Does BioLogos Believe that "Science Trumps Theology"?


(George Brooks) #1

@fmiddel

Would you expect some other verdict? This IS BioLogos… where science trumps theology even when Genesis specifically teaches a 6 day Creation scenario…


God's use of natural laws & the Western scientific tradition
If the existence of God was scientifically proven today then how would your life be different tomorrow?
Is theology ALWAYS reworked to fit science?
(Brad Kramer) #2

For all your time here on the Forum, George, you seem to know remarkably little about what BioLogos believes and why we believe it. May I recommend biologos.org?


(George Brooks) #3

Okay, @BradKramer, I’ll bite … what did I state incorrectly ?


(Brad Kramer) #4

Nothing was correct in that previous post.


(George Brooks) #5

@BradKramer,

I think you are missing your chance for a Teaching Moment.

Since the central part of the post in question was just a dozen or so words… won’t you take a moment to explain what was inaccurate?

“BioLogos … where science trumps theology even when Genesis specifically teaches a 6 day Creation scenario…”

  1. BioLogos < I think that’s right.

  2. Genesis specifically teaches a 6 day Creation scenario < this is a common enough phrasing … are you saying that I must say Seven days? Or that Genesis doesn’t teach this?

  3. science trumps theology < Are you saying BioLogos is not interested in the scientific views of Evolution trumping theologically-based Evangelical views for Young Earth Creation?

My brief post was simply reinforcing what Jonathan said to fmiddel:

fmiddel: "Ah…so theology defaults to science where science is established?"
Jon: “Yes, especially on matters where the Bible is silent.”

… but I wanted to draw attention to what I thought was a fact - - that even when the Bible ISNT silent… science frequently trumps theology.


(Brad Kramer) #6

You’re right. OK, here’s how you were wrong:

What does that even mean? Science and theology are two very different things. Science is the study of God’s creation. Theology is the study of how we talk and think about God, with both creation and scripture as reference points. If you’re trying to say that what we learn in creation trumps anything we can learn from special revelation (the Bible, Christian tradition, etc.), then that’s what atheists think. Not us. Of course, there are moments when “natural revelation” should rightly make us re-think our theology. But theology is not trumped if that happens. That implies that theology is a sort of static thing rather than a very human process of seeking and understanding (just like science).

The Book of Genesis portrays a six-day creation (at least, Genesis 1 does. Genesis 2?..well, that’s complicated). Jonah portrays a man eaten by a large fish and surviving. The Gospels portray a man being reconciled to his prodigal son. Revelation portrays a cosmic battle involving dragons and swords coming out of people’s mouths. See what I did there? There’s a big difference between the Bible portraying something, and it dogmatically teaching the literal reality of something. Science and ancient historical studies have both prompted Christians to reconsider what sort of information/revelation Genesis is providing, and how it is providing it. The idea that the Bible’s authority is tied inextricably to the most literal/historical reading possible is what other perspectives believe, not us.

What puzzles me most about your post, George, is why you would state the mission of BioLogos in the most inflammatory way possible, given your self-appointed role as peacemaker among origins perspectives.


(George Brooks) #7

@BradKramer… Now THAT’s a good comment and question! And I concur that this is the most valuable observation for you to make about my post!

See what your readers would have lost if we had just left the conversation with “George, you are wrong.” ?

Your last thought is an important one … which is not to say that I agree that I am using the most “inflammatory way possible”. I am inclined to think I am stating something rather obvious. But I suppose obvious things can be stated in an inflammatory way.

But how ELSE can we describe the idea that we think the science of Evolution should replace the story Six-Day Creation? How is it that we justify a rejection of a literal interpretation of this creation story? Doesn’t the plain evidence of the workings of science TRUMP virtually ANY story?

If stating the obvious is provocative… isn’t the mere creation of BioLogos a rather striking provocation? I’ll ponder what you write for quite some time… and I’ll ponder other ways of stating what I think is obvious …

Comments and objections from any other readers are also encouraged and welcome.


#8

I had assumed that George’s jarring and bizarre post was simply using sarcasm to provoke discussion. Now I’m not sure what to think. (I find it impossible to believe that George doesn’t understand the mission of Biologos.) “Science trumps theology” appears to betray such a fundamental misunderstanding of Science and Theology, it’s hard to know where to begin. (When designing a building, does Science trump Art?) Yes, we must regularly deal with such confusion when addressing the general public. But it pains me when such basics have to be reviewed yet again in this kind of venue where we usually assume a more sophisticated readership.

