Brad: Is there a recording available of the Falk-Jeanson-Schmutzer dialogue? I am not familiar with Schumtzer, but Jeanson appears to be quite articulate. I am not aware of any such public dialogue at such a high level between evolutionary creationism and young-earth creationism advocates ever before. I wonder if this is a first? Most of the time, young-earth creationists only interact in dialogue/debate with secular evolutionists.
You can’t blame BioLogos for Atheist preference for Evolution-without-God.
BioLogos stands for Evolution-with-God … which is the best fit with ALL evidence to science-assisted human senses.
I think this discussion changes so much depending on whether evolution is actually supported by evidence. For instance, even if all the original heliocentrists were also sun worshippers, we’d still accept that the Earth revolves around the sun, because the evidence is strong and compelling.
What you’re suggesting here is that hundreds of thousands of scientists over the last 150 years have let their assumptions cloud their scientific reasoning to the point that their science is fundamentally unscientific. In other words, they’re all spectacularly bad at science, and their accumulated evidence for evolution is entirely illusory. That’s quite a claim. Why not say, as YEC Todd Wood does, that evolution is indeed very good science, but because the Bible forces me to believe the Earth is 6000 years old, I’m forced to reject it? That seems to make more sense to me.
Here again, you’re making a dichotomy between evolutionist and scientist. Again I say: That’s quite a claim. Also, the reason “evolutionists” (including Dr. Mary Schweitzer, the evangelical Christian who discovered the tissue) don’t think that this discovery should singlehandedly overturn our chronology of the Earth is because it would be foolhardy to let one outlier obliterate an entire scientific paradigm. If we did that, science would be chaos. Instead, it’s far more reasonable to assume that we will find an explanation within the paradigm, unless there’s mountains of evidence otherwise.
Of course worldview impacts interpretation. But good scientists don’t let their assumptions decide their conclusions. BioLogos thinks that people of many backgrounds can be good scientists, Christian or not. It’s a belief that sets up apart from other origins perspectives.
Thanks for your gracious replies here.
I personally don’t know much about that specific question, Len. Sorry! I peeked through our archive and I don’t see anything specifically about it. I talked to some people around the office, and it doesn’t seem like anyone has a working knowledge on that, other than to say that it’s a field of active research. How about starting a new topic here on the Forum and asking the community? You could even tag @DennisVenema with the question.
The recording will be available from ETS in the near future. It was an interesting session on many levels. I’m sure we’ll talk about it at BioLogos in some form or another in the future, but I don’t know yet what that will look like.
It’s a first for ETS, for sure. Credit goes to AiG for inviting us to the session (they organize the yearly “creation” seminar at ETS). Many people were surprised that ETS gave us any opportunity to speak. I think it points to BioLogos being a bigger part of the conversation.
Jeanson may appear to be quite articulate, he is still dishonest in saying he is doing real scientific investigation. He reads the same genetic papers that I read. Granted he is more knowledgeable in genetics than I am as he has recent degrees in the subject and has published papers in the field. However, he takes the results of researchers who painstakingly worked years squeezing out new scientific knowledge from new genetic sequencing technology and dishonestly manipulates the data to correspond to Ham’s view of what the Bible says. That is not ethical scientific research and it is not science. He gets paid to do this dishonesty. He purposefully manipulates other scientists research results to fit his (an Ham’s) views. It is dishonest and borders on fraud. And can be harmful to society and individuals if anyone takes him seriously.
I found your responses to the 5 objections to be extremely unsatisfying for 3 reasons.
1.The author’s scientific arguments are simplistic and based on numerous faulty assumptions. The most important scientific objections to evolution were not addressed at all (how could the first cells possibly self-assemble, how could new genetic information be added to a genome when no plausible mechanism exists, etc,).
2.The Biblical arguments brushed aside important questions like: how do you account for the stupendous numbers of deaths necessary for biological evolution in a pre-sin world (where death did not exist)? Your arguments reminded me of the sort of mental gymnastics we often hear from those who claim the Bible never really says homosexuality is a sin.
