Joshua and Cornelius get to know each other

Because it is a claim about God. That makes it religious.


If you read the BioLogos mission statement … I don’t believe you will find anything like that claim here!!!

This is especially interesting, since science often works by considering competing models - as a non-biologists, my interest, regarding non-competing claims/models, peaks, as it may be an indication of a dogmatic position re the science.

Hello Dr. Hunter,

I hope that your spirit has been refreshed on this Lord’s Day.

I think you caught only half of what N.T. Wright said about evolution. You accurately quote what he says about the way that many (e.g., Richard Dawkins) have infused evolution with the mission of disproving God’s providential involvement with creation. However, you are very much confused when you claim that the theory of evolution is our modern day Epicureanism. This is exactly the opposite of what N.T. Wright claims.

Here are some key points about evolution N.T. Wright makes in Surprised by Scripture:

(1) Epicureans try to use the theory of evolution to dispel our trust in God’s providential involvement with us. Wright calls this effort “Evolutionism-with-a-capital-E” to distinguish it from the scientific theory that common descent is the best explanation for a large body of evidence.

The cross is, and Jesus always said it was, the subversion of all human power systems. The cross is the central thing that demonstrates the impossibility of the metaphysically inflated Evolution-with-a-capital-E. [original emphasis]

(2) We must reject the Epicurean stance that tries to force us to choose between two supposed opposites: (1) believing God directly intervened, vs. (2) it all just happened without any involvement by God.

Just because we observe evolution, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a god who is active within that process as well as beyond and above it. … Science by itself doesn’t force you to be an Epicurean. The God of the Bible and the processes of his creation do not constitute a zero-sum game, as so many in our culture still assume.

Note that Wright states that “we observe evolution.” Yes, he is affirming that it is appropriate to speak of the lower-e theory of evolution as a process that has been observed by science.

And he affirms that Epicureanism is something that stands apart from evolution itself (“Science by itself doesn’t force you to be an Epicurean”).

(3) Our confrontation with the theory of evolution provides us with an opportunity to correct an implicit Epicureanism that has crept into our own theology. Just as we can rescue the valid science of lower-e evolutionary theory from the fangs of neo-Epicureans like Dawkins, we can rescue our own theology from an implicit Epicureanism that depicts the kingdom of heaven as something that has no involvement or continuity with our earthly lives.

I think what has happened is this. The neo-Epicurean teaching of which we are all aware, the capital-E Evolutionism that has produced a metaphysical inflation from a proven hypothesis about the physical world to a naturalistic worldview–this modernist teaching has exposed a flank that perhaps needed exposing. … The Bible is not about the rescue of humans from the world but about the rescue of humans for the world, and indeed God’s rescue of the world by means of those rescued humans.

Note that Wright calls the theory of (lower-e) evolution a “proven hypothesis.” Lower-e evolution is not Epicureanism; it is merely a scientific understanding (a “proven hypothesis”) of how the world and life that God created actually work.

I hope you have found these quotes from Bishop Wright to be as edifying as I found them. Thanks, and may the Lord bless your ministry at Biola.

Chris Falter


Here, there is no claim about God. It is a claim about known scientific models and data. At no point in my science do I make any claims about God.

I do make some claims about God in my theology. That He is uniquely revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And through him all things were created that have been created.

So try again Cornelius. At the moment, it seems like a totally incoherent charge. Do you really still think it is my Christian religion and belief in creation that drives my science and acceptance of evolution? How exactly does that make your case?


There are other models @GJDS, they just do not appear to fit the data without invoking miracles. We have considered one elsewhere… (e.g. @glipsnort tried to see if he could make a recent sole-ancestry model work with HapMap data (we got close, but not fully there). Can someone explain like I'm 5 yo, what's wrong with this refutation of Biologos?

Also in The Biotic Message Walter ReMine proposed a model. I liked it. Though, it was falsified by the data. Others, like Hugh Ross at RTB and Todd Woods also propose models.

