Biologos and Diversity

I deeply appreciate Biologos and realize the struggle to bring science and faith together in the current bifurcated political and social environment we’re in is not always fun.

That said, I recently posted a Biologos podcast on my facebook page. A friend immediately queried me and asked why the speakers were all white and (except for one) all male. I had no good answer.

I am wondering if Biologos is aware of this problem and looking to more adequately deal with issues of diversity?

Again, I do appreciate Biologos and have contributed. I expect to continue using Biologos as a resource. But among my many friends who share my own progressive viewpoints, the diversity question looms large.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Jon Trott / Jesus People USA / Chicago

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Welcome–it sounds like you have had experience here before my time. I’m not a Biologos person, though I do participate. I am sure that Biologos would like to emphasize a broad spectrum. Have you seen the last several podcasts, which are mostly about race and race relations, genetics, and mostly of black or other background speakers?

Thanks. Maybe you can tell us more about the Jesus People.

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I think many here recognize it as a problem, and as Randy pointed out, effort is made to help correct the disparity. There is an overall underrepresentation of minorities and women in the sciences, and we need to strive to correct that, but we are not there yet.

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No, frankly the podcasts I am most fascinated by are those dealing with the intersection between creation texts and current scientific knowledge. I’ve enjoyed the way Biologos opens up those discussions to let the maximum amount of air and proper amounts of uncertainty come into play. You intrigue me, though, with the mention of race here. I tend to be almost monofocused on that topic elsewhere. Though not so much w/ science. Again, see above.

Re Jesus People (www.jpusa.org) we are an intentional Christian community which began in 1972 as part of the counter-culture “Jesus movement” and remain here today. We joined the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination back in 1989, and that cross-fertilization has been high beneficial to us (I hope somewhat so to them as well, heh!). I could go on about us, but won’t for now.

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Thanks for this. I sense that what might happen is (a) one begins with a pool of folks mostly drawn from within the Evangelical “scientists” camp, which might (an unverified assumption on my part) be over-weighted to white males. So finding minorities/women becomes more problematic. Just hoping and maybe encouraging that process to be as front and center as possible. (My gift is being a mild irritant in these regards! hehe)

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From my perspective:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I asked and received; I sought and found; I knocked, and the door was opened. As for givers, finders, and openers, @Johannes_de_Silentio, looks like you may have been called to be an apostle. :grinning:

That’s kind of you indeed, though apostle isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. I like the verse, and the way you use it here. Powerful. I do view the Lord the way Mary did… as a God of the margins and the disempowered. On a deeper philosophical level, I view evolution (and the suffering it necessitates!) as being part of the basis for our justice struggles. At least Christianity folds suffering itself into the justice narrative… and justice into the suffering narrative… through the Lord Jesus. As far as I can tell, no other religion really grapples that deeply with these things or harmonizes them. My faith is very filled with questions, moreso in the post-Evangelical (politically speaking) spaces I’ve entered over the past while. But Jesus is the mainspring. And Jesus… to go back to your verse… is the door.

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poster

Deb Haarsma has been very proactively committed to diversity, and I think the overall makeup of the podcast guests over time speaks to this intentionality. You can’t check every diversity box in every podcast, and it is just a reality that women and minorities are underrepresented in both theology (at least evangelical, and evangelical-adjacent theology) and in the sciences. In the past 15 episodes, guests who are not white have included Curtis Chang, Fatima Cody Stanford, Lori Banks, Leanne Strickland, Esau McCaulley, Augustín Fuentes, Julie Wattacheril, and the last 15 episodes also featured the women Rosalind Picard, Amy Crouch, Charlotte Vanoyen-Witvliet, and Sarah Bodbyl-Roels. There were nine white male guests. So I think you can see there is definitely an attempt to balance the white male voices out with other perspectives and maybe the real question is why did you pick the one with the white guys to share and not one of the many others that highlighted the voices of women and minorities, huh? (that is me totally joking, btw.)

If you look at the speakers bureau, the board, and the advisory council, you won’t see all white men, though more minority representation would certainly be beneficial and welcome. If you know of minorities or women who would like to get more involved in BioLogos’ network, please invite them to get connected.

Here are a few of the specific things BioLogos has been pursuing.

There has been intentional ongoing networking with people and groups involved in theological education in Hispanic communities, and more and more BioLogos resources are being translated into Spanish.

In the midst of the race conversations of the last year, there have been conversations about how BioLogos can better serve the Black church, including public ones such as this one:

A recent podcast featured Esau McCaulley and the idea of not having to choose between the Bible and racial justice:

I have worked on the BioLogos INTEGRATE curriculum for high school (with a team of five other women) and each unit features a role model Christian scientist or scholar. We were very intentional about having a diverse group of role models, including African-American conservation biologist Corina Newsome, Filipino-American Catholic priest and biologist Nicanor Austaico, Puerto Rican activist for inclusion of the disabled Samuel Caraballo, Latina biology professor April Maskiewicz Cordero, and Indian-American geneticist Praveen Sethupathy. They also feature the white women: astronomer Deborah Haarsma, biologist Sarah Bodbyl Roels, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. So that is 8/15 role models who are non-white or women. We also tried to include lesson material and suggested resources that featured minority voices and highlighted justice issues in health and environmental science that disproportionately affect minority communities.

