Camel's Hump and Biologos


(Peaceful Science) #1

I am curious what exactly is the common ground (on one hand) and disputes (on the other hand) between the large number of Camel’s Hump theistic evolutionists and BioLogos. Can anyone explain this to me?

First, I should thank for the Humpians (@Jon_Garvey, @Eddie, @Merv, @Mervin_Bitikofer) for posting in the forums and warmly welcoming me. If you hadn’t, I might never have known you existed.

The best I can intuit, this appears to be what is going on.

On one hand, american BioLogos is scientifically inclined and welcomes Open Theists as one faithful option (but the Humpians do not like Open Theism).

On the other hand, european Humpians are theologically inclined and are sympathetic to the Intelligent Design movement (but, generally speaking, BioLogos does not like ID).

Underlying this, everyone seems to be pretty happy with some form of theistic evolution (though they might tussle about the exact label to use).

Humpian ?= European, ID friendly, theologically inclined (and more scientifically permissive) theistic evolutionists
BioLogos ?= American, ID skeptical, scientifically inclined (and more theologically permissive) theistic evolutionists

Is that a fair summary of the situation? Is there some history here I am missing? (of course if I inadvertently stepped into a minefield, feel free to privately pursue this conversation)


(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Hi, Josh. (and just a note … Merv and Mervin Bitikofer are one and the same person in the context of this site currently anyway-- I may have had a couple different and now redundant logins at some point).

Your descriptions at the bottom may be fair generalities as long as they are recognized as just that, with all the attendant limitations that generalities always have. But others will pipe in with their own opinions on that. I only speak for myself.

And as such I will tell you this (just about me). If anybody involved in either of these sites would suddenly go all tribal about this camp or that, then they will do it without me. I will continue to delight in participating on both sites, and I will take delight in totally disregarding any boundaries anybody purports to erect between them as “competing” camps. Others that participate there may have a more keen sense of separate camps, which is certainly their right --and probably with their own very good reasons.

I benefit from interactions at many different sites, but especially these two. So I’m happy they tolerate me (more than tolerate me!). And of course Biologos tolerates nearly everybody --which may be part of some of the friction right there! But in defense of Biologos, I think it generally healthy (within reason of course) for the forum to feel like a safe place even to the “crazies” among us.


(Peaceful Science) #3

For the curious observers, the Camel’s Hump is community of european scholars posting at a blog run by @Jon_Garvey, http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/.

The Camel’s Hump is an oblique reference to Potiphar the Camel, @Jon_Garvey’s alter ego: a ruminant (chewer) of ideas. Though I do not know the full backstory, it appears the blog was build around a book they published “God’s Good Earth” http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/gods-good-earth-pdf-book/ which is an interesting study on classic orthodox theology in the context of evolution. In particular, I liked chapter 8, which appears to rightly point out many false and facile ways to theologically read human nature from evolution http://jongarvey.co.uk/download/pdf/GGE/Chapter_8.pdf.

Though I personally strongly disagree with their assessment of the ID movement (as a scientist, I think ID clearly fails on scientific grounds), I do think the Humpian theological approach has merit and should be part of the discussion. In fact, I know of people that will be very uncomfortable with BioLogos, but might find the Camel’s Hump a more viable version of theistic evolution.


(Peaceful Science) #4

I think I like you @Mervin_Bitikofer. =)


#5

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(Jon Garvey) #6

Just a word on the book, Joshua. It’s actually a recent addition to the site, and is “all my own error”, though based initially on work I did with a guy who posted here as “penman”. It was actually suggested by Ted Davis here three years ago or so, who got me involved in a book project on “natural evil” that never got published.

So I expanded the theme of “the goodness of creation” into book form myself and, “Lo! There came forth this calf.” Inasmuch as ch8 contradicts certain prevalent ideas in theistic evolution, it’s essentially as a corrective to the idea that nature is not as God intended it (which is as much a critique of the YEC noton of a fallen creation".

Hope that helps.

Incidentally, our stats show that, despite a UK base, most of our traffic is in North America. We’re also big in Sweden and China - explain that if you can!


(Peaceful Science) #7

Apparently, I forgot to tag some relevant people. @GJDS @Sy_Garte


(sy_garte) #8

Thanks for the tag. My only comment is that I believe the “vs” in the title is incorrect. I think it should be substituted with the word “and”.


(Peaceful Science) #9

Point taken and change made. I meant “versus” as in comparison, not warfare.


(Peaceful Science) #10

How many people are in you audience? How much traffic do you get?


(Jon Garvey) #11

My webhost not long ago changed its web info engine, resulting in an immediate large drop in the traffic. I think probably they’re better now at filtering out the spammers and bots now, and that the figures I get are real people reading real articles - it may even be underestimating now.