My point is not there is only one model. Rather there is a large number of patterns in the data that are only (as far as we know) explained by CD models. There are many CD models too, and we are regularly testing between them. Maybe there is a non-CD model that explains these patterns, but we do not yet know it.

I suppose a “deception” model would work with the data, where God is trying to deceive us in the data by making it look like it is the product of CD. But I do not think any one takes that seriously, it wouldn’t be the Christian God, and also concedes the point that data clearly points to common descent. That just makes my point stronger.

Don’t misread this @GJDS we consider models other than common descent. CD is the only one we know of that works with the data. This isn’t definitive of course, but that is why science settles on this conclusion.

Unfortunately @Cornelius_Hunter communicate’s NT Wright’s position about as accurately as he communicates the data from scientific papers and ideas expressed by his interlocutors (e.g. me).

@Chris_Falter, can you give a link to the quote?

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So is adhering to a theory of physics that best explains the motion of the planets a religious claim simply because we use it to describe how God governs things? Regardless of whether your assertion has merit, I don’t see how it manages to explain or critique anything that Dr. Swamidass has said because it can be applied to any observation about the natural world. Can you please explain your position(s) better? You seem to be reticent about stating what you believe about the nature of science and how the multitude of species came into existence, all while using terms in a way that no one here would use them. It’s really vague and confusing, especially when your respond in one or two brief sentences and don’t flesh out your points.


Actually it is not incoherent. The claim that AS patterns are particularly problematic for creationism is a religious claim.

Gosh no, not sure how you got that.


Well I’m sorry for the confusion, though I must confess that I’m confused by your question. What you are perceiving as terseness in my answers, I am perceiving in terseness in your questions. Is it not obvious that “X is problematic for creationism” is a religious claim?

Now, you could say that Ken Ham claims ~X, and we observe X, therefore X is problematic for creationism, and this is not a religious claim. In that case, that would be understandable. But of course not only did Ken Ham never say any such thing, more importantly the claim was not particular to any tradition. It was a general claim, encompassing any kind of creationism. It wasn’t a comment on AIG, or whatever.

Keep in mind what the claim is. It is this: “this data is particularly problematic for any model that does not accept common descent.” [emphasis added] So in other words, the claim is: “God wouldn’t likely create X in a non CD way, period–I don’t care what Ken Ham says”. That is a religious claim.

Or if this helps you, the claim is this: “There is not likely a non-CD way that God would create X.” Or, “God likely would create X only via CD”. Again, this is a religious claim.

So I’m not sure what you are confused about. I could expand it if you like:

  1. Pseudo exons are observed in alternate spliced genes.
  2. God would not likely create pseudo exons (in a non common descent way such as creationism)
  3. Therefore pseudo exons are a problem for creationism.

Step 2 is a religious claim. Make sense?

Here is another way to think of it: Imagine that you believed the claim. That is, imagine that you believed that the data is particularly problematic for any model that does not accept common descent. Then of course you would believe in common descent, in spite of all the empirical problems. The metaphysics forces your hand.

By the way, this type of reasoning is common historically. Often it entails claims about disutility, or inefficiency, of non aesthetic designs. And the claims are typically based on relatively new findings which obviously are not well understood yet and, yes, much more is later learned to change the premises of the argument. Junk DNA is not always junk. That is an aside, from relevant in this case.

Then please, explain yourself beyond one-sentence responses. I still don’t know why you’re claiming that Dr. Swamidass is making religious claims in his responses to you.


Not sure how you got the idea that I meant to represent the totality of Wright’s thought on this issue. If I was unclear about that, then my fault.

Well this isn’t about Dawkins, or capital letters, etc. I was making a fairly narrow point about evolutionary thought which, after researching for quite some time, was pleased to see Wright elucidate. I think you may have read more into my point than was there.


No sir. Especially if the problem is because of poor logic or lack of evidence.

Religious groups are free to produce erroneous narratives for all sorts of reasons having nothing to do with religion.

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I did not claim this.

