of our precious Agnus Dei is like comparing how far you and I can spit across the Grand Canyon. But hopefully we are being like the ironers of Proverbs 27:17. Ü 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Knowing perhaps a little about artistic and engineering endeavors, I can suggest that the process of creating* is a large part of the pleasure in them, not just the results. For both pursuits, multiple iterations of or in a project, exercise, piece, study or style are frequently employed, not because an earlier one was a failure or less durable, but just to play with or include more or different functionality or explore the aesthetic, extreme or even humorous aspect of this variation or another. One iteration can be quite radically different than another just because that's the way the designer or artist wanted to do it, for any of the aforementioned reasons and more, with no intermediate or gradual transitional forms, or, it could be almost indistinguishable and very subtly different.Since we are created in his image, it is not difficult to attribute similar pleasure and procedure to Father as an artist and engineer in massive or minute aspects of his creation. (And I know he loves playing because he loves little children. Ü) This perspective is very consistent with the fossil record, as well, and also more in accord with nature as we see it today, and with scripture, than the naturalistic, gradualistic evolutionary paradigm.(And I don't think this makes my Intelligent Designer too small, Scott, but maybe more personal?)   *Young earthers, you might consider this aspect of creating and creation when you're insisting on a 24 hour yom. I don't know how he does it, but I know that I am delighted when I see Father and my Lord working in special providence in my times -- and I have in way more than a few instances... I keep a log -- and some of my favorite verses have "time" in them or are time related (e.g., Psalm 31:15, "My times are in your hand" Ü). Please also remember that "old earth" does not denote nor necessitate theistic evolution. 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Big Jim --Your comment is worth rereading (not that some others aren't, too). Ü  

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    An interesting article by a professional scientist who would not be characterized as your prototypical fundamentalist Protestant: "A layman's view of problems with evolution theory" --http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3187878/ 

  • Arthur
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Life evolving from random molecules plus a bit of lightning is about possible as going to a junkyard and building a fully functional super computer from the junk available but without lightning.

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Dale,
    The only people I have met who reject evolution do so out of adherence to a literal interpretation of Genesis (which is a key tenet of what is called fundamentalism). But to be more objective I'll rely on a poll instead of my personal experience, and change that "Nearly everybody except..." to "97% of scientists...". Thank you for your input here.
    re: "Just chemicals". I was not disputing the complexity of the human egg cell ("complex microstructure" was sincere). But however complex is this microstructure, "at root it is all just chemistry." We can peer as deep as we can in the egg cell, and it is all just ordinary chemicals, contained in a phospholipid membrane, reacting according to regular chemical laws. (Agreed?) And so on, back for many generations. That being the case, people don't need to feel so threatened over whether at some point in the distant past some of those tiny (complex, chemical) sacks derived directly from the hand of God, or indirectly from the providence of God guiding natural processes. That was my main point there.
    re: "And citing Biologos is a tautology -- of course they are going to concur with your interpretation of evidence. " - - It is not that Biologos concurs with me, or that I claim to have some unique wisdom (sorry if it came across that way), it is that I and Biologos concur with nearly all the other practicing scientists in the U.S. (many of them Jews or Christians) who have reasonable familiarity with the evidence about evolution and who find it to be compelling. In reading some of the comments on this article by WORLD readers, it was not clear to me that these readers had ever had a chance to really engage with why all us scientists have come to the conclusions we have. So, I offered a couple of links to standard scientific discussions of evolution, in case anyone was interested in checking this out. If they are not interested, that is their business.
    re Avalon and Cambrian explosions: We know from basic population genetics that transitional forms are most likely to develop in some small, isolated subpopulation that is unlikely to leave a fossil trace.  This also means that the fossils that are found will likely represent side branches of the family tree, rather than the core transitional "trunk".    We also know that fossilization in general is a rare event, and the odds decrease for a fossil being preserved in a usable state in the older the rocks, since over the ages they are more likely to get deeply buried and smeared beyond recognition, or to get raised up and eroded away.   And when you are dealing with organisms lacking bones, teeth, or (for the most part) shells, there is no reasonable expectation of finding a complete fossil record of the ongoing life-forms in the preCambrian or early Cambrian.  It takes an unusual depositional setting to preserve a lot of soft-bodied fossils. It so happens that the first such formation in the Cambrian ( Maotianshan or Chengjiang shales) does not occur until about a third of the way through the period (i.e. 20 million years after the start of the Cambrian), and (no surprise) it is that location where we first see a lot of the animal phyla. In science we deal mainly with evidence that does exist, not that doesn't exist. To find positive evidence of a fossilized rabbit in the preCambrian would indeed be challenge to evolution. But the lack of discovery of many transitional fossils, especially in rocks that old, is expected and is no problem for evolutionary theory.
    The fossils that have been found are broadly consistent with expectations from evolution. For instance, in the vertebrate lineage, we find a succession, over the past 500 million years, of jawless fishes, to jawed fishes, to fishes with some tetrapod-like features, to amphibians, to reptiles, to reptiles with some mammal-like features, to mammals with reptile-like features, to modern mammals.  I realize that that this does not constitute airtight proof - -  if someone is convinced on other grounds that evolution can't be true, they can always devise some alternate explanation, e.g. that God simply chose to supernaturally create species after species, thousands of them, in an order that just happened to match evolutionary expectations.  But this is an example of why most people who closely engage the physical evidence do find it to be supportive of evolution.re: "Even the simplest theoretical life form has a sizable genome", etc. - -. Yes, cells are very complex. I agree with you that science has no plausible explanation for how the first cells came to be. (Evolution says nothing about this; it deals only with changes after the first cells got going).