On that basis we’re getting a fairly steady 200 visitors daily - which can double if we get a link from a frequented site like Uncommon Descent or BioLogos - looks like your “full page ad” last week led to a peak of 620 hits on 2nd July.

A typical article might get 120 reads in the first five days: my “Dualism” piece has had 259 hits since it went up on 24/6. Something more controversial like Eddie’s recent piece gets more, of course - 354 hits since it appeared on 28/6.

The geography is interesting: 37% is USA (but that may partly reflect “.com” addresses): 13% China (no comments or obvious spam from there, so it’s interesting), 7% UK - a bit less for Germany, Sweden, France with nearly 4% for Israel and a couple of percent each for Australia and Canada. Romania and Russia don’t count, being virtually entirely spam.


(GJDS) #12

Hi Joshua,

My approach is somewhat different in that I consider faith and science to be in harmony - this approach however, is based on what I consider non-controversial aspects of the physical sciences and then contemplate on how these relate to how we as human beings think and reason (a dab of philosophy of science). Any part of science that is debated, is speculative, or relies on inferences, is excluded from my approach. Other major items are the unique aspect of humanity, the intelligibility of the creation, and discussions on law and in a broader way, that of revelation.

I find broad discussions on BioLogos, the Hump, and recently your site, interesting and have taken a serious look at the current paradigm of biology.


(George Brooks) #13

At the bottom of this posting, I have produced @Eddie 's post to me at the Camel’s Hump.

Not too surprisingly, my response will be comparatively more brief than the posting that stimulates the response.

I want to focus on this key section:

“… what George fails to see is that TE/EC is making a very big claim, i.e., that the Darwinian, anti-teleological evolutionary process is completely compatible with traditional, evangelical, Biblical, orthodox Christian theology. . .
People can believe all kinds of incompatible things side-by-side. Humans are great compartmentalizers, great disguisers of their own cognitive dissonance. . . .
I’m not insisting that all TE/EC proponents adopt the same harmonization. I would be happy if each one would offer his or her own harmonization. Then I could analyze and evaluate the harmonizations, one by one.”

As I’ve mentioned in other postings… I have pointed out the simplest of harmonizations… where the cause of genetic mutations can be as basic as a Cosmic ray. Some have implied that I think ALL mutations are from Cosmic rays… but this was not my intent. My intent was to point out how easy harmonization is.

There are TWO challenges:
(A) Each person, per their denominational or personal preferences, must decide whether Cosmic Rays (or dinosaur killing asteroids, or any thing used by God) was set up perfectly at the moment of Creation by God

    • OR- -
      that God, in Real Time, is invoking miraculous interventions (overriding natural law) at periodic intervals.

The 2 choices we find in (A) are not something that I, or BioLogos, will ever definitively resolve. It is a metaphysical issue, that only God can answer.

(B) We probably can’t rightly use the term EVOLUTION, if that term must be defined as something WITHOUT INTENTION. It is like going to Europe and ordering ‘Cafe Ole’ … but with MILK!

So… what do we call a process frequently associated with UNINTENTIONAL forces of chemistry and physics… but with God’s ULTIMATE intentions?

In other posts, I have volunteered another BioLogos participant’s proposal: E.G.G. (Evolution-God-Guided). But should this proposal never find general acceptance, we have to pay attention to those who would exploit this linguistic ambiguity to say that BioLogos doesn’t make sense.

Short of these two considerations, however, I really don’t see how or why anyone should be offering @Eddie any particular details of harmoninzation. There is no CORRECT harmonization. Everyone has their own favorites.

Roger says God won’t even TOUCH a chromosome. Who would have ever thought of this option?

My dear Eddie, it seems that people tend to go wrong as soon as they start making up specific rules for their proposed “harmonization”.

Respecfully, submitted, George

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[BEGINNING OF EDDIE’s ORIGINAL CAMEL POSTING]
Why Evolutionary Creationists Need to Be Specific, or, Why George Brooks is Wrong
Posted on 28/06/2016 by Edward Robinson
On BioLogos today, a frequent and apparently well-meaning poster, George Brooks, wrote the following:

God COULD arrange an entire Cosmos at the very moment of creation.

Or

God COULD nudge and prod during the entire course of the Cosmos.

It could work either way. And the difference in one scenario or another is based on premises that might be embraced or rejected by an entire denomination …. or by individuals within a denomination.

Trying to compel BioLogos to BE SPECIFIC is a diversion … and not productive … when faced with Christian real estate that varies completely depending upon time and place…. and doesn’t really matter to the BioLogos mission.

There are a few things that need to be said here.

