Mike Beidler speaks at the Smithsonian Institution's Hall of Human Origins


#1

Congratulations are in order to @MikeBeidler, who has written a number of good posts here at BioLogos. On Friday, Mike spoke at the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins on Evolution, Evangelicalism & Evolutionary Creation. (Wish I could have been there!) Maybe he’ll tell us more about it.

You can check out Mike’s BioLogos posts here.


(George Brooks) #2

And here is a well done essay of his :smile:

God & Nature Magazine

“Is There Anything Historical About Adam and Eve?”

Begins with:

In 1887, my distant cousin, Jacob Hoke Beidler (1829-1904), published an extensive poem titled The Pre-Adamic Advent of Homo and Homodine on the American Continent: With Sequel. In his “prefatory proposition” that opened the poem, Beidler wrote:

Jehovah’s everlasting love alone
Gave life direct from His eternal Throne;
Not evolution with creative force,
Nor molten orb of light through heaven’s course. . . . .(continued in the link)


(Mike Beidler) #3

Good evening, @beaglelady! Thanks for the congrats. :smile:

All in all, it was an outstanding evening. It allowed me to both present to a diverse audience the centrality of Jesus in my faith, but also to highlight that Jesus’ centrality was not at all affected by my acceptance of the veracity of evolutionary theory. I also mentioned that my faith in Jesus as the divine Word of God was enhanced by my acceptance of evolutionary creationism.

One particular individual who was walking through the Hall of Human Origins saw the sign advertising my talk and exclaimed quite loudly, “An evangelical and and evolutionist! HA! Isn’t that an oxymoron?!?!” My response: “Why don’t you stick around and find out?” Stick around he did. For the entire hour. And for an additional half-hour afterwards to engage in further discussion with me.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

@MikeBeidler

Mike, congratulations! Sounds like a great testimony and lecture. Glad you could do it.

I try to make the point that Jesus the Logos is our key to understanding God’s relationship to nature and evolution for many reasons.

Some people seem not to understand. Please expand and clarify.


#5

Seems pretty clear to me!


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(Roger A. Sawtelle) #7

environment which did not summon those mutations, had no foresight of what mutations it would be sifting, and which knows no “reason” other than “kill off the unfit, and let the rest live,” never being able to look ahead to see whether its ruthless calculus will produce anything of supreme value?

@Eddie

If the ecology acting through the Logos acts “natural” selection guides, rather than determines the future of life, then this is what my view of evolution is.

First of all you assume that this must be a unitary linear process, rather than a two step process. An animal dies, its body decays and returns to the earth, plants use the resources in the soil from the dead animal. Another animal eats the plants. This basic yet complex cycle of life does not depend upon any part of it to be predetermined, just that God’s basic plan of life to be carried out.

Thus Variation is part of God’s process through natural reproduction. To introduce change God made reproduction random so variations are produced. The variations are not fully random in that they present a relatively narrow range of possibilities, while ecological Natural Selection chooses those life forms within this range which best fit its need to survive and flourish in the changing ecological niche of this particular life form.

Thus Variation and Natural Selection work together to produce evolutionary change in God’s plan for God’s World, but Variation is indeterminate or random, while Ecological Selection is rational and determinate as the word “selection” indicates. This process is not a struggle for survival as Darwin and his followers claim, but an interdependent process to increase diversity and harmony.

Jesus is always the Logos and the Suffering Servant and the King of Kings.


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(Roger A. Sawtelle) #9

@Eddie

Natural selection is not as you depict it. It is not survival or not. It is relative success. Some families grow faster than others. Pretty soon the faster growing families can swallow up the slower growing, that is less successful, families, but both will exist in a new merged people. The old pagan religions died out, except for Hinduism, but the peoples, the Indo European people who were the primary pagans still exist in a newer and better way.

I am saying that ecological selection has clear purpose or end. This is a clear difference between it and Darwinism and the reason that ecological selection is based on the Logos, not survival of the fittest as Huxley, Darwin, and Dawkins sees it.

The general telos of ecology is very Biblical. Thrive, reproduce, and fill the earth. To do this life forms need to become diverse to fit into all the many ecological niches God the Father created through creation is and through time and space.

Clearly God created a universe meant to be a home for human beings created in God’s one Image and found a way to create that how and the species using the very same means, ecology and evolution. This is clear in hindsight, but certainly beyond my ken to understand how God came up with this plan and I think beyond human understanding. This is the wonderful rationality and mystery of God, which does not fit into human views.


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(Roger A. Sawtelle) #11

@Eddie,

The key question concerning telos is, Does evolution favor intelligence as a evolutionary advantage? Yes or No?

