BioLogos, Evolutionary Creationism, and the "Modern Worldview"


(Brad Kramer) #1

Continuing the discussion from Alex Berezow and Stephen Meyer talk about God and Evolution on the Michael Medved Show | The BioLogos Forum:

@Eddie I’m starting a new topic since this post was buried in the other thread. Sorry it has taken me a couple of days to respond. Busy times here at BioLogos.

I don’t even have a fraction of the time necessary to lay a complete thought about the nature of modernity and answer all your questions here. But I do want to respond to a couple of things, briefly and incompletely.

Yes. Modernity is an impossibly broad word. What I mean by it is “a worldview in which reason and science are the ultimate arbiter of truth, and thus religion is relegated to the preferential and private.” Not the best definition ever, but it’s a start. I am under no pretensions that we can ever go back to pre-modernism, nor would I want to. But I do think there are certain aspects of the modern worldview which profoundly affect our ability to see reality (and our human experience) in holistic terms.

As I’ve stated previously, the big tipping point for me was when I realized that creationism and ID (yes, I’m using them together) do not offer an actual alternative or solution to the problem of the modern worldview. This is because, although they disagree with modernity’s conclusions, they agree with too many of the premises.

Speaking of impossibly broad words, I find it incredibly and deeply ironic how you are trying to extract a broad definition of TE beliefs from a smattering of its influential adherents. BioLogos is—to my knowledge—the first organization of its kind among evangelical Christians. Previous to BioLogos, there was no central, influential organization of TE/EC leaders and scholars. None. Thus, it is to be expected that one finds a staggering variety of beliefs among those who claim those labels. It’s no secret that Pete Enns and Karl Giberson used to work for BioLogos, and have left for various reasons. It’s also no secret that part of the reason was internal disagreement within the TE/EC camp (EC meaning evolutionary creationist, for those who might be reading this). Karl says as much in his most recent book. So trying to define EC by roping off a select group of its most prominent adherents is a flawed approach, in much the same way as it is problematic to figure out what “ID” as a movement actually claims (and why nobody apparently speaks for the movement).

Here’s a good example of what I mean: Tim Keller and N.T. Wright are two theologians that have had great impact on me. They are both evolutionary creationists who are friends of BioLogos. Both are very critical of “higher criticism”, both vociferously defend the authority of the Scriptures and the reality of miracles, and both (Wright in particular) argue that conservative Christians have unintentionally reinforced the dualistic worldview of modernity. Keller and Wright both focus on eschatology more than origins, but the point remains the same: Their target is modernistic dualism among Christians (read Wright’s Surprised by Scripture for more). It is absurd to label Keller and Wright as “modernists”, in any of the ways you outlined. And you’ve read quite a bit into Enns and Giberson that is probably overstated as well.

A second case study: Enns and John Walton. If you read books by either Bible scholar, you will find that they criticize creationist readings of Genesis as reading modern presuppositions into the Bible. In that sense, modernism is their target du jour. So either they themselves are very deluded, or we have a big problem of definition here. I vote for the latter. Evangelical Christianity (my home tribe) has a lot of work to do before we realize to what extent we’ve baptized modernist presuppositions, particularly as applied to questions of origins. I see folks like the ones mentioned above doing the best work towards this goal, at the moment.

In short: I don’t like modernism, but I also don’t think we can go back to pre-modernism (nor should we), so the best option for the Church is to move beyond modernity. But we can’t do that until we understand the extent to which the spirit of the times has infiltrated our thinking. I think evolutionary creationism is the best option for Christians looking to exegete their times faithfully and offer a radical alternative.

I read Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. I liked it a lot.


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(Roger A. Sawtelle) #3

@Eddie,

I am not sure why a try to talk to you, but I will try again.

I agree with you that modernist put science before the Bible. The people that BioLogos works with are not modernists. They try to maintain a balance between the Bible and science.

Your problem seems to be that you are wedded to a particular view of philosophy that determines your understanding of science and theology and you have trouble communicating with those who do not share it.

It seems to me that the correct relationship of science to theology is equality. They are both the two sides of the same coin, God communication of God Truth to humanity. However one cannot have two sides of equal weight unless one has a third side to act has referee to settle disputes or triangulate so to speak. Philosophy should do this but is no longer able to do so and since it is not rooted in God, should not be expected to do so.

Thus we need a new philosophy to be the third party in our understanding of life and meaning as God intended it.


#4

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#5

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(GJDS) #6

@BradKramer

“BioLogos is—to my knowledge—the first organization of its kind among evangelical Christians. Previous to BioLogos, there was no central, influential organization of TE/EC leaders and scholars.”

This is what I find interesting and I understand the remarks I am making are more of a ramble on how I view Biologos at this point in time. One point that is becoming clear to me (or perhaps I hope this is clear) is that of a backlash, to a strong view within the US, often termed “creationism”, but more often was a vigorous opposition of an evolution theory that, to my non-US outlook, has often crystallised at certain times into an ideology of racism (be it black vs white or the master race mentality in Europe). Another point that interests me is the simplistic teachings I remember when very young, where nice pictures of God creating an earth and Adam and Eve were provided during Sunday school sessions.

I am not suggesting that Biologos is continuing this simplistic outlook, but rather such ideas seem to have grown and fed into a larger debate (culture war if you wish) that has somehow focussed US evangelists on evolutionary outlooks, and perhaps biblical teachings that may be simplistic are seen as insufficient for this debate, and an impression is created of searching for new biblical ideas.

In any event, I will continue to visit Biologos to hopefully gain a better appreciation of the reaction against the ‘simplistic’ views often put forward as creationism. Btw I note that EC may still refer to creationism - is the term meant to indicate that evolution is the essence of the creation of the universe, or are you seeking some new meaning associated with EC?


(Brad Kramer) #7

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