First, the alternatives posed by George are correct, though the first one is not entirely clear. By “arrange an entire Cosmos at the very moment of Creation,” does he mean “instantly produce and arrange the stars, planets, living beings etc.”? Or is he talking about “front-loading,” whereby God packs the potential for all future evolution into the original situation, and the universe unfolds over time, in an evolutionary manner? I suspect, given George’s dislike of special creationism and his general endorsement of evolution, that he means the latter, but it’s not clear. In any case, I’ll assume that he means the latter for the rest of these comments.

Second, what does he mean by “trying to compel BioLogos to be specific”? Does he mean that I or Jon Garvey or others have insisted that BioLogos come down institutionally in favor of one or the other of his alternatives? I certainly have not asked BioLogos as an institution to take a stand on one or the other of the above alternatives, and I don’t think anyone on the Hump has made such a demand, either here on the Hump or over on BioLogos. But one thing is certain: individual BioLogos columnists do have their own views. Some of them very definitely reject the first alternative; some of the them very definitely reject the second. But it is hard to get them to say so directly. One has to infer it, from reading scores of their posts over a long period. So since they have these views, why not state them forthrightly?

Does George believe that if they did so, people might confuse their individual views with the BioLogos view? That would not happen, if due care were taken in expression. BioLogos columns always are prefaced by the disclaimer (I paraphrase), “The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the position of BioLogos,” and if any given columnist reinforced that point by stating that he or she was speaking for himself or herself, there is no danger that his or her view would be mistaken for an institutional view.

I’m quite willing to accept that EC/TE is a “big tent” containing differing theological views. I don’t have any problem if Applegate disagrees with Stump or Stump disagrees with Haarsma or Haarsma disagrees with Venema over theological matters. I don’t think that such disagreements in themselves would undermine the case for evolutionary creation, any more than the fact that Gould disagrees with Dawkins over evolutionary mechanisms undermines the case for common descent. But TE/EC would be infinitely stronger as an intellectual position if its proponents, whether at BioLogos or elsewhere, stopped hiding behind a fraudulent unity (which appears to be adopted for the tactical reason that it is unwise to show any internal disagreement in the face of those dastardly IDers and creationists) and openly discussed their differences.

For example, if Deb Haarsma, who at one point appeared to endorse a near-deterministic front-loading that must produce intelligent life, were to openly disagree (I don’t mean in a nasty way, but in a civil, constructive way) with Dennis Venema, who appears to endorse the very opposite of front-loading, i.e., God leaves the universe and evolution alone to do their freedom thing (so that no result, not even man, is or can be guaranteed), that would be useful, because then people would know more clearly how different the theology of Haarsma is from that of Venema. By hiding behind a show of non-existent theological unity, the BioLogos columnists actually make the EC position harder, not easier, to understand. And I would have more respect, not less, for TE/EC, if I could easily tell from the theological argumentation, “Ah, this TE/EC is a Calvinist, whereas that one is a Wesleyan, and that one is a Lutheran, and that one is a Thomist.” I would take TE/EC folks as serious theological writers, willing to lay their cards on the table as real academic theologians do.

Third, what George fails to see is that TE/EC is making a very big claim, i.e., that the Darwinian, anti-teleological evolutionary process is completely compatible with traditional, evangelical, Biblical, orthodox Christian theology. It claims that evangelicals don’t have to give up a single thing from the Bible or the orthodox Christian understanding of creation in order to embrace Darwin. But that very claim then requires TE/EC proponents to explain how Darwin’s claims are compatible with traditional Christian claims. It’s not enough to say, “As a biologist I think neo-Darwinism is a completely adequate account of the origin of species, but as a Christian I love Jesus, too, so everything fits together.” People can believe all kinds of incompatible things side-by-side. Humans are great compartmentalizers, great disguisers of their own cognitive dissonance. It’s not enough to merely assert there is no contradiction between a random, non-teleological evolutionary process and divine providence; one must show possible ways of harmonizing the two notions. And I’m not insisting that all TE/EC proponents adopt the same harmonization. I would be happy if each one would offer his or her own harmonization. Then I could analyze and evaluate the harmonizations, one by one.

The main target of BioLogos evangelization for Darwin is American conservative evangelicals. BioLogos wants to convince these people that evolution does not undermine evangelical faith. Well, for gosh sakes, why doesn’t BioLogos have the wit to realize that if you want to convince someone who strongly suspects that evolution is anti-Christian, you can’t just assert the harmonization, but must show the harmonization? Isn’t that plain common sense?