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    An interesting article by a professional scientist who would not be characterized as your prototypical fundamentalist Protestant: "A layman's view of problems with evolution theory" --http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3187878/ 

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    When I hear a Christian say that Adam never existed, my spider sense starts tingling ("Yea, hath God said ... ?"). And then the doctrine of original sin is thrown out. Next thing you know, Cain never slew Abel because there's no evidence to support it. Enoch wasn't translated, Methuselah didn't live to be 969, Noah wasn't real and the flood never occurred because, well, these things just don't stand up to scientific rigor. Then, Paul's authoritative writings are questioned and doubted, as if they are somehow less scriptural than other scriptures. What's next, denying the virgin birth because it can't be proven by the "facts"?"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."  1 Cor 1:25 - 29It's a funny thing, my 5th grade daughter understands more about the beginning of mankind than Stephen Hawking, purported to be the smartest man on earth." ... And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?"  Mat 21:6

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Scott:"Our relatedness to other primates" does not prove common ancestry. It is equally valid evidence for common design and features. Both a Fiat and a Lamborghini have four wheels.This is "just chemistry": https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gbycQf1TbM0 (The Workhorse of the Cell: Kinesin).I fear you demean the ultimate biochemical Engineer and belie his singer of songs, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are your works; my soul knows it full well." Saying "just chemistry" and "sack of chemicals" with a handwave to "complex microstructure" is like saying the Taj Mahal is "just a pile of blocks," ignoring the engineering and artistry, to use a meager analogy. I don't think you have an adequate appreciation of the time required and statistical (im)probabilities involved to evolve life to the degree of complexity that we know now (and more complexities are continuing to be discovered, making those improbabilities even greater) for all life forms, extinct and extant -- and, as you know, I, too, believe in the antiquity of the heavens and the earth. Then there are the Avalon and Cambrian Explosions.I'm afraid that I object to more than just the words "naïve" and "deluded." A recurring tone in your comment is that of condescension, and condescension is scorn. "The reason nearly everybody except fundamentalist Protestants accept evolution is because it is true to the physical evidence": a number in the ranks of the ID community would not be characterized by that label and would not concur that your interpretation of the physical evidence is true. I guess I would have to label secular evolutionists' religion as fundamentalist philosophical naturalism, and I have heard that Richard Dawkins doesn't think much of theistic evolutionists. (Of note in this regard: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/10/scientific_fight_over_darwinian_evolution_goes_public and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MXrYhINutuI where Craig Venter denies common descent in front of Richard Dawkins.)"A thousand objections in order to keep all this evidence away from their minds" implies intellectual dishonesty. "There it is for anyone who is interested in the facts" implies that you are the sole arbiter of the proper interpretation of facts, which may not be facts at all but just presumptive interpretation of evidence, suggesting to the reader to infer hubris on the part of the speaker. And citing Biologos is a tautology -- of course they are going to concur with your interpretation of evidence. Excerpted from a comment over at http://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/darwin_on_the_rocks, to which you did not reply:"Just the mere data encoded in the DNA for every life form, past and present, are massive, too, but that does not consider the design and function of the vast variety of proteins, organs, systems and structures that the data encode for, let alone the cool design of the cellular equipment involved in energy and transport, transcription and translation, error checking and editing in replication. Even the simplest theoretical life form has a sizable genome. And then there's homochirality."...I think it very cool that modern cosmology and astrophysics have shown that space and time had a beginning, corresponding to the Bible's very first verse. It makes sense to me to believe the rest of the chapter as recorded: God directly intervenes in discrete increments, and the creation of life is not a continuous string of random mutations chosen for their efficacy by impersonal natural selection."Occam's Razor is a factor, too. Ü"Something I didn't mention, in addition to the amazing intracellular engineering design noted above, is the fascinating cellular differentiation from pluripotent cells of blastocysts that, from the single celled zygote, become all the different types of cells the organism, not to mention their organelles and multitudinous proteins. It takes a lot of faith to believe in the "evolution of the gaps."And regarding those gaps:Q: What happens when you find a transitional form?A: You've created two more (ex nihilo) that need to be found.(Etc., ad infinitum.) 