I am an evolutionary creationist which is a type of creationist. And pseudo exons are not a problem in that model. Also, I grant that God can do whatever he wants, even create de novo beasts with pseudo-exons. Therefore, I did not in anyway say or think that “AS patterns are problematic for creationism.”

Rather, I said that AS patterns are problematic for the scientific models that we know of that do not include common descent.

No it does not, because I did not make or endorse that argument.

I am not arguing against creationism. I am a creationist. It would be silly for me to argue against creation. And that is not what is happening here.

Also, when doing science we are silent about God, and do not consider his influence. God can absolutely create things in a non-CD way. But we have no known scientific model for this. And in science this is all we consider: scientific models and there are no models that explain the data other than CD.

I think you know these distinctions. It should be pretty clear from my writing. I’m left wondering why you misrepresent me. There is some real incoherence to your position here, or a willful ignorance of other people’s points of view.

Of course this seems to be a pattern with you…


It is also worth pointing out the gross misrepresentation of my position here.

That is not and never has been my claim.

I have been very careful to qualify the type of models I am talking about. I am only referring to KNOWN and SCIENTIFIC models. There are no known scientific models that explain the data better than common descent. I have also granted that maybe a non-CD exists out there that works. We do not know it though, and that is not science works. We need to know it and see it work better than CD on the data.

You clearly do not have this non-CD model, or you would have presented it by now.

Moreover, I never said God did not create in a non-CD way. He certain can and could have created things however he liked. Science cannot tell us anything about what God can or cannot do. Maybe He did, but that isn’t science.


Hello Dr. Swamidass,

The three quotes are all from the text of Surprised by Scripture.

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No. But in any case those are your words, not Joshua’s. He said “To be clear, this data is particularly problematic for any model that does not accept common descent”. That is not a religious claim.


Hello Dr. Hunter,

Okay, you said “It is our modern day Epicureanism.” The only antecedent for the pronoun is in the first sentence of your paragraph:

Evolution, as the word is universally understood by everyone, is a scientific theory about common descent in the realm of biology. From the Oxford dictionary:


  1. the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.

Consequently, your language led me to believe that you were launching a sharp attack against the biological theory of evolution by equating it with Epicureanism, a philosophy which any Christian would find repugnant.

Are you now clarifying that your use of the word “evolution” was not a reference to the theory in the discipline of biology, but to a metaphysical commitment to Epicureanism? And thus it is possible for a Christian to faithfully serve God and proclaim the gospel, while espousing the biological theory of evolution?

If so, it would be appropriate, I think, for you to accept responsibility for making an ambiguous statement, rather saying that I misread you. :slight_smile:

Perplexedly yours,

Chris Falter

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OK, good, I’m seeing better your thinking.

Sure, I’ll sign up for that. But …

First, Epicureanism is an important historical component and example of evolutionary thinking, but the latter is quite a bit more complex than (or a super set of, if you like) the former. So we should avoid any kind of equating of the two.

Second, it is very difficult to separate the basic theory of a naturalistic origins which we refer to as “evolution” and its historical and underlying thought, justification, mandate, etc. Certainly leading advocates of evolution, who write and speak on the subject, and so forth, do not separate these. Of course this is not mysterious since from before Darwin, to Darwin, and after Darwin up to today, the metaphysics are an essential driver for the theory. Without the metaphysics you are left with a theory that makes little sense on the science.

Sorry Cornelius, that dog won’t hunt; nor will repeating your argument make it any stronger. Evolution, as a scientific theory, does not depend on “metaphysics” beyond the philosophical underpinnings of any scientific endeavour, including ones you have no theological issues with.

If evolution makes “little sense”, then why does it have the explanatory and predictive power that it does? What is your superior alternative hypothesis? (We keep asking you for one, and you do not provide one).

Why are identical mutations in unitary pseudogenes found in nested hierarchies in primates in the same pattern predicted by shared synteny and overall DNA identity values? Why do placental mammals have vitellogenin pseudogenes? Why do embryonic whales have four limbs and two nostrils? Why do humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans have the same fused chromosome 2? And so on… if you have a better explanation than common ancestry I’d love to hear it.