This is where George is wrong. While it is true that it is not necessary for BioLogos as an institution to come down on the side of one or the other of his alternatives, it is necessary for EC/TE columnists on BioLogos to offer their own individual harmonizations of Christian doctrine with evolution. It is necessary for them to state how they believe that God is involved in the evolutionary process. Their statement doesn’t have to be rigid or inflexible. They can offer a tentative view. And it doesn’t have to involve either of George’s proposed views; it could be a third view that George has not thought of. And they can say very clearly that they are speaking for themselves and not for BioLogos or other TE/ECs. But they should be offering a view. They shouldn’t be hiding behind vagueness, lack of definition, failure to be clear where they stand within the theological spectrum of the Christian tradition, etc. The whole claim of BioLogos — that Protestant, evangelical, Biblical Christians can safely accept evolution — is not credible without examples of particular formulations of Christian theology in relation to evolution.

Those examples have been sadly lacking on BioLogos. Or rather, in the few cases where they have been provided, they have come from outsiders, guest columnists such as Russell or Plantinga, not from any of the BioLogos leaders or regular columnists. The general approach of BioLogos columnists has been to be as general and non-specific as possible regarding how God is connected with evolution. And that general approach is not working. Most of the American evangelical world is still deeply suspicious of the BioLogos project. It would be less suspicious if BioLogos spend as much time explaining how Darwin harmonizes with orthodox Christian thought as it spends explaining the significance of synteny and whale fossils or demanding that the traditional understanding of Adam and Eve be scrapped.

I can’t at present interact with George due to a slight disagreement of opinion with officials at BioLogos which prevents me from posting there. But he is welcome to sign up and continue the conversation here. I hope he will.
[END OF CAMEL POST]

http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/2016/06/28/why-evolutionary-creationists-need-to-be-specific-or-why-george-brooks-is-wrong/#comment-9364


#14

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(Peaceful Science) #15

In @gbrooks9’s defense, it is not his responsibility to settle these issues.

@Eddie, the questions you raise are extremely important. But this is the work of professional scientists, theologians, and philosophers to hash out in their meaningful public work. It isn’t fair to expect random people to defend or form their positions on this point. Frankly, what exactly would you expect him to do? I think @gbrooks9 has a reasonable position, even if it parts of it might possible incorrect or wrong. I’m fine with that.

Of course, those of academically engaged on this issue need to push deeper. Let’s do that. As we are more clear, perhaps it will clear a path that others can follow.

As for BioLogos, they are not really tasked with this either. More important than the academic issues, to them (I think), are the Church polity issues. They are, in my personal view, more pastorally oriented than academic. They are trying to meet the needs of the Church, and this is a good thing.

It is left to the academics to pursue the deeper questions. Let’s do that…


#16

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(Peaceful Science) #17

Absolutely, which is why I asked the question in the first place.

I agree.[quote=“Eddie, post:16, topic:5318”]
Now, as to George, I have not criticized George for not being forthcoming on the theological side. (I have disagreed with him over other things, but I have not said that he has not shared his theological views.) In fact, he has offered very specific views on the relationship of God to evolution. So he is clear of my charge. But he is defending the actions (or rather inactions) of others who have not offered such views. He is saying they shouldn’t have to be as clear as he has been. But I think they should be as clear as he has been – if they voluntarily choose to make public statements affirming that theology harmonizes with science, or that God is involved in the evolutionary process, etc.
[/quote]

That seems like a fair clarification of your position to me. I see your point.

And I suppose, I wonder and hope you think I have been more measured in my statements about theology. I’ve been more hoping to invite theologians to respond to my questions, while focusing on the Gospel. I hope you would perceive that as a good approach.


(George Brooks) #18

@Eddie

  1. No, providing the link would NOT be enough … if you decided to delete or amend the thread on the Hump.

  2. No, I have no intention of continuing the discussion on the Hump. You have far from endeared yourself with me about how you handle our discussions so far. So, until you find a new way of approaching me, BioLogos will have to do.

  3. As to Harmonization, I have given you the EXTENT to which I accept variation. For example, Roger’s variation that God doesn’t touch chromosomes seems to be completely arbitrary and ineffective. In contrast, I don’t think there is a fatal difference between a so-called FRONT-LOADED Cosmos at the point of Creation vs. one where God is continuously or periodically intervening in Real Time.

And … boom … that’s it. Your fixation on requiring MORE specifics from your Theistic correspondents seems to be geared totally to your inclination to harass individuals with foolishness. And this is why most of your correspondents are unwilling to give you even the level of specifics that I am giving you.


#19

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(George Brooks) #20

@Eddie,

Ha! I chose the wrong word. I should not have used the word “harassment”. I should have used the word “TORTURED”.

You seem far more interested in making rhetorical points than in getting questions answered, or issues resolved.

Start over with my immediate prior post … if you like. But I see nothing in this post of yours that deserves discussion.