Different Audiences, different approaches

In the last day or so I have gleaned an important (and probably valid) distinction between BioLogos and PeacefulScience. I thought I would air this distinction to see if others agree … or to affirm that the distinction is more my perception than real.

For sometime, it has been fairly straightforward for me to describe PeacefulScience (and the work of @swamidass) as geared towards a specific audience:

Evangelicals who are currently Young Earth in their world view because they believe Paul’s position is correct (Romans 5) - - that without a [real] Adam - - either Christian atonement cannot work, or atonement isn’t necessary.

[Note: both PS.org and BL also have atheists in their audience, but for the purpose of this thread this particular nuance or issue will not be explored.]

Just recently, a BioLogos moderator offered a different focus for BioLogos [below is my paraphrase]:

the core BL audience are those who already accept the latest academic synthesis of Evolutionary processes, but struggle with reconciling their view of Evolution with interpreting and accepting the Bible!

If this description of one of the BioLogos missions fails, I would be immediately pleased to change it for a more accurate summation.

However, if the description is more or less on point, we can certainly BETTER understand why PS and BL may sometimes work at cross-purposes!!!

The PS approach attempts to lower the hurdle for Young Earthers to reconcile their faith with Evolution …
while BL attempts to lower the hurdle of Evolutionists to embrace the Bible more allegoricaly.

It goes without saying (but I will say anyway to be sure) that the BL approach has no need, or even a preference for an historical Adam… while the PS approach encourages a new kind of conversation where advocating an historical (and specially created) Adam no longer threatens to overturn Evolutionary science!

Responses or recriminations welcome or encouraged.

I am confused about the word because. Unless I am being overly sensitive, it would imply that believing that Romans 5 demands a historic “real” Adam then in turn requires a young earth view. But I have that view of Romans 5 and Adam, and I affirm an old earth. I do not see the inconsistency.

I guess that is reasonable, but I see the struggle reconciling ToE and scripture as not very significant or challenging. In fact I would characterize them (my opinion only, of course) as “in the noise” compared to, say, reconciling God’s sovereignty and free will, or reconciling God’s goodness with the existence of evil.

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@heddle

I assume you are both a Christian and someone who endorses Evolution? If so, then obviously you would represent the hoped-for end result of BL’s work.

Do you concur that God guides most or all of the paths of Evolution on Earth?

Yes. I accept that god could have intervened, supernaturally, 0-many times, in a way that we (likely) will not detect scientifically. I affirm that our species was the goal of the process, and that Adam and Eve were indistinguishable from other hominids and yet were the first humans (either by an ensoulment process or by special creation) and that all other humans are genetic (and moral) descendants. The sons of Adam and Eve took their mates from the existing hominoids, and passed down Adam’s corruption.

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Really when I first came to BioLogos when I was on my last leg as a YEC my issue wasn’t Adam being historical (though I still see him as a historical figure but my faith wouldn’t be in ruins if it turns out he is an allegory) my issue was how to make sense of the age of the earth, the creation story of Genesis 1, the flood of Noah and human evolution. I feel BL fits is job well and does it good, but I do agree that BL could do more to reach out to YEC folks and show them evolution and millions of years doesn’t compromise the Bible.

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@Sealkin

I agree with your assessments! BioLogos does what they do well!

But what they could/should INCLUDE in what they do is:

Be more willing to promote the idea that God Guides Evolution thru natural law.

There is a video of Behe describing God’s universe as a giant billiards shot. I’m pretty confident that he did not intend for that allegory to apply to human behavior as well. But ironically, Behe, purported master mind behind YECs, has not once found the need to describe evolution as super-natural.

He argues (somewhat incoherently) that the miracle comes in God’s detailed PLANNING for creation and evolution of humans!

Most of religious America thinks God has something to do with Evolution!

I certainly fit better into this target than this PeacefulScience you describe. I never was and never could have been YEC or any kind of creationist. I am definitely scientist first all the way. But I do not struggle with reconciling Evolution with the Bible. At most I have some issues with the way evolution is often presented and I seem to even have some disagreements with some of the people here (on the issue of whether natural selection applies to individuals). But I think evolution is more compatible with Christianity than creationism. So I think a more accurate assessment is that target audience you describe for Biologos is a better fit to those who would like what I have to say.

On the other hand, I do believe in and advocate an historical Adam&Eve, just not a literal treatment of the story or the idea that Adam&Eve are the sole genetic progenitors of the human race, which I don’t think is even supported by the Bible or consistent with the Bible, let alone with the objective evidence.