  • PuritanD
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    What makes me scratch my head here is that Os Guinness wants to have a dialogue between BioLogos and ID.  I am sorry but when two groups come from different worldviews and presuppositions, there is no way that there can be any meaningful dialogue. 

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Guardian, you are right, I made some poor word choices there (it was late at night...). Since corrected. Thank you for your brotherly input.

  • STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN's picture
    STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Scott, you wrote at the end of your post that "A measure of humility and charity is appropriate in discussing biblical interpretation with other Christians, rather than assuming that they are closet infidels." You may be right, but I doubt that the best way to accomplish this "measure of humility and charity" is by calling your fellow Christians "naïve" and "deluded" -- which is how you referred to literalists earlier in your post. There's an inconsistency here, in which you're sneering at your brother's views and in the same breath demanding his respect for your own ideas. I hope not to call you an infidel, but certainly I am more skeptical of all this "I am a professional scientist" bluster than I am skeptical of the words in the Bible.  Please don't take offense at that. 

  • Scott B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    The reason why 97% of scientists (2009 Pew poll) accept evolution is because it is true to the physical evidence. This link presents a range of this evidence: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/ .      This series (see especially parts 3 and 4) shows how the details of the human genome show our relatedness to other primates: http://biologos.org/blog/evolution-basics-genomes-as-ancient-texts-part-3 .    There it is for any reader who is interested in why 500,000 practicing scientists in the U.S. (many of them evangelical Christians) think as they do.
         This link discusses several aspects of human genomes that show the human race did NOT start from a single couple, a few thousand years ago: http://biologos.org/blog/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple The claim in the World article that this conclusion (no primal couple) is based merely on some "doubtful molecular clock" is not correct.                 What people seem to miss in this debate is that each of us started as a little sack of chemicals, as a single-celled egg formed in our mother's body when she was still a fetus. There was complex microstructure in this cell, but at root it is all just chemistry. After another cell (your father's sperm) injected the other half of your DNA, this egg replicated to two, four, eight cells, and so on to form the full baby. Your parents and their parents and on back also all started as microscopic sacks of chemicals. It cannot possibly make any difference to your humanity or divine image whether, thousands of generations back, some ancestor was formed instantly out of dust, or over many generations from some other primate. God's sovereign providence extends to seemingly random events like mutations.In all of Jesus' teaching, and the gospel preaching in Acts, there is zero mention of the Fall.  Rather than blaming the First Couple, Jesus confronted people with their own sins, for which they will be judged and from which they must repent. Maybe we should follow his example. Just a thought.       Christians worry that if we abandon a simple literalism in Genesis, next we will be denying the Resurrection. Why is this not a problem? Because Christianity is based on truth. We can handle the truth. An objective examination of the historical evidence for the Resurrection and for the general historical accuracy of the Gospels and Acts shows that that a literal understanding of the New Testament record is valid. An objective examination of the physical evidence for the age of the earth and of the history of life shows that a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-7 is not valid. We need to be careful to distinguish our interpretation of the scripture from the scripture itself.     This seems troubling, but the church has gone through this process on other issues.   A straightforward reading of the Old Testament shows it to be thoroughly geocentric (see e.g  Ps. 104:5, I Chron 16:30, Isa. 66:1, Eccl.1:5, Josh. 10:13). Neither Galileo nor his prosecutors denied that. Thus, according to Cardinal Roberto Bellarmine (1615), "to affirm that the sun is really fixed in the center of the heavens and the earth revolves swiftly around the sun is a dangerous thing, not only irritating the theologians and philosophers, but injuring our holy faith and making the sacred scripture false."   They eventually had to back away from the literal interpretation of these passages. (It may be worth noting that there are some hardcore folks who just cannot let go of the literal interpretation of these passages - - there is a movement today of so-called "biblical astronomy" which publishes books like Galileo Was Wrong and calls Bible-believing Christians back to geocentrism in an effort to be faithful to the teaching of the Scriptures.)     However, the intent of the Bible is not to teach astronomy or geology or biology, but to  make us " wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (II Tim 3:15).           Paul insisted that women must keep wearing a covering on their head while in church ( I Cor 11). But all churches I know today flagrantly ignore this command. Why? Because we recognize that Paul was a man of his age. God did give him some special revelation, e.g. that Jesus is the Son of God (Gal 1:11-16) and that Christ in you is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).  But he did not claim that every word he wrote was inerrant and eternally valid.  So we cannot avoid the sometimes distressing task of sorting out how to interpret and apply the scriptures. Everyone has SOME verses that they take figuratively; we do not literally hate our "father and mother, wife and children" (Luke 14:26). No one can truthfully say, "I just take it all literally". We all apply our God-given faculties to discern how passages should be regarded.          In Jesus' day, it was sometimes the Bible literalists who turned out to be in error: The Pharisees correctly noted that he was flouting some of the teachings of the Law. For instance , to teach that nothing that goes into a man's mouth can make him unclean is opposed to the teachings of the Law on clean and unclean foods. So again, the answer is not always simple or obvious. A measure of humility and charity is appropriate in discussing biblical interpretation with other Christians, rather than assuming that they are closet infidels.                       As Ann M notes,  the passages in Romans are among the most difficult to understand in the light of modern science. I offer my approach here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/adam-the-fall-and-evolution-christianity-toda... I am a professional scientist, not a theologian, so I don't claim that this is the best or only interpretative approach.  Best wishes to all with this challenging subject. 