Although he is not involved in the operation of BioLogos since he took his job with the NIH, the example of BioLogos founder Francis Collins still has influence on the ethos of the organization, and he has said he will no longer serve on expert panels or speak at conferences that are not including women. https://www.npr.org/2019/07/01/737761332/nih-director-on-why-he-is-declining-to-speak-on-panels-that-exclude-women

So I guess the short answer is that yes, the importance of seeking out diverse voices is definitely on the radar, and I think if you look closer you will see more evidence of it than you may have initially noticed.

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You could also check out the ten articles specifically tagged with race. (Under church and culture in the topic selection side bar)

If you look through the authors list, you will also see that the editorial team has sought contributions from a good number of non-white authors on a whole variety of topics.

I think part of the problem too is that questions like “How do we reconcile a historical Adam and Eve with natural history” and “does yom mean 24 hours” and other “origins” topics that are apparently quite interesting to white males, don’t seem to be as front and center in many minority communities. So if you start looking at BioLogos resources that deal with health, medicine, environmental justice, disability, public trust in science, and science education, you will find more minority voices participating.

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Okay, last thing. (This question hit a nerve I guess. :slight_smile: )

I think in the past the question was often how do we get more minorities and women to come participate in the conversations around the questions and topics that white male evangelicals had centered. It proved to be a challenge, not necessarily because the white male evangelicals were being exclusive but because that was probably the wrong question in the first place. It definitely is not an effective way to decenter white male evangelicals. A better question is how does BioLogos serve a more diverse sector of the church.

Over the last several years, BioLogos has been gradually and somewhat cautiously (let’s just say it’s not usually the progressives that are getting upset with them) expanding the focus beyond harmonizing faith/Bible interpretation with the evolutionary model to harmonizing faith/Bible interpretation with other current issues in science: vaccines, climate change, ecology, environmental justice, healthcare and health disparities. It’s also broadening the theological scope from mostly being focused on origins to questions like: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to have a robust theology of creation? What is image bearing and how does it relate to issues around inclusion, embryos, embodiment? How do we use technology righteously and justly? How do we understand suffering and disease?

It is actually this widening of scope that has opened the door to more diversity I think.

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I think it’s because Evangelicalism in general is mostly run by white males (and straight ones at that). And that hold true for their political party of choice.

Christy did a good job explaining so I don’t feel like I need to. :rofl:

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How many whites out there (and I am one) have Black or female or Asian Clergy? How many have guest Catholic lecturers? Why are posts about Judaism so unwelcome here?

Jewish or Catholic perspectives are not unwelcome here and how does this relate to BioLogos as an organization’s support of justice and diversity efforts?

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I think you have forgotten about my posts on Judaism. Jim would remember.

Okay, is this another “back in the old days of BioLogos” complaint? Still, if you would like to probe people’s personal experiences of diversity in their churches, start another thread, because it is off-topic for this one.

Ive often wondered about this.

Not about BioLogos being more diverse because when I read through the articles I see tons of diversity in appearance, and in paradigms. I guess for me I sort of figured this is the main reason why we don’t see as many black contributors or steady members in the forums.

I am under the impression that the African American community has simply been facing a lot of other issues. In the 60s discrimination openly by race was still allowed and some states were still banning interracial marriages. While some of our grandfathers were focused on the Japanese gardening craze several decades ago many black families were battling being able to shop at the local store during daylight hours. So I think for a while whites ( however you want to define that term ) has been able to have people more actively involved in pursuing science. As opposed to being treated as human lab rats like the Tuskegee airmen were. So many black families have not been able to have a few generations strong of people freely able to pursue science. So there was less granddaughters of African Americans being exposed to lots of science than white granddaughters. Could be wrong, snd I’m sure there are outliers examples but I’m under the impression that’s why. But we are definitely seeing a increase and I believe with each generation we will see more and more as societal racism is dismantled.

But because of all of that I believe that there is simply a major gap between white evangelicals snd black evangelical and its overlap with the scientific community because of past and current oppression.

I think BioLogos is also mostly unknown. As famous as Francis Collins may be to us ( this crowd ) 99% of people ive met have never heard of him, his book, or this community. Even among my atheists friends who are also democratic. They have no idea Obama appointed him to anything.

Ive invited dozens of Americans , white, black, Asian, and hispanic and even a few native Americans to BioLogos. As far as I can tell not one has ever came. If they did, then they did not join and just browsed. I think many people are just preoccupied with equal rights to feel the energy to join in on the discussion here. Many people think that because of covid more people being online more often would mean higher trafficking to places like this. I think it’s the opposite. Many were so consumed with not being able to go out that they latched into fast fix me ups, like that one podcast about internet use, mentioned a while back.

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No, it was in 2018

I guess I won’t

Definitely. For many people who want to make the world a better place, one of their primary questions is probably along the lines of “What kinds of problems most need solving in my community?” It makes sense that a profession like medicine would be given priority over origins studies for those who experience or see more inequality around them.

In contrast, it seems that in my growing-up years, a lot of the things we were most concerned about were more ideological – “evolution,” feminism, and America not being as Christian as it used to be. Not that ideology isn’t important, but perhaps there can be more of a chasm between ideology and the physical outworkings of it when someone is in a position of greater stability.

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