3. The entire thrust of your ministry seems to be “let’s make sure no-one is forced to make an uncomfortable choice”, rather than “let’s Glorify God by studying His creation”. I think this inevitably makes it harder, not easier, for people to accept the Gospel. Jesus never shied away from confronting people with hard choices.
Is evolution inherently atheistic?
I also find it a little disingenuous to propose that there is no moral/social agenda behind evolutionary biology. I think there has been ample evidence of an anti-Creator evolutionary agenda from Universities (major employers of biologists), foundations (major funding source for biologists), publishers (lifeline for continued employment of biologists), and many left-leaning biologists themselves.
Maybe you misunderstood the point of the blog post. It most certainly wasn’t to summarize the scientific evidence for evolution or present a fleshed-out argument for the compatibility of Scripture and mainstream science.
However, we do have an expansive, well-organized, and aesthetically pleasing website with many well-researched articles that delve into the various issues related to biblical interpretation, science, and faith, if you are interested in giving the perspective a fair hearing. The Common Questions page is a good place to start: http://biologos.org/common-questions
For example, if you are interested in how we respond to the death before sin question, you find these articles helpful:
This is a blog series on “Evolution, Creation, and Death” that starts with an SBC pastor’s objections and includes the EC response.
Unlike some atheists, the writers at BioLogos do not think of the evolutionary model as the “grand theory of everything.” We freely admit that the most important questions in life are not answered by science, nor do we need a godless explanation in order to maintain our worldview.
“Above all, we need to figure out a way of engaging what John Dewey once declared to be the “deepest problem of modern life”—that we have failed to integrate our “thoughts about the world” with our thoughts about “value and purpose”.”
We are trying to encourage conversations that explore that kind of integration.
True. But it is not a settled argument whether the hard choice between the evolutionary model and biblical faith is a real choice or a false choice. We would argue it’s a false choice.
Welcome to the forum. Please feel free to start a thread about any topic that you would like to discuss in more detail.
[quote=“BradKramer, post:14, topic:3498”] @johnZ
> “…but we fully understand that for conservative Evangelicals, this is a long-term proposition. -” Don’t you think this is a bit of hubris? At least how it sounds like to me.
I agree that maybe that was overstated. I was just trying to say that this is a long-term conversation. We don’t expect that any evangelical position on origins will have a mass exodus over to our position.
Actually, John, I don’t think Brad overstated this at all. Nor do I think it’s hubris, not in the least. I think it’s just the plain truth. See my brief comments at the very end of this: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/evangelicals-evolution-and-academics.html
That’s a very strong claim, @johnZ. If you mean only that some proponents of evolution are driven by an atheistic world view to interpret evolution as inherently godless, then we’d probably agree. That’s just a form of scientism, and @BradKramer has already commented on that.
However, if you mean that evolutionary inferences don’t arise from the evidence without making an atheistic assumption, then we differ fundamentally. Historically, that dog just won’t hunt. When Darwin first contemplated common ancestry, it was on the basis of many observations he’d been making in the Pacific, and at that point in his life he was a believer in God–his agnosticism came later, and he never saw himself as an atheist. Darwin was also strongly influenced by natural historians who interpreted the fossil record in terms of “progressive creation,” namely, the idea that there really were major changes in animal form over time, resulting from separate large-scale acts of divine creation. Darwin came to reject the part about special creation, but he always embraced the part about progress in the fossil record–an idea that was very popular with Christian natural historians at the time. See this: http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/creating-progressive-creationism-in-america
By contrast, Charles Lyell insisted that there is NO overall change in animal form through the eons of earth history. That idea was consonant with his Unitarianism, but it was rejected by the evangelical proponents of progressive creation.
In other words, the influences operating on Darwin simply don’t equate with your claim that evolution is driven by atheism.
