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Unscientific method

BioLogos makes the case for evolution but excludes prominent critics

Unscientific method

Barbara Bradley Hagerty (George Conklin/Religion Communicators Council)

The Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan—membership limited to Harvard alumni, tenured faculty members, or members of Harvard boards or committees—was the Sept. 30–Oct. 2 venue for an all-expenses paid, invitation-only BioLogos conference designed to “present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.”

BioLogos is spending $513,000 of Templeton funds for meetings in 2013, 2014, and 2015. About 95 pastors, seminary presidents, “Christian thought leaders,” and journalists (including me) listened to this year’s presenters, which included former National Public Radio correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, and Philip Yancey and Andy Crouch of Christianity Today

One subject for debate: Did Adam actually exist? Molecular biologist Denis Alexander, a member of the BioLogos Advisory Council, said he prefers the view that hominins evolved until about 200,000 years ago, at which time a population of anatomically modern humans began to emerge in Africa. The population contained around 10,000 reproductively active individuals. Alexander said he did not think Adam and Eve were “genetic progenitors of the whole human race,” but “spiritual founders of God's new family.”

Covenant Theological Seminary’s Jack Collins, though, is a fellow of the Discovery Institute, and he spoke in affirmation of a historical Adam. BioLogos takes no official position on the question: President Haarsma told me that when she grew up in an evangelical church, “a historical Adam and Eve were default positions. But now I see other models that are promising.” 

Strikingly absent from the conference were leaders of the Intelligent Design movement such as Stephen Meyer or William Dembski. Also missing were young earth or old earth creationists such as Terry Mortenson or Hugh Ross. Haarsma defended their exclusion, saying “public debates often turn into spectacles, and we wanted this meeting to be a place where people could think out loud.” She hopes conference attendees will “bring BioLogos speakers to their churches and seminaries. We see nothing wrong with moving the church toward the position that evolutionary creation is a valid view.”

If BioLogos and Templeton had allowed a wider range of views at the conference, what would Dembski, Mortenson, Ross, and Meyer have said? All four would have affirmed a historical Adam and noted the difficulty of reconciling evolution, the fall, and original sin. Dembski told me Alexander’s explanation is “giving up too much that is essential in the biblical understanding of creation and the fall.”

I came away from the conference wondering why BioLogos excludes its most prominent critics from the dialogue. Doesn’t the scientific method include presenting theories to skeptics so the theories can be confirmed, refuted, or made better?

Warren Cole Smith

Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

Comments

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

    Using fish to reptile as an example, the most damning evidence against cross species evolution is that
    we should be able to find fish today that have a partial lung (and a myriad of
    other partial organs and features) since trillions upon trillions of fish with
    these mutations would have had to have existed in the long, long time that it
    would have taken for a lung to have developed. Since these transition forms would have had to exist for long periods, there is no reason they should have disappeared.

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

    Just listened to today's conversation with Stephen Meyer which reminded me again of the fact that BioLogos, in my view, committed only one "sin" in their recent "conference."  Not including points-of-view held by competent opponents is no more or less than propaganda, thus not worth wasting my time.

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

    I have been tracking the BioLogos organization for quite some time.  When it was heavily endorsed by the Obama administration, I knew it was very likely up to no good.  I knew this type of "dialog" was in our future when I first noticed that. and that this exact type of "capitulation" between the church and the secular orthodoxy of evolution has always had the body giving up more than was necessary or justified, and many more torn away from their ever diluted faith foundations.All that comes to mind as I have pondered this great "debate" since getting saved (having a Ph.D. in engineering so I have no problems whatsoever actually taking the Bible on it's own Word) is Matthew 18:6, Romans 1:1, 2 Peter 3:3, Psalms 107:17; and over it all Psalm 37.Wake up folks.  This has been a truly a great deception down through the ages (evolutionary thinking has been around since the time of the early Greeks, and those who subscribe to it may find themselves in a Matthew 7:21-23 situation (one I would never like to find myself in).

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

    I am a supporter of the Intelligent Design movement and of World  News Group but this article really bothers me.  If it is troubling to Warren Cole Smith that BioLogos didn't invite Intelligent Design proponents, does he expect the Discovery Institute and other  organizations to invite theistic evolutionists to speak at their conferences?  I doubt it.  As they say, "what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander".

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

    Christopher Jones, I am late responding to your comment on November 18, but you asked me to elaborate on my claim that BioLogos does not support the inerrancy of Scripture.  I know my response is now so late as to be irrelevant, but I think you'll find that in the statement of faith on BioLogos' website,  they do not include inerrancy as part of their section on the Bible, referring instead only to inspiration and authority.  Whereas a believer in inerrancy such as myself asserts that it is difficult to uphold the inspiration and authority of God's Word without also adhering to inerrancy, others do not hold such a belief, and I think it a stretch to assume that by "inspiration" and "authority," BioLogos also means inerrancy.  More to the point, I most closely followed BioLogos several years ago (around 2010 or so) when they did not see a need for a statement of faith at all.  I am glad they have tightened and improved their doctrinal claims since that time, but back then, they were running articles that questioned numerous sections of the Bible, far beyond the first few chapters of Genesis.  If you read this comment and would like for me to do so, I'd be happy to dig up some of those articles for you.  All in all, my impression of BioLogos is that they are far more interested in upholding the credibility of science than the credibility of the Bible.  I believe science is a means of finding truth, but I'm concerned by efforts that seem to put as much or more faith in modern, peer-reviewed journal articles than Scripture.  Both categories of knowledge are important, but I would claim that only one is inerrant in its original manuscripts.

