Evolutionary Religious Studies and Evolutionism: Should BioLogos be neutral?

If BioLogos is serious about exploring “evolutionary religious studies” (as one moderator jpm recently said it was new to him), since it hasn’t been discussed much at BioLogos, an opportunity for discovery is near around the corner.

Two presentations this coming week will be held on “Religion and the Evolution of Cooperation” in the recent series by D.S. Wilson. https://thisviewoflife.com/evolutionary-science-and-sociology/

The papers, which are the basis for the presentations, can be found linked here:

Paper 1: https://thisviewoflife.com/for-gods-sake-whats-all-this-fuss-about-a-virus/
Paper 2: https://thisviewoflife.com/debate-nothing-in-sociology-makes-sense-except-in-the-light-of-evolution/

To be sure, I believe this stuff is about as wrong-headed and wrong-hearted as a sociologist can get. For a “religious” person to accept ERS is tantamount to rejecting their “religion”, since ERS concludes that “religion” is man-made, and that “God” is an invention of humanity, not the source of religion.

BioLogos Moderator Matthew Pevarnik wrote, regarding the Evolution Institute’s https://evolution-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2Social-Darwinism_Publication.pdf: “I think this publication by the Evolution Institute is fairly interesting when discussing such topics:”

Let’s look more closely to see if Matthew might be “barking up the wrong tree” about what he finds “fairly interesting” in Wilson & Johnson’s proposal (neither Wilson nor Johnson are trained in sociology, mind you, but this doesn’t stop them from putting forward a “new social Darwinism”). As a sociologist, I find D.S. Wilson’s work and that coming out of his Evolution Institute to be both often anti-religious (in a subtle way, right?), as well as dehumanizing. Matthew’s physics background seems to “interpret” Wilson’s “new social Darwinism” differently. Which view of ERS and “social Darwinism” makes more sense to people here? Does it even matter if BioLogos is against “evolutionism” if it gives ERS a “free pass”?

Welcome comments from anyone who attends and listens for themselves. Let’s hear if this “ERS” is such a wise idea for BioLogos to warm up to, or better to be cautious about and potentially reject.

NB: Written by an atheist, not a creationist: “New Atheists believe that religion is a pseudo-scientific explanation of the natural world that is replaced by modern science, most importantly the idea of evolution , which is applied well beyond the confines of the natural world to explain society, culture, politics, ethics, economics, whatever. In that sense it becomes so vast in it’s explanatory power that it becomes something like a religious myth . So that’s the first religious function it performs: explaining where the universe came from, and the life that exists within it.” - Stephen LeDrew (Author of The Evolution of Atheism , Oxford University Press, 2015, https://www.canadianatheist.com/2018/02/ledrew/)

(And hi @Gregory, don’t worry, I know you can’t respond to me.)

Why is that pejorative term being used? For reality?

Because BioLogos uses it so?

Are you saying that BioLogos should not be this biased?

How is Evolutionary Creation different from Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism? - Common-questions - BioLogos

‘But while we accept the scientific evidence for evolution, BioLogos emphatically rejects Evolutionism, the atheistic worldview that so often accompanies the acceptance of biological evolution in public discussion. Evolutionism is a kind of scientism, which holds that all of reality can in principle be explained by science. In contrast, BioLogos believes that science is limited to explaining the natural world, and that supernatural events like miracles are part of reality too.’

In which case I’d have to agree.

Science lacks nothing but absolute, measured certainty. To insane degrees of precision, meaningless repeatability and other sigmas in physics, chemistry, biology. But of course science is far from being the end of explanation that requires God to step in. Rationality from primary school science takes us to the even more insane degrees of certainty (hey, let’s call it absolute 100% certainty, p=1) of strong uniformitarianism. Which is why the self congratulatory Templeton scientists are fallacious (post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: ‘after this, therefore because of this’), affirming the consequent, etc) and stop thinking faced with a few anthropic constants. Nature is certainly eternal. Whether God exists or not.

