Well, Good Morning Caspar, and all. Informative answers from my colleagues at The Hump, and the usual well-poisoning from Beaglelady. How to account for something over a million words of blog without creating another million? Perhaps a thousand or two will do.
As some of the posts have made clear, you’re a little late to the battlements. BioLogos was founded in 2007. I started lurking in 2009 after reading Francis Collins’ book, was posting regularly by 2010, and started my own blog, The Hump of the Camel, at the instigation of a few of the regular BioLogos commenters, in February 2011. I wrote my first (and only) article for BioLogos four months later. So we’ve operated 55% of the period of BL’s existence, and been regular commenters here ever since.
From the start (before coming to BioLogos) my concern was to see how historic Christian doctrine both meshes with current science, including origins science, and also how it critiques it, as Christianity must always critique cultures. Subsequently I realised the necessary remit was broader - to enumerate a clear and biblical understanding of the fundamental Christian doctrine of Creation, in relation to a whole plethora of things including the history and philosophy of science, historical theology, the sociology of evolution and science, epistemology and the nature of nature, the nature of randomness in relation to the historical doctrine of providence, and new developments in the scientific picture like what is now called “the extended synthesis”, information theory, the role of essentialism and formal causation, and the clarification of teleology in nature. To name but a few. A lot of very productive reading followed there, and some attempts at writing to bring it to wider attention.
All that was necessary to make “evolutionary creation” something more than an oxymoron, or at best a slogan.
BioLogos, in contrast, seemed to be more concerned as an organisation with selling the reliable truth of traditional Neodarwinism to Creationist Evangelicals, and adapting the truths of Christianity to current western science’s philosophical worldview. Remember, these were the days of Enns’ and Sparks’ incarnational (aka humanly fallible) Scripture, and of Giberson’s Open Theism. (While we’re talking of “distancing”, I note that whilst BL’s theological position has apparently modified, it has never done any distancing of its own from such views).
Sadly, a number of the things that appeared to me (and others) as big issues were consistently ducked, over a period of years, by BL’s own spokesmen. A few examples, if I may. By 2011, we were discussing the exciting new work of Jim Shapiro (and later others like Denis Noble) - but their writing, and its implications, has never been seriously discussed in articles here, except for being somewhat summarily dismissed as not kosher, in much the same way as ID. The first introduction of structuralism - which few now realise was more prominent than Darwinian adaptation in the early 20th century - was by Sy in his review of Denton’s new book, just a month or so ago. Now the Royal Society is organising a conference on them, and BioLogos is a few years late to the party, together with the Evangelical theistic evolution of which it is the major representative.
Theologically, the johnny-come-lately kenotic theology has often been assumed in articles, but critical arguments against it seldom were, if ever, responded to. Even more centrally, the essential incoherence, not to mention the theological weakness, of what is sometimes called “free-process theology”, which is fundamental in many of the current versions of theistic evolution, has been argued in comments repeatedly over several years, but those arguments have never been seriously engaged by the staff authors of the relevant articles.
For example, Darrel Falk insisted to me in discussion that the Christian God would not create viruses, parasites and so on (I gather that in his book he targets mouse-eating-cats, too), and that the BioLogos position was that nature, though sustained by God in existence, had its own freedom to co-create and so to make errors and evils. He added that it was possible that God might rarely “intervene” in the evolutionary process - a position which David Wilcox (prominent in the ASA but never an author here) calls semi-deism, and which leads inevitably to the gnostic idea that some other agent than God (a demiurge, in this case automomous evolution) is subcontracted to make, and partially botch, the creation .
I seem to remember that at the time The Hump became a multi-author venture, one reason the comments were closed appeared to be my persistence (not matched by any replies) in chasing the issues raised by an article in which God’s wisdom in creating a particular bit of brain function was rightly lauded. But this closely followed several articles in which the outcomes of evolution, including human evolution, were clearly said to be observed, not determined, by God. Both cannot be simultaneously true (like the related pairing that “God answers prayer” and “God was not concerned about how many limbs humans evolved”), but BL has been chronically silent on engaging the historic doctrines of providence, concurrence and so on which alone would resolve them.
Neither has it been especially eager to offer a platform to others to raise them. A while ago I did an entire_Hump _ series on “The Christological Creation”. A reader (not a Hump author) who has regularly commented here, and before that on the ASA board, e-mailed me to say he thought BL would be interested to repost it, and that he had contacted the leadership to suggest it. He never heard back, and needless to say, neither did I. Not that it matters to me - I never sought the platform of BioLogos for it. But since there are big gaps in what it is interested in publishing as articles (as opposed to the merry anarchy of the comments board), it’s hardly fair to criticise us for making such stuff available to serious thinkers elsewhere.
Hey, that’s less than a thousand words!