@mitchellmckain

If you reject the historicity of Eden then you are certainly more similar to the BioLogos version of a happy result.

When I was more active here at BioLogos, I was pretty much the only one willing to forcefully advocate for God-Guided Evolution. In my absence, there seems to be even less interest in this idea.

The irony here is my personal views are certainly more in tune with the BioLogos emphasis on allegorical interpretation… but for me this extends right up to, and including, the Resurrection of Jesus!

You obviously equate this with a literal treatment of the story. It has to be talking snakes, magical fruit, and golems of dust and bone – magic and Walt Disney all the way or you call it “rejecting the historicity of Eden”. But the correct word is literalism not historicity. But I can understand why you would want to avoid the former word since Jesus condemns it.

If this is using another code which equates “God-Guided Evolution” with God Guided cosmic rays then I can understand their unwillingness. But I don’t agree with this equivocation any more than with the other one. The guidance I see God giving the process of evolution is one of providing the necessary challenges and not one of tinkering with DNA like a lab rat.

The above makes me wonder how you are defining “allegorical interpretation.” Choosing to believe Paul when he says in 1 Cor 15 that the resurrection is a bodily resurrection to a spiritual body not a physical body is not what I would call an “allegorical interpretation.”

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@mitchellmckain

Since I am a Unitarian Universalist … my allegorical slant is pretty close to VERTICAL.

I don’t think Jesus went up to Heaven on a cloud. I don’t think there was a Roman census that brought his mother to Bethlehem. And I don’t think Genesis 1-9 tells us anything historical at all.

But if you are going to believe in some whopper miracles (like you apparently still do), I think it is fairly inexcusable to reject the minor ones that would at least make the whopper miracles more reasonable in context.

I believe God made the laws of nature for a reason and do not believe that God ever contradicts them.

But I am not a naturalist to believe that the scientific worldview is the limits of reality.

After all, I believe in God who created the physical universe and is therefore not a part of it.

A miracle is only a unexpected good event that we can attribute to God. It doesn’t break the laws of nature. And there is nothing contrary to the laws of nature in a resurrection to a spiritual body. The laws of nature are nothing more than the mathematical space-time structure of the physical universe, which has nothing whatsoever to do with anything outside of that structure as all spiritual things are.

Are you a naturalist then? Are you even a theist?

What could your whopper miracles refer to I wonder? You mention Genesis 1-9…
Genesis 1: God created the universe is the only point of this and you should hardly expect a scientific account of this in Genesis 1 from long before science even existed.
Genesis 2-3: Once you identify the symbolic elements so this is not about magical fruits, talking snakes or the animation of golems of dust and bone, then there is nothing to contradict the laws of nature in the story.
Genesis 4 no problem there. In fact, it tells us that the Earth is full of people.
Genesis 5 The ages and especially time before they have a son suggests a mistranslation of a previously used number system.
Genesis 6-9 With no awareness of the Earth as a whole, a large flood would be thought of as world wide. And with no awareness of the enormous number of species on the Earth, gathering up a few local animals might have seemed like a lot.

You are describing natural operations that are usually imagined as sustaining acts of providence.
I do know some Christians who prefer that all miracles are done thru natural lawful processes.

But I also know some Christians who prefer a god who does very little in the way of natural laws OR super-natural miraculous acts.

You mean a god who is completely irrelevant to the living of our lives? Sounds like the god of a Deist.

@mitchellmckain

You tell me!

Why would someone oppose the idea that God guides evolution… and yet they believe God hears and answers prayers?

I don’t think it is a question of whether God guides evolution but how God guides evolution? – as a shepherd and teacher who creates living things or as a watchmaker and designer who creates dead things. We know absolutely that the basic principle of the evolutionary process works and all you need is purely random source of variation. In reality it is not as random as some might think because living things quickly learn to modify the means by which they acquire variation. But the idea that God removes the random element entirely is offensive to both the science and the nature of living things.

@mitchellmckain

Random to whom? There are plenty of natural things that appear random to humans.

As for your thought that removing randomness is offensive to science AND nature… so is this another reason you would oppose YEC viewpoints?

God specially creates millions of species in just a few days… to do so requires micro-managing billions of pairs of DNA building blocks. Is he throwing dice? Or from the YEC perspective, God is establishing all these DNA sequences quite specifically, right?

Feel free to hit the YECs with the “non-randomnes is offensive” line. I’m pretty interested to see how that goes over.

I am not really interested in discussions with Flat earthers, YEC, or another people concocting insane excuses to reject the findings of science. I have already explained that this is part of the reason I am here at Biologos.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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