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    jrmbasso: We agree regarding entropy. Regarding the metaphors, cf.http://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/examining_the_new_critics_of_genesis

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Small_Minded: Well put. Ü 

  • DCal3000
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    I am a young-earth creationist, but I recognize that there are devoutly Christian old-earth creationists too.  The two chief problems with BioLogos have little to do with their support of evolution.  The two chief problems are 1) They deny again and again and again that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and 2) They elevate academic journals over the authority of the Bible.  To debate evolution is one thing, and there are godly Christians on both sides of that debate.  To challenge the authority of the very Word of God is quite another.  BioLogos' entire emphasis is and always have been to cast doubt on the Bible.  I hope that some of their staff are true followers of Christ, but the goals of their organization are nothing short of heresy.

  • Small_Minded
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Wow.  That's a lot of money to spend on wondering if cat really spells dog.

  • John Cogan's picture
    John Cogan
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    According to BioLogos, "Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago."  Hmmm. And just where did these 'several thousand individuals' come from, pray tell?

  • cimach's picture
    cimach
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    I would encourage every Christian to visit The Creation Museum just outside Cincinnati.   At the Creation Museum, you have a place where the changeless inerrant authority of Scripture, rather than the ever-changing fallible ideas of men, guides one's thinking about creation.  

  • Loren
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    The wolves in the church are not only quickly growing in number, but are becoming more and more bold about showing their teeth openly. And why not? The modern church more and more not only refuses to shoot them, but tries to comb the burs from their fur for them.That anyone who professes to be a Christian can ever be comfortable enough in their disbelief to easily and publicly deny  God's ability to act supernaturally - to work miracles - within ANY aspect of all creation should be telling enough for any follower of Christ as to the state of the "church" today.

  • Daniel A Breithaupt
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Let us have a look at the first dimension.  Many say it is a line between two dots.  On a single piece of paper we see where the two dots could very well be at the edge of the paper  This works from a ninety degree angle. If you look down the long axis of the piece of paper the two dots are passed by your line of sight.  The line of sight is the first dimension.  If you look down the long axis of the piece of paper out at the sky all that blocks your vision is the color of the clouds or the sky.  On a dark night your line of sight sees past the farthest visible star.  The first dimension of the piece of paper has not changed.  It still appears as a line between the two dots of the edge of the paper from a ninety degree angle.  It is arbitrary that the dot starts at your eye  because you get the same thing if you look at it from the other direction.  Therefore:  The first dimension is infinite if uninterrupted. Without beginning and without end.  Know anybody that makes the same claim?To get to the second dimension the first has to be bent from an outside source.  As we see in the first, the second dos not negate any of the principles or parameters of the first and the first is incorporated in the second in an exponentially more complex manner.   If one was to follow these observations the conclusions are:Length, Width, HeightSpace Gravity, Time;Plant life, animal life, Human life;etc.As is evident the first dimension is unable to bend itself.  Neither are any of the other dimensions able to mutate or grow into a higher dimension.  Simple observation demands that evolution is fully unable to happen in any shape or form.God Bless.