Now I am a man of faith. Feebly grasped in the Spirit as a guttering candle baton: the gift of faith in the certain, full, inexorable faithfulness of Christ (a). Faith that dims to stygian darkness in the face of reason but starts to glow again. Just this morning reading Julian Baggini’s superb The Godless Gospel. What felt like a knockout blow two years ago, the pathetically belated discovery that the Pericope Adulterae (PA), the most sublimely beautiful, divinely intelligent, humane, C1st Jesus story, is a C5th bodge job. That gutted me right back to pure 14 year old existential angst. I wanted Jesus to be God, but had no rational warrant any more. All I had was the desire. Still. And taking Pascal’s Wager. Still. It led to some interesting conversations with God. ((a) The realisation of that orthodoxy a few months ago helped immensely). In my loss from the loss of the PA, I couldn’t see the divine intelligence. But I got to the Marcan Render unto Caesar in the Godless Gospel and there it is again. Not as emotionally powerful as the PA, but no wonder His murderous conspirators were amazed at Him.

So where is the conflict? Between reason and Jesus? The conflict is entirely in the minds of Christians, from Templeton on down. Reason is not limited to explaining nature. It explains belief in the supernatural, and morality of course, in that. Completely. So? There is only one miracle worth its salt that still towers above science, although sometimes it’s still over the horizon, or in the dark when your faith candle, oil lamp gift falters; Jesus. No other miraculous claims are of any use whatsoever without Him. We cannot hold our heads up in the agora without Him first and foremost, orthogonal to reality. We cannot blame materialists for failing to engage, for not understanding. The failure is entirely ours when we insist on saying that there is no conflict AND science proves God did it in the keys of c, G and h.

Jesus alone is El Shaddai - sufficient.

My concern here has always been with exaggeration, Klax, and extrapolation of one idea from one sphere and context, into another very different and “foreign” context, as if that “idea” means the same in different contexts, when it obviously doesn’t. It has been VERY difficult to get BioLogos to see the vast amount of evidence that exists regarding how “evolution” is treated across multiple fields, not just the natural sciences. Sy Garte started to become aware of the different uses of “evolution”, and has since accepted the distinction that I hold: the REAL problem is not with “evolutionary theories” in the natural-physical sciences, but with “evolutionary theories” foisted on the human-social sciences, as a form of reductionism.

Now, if a person either 1) doesn’t understand this “philosophical” language, or 2) denies ideological evolutionism is possible, they’re in a real pickle due simply to English language. They are effectively, they themselves, denying people the right to use a meaningful term “evolutionism”, without at the same time NECESSARILY being a “creationist”.

Since I am not a “creationist” and use “evolutionism” in a “technical” way to refer to the ideology of exaggerating the notion of “evolution” outside of natural-physical sciences into human-social sciences, and since it is rather obvious to anyone watching that this happens on a significant scale nowadays, Klax is caught in a conundrum of his own making. To Klax, I cannot exist; a non-creationist who identifies a HUGE problem with evolutionism in society today. Could Klax instea be missing something, perhaps a different “non-derogatory” understanding that leaves room to doubt universal evolutionism?

Notice how Sy Garte “converted” to a new understanding right here at BioLogos in 2015. He started with this:

“The word ‘evolutionism’ is an unfortunate one, as is scientism.” – Sy Garte

Later, after hearing “another side” that he hadn’t heard before, he changed his mind. To his credit, he has also attempted to correct his language.

“I mentioned this discussion to my wife who is a linguist and she basically agreed with you about the use of terms evolution and evolutionism, so (since she is always right) I hereby withdraw my comment regarding my unfortunate use of the word “unfortunate”.” - Sy Garte (10 Misconceptions about Evolution)

Let’s be clear about why this is important. The issue is not at all “Gregory is right, BioLogos is wrong.” The key issue is rather that Sy Garte saw his way through the error in his own thinking. Thanks to his linguist wife!

That’s all I’m asking you to consider also, Klax. It might help your philosophy, in the science, philosophy, theology collaborative conversation.

BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary biology (among other things, but that’s one of the main ones).

BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary ecology
BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary chemisty
BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary zoology
BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary geology.
BioLogos attempts to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary cosmology.

My question regards the distinction between Natural-Physical Sciences & Human-Social Sciences.

Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary psychology?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary linguistics?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary anthropology?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary political science?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary economics?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary sociology?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary cultural studies?
Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary philosophy?

Should BioLogos attempt to bring evangelical Protestants to accept evolutionary religious studies? That’s what I’m asking in this thread.

Klax may get around to addressing that. But for now, he’s not addressing evolutionism or evolutionary universalism, and seems to be denying it “even could be a problem”, so there’s a disconnect.