Now, perhaps Ken Ham and company would say that the “progressive creation” proponents were on a slippery slide toward atheism, simply b/c they didn’t believe in the recent creation of all life. On that view, one might still say that Darwin was inspired by atheistic ideas. But, IMO, that’s not a tenable position of the facts. There’s nothing at all atheistic about progressive creation. Nothing.
Certain interpretations that certain scientists give evolution are certainly driven by a moral/social agenda. Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, and some other New Atheists absolutely let their atheism drive the way(s) in which they layer metaphysical claims on the back of evolutionary science. However, the publishers that let them do this are not scientific journals, but publishers of books that the editors hope will sell very well–as Dawkins’ books obviously do. You won’t find that type of stuff in the scientific literature itself. The lifeline for continued employment of biologists is publication of refereed articles in scientific journals, not publication of best-selling books. As a general rule (with almost no exceptions since the early 20th century) is that scientists publish their discoveries as short articles in journals, not in books. They will often talk about their work in books for a much wider audience, but that’s not plying their trade, it’s preaching to the choir.
I content that the opposite is true. Ken Ham and company is on a slippery slide toward atheism because once people of reasonable intelligence realize how not factual Ken Ham is, they will be very upset with the whole Bible and the whole premise of Christianity. They would realize that they have been blatantly lied to by Ken Ham and Company. Science and Ken Ham’s religion can’t both be true.
However, Biologos’ TE and science can BOTH be true. There is nothing in TE that doesn’t mesh with known science or even the process of science discovery.
(can’t wait to hear Eddie’s challenges to me on this one.)
Ted, when you say something is a “long term proposition” it could mean several things (it is a bit vague). It could mean that conservative evangelicals they are firm in their position. But I read it as saying that it will take a long time to change their minds… which is why it is hubris. I started to read your article, and then became disillusioned by the references to evangelicals and fundamentalists and the distinctions made between them. This may be entertaining for some, but is always always too simplistic to deal with the impact of a statement such that Brad made. The generalizations about both evangelicals and fundamentalists are arbitrary, judgemental, and far too broad. Accusing either group of being against theology or against science simply irritates me, and discredits those who judge in that way. It is a way of trying to go past their arguments and attacking the individuals.
For that reason, I’ve often said that you cannot have a real christian church that is not evangelical, and that rejects the fundamentals of the faith. I don’t really care what you call them, but a true mainline church will be evangelical as well, and in so far as it is not, it is false. Even the Rom Cath church has been evangelical throughout time
If you are using the term in a different way, then you fall into the trap of division on the wrong grounds, and missing all the real significant things that Jesus wants us to pay attention to.
Then we probably agree, mostly. But the point is really that the world view is even adopted inadvertently and accidentally by many Christians. They are christians who utilize the atheistic world view without being aware of it. The point is how do you separate evolution from the atheistic world view? As Eddie has often said, I’m not sure that biologos has a good grasp on this. And this has nothing to do with evidence discovered by non-Christians. Even mere scientism is not the main problem, although it is related.
It is hard to make judgements about Darwin. But the general atmosphere of his influence was non-christian. His grandfather who influenced him lots was also a profligate immoral man. Russel Wallace eventually became a spiritualist. It is difficult to make serious distinctions between atheism and agnosticism when considering their influence on theoretical naturalism. (eg. I do not believe Ted Davis exists vs I believe no one can know that Ted Davis exists.) But, to some extent this is not the point. Modern approaches are now more relevant, and my experience has been noticing a general attitude of making God irrelevant in creation, to the point of ridicule of scripture should it even be mentioned in the discussion. So even christians who see some evolutionary evidence in the genetics or geology, are influenced by this general approach and worldview. It is not only the naturalism that is proposed, but the general lack of law or principle in the evolutionary theory that results from this. Most important however, is to ask yourself, how is this atheistic world view influencing my approach to the evolutionary theory?