  • KirkNM
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    "...churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science..."   So, if the measuring stick of what churches should support is what is revered by the culture, then all churches should apparently start supporting and promoting Kim Kardashian, gangsta-rap music, and all Hollywood standards of marital fidelity.  Silly me, I thought that the Church was supposed to support the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • jrmbasso's picture
    jrmbasso
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Thanks to WORLD News Group and Daniel James Devine for this report. Many interesting comments have been posted. I want to make a somewhat tangential comment by considering an interpretation of the Genesis' creation account which is I believe more in line with its place in the Bible and its integral part of the Bible's message. In the beginning the earth was created in tohu and bohu. In English this can be translated as chaotic and empty. Chapter 1 is an image, a paradigm, a pattern of redemption. Chaos is organized with the appearance of the Light which separates itself from the darkness (which has not overcome it), then the creation of the expanse which is separated from the waters, and then the emergence of dry land by gathering the waters into one place. All of this work was carried out by the Holy Spirit who is the person of the Trinity who redeems us from the chaos and emptiness of our sinful state. Having created an ordered world of seas, earth, and sky, God's work continues by filling their emptiness by creating life in these environments suitable to them. God then through the person of the Holy Spirit fills the lives of those who by grace through faith are redeemed with the fruit of the Spirit. I believe this is the primary message presented by God to us in Genesis 1. Other manifestations of the creation paradigm are found the reappearances of the image of Eden: in the promised land flowing with milk and honey, in the promise to Abraham of a city whose designer and builder is God, in the columns, wood panels and curtain embroidery of Solomon's temple, and in the appearance of the New Jerusalem at the end of time. Reading the Bible with this paradigm in mind is far more important and exciting to me than the fascinating discussions of how close the approximations of science come to the truth. I must admit though that whether or not entropy was a part of pre-fall creation still interests me. My best understanding so far is that since God knew about the fall before creation that entropy was pre-fall.

  • Richard H's picture
    Richard H
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Adding a "67th" book to the Bible is heresy.  But isn't this what Satan ends up doing, trying to create a one world religion by destroying the authority of God's word?"The one-world religion described in Revelation 17:1-18 as "the great harlot" will be part of the end-times scenario. The term harlot is used throughout the Old Testament as a metaphor for false religion. The actual identity and makeup of the religion has been debated for centuries and has resulted in a number of different views among Bible commentators and theologians. There are convincing arguments for the one world religion being Catholicism, Islam, the New Age movement, or some form of religion not even invented yet, and an internet search will produce many more possibilities and theories. There is no doubt that some sort of one-world religion under the false prophet will be a part of the end times, perhaps made up of a number of different religions, sects, and isms that are around today."Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/one-world-religion.html#ixzz3JKuLl2IB

  • Laura W
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    It is very dangerous to draw conclusions about what the Bible could mean before you examine it carefully on its own terms. Let us not be guilty of putting words in God's mouth, however unpalatable his own Word may seem.

  • Dean from Ohio
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Macroevolution through random mutations and natural selection not only did not happen; it could not have happened. The optimization surfaces are too unfriendly and the combinatorial space is just too sparse. Stephen Meyer's book Signature in the Cell lays it out well, just like the designer of the Titanic did when he saw that four compartments were penetrated. It was a mathematical certainty then and is one now. Neo-Darwinism is sinking and BioLogos is rearranging deck chairs and being paid to do it. That money, influence and acclaim will be worthless two miles below the sea, where that misguided theory-cum-religion is going.

  • Dean from Ohio
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    This is not going to end well. The influence of Templeton money is distorting "inquiry" in exactly the same way that one hundred billion dollars of federal money spent on global warming research and technology since 1998 created a pseudo "consensus" on global warming or whatever it is they are calling it now. The funding makes the "science."I now consider the Templeton Foundation an enemy.