“the self congratulatory Templeton scientists are fallacious ”

As a strong supporter of BioLogos’ “pro-evolution” stance, you do realize that BioLogos Foundation exists thanks to the Templeton Foundation, do you not? It was Templeton money that got BioLogos going.

“The conflict is entirely in the minds of Christians, from Templeton on down.”

Yes, the main immediate questions then are: “which Christians,” “which tradition of Christians” or “which branch of Christians” went down the wrong path on this topic. Frankly, the “down the wrong path” community is largely non-mainline evangelical Protestants, according to surveys. You are aware of that, right Klax?

Personally, I found the Protestant tradition almost poisonous on the topic of “evolution”, “creation” and “Intelligent Design”. It almost forces people into conflict with each other the way the Protestant churches I attended “position” themselves on this topic. So much anger, pride, hatred, condescension … and argument, argument, argument between Christian brothers and sisters over the “movements” that have grown around promoting those three “ideas”. It’s quite a sad spectacle! : (

I have a busy day and may pop in, but another session overlaps and I won’t be attending the “evolutionary science and sociology” nonsense today. Good wishes discerning the wheat from the chaff if any of you so choose to attend.

The new link invitation is up – D.S. Wilson is ready to amaze people with smarm into “rethinking religion” through an “everything and anything from an evolutionary perspective”. Word to the wise, pray be cautious. :pray:

"This is a reminder that Session 5 of “Evolutionary Science and Sociology: A New Beginning” is today (3/16) from 12-1pm EST.

You can explore Michael Hammond’s responses to the Session 4 Q&A and watch the recording on our Youtube page.

Session Fives’s focus is " Religion and the Evolution of Cooperation " and will feature series authors Andrew Atkinson & Lukas Szrot. To prepare for the session, read the featured authors’ essays on the discussion forum landing page.

Date & Time: Tuesday, March 16th from 12-1pm EST
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86500544430

Invite others to this event by sharing this link:

Good man @Gregory.

Evolution is perichoretically inseparably intrinsic to the humanities, the social sciences. I’m that ‘hard’. That ‘exaggerated’. In your list, the area with the least intrinsic evolutionary, genetic, hard wired predisposition is philosophy. And even there. Eliminating our mammalian P-Consciousness psychology from our A-Consciousness ends up in abstruse Lacanian analysis. If you can point to anything in the humanities and soft sciences that is similarly as ‘pure’ as quantum mechanics, as divested of carnality, please link. I’m all for the possibility of emergent abstract ideas that transcend our humanity (aka evolution), but I can’t think of one that isn’t grounded in it.

BioLogos is Templeton?! Really? ; )

The smile is noted. The feigned “purity” (hard headed, soft hearted) also. Who’s saying SSH isn’t grounded in humanity? Or is that “theistic sociology” or “theistic anthropology”, not so different from “theistic evolution”?

The Language of God: BioLogos Website and Workshop:

These grants support the launch of the BioLogos Foundation with the creation of a website and a series of workshops on the compatibility of theism and evolutionary science [!?!]. The website will serve as a forum for Francis Collins and other expert consultants to address common questions about the relationship between faith and science. The invitation-only workshops will bring scientists and evangelical leaders together to seek a theology more accepting of science, specifically evolutionary biology. These projects will allow the BioLogos Foundation to build a reputation as a source of sympathetic, authoritative, and accessible thought on matters of science and faith.

Project Leader(s): Francis Collins , Founder and President, The BioLogos Foundation

Grantee(s): The BioLogos Foundation (Bethesda, Maryland)
Grant Amount: $2,028,238
Start Date: January 2008
End Date: February 2012
Grant ID: 13489, 14407

If “evolutionary science” includes ERS, then BioLogos should indeed work towards finding “compatibility” between “theistic evolution” and (atheistic/agnostic) ERS, as one feature of “evolutionary science”, right?

Er (SSH? Not Linux Secure Shell, so Social Science & Humanities?), I don’t accept theistic evolution in any way shape or form. So not right, no.

“I don’t accept theistic evolution in any way shape or form.”

That’s probably healthy. If accepting theistic evolution made you “tempted” by ERS, and with it you lost the meaning of perichoresis (it’s just “natural”, nothing more, says ERS), it would be self-defeating. So why bother? Your concern is understood.

I have no concern, just no warrant. Religious studies are predicated on evolution. We’re wired to be religious by evolution. Jesus can be easily fully explained by that. My desire that He be the real deal included. So? I still desire Him and couldn’t care less if that’s just my own current flowing. The claim of Him is so enormous, He’s worth it.