[quote=“gbrooks9, post:7, topic:4643”]
But how ELSE can we describe the idea that we think the science of Evolution should replace the story Six-Day Creation? [/quote]

We can start by dispensing with the simplistic assumption that one replaces the other. Genesis 1 is a 3+3 YOM chiasmic structure where each verse is followed by the chorus/refrain: “And the evening and the morning was the Nth YOM.” Even many who demand a very “literal” [Groan, I always find the word painfully subject to gross equivocations] interpretation of Genesis 1 can admit to the structural facts. I’ll not try to revive that so-very-long “VAV-consecutive demands that Genesis 1 be interpreted as a literal historical narrative” thread. Yet even that debate served to remind everyone that lots of Bible-affirming Christians don’t think that disagreeing with a particular cherished tradition of Genesis 1 hermeneutics means that a six-YOM, poetically-structured Creation Hymn of six verses with repetitive chorus is ***replaced***by the science of evolution.

Does Schiller’s Ode to Joy and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Movement #4) get “trumped” by scientific papers in psychology journals explaining sensations of joy in terms of endorphins and published MRI brain patterns? My understanding of how God chose to diversify life on earth in no way “replaces” anything in Genesis.

Do we really need yet another review of proximate causation versus ultimate causation?

And do we really need to review general revelation versus special revelation and that Christians have long asserted that God authored both the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature. So to say that “Science trumps Theology” is to say that God’s two major revelations are somehow contradictory. By ranking one as superior to the other, it even implies inferiority-and-therefore-serious-defects.

Of course, considering how some Bible passages remain unclear and hotly disputed for many centuries even among Christians with very similar reverence for the scriptures, the fact that God’s other major revelation (Science) so often gives us solid, unambiguous clarity in answering many of questions about creation, I’m amazed we aren’t praising God for the gift of scientific understanding of creation rather than pretending that God is self-contradictory and double-minded in his revelations about creation.

Perhaps with greater honesty in how we depict the views of our opponents?


(George Brooks) #9

@OldTimer

I am absolutely fascinated by your comments.

You write:

“Does Schiller’s Ode to Joy and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Movement #4) get “trumped” by scientific papers in psychology journals explaining sensations of joy in terms of endorphins and published MRI brain patterns? My understanding of how God chose to diversify life on earth in no way “replaces” anything in Genesis.”

I think this goes a long way to show that there are many, many flavors of Christianity.

It may be that I hang out with a rougher crowd… that sees it an easy (if not stark) contrast between “literal Genesis” and “literal Science”.

And in another thread, we read the view that his view of science is so dominant that he can’t bear to think God intervenes in Evolution at all (!!) … and that God simply waits for Evolution to create moments of opportunity.

I wouldn’t find it surprising at all if this was preferred by the same people SHOCKED at my use of the concept that Science Can Trump Theology.


(Brad Kramer) #10

George, this is a totally optional question for you to answer, but can you be more specific about this “rougher crowd”? I would be interested to find out. However, I understand that this might be more info than you want to publicly share. If so, let me know and I’ll promptly delete this post.


(George Brooks) #11

@BradKramer

Oh gosh no… I’m fine answering the question… though I must confess that I used that phrase to some degree to evoke some humor… but I think there’s some validity to the statement as well.

There’s a couple of ways I intended my thoughts on this and I can list them:

a) my college friends;
b) my denominational colleagues; and
c) my engineer colleagues at prior workplaces.

In college, I was frequently in the midst of the Creationist vs. Evolutionist debate … with Nazarenes representing the former. Of course, there was no nuanced alternative like BioLogos at that time, so discussions typically became polarized between Evangelical Literalism and Christianity is only a Myth. As you can imagine, it was hard to achieve a compromise on the matter.

Denominationally I have already mentioned that I am a Unitarian Universalist, and a descendant of the last major New England Trinitarian who defended the position of Universalism (the Rev. John Dean). While some UU churches are known to become distracted by forays into New Age metaphysics and the power of crystals, generally we spend more time on social issues and being “intolerant of intolerance” - - and buddhism… don’t forget buddhism! My own “take” is that Unitarian Christianity has a viable claim on the modern world… but am still working on the dimensions of that.

And last on the list, foermer co-workers who were engineers and technicians who don’t have a lot to say about religion at all … and are somewhat puzzled to how Genesis gets any standing in a scientific age where we know the age of the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, and the approximate birth of the entire Universe.

I tend to be the one who asks friends and co-workers to remember that the Universe not devoid of its own magical nature (but without being LITERAL about the use of the term “magic”).


#12

Begs the question: that Genesis “specifically teaches a 6 day Creation scenario…”

Arguably, it doesn’t. That’s not the point of the text. I think what maybe you could have said was “where science trumps a literal reading of the biblical text.”

Further, I have never been under the impression that BioLogos assumes that science trumps theology. And I don’t work for BioLogos in anyway.

But I am flattered that a conversation in which I was a part led to an entire new thread.


