A Question about BioLogos


#1

Long, long ago, when BioLogos first got started, its position was that God had created the universe, but did not intervene in how the universe evolved, but merely sustained it in existence. Thus, the universe had freedom to evolve by means of the random events occurring in it.

This view was later modified, so that God might or might not have intervened in the universe’s evolution, but so far there was no scientific evidence to determine whether or not He had done so.

Is this still the official position of BioLogos? Or has it changed yet again?


(Laura) #2

Here’s the BioLogos “What We Believe” page – this might help answer your question.

http://biologos.org/about-us/our-mission/


(George Brooks) #3

@Bilbo

Please remember that the very statement :slight_smile:

“no scientific evidence to determine whether or not He had [miraculously intervened in Evolution]”

is not something that science can test, evaluate or prove.


(Phil) #4

Agree with reading the official mission statement Elle gave you. As noted on another thread, the forum is an open discussion, and opinions expressed do not represent the position of Biologos. As a moderator, I am just a bouncer in the pub we call the forum, and my opinions are my own also. At times people get sloppy and say stuff like “Biologos has the position that…” when it is only an impression. Also keep in mind that some of the blogs do not represent positions of Biologos, but are presented for the value of their content.

Organizations like this are pretty general and big tent, so often times do not have a position on specific details. In fact, I sort of doubt that the positions you stated to be those of Biologos actually are as stated, as that does not seem like something they would define that way, though I have not been around here from the beginning. References would be nice for those assertions.

What you stated as their current position does not show up in the position statement Elle linked that I could find The closest to addressing your assertion that I see on a quick read is point 8.:

“We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.”

I think that gives a lot of wiggle room to accommodate different views, but affirms the role of God throughout creation.


#5

Hi Phil,

I’m pretty confident about BioLogos’ original position. One of the advantages of it was that it provided an explanation for natural evil (animal diseases and pain). God allowed the universe the freedom to evolve by random events, which meant God allowed for evil in the universe.

Perhaps that is still BioLogos’ position. It’s difficult to tell from the statement. The impression I got from the last time I visited here regularly was that there had been a de-emphasis on the freedom of the universe, and an increased emphasis on God’s sovereignty. But perhaps that was just my own subjective impression.

So now I am encountering people here who claim to be ECs, but they also claim to believe that God guides evolution. So I’m a little confused as to what BioLogos’ position is. When BioLogos uses the term “evolution,” what exactly does that term mean to them?


#6

I guess I’ll repeat the question for Phil or anybody else who would like to respond. What do the BioLogos people mean when they use the word “evolution”?

It used to be that they meant “neo-Darwinism.” And that meant the mutations were random with respect to fitness. It is difficult to see how God could guide mutations in order to obtain a certain result, if those mutations were supposed to be random with respect to fitness.

So when people claim to be ECs, but also that they believe that God is guiding mutations, there seems to be an inconsistency…somewhere.

Am I missing something?


(Phil) #7

Here we are, straight from the site. I think there is a bit of tension present in determining exactly how God works in the process as you state. I personally have come to be comfortable with that tension and somewhere in there, faith comes into play.


#8

Mutations that are random with respect to fitness just means the mutations that are a negative impact on fitness are not carried forward, So God only has to be concerned with the mutations that conform to His plan. Does He control all mutations, some mutations, just a few key mutations, or no mutations? That is a personal choice of what to believe that each person has to make for themselves.

And remember that mutations are not the only source of variation that natural selection can work with.


(Christy Hemphill) #9

As I understand it, BioLogos is not trying to advance a particular set of answers to the big theological questions that science raises (historical Adam, theodicy, sovereignty), so much as they are hosting a conversation among believers of different persuasions united by their hesitancy to doubt scientific consensus simply because it poses complications to theology. I think they would be willing to host the contributions of a wide range of theological perspectives or possible answers to questions, it’s just many more conservative types are perhaps not so keen on being labelled on the internet as a “BioLogos author.”

I think the universe was designed and I think God remains intimately involved with ongoing creative, providential, and redemptive acts that move all of Creation closer to God’s ideal of justice and peace and the consummation of his creative work in the coming Eschaton. Those are all theological commitments though and sometimes I don’t really see it. I don’t think we should (or can) be documenting God’s involvement in some kind of scientific-ish hypothesis about exactly how God is engaged or to what extent he has been guiding things according to his will and purpose. You can affirm he is guiding the world and everything in it and making it conform to his will and purpose without understanding how that plays out.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #10

May I point out that guidance or direction is not determined by mutations, but by natural selection. Many people think that natural selection has nothing to do with God, because it is “natural.” However Christians believe that God created Nature, that is the universe, through the Big Bang, so it is God Who set the parameters for Nature.

For instance if God intended for evolution to create intelligent beings, God would have created nature so natural selection rewarded intelligence by making more intelligent creatures better adapt to the environment so they could survive and flourish, at least until their arrogance out weighed their intelligence.

BioLogos has said that God does give direction to evolution, but not how. For me it is clear that God, that is YHWH did create the universe and give direction to evolution through ecological natural selection.