Christians do not presume that God is incapable of affecting the cosmos. George Müller is a stellar and enviable example of the reality and what is attainable: https://www.georgemuller.org/uploads/4/8/6/5/48652749/the_autobiography_of_george_muller_book.pdf

This is pretty silly, though, at the end of the day. Saying “Jesus can be fully explained by evolution” makes you sound fanatical, right? Jus saying.

Your reductionistic argument would be no less “valid” (scientists like this word) if you chose oxygen. “Religious studies are predicated on oxygen,” proclaims the universal evolutionistic, no boundaries-in-sight, Klax. Yeah, so what? That doesn’t really help us understand “religion” much, just because we understand that it requires oxygen to “be religious.” You do realize that, don’t you? Reality check, Klax?

Your sense of “wonder” here surely matches D.S. Wilson’s - he thinks he’s treating “religion” fairly, while he’s gutting it of content. ERS destroys “religion” with “agnostic & atheistic attention”, such that the language of the conversation changes. Seeing Matthew Pevarnik “like” the Evolution Institute’s “new social Darwinism” paper was a wakeup call to me, as a person would have to be pretty “unaware” to not know that D.S. Wilson’s work is not “friendly” to the BioLogos worldview, and should not be promoted by any BioLogos moderator unfamiliar with what they’re talking about.

Matthew was asked to discuss this openly with me, and ducked out. Maybe they’ll be another option for him in the future, but this time he willingly missed out after being given an opportunity to respond directly and clearly, beyond his “general support” for D.S. Wilson et al.'s “new social Darwinism” manuscript.

“The claim of Him is so enormous, He’s worth it.”

Yes, agreed and more. Much too enormous to be swallowed up in a little (mostly material- & natural-only) evolutonistic package, as your “me-scientist = smart” silliness would require. Too myopic, Klax. Too over-reaching with that one term. Too obsessed with “Evolution” as basically a mini deity for you to worship = theistic (divine) Evolution?

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Actually, Paul talks about suffering quite a bit. I seem to recall that Jesus mentioned something about it in the Beatitudes, as well. And speaking of, I don’t think Jesus denied his Father’s intervening providence because of the existence of suffering and evil. Read Müller as an exceptional example to learn about the reality of providence.

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What a bizarre and blindly arrogant thing to jus’ say. There’s nothing fanatical about rationality. ‘Faith’ however…

As is your wont you’re deliberately ‘choosing’ to miss the point and ‘choosing’ ignorance. Why is that? The evolution of religion is a cultural phenomenon predicated on the evolutionary psychology of religion. As you well know. It’s a bit like YEC Gish gallop whataboutery rather than deal with any substance with substance.

Sorry? I’m glad you’re a defender of Islam, Hinduism, Yazidism (aka Satanism according to some) etc.

I like the projection. The ONLY one ducking out is you.

This is fascinating. I have faith in the faithfulness of Christ. Despite the fact that all accounts, all stories, all histories work just fine if nature is all there is. I am a Christian mate. As Christian as you or anyone else here. None are more Christian than me in what I assent to, what I hope for, what I believe, what I want. I’m sure you’re all infinitely more truly religious than me in the Jamesian sense, pillars of good works, of self sacrifice. The difference is that I’m the only one here who bows to the perfection, the sufficiency of materialism, physicalism to explain everything including the Church and its earliest documents. With all good will. I don’t sneer at the men who wrote the New Testament, starting with Paul, I regard them as perfectly genuine. Decent, devout, serious men. None better. But, rationally, they could be deluded. They could easily have deluded themselves. If there is no God then that’s exactly what they did. In good faith. The evolution of the psychology of religion fully explains that. As you know. That is intellectually honest, that has intellectual integrity, that has intellectual purity, if that’s what you mean by ‘fanaticism’, by ‘silliness’. How dare you denigrate reason? Which you are commanded to use.

I, the most arrogant of men - humbly - believe otherwise, that there is room for faith. Christianity needs to go as a beggar on its knees in the agora, pushing the cup of Christ, head down. Not arrogantly sneering at the majesty of nature’s power to explain itself. Not making oh so very 'umble absurd claims about nature which are just ignorant fallacies by second rate geniuses, or first rate ones going beyond their remit. It must acknowledge that with respect and still offer up Christ.

There’s an elephant in your room here Gregory. Isn’t there. You know what I mean don’t you.

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