#13

Who is “he” in “he can’t bear… and that God simply waits for Evolution to create moments of opportunity.”? You didn’t identify who you are describing. Obviously, that sentence is 100% contrary to everything I’ve ever published on these topics. Indeed, the “God simply waits” is totally opposite of my position on God’s attributes and relationship with his creation. I’ve often railed against silly concepts of God “waiting” whenever I remind my readers that God is omnipresent in time just as he is omnipresent in the spatial dimensions. (A God who “resides” equally in every moment of time just as in every spatial location wouldn’t be omnipresent and would even be subordinate to his creation if he had to wait on an event.) A God who has to “wait” for anything is far closer to the “puny and limited deity” of traditional “creation science”: he has to stay vigilantly on duty 24/7 to monitor, intervene, and repair what he didn’t get right the first time in Genesis 1. I can hardly imagine a position more foreign to mine.

Whoever you may be describing, I hope you will quote from that author or at least provide a link so that readers can determine whether you are accurately representing his/her position. I’m still baffled by your appearing to misrepresent the Biologos position so erroneously—so I’m still trying to determine if you were using sarcasm to make a point. If that was also your intent in the aforementioned post and you were simply being tongue-in-cheek, please clarify your remarks. (I’ve found your comments more and more difficult to follow in recent days. And from reading above, it is clear that I’m not the only one to notice that you totally misunderstood the Biologos positions on these topics. So if I was the target of your latest misrepresentation, at least I know that I’m not alone.)


(George Brooks) #14

@fmiddel,
I accept that modification to my thoughts!


@OldTimer, I hope you understand that I record these sentiments (below) … but I certainly don’t agree with them:

“And in another thread, we read the view that his view of science is so dominant that he can’t bear to think God intervenes in Evolution at all (!!) … and that God simply waits for Evolution to create moments of opportunity.”


#15

I didn’t say that you agreed with them. I asked who you are quoting. You only ascribed them to “he”. Who is “he”, the author?

Wasn’t that clear in my question? These were my exact words:

I’m baffled by your recent posts. Are you being intentionally ambiguous to make some point? (It would even appear to be a some oddly evasive strategy, as if you were pretending to not understand the question. Instead of addressing the question—which could hardly be anymore clear—you “clarify” and deny some claim that nobody ever made!)

I assume that some tongue-in-cheek demonstration of who-knows-what is flying over my head. (If so, it is becoming tiresome.) Why are you being obtuse, ambiguous, and evasive throughout this thread? (Frankly, these are not entirely consistent with your past posts, which usually make generally reasonable sense, so I’ve begun to wonder if a prankster grandson/granddaughter is playing games with your account here??)


#16

Or even take it a bit further-- "where modern science trumps the ancient understanding of science found in the Bible’


(Christy Hemphill) #17

I can see how someone who associates BioLogos with rejecting the AIG view that the Bible trumps science (they pretty much use those exact words here) might assume that BioLoogs takes the “opposite view” that science trumps the Bible.

The YEC folks have said, “if science and Scripture conflict, then Scripture has to win.”

But we aren’t proposing a different conclusion (If science and Scripture conflict, then science has to win), we are rejecting their premise, insisting that science and Scripture are not really in conflict in the first place. (Which generates pages and pages of content.) Of course when you substitute “theology” for “Scripture” you are making a subtly different claim. If by “theology” you mean an interpretation of Scripture, then I think BioLogos has probably frequently communicated that when science challenges an aspect of theology/an interpretation, that aspect of theology/that interpretation needs to be examined (trumps is kind of a strong word because it implies that theology automatically loses with no contest).


(George Brooks) #18

Well… as a matter of fact, I felt a twinge of awkwardness about “outing” my correspondent … in case I was misinterpreting his position. But it seems I was NOT misinterpreting his position. I’ll drop you a note in your personal messages.

It’s funny, @OldTimer, that you think I’ve been posting strangely … I find it has been strange to be POUNCED UPON for suggesting that “Science” trumps “Theology” … when it sure seems like this is one of the easier conclusions to arrive at here at BioLogos…

… but I keep learning new things all the time…


#19

I do not mean that I need a name for whoever is being quoted. (I don’t need an identity.) Instead, I would recommend just general descriptions so that readers don’t get confused. It would be sufficient to just say, “Someone I’ve known from another forum thread” or “A colleague in my department” or “a member of my academic society who presented a paper on this.” Otherwise, ambiguous attributions can give the impression that you are referring to a previous poster or however you are addressing at the moment.

Thus, no “outing” is ever necessary. Just avoid ambiguity and confusion.


#20

Wow. That’s interesting, because I would never have thought that possible, based on my experiences with Biologos thus far. To me, they are very careful in their statements and so I never thought there was any such tension or false dichotomies. So I’m quite fascinated to hear that others interpret Biologos very differently.