(George Brooks) #11

@Bilbo

Theodicy, the problem with Evil, exists as soon as one adopts monotheism.

The problem and topic remains for every denomination to wrestle with in its preferred fashion. YECs like to think they have the answer, but ultimately, the problem still has to be addressed.

On the side of BioLogos, since there are people of many different denominations who support BioLogos, there is no one single answer on the “pro-Evolution” side, that can be proposed that would satisify everybody.


(George Brooks) #12

@Bilbo

There are plenty of posts on this question.

Generally I prefer this approach:

Anything “Darwinian” excludes divine activity - - purely natural operations.

One could say, BioLogos promotes Non-Darwinian Evolution in that it acknowledges God not just using Evolution to accomplish his goals (in the same way God uses the Water Cycle to produce crucial rains for farms … or even a specific rain storm on a specific day) - - but also that, to some BioLogos supporters, God directs the actual outcomes of evolution by touching any of the three factors that make the “engine” of Evolution:

1) Net changes in genetic information (net genetic result in a given population);
2) as the intersection of Mutation (creating new genetic information) with …
3) … environmental factors that favor some genetic information and disfavor other genetic information.

Some writers here are quick to say: “BioLogos does not Promote Darwinian Evolution”. With the provisions described above, I have no problem with such statements.


#13

Even Darwin himself did not draw this line:

It can hardly be supposed that a false theory would explain, in so satisfactory a manner as does the theory of natural selection, the several large classes of facts above specified. It has recently been objected that this is an unsafe method of arguing; but it is a method used in judging of the common events of life, and has often been used by the greatest natural philosophers … I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was also attacked by Leibnitz, “as subversive of natural, and inferentially of revealed, religion.” A celebrated author and divine has written to me that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.”— Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)

I think Darwin would find a lot to agree with at Biologos.


(George Brooks) #14

@T_aquaticus,

I was wondering about Darwin’s own views myself!

Please note that the insightful idea you quote was not presented as Darwin’s position… but as the words of some Other writer.


#15

The words of the Other Writer are preceded by Darwin’s words, “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one”. I think one logically leads into the other. Darwin is using the words of the Other Writer to communicate why Darwin thinks his book should not shock the religious feelings of any one.


(Mary) #16

I heard a different take on this recently - that I approve of. It fits well with a BioLogos viewpoint I think. That is that the earth was occupied/taken over by the enemy when he was chucked out of Heaven - and he was destroying things before the Fall. That is why Adam was told to subdue the earth - that was the plan before the Fall. It implies it needed subduing and wasn’t perfect! Until humans sinned, the enemy had limited authority over the earth - but any suffering still came from him. He didn’t wait to be asked.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #17

That certainly seems to fit well with Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptation when he told Jesus that “I will give you all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (NASB). And Jesus never disagrees or corrects any faulty premise --he only responds with “you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

Of course that doesn’t mean the devil’s premise here is above challenge, but the fact that Jesus left it unchallenged might clue us in that they had a different set of assumptions about the world than what theologians today are comfortable defending. And Jesus establishes a higher priority: “who is it that you worship and serve?”, setting aside our “who is in authority here” angst as being irrelevant so far as any loyal servant should be concerned.

[I think I’m finally done editing this!]


(Mary) #18

Another implication is that pain and suffering still comes from Satan today. God allows it, but doesn’t initiate it. He may use it, but it is not his plan A! Jesus has bought back the authority, but Satan still talks like he has it - and the spread of God’s kingdom involves claiming the ground that rightfully belongs to the King (metaphorically speaking!)

This makes a lot of sense to me, though I still haven’t figured out the taking back of the kingdom bit completely - especially when bad things still happen to praying believers - but it still works better than some other theologies out there!


#19

I speak something of this in this thread

I think Lucifer (the angel) was in control of the earth before homo sapiens. He seemed like a quite the brutish King in that “would not let captives go home”. But then he fell, and lost this reign of the earth on a physical level, but still reigns over it’s spiritual realm. This is when man was put here to subdue the earth and rule animals (Lucifer’s old job).

Satan is also the father of lies. So when he tempted Jesus about his reign, that could have been a lie. Or he might still have much influence over the land as he can control man through the spiritual realm of darkness. Perhaps Satan controlled that ruler of that land he pointed out? Or Satan believed it was his land and was wiling to give it away. As many times we think the money we have or the physical abilities or mental strengths we have are due to our doing and we ‘own’ it. All belongs to God, though we forget often and give things away to other because we believe at the time it is ours because it is in our physical possession.

This is why when giving to the poor, all glory belongs to God, He was the one that blessed us with the money that we do have. and He blessed us with it to give to the poor so that He might be glorified.


(Mary) #20

We were created in the image of God - and part of that is that we were meant to be his representatives. So we were like God in a way (reflecting him at least). But Satan’s temptation in Eden was to tell Adam and Eve that they could become like God. They already had that! When they sinned, they actually lost it to some extent as they wanted to be gods in their own image rather than in God’s image. And Satan got the authority to rule that had been given to humans. So he was definitely living up to his “father of lies” title.

But after his death, Jesus gave the authority back to us! (Matt 28) - so we can try again at subduing the earth!