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim 4:3,4)Surely that time is now. Evolution is a fable concocted by man and advanced primarily by athiests as an alternative to God. It is supported with a religious fervor by its adherents and requires more faith to believe than creation. Like VortexSpin, I have also spent time recently re-learning what I already knew:"For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exo 20:11).I am encouraged by some of the other commenters here who likewise believe that God created the heaven and the earth and that Adam and Eve were real people created by Him and were the first human beings to live on earth. If your evidence doesn't support that, well, you had better re-check your "evidence". "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Ecc 7:29).Evolution is one of those inventions.

  • Neil Evans's picture
    Neil Evans
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    This proves that we are still, and perpetually, enamored with "being like God."Evaluating the validity of the Bible on the basis of "scientific" observation rather than evaluating science on the basis of the Bible is rather like evaluating math by the ebb and flow of my budget.  Surely $100 in income must equal $110 in expenses somehow.  The math must be wrong. :)  Of course the assumption is that the Bible (uncertain writings of unscientific men) can in no way be considered as authoritative as math.  Because people who really know (like God?), know better.

  • DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    As I said over at http://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/evolution_and_retail_pricing_parallels, one of the things I find compelling about the old earth perspective (the only authentically biblical understanding, of course Ü) is "the appearance of the heavenly bodies on Day 4 without the need... to find another light source for Day 1. Also, the 'And' at the beginning of Genesis 1:3 certainly fits with verses 1 & 2 already having  taken place before God's next miraculous interventions. As I've said elsewhere, I think it very cool that modern... cosmology and astrophysics have shown that space and time(!) had a beginning, corresponding to the Bible's very first verse."Also on the topic arehttp://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/examining_the_new_critics_of_genesis,http://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/trumpeting_a_dinosaur_horn,http://www.worldmag.com/2014/08/junk_dna_and_darwinian_blind_spots andhttp://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/darwin_on_the_rocks/page1(Please don't forget that old earth creationists are not theistic evolutionists and do believe in our forbears being literal Adam and Eve.) 

  • STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN's picture
    STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Thank you Daniel for this classic example of Grand Rapids religious liberals who can't abide any brothers and sisters in Christ who take scripture any more literally than they themselves do. They think they know best. They went to Calvin, their parents went to Calvin, they studied under the right professors. And they're prepared to lay down mommy's and daddy's millions in one minute if they think they can sway their benighted, gap-toothed spiritual cousins into thinking the way they do."No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!" Job 12:2

  • Stefan's picture
    Stefan
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    Dear BioLogos:  How about a fourth option, that creation happened just as described in the Bible, that God made Adam out of dust and Eve from his rib?  If we can't take Genesis as literal history, we can't believe the other 65 books.  I choose to believe that God is able to do what we can't even imagine!

  • Lee's picture
    Lee
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    It is very frustrating to see new evidence continue to pour in that makes a young earth biblical creation the strongest argument and yet still be ridiculed as the ignorant view.  Someday evolution will be mocked just as we now mock the flat earth theory from the past.  

  • Thomas Peck
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    The problem with the Bio-Logos approach is that they are contending that the first few books of Genesis are an 'add' on to what is otherwise an historical document. If evolution were true, then why would God not have the author convey that?  It would not be difficult for the people at the time to be told" In the beginning God created the heavens and earth and cause different kinds of animals to begat and change into other kinds of animals until He allow Man to be formed, which was in His image".  There was no reason to God to allow a deviation from fact in Genesis.

  • Jim Hasak
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    It is the depths of arrogance to tell God what He meant when He inspired the writing of Genesis, as well as Heb 11:3 and other passages, and the very words of Jesus in Matt 19:4-5. What Templeton and BioLogos are doing falls under the strong condemnation Paul issues against teachers of a false Gospel in the first chapter of Galatians.

  • VortexSpin
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    I've spent a lot of time over the past year re-addressing what I believe about Creation. My studies have left me more confident in Young Earth Creation than ever before. One of the most helpful resources I've found over the course of my reading is the stuff from "JoeCoder", the curator of Reddit's Creation subforum. He's compiled a mini-lecture covering some of the biggest problems with evolution. It's very readable and even funny at times: http://notascientist.d512.com/lessons/christianity-science-history/week1-introduction/index.php

  • Amy Medina
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:28 pm

    This makes me feel sick to my stomach.  Where are we going?  If we deny Genesis, how can we accept Romans?