This is entirely irrelevant. A world view does not have to be clarified in each piece of literature, in order to influence the literature or the decision to investigate certain pieces of evidence while delaying or ignoring other pieces of evidence. We would expect the discussions of world view to be rare in scientific research papers. This does not mean that worldviews do not influence.
Your thoughtful reply is appreciated, John. It’s hard to extend this conversation on the same level, simply for lack of time to invest in it on my end–but that is only to say that it would be great to have coffee, multiple times, and go further.
I think Eddie would say that at least some of us at BL do have a good grasp on this, but of course he’d have to speak for himself. For example, he’s appreciated the work of Robert Russell (http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-god-who-acts-part-1#comments), someone who’s influenced my own thinking about evolution and divine action, and I know he also appreciates how Steven Barr sorts this out: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/12/chance-by-design. We have not (yet) put any of Barr’s work on BL, but I’ve often referred readers to it in comments left here. I’d say that Russell and Barr (and some others, including John Polkinghorne) do have a very good grasp on this, and they represent a position that resonates with ours at BL, whether or not we’d agree with them on every single point.
Why would you want to separate evolution from the atheistic world view? To do this you would have to prove that God exists and created the universe. Remember the atheist can never prove that God doesn’t exist and didn’t create universe. Wouldn’t it be better for both camps to agree that evolution is factual empirical science, and each camp goes ahead from there searching for truth?
John, BioLogos in its daily operation SEPARATES evolution from the atheistic world view.
It’s mission is to teach Evolution was guided by God.
Thank you also for this equally thoughtful reply, @johnZ. Now I understand why you said that Brad’s statement is “hubris.” In other words, in your view, it’s hubris to think that you might be able to persuade someone else to abandon an erroneous position, given enough time. Perhaps that counts as hubris, but I don’t think it’s a very good fit with the definition at merriam-webster “exaggerated pride or self-confidence.” This speaks to tone, more than to persuasion, IMO.
If we take your notion of hubris, then what are we to think of something like this: https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaPurdom?
Is this “exaggerated pride or self-confidence,” or something else? Is it ultimately in the eye of the beholder?
The column I sent you to, John, was taken from a longer, private document that I wrote in order to assess, as an historian, where evolution stands among American evangelicals–the religious community to which I belong myself. If the distinctions I made about “fundamentalists” and “evangelicals” offend you, I can say only that I didn’t intend to offend anyone. This type of distinction is commonplace among people who study American religion, but also among many pastors, at least in my generation and the previous generation. If you don’t find it helpful, I’m sure you aren’t the only reader who feels that way about that type of analysis. Sorry it wasn’t helpful.
Georgia Purdom - Public Figure Now that’s hubris.
There is some truth here, @Patrick, I’m afraid. I don’t have statistics to cite, but I know many people who started in the YEC camp and ended up as total unbelievers. Those are private stories that I won’t relate, but some of them are well known public stories, including my longtime friend Ronald Numbers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Numbers). At the beginning of his book, The Creationists, Ron tells the story of a personal faith journey from being a Seventh-day Adventist (that’s where the YEC view came from) to being an agnostic, starting with the realization that “the earth was at least thirty thousand years old,” a conclusion he drew as a graduate student in history when he attended a lecture on the fossilized forests in the Yellowstone River Canyon. “I quickly, though not painlessly, slid down the proverbial slipperly slope toward unbelief.”
This happens. A lot. Are Ken Ham and company responsible? IMO, yes, to some extent–to the extent that they try to persuade Christians that no alternative understanding of early Genesis is acceptable, that everything else is the beginning of apostacy.
At the same time, there are lots of people who start somewhere else–even with a TE position–who also end up in unbelief, for various reasons. It’s complicated: each person’s story is unique. And, of course, there are people who go from unbelief to belief, for various reasons, including Francis Collins and C. S. Lewis and many others. In no case that I am personally aware of, however, did conversion from unbelief to belief involve someone being persuaded that the earth is “young.” Lots and lots of people have lost their faith after becoming persuade that the earth is “old.”