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

    Jim Hasak --Please see comment #36 at http://www.worldmag.com/2014/11/interpretive_dance. I'm in step with Hugh Ross, with perhaps the exception of my graciousness, and that's more than a giant leap from BioLogos. 

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

    There's a necessary perspective in the scientific community that includes Darwinian Neo-Evolution and Old Earth cosmology. These perspectives and their leading proponents must be allowed the respect the universities give them and deference to their perspectives is wise. The Church has certain Young Earth cosmologists and Intelligent Design proponents that deserve respect for their leadership in their communities. Take a stand, but respect the other's viewpoint enough to be conversant in their language. Allow that their university respect carries more weight culturally at this time. There is a major embarrassment coming as they come about and turn on Darwinian evolution themselves. It will happen because the big bang and DNA carry too much credence to be denied much longer.  Don't expect that they'll reject their Old Earth cosmology, there's nothing scientifically credible against this theory, but let's be civil at this coming day. Respect through the "evolution" of thought is vital to mutual respect. The culture is coming back. Darwinian evolution, despite Biio-Logos, is falling apart. Let's not gloat...

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

    Thanks for the alert, World.  Who would think?  Scientific naturalism in "Christian" institutions.  Certain of the institutions in this collection of articles have been unBiblical for quite a while.  I think first of limited atonement (contrary to 1John 2:2) and of irresistible grace (contrary to Matt 23:37b "..ye would not").  Given that kind of blindness, scientific confusion is also likely. Anthropology, palentology and similar sciences are logically inductive in nature and thus dependent upon the analyst's biases, easy for one to hold to positions despite diminishing supportive evidences.  A decade ago one writer quoted an evolutionary paleontologist from N.Y. State as having challenged the global community of such to provide solid evidence for a single macro evolutionary change but received no such evidence - not even one.  Scientific naturalists have denied any evidence for  miraculous/divine intervention in earth's biological history.  Really!  What about the Cambrian explosion and other lesser "creation" events?  And the mechanisms for evolutionary change should still be operating yet evolutionary "progress" appears to have halted  - along with God's creation activity. For a current Bible-to-Science study, read "Navigating Genesis" by Dr. Hugh Ross.   Its scope and depth are truly amazing!  I was surprised at the amount of prejudicial baggage I had collected from imperfect exegesis of creation accounts in Scripture and was pleased to read Dr. Ross' correctives to some current scientific thoughts as well.  While unlikely to be the final word on the reconciliation between natural and theological sciences, this volume advances the body of truth by compromising neither special nor natural revelations.  He and his staff of scholars at www.reasons.org are accumulating heaps of scientific evidences that support the Biblical account of not just creation but of continuation and destination of this World.

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

    Christopher Jones --Regarding your second comment (#9) and the article you referenced at RNS, http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/11/17/world-magazines-biologos-lament-demonstrates-evan... (the link didn't work, I had to copy and paste): point taken. Response, WorldMag?There's this from Hugh Ross: http://www.reasons.org/articles/ambassadors-for-reconciliation. I should be as gracious as he.I wish Reasons could get that kind of funding, but ain' goin' happen with the juggernaut of philosophical naturalism and the rest of the world on evolution's side. Truth isn't determined by vote or poll, however. 

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

    Jim Hasak --I think not (said Descartes as he disappeared in a puff of logic Ü).  

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

    In keeping with the theme of this article, I figured I would present the counter-argument: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/11/17/world-magazines-biologos-lament-demonstrates-evangelicals-double-standard/

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

    But BioLogos invited Ken Ham and other creationusts to talk about Evolution, Genesis, etc. AiG denied them. Tyler Francke of GodofEvolution.com did the same thing - and was also denied.

    In fact there are multiple times that Biologos has reached out to the Creationist community to engage in friendly dialogue about Scripture and Evolution. This article is little more than misleading slander.

    Also, DCal300, I have never Known Biologos to claim that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God. Care to Elaborate?

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

    I posted this on the other BioLogos article in this issue, but having followed BioLogos for a while, I wanted to post it again here: 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 has 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.

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

    That BioLogos would limit the voices of the debate is nothing new to the scientific hierarchy that refuses to even consider anything that deviates from the accepted Darwinian model - something strange for those who claim to be seeking truth and knowledge.

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

    Hugh Ross seems to be one baby step away from the BioLogos position.

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

    They want evangelical churches to invite speakers with non-evangelical views to speak in their churches, but will not invite non-evolutionary speakers to talk in their meetings.  This is quite revealing. 

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

    The problem of eisegesis by adding their own 67th book to the Bible and twisting the true 66 books to their own liking.2 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  

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

    "We see nothing wrong with moving the church toward the position that evolutionary creation is a valid view." No doubt. There is a way that seems right to people, but it leads to death. Feeling that there's nothing wrong is not enough.

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

    Father, will you please give Christians both Wisdom & Grace to present ideas in a loving and inviting manner to win lost souls to Jesus?  Amen