If the answer is Yes, which it is by all that I can see, then Nature gives humanity a built in advantage to come into existence. That means that the Logos through nature and the ecology is directing the gradual evolution of humanity into coming into existence as the Image of God the Logos.

The only caveat is: we must listen to what God and nature are telling us through the Logos, Love one another and do not abuse our environment. This too is a every important aspect of our understanding of ecology, evolution, and the Logos.

Now please allow Mike to tell his understanding of the Logos and evolution.


(sy_garte) #12

I would just like to pop in here, and mention that I was at the talk and it was great. Mike engaged with the audience, which had both YECs and atheists, I think he might have changed some minds.


#13

Thanks, Sy. I was hoping it would be recorded


(Mike Beidler) #14

I think Eddie stated my position quite succinctly: Jesus, the divine and Living Word (Genesis 1/John 1), not only was involved in the original creation but also sustains its natural laws from moment to moment. This governance of the cosmos includes sustaining the natural laws by which evolutionary processes, whether cosmological or biological, run.

I wouldn’t go so far as Eddie to say that God “guides” evolution, but I certainly believe that God intended, from the beginning, for evolutionary processes to result in habitable planets, the rise of life, and the appearance of sentient beings upon whom God could confer His image. The cosmos was, in a manner of speaking, front-loaded to be able to do all that, without necessarily resulting in the same outcome if the tape were rewound and restarted. I’d love to say that evolution occurs differently than Dawkins, Coyne, etc., say it does, but I’ve never found a compelling argument to suggest otherwise. From a scientific perspective, do you expect to see something in the microscope or the telescope that says, essentially, “God’s doing it”?

I see the entire cosmos as teleological (big picture), not necessarily every specific act within natural processes (little picture). The cosmos has a purpose and God will see that purpose through, but He doesn’t need to insert Himself into every process in order to, as Jean-Luc Picard is so fond of saying, “make it so.”

I also suppose (without having delved into his writings) I’m with George Murphy in that I believe that the very Creator, who intended evolutionary processes to be the means by which His creation developed, entered into it, identified with it, and—ultimately—will redeem it. I think the redemption part is key here. If, as you say, God is constantly guiding (vs. merely sustaining) evolutionary processes, I think God has a lot to answer for. If, on the other hand, God is willing to allow a considerable measure of freedom (within constraints) for the cosmos to self-organize, but promises that His justice will prevail in the end by means of the Logos’ redemptive act, I can live with that.

I’m sorry, Eddie, but I just don’t think we’ll agree on this particular topic. While “it simply won’t do to say such-and-such” for you, it works just fine for me. :smile:


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(GJDS) #16

I think this is the area where we as Christians would debate and disagree - imo the difficulty stems from accepting evolution (whatever theory or theories this may take) as if were a fact of science, instead of a work in progress. From a scientist perspective, I would not agree with such an outlook, not because God told me not to accept it, but simply because the outlook is not a scientific fact. A lot has been said on this site in terms of “God would not lie” regarding some odd notions of learning about God from Nature. My response is that we should not use science in theological arguments when we understand that aspect of the science (evolution) is debated and continues to ‘evolve’ as an outlook - in a sense we are asking science to lie to use, so as to appear scientifically literate within a theological context.

So just how important is (whatever version) evolution to our theological understanding? If we differentiate between a God of the big picture as totally the Creator, sustains, and determines of all, including the Cosmos and humanity, from a God of a “small picture” in which God is not totally the Creator etc., then the error lies in statements such as “can we see God inserting Himself in this or that”. Orthodoxy teaches us that we can only know of God what He chooses, for our good, to reveal to us. With all due respect to @MikeBeidler, God is not Jean-Luc Picard, nor any other character we can interrogate or observe at out leisure. I suspect my comment may leave some dissatisfied in that they may want to think that we are enabled by science to show what and where God has done something. My response is that God knows and determines our place in the Cosmos, but we cannot determine His place in this (or any other) Cosmos. In terms of developing a theology of the small picture, if indeed such were anyone’s intention, the answer is there is one picture, just as there is one God. It is not difficult to enable faith and reason to provide a coherent and authentic outlook to us. I find that putting the ever changing notions termed evolution theory(s) central to such an outlook is a mistake. And in the end, it is we that will need to answer to God for our deeds, and not for how well we understand evolutionary theories…


(sy_garte) #17

I have just read three intense and beautifully phrased comments, that I think very nicely illustrate the diversity of views here, and also demonstrate the kind of work we must engage in to make sense of what is happening within Christianity as it relates to science. After these cogent comments from Mike, Eddie and GJDS, I am a bit nervous about adding my own two cents, but fear of sounding stupid has never stopped me before, so here goes.

I agree with GJDS that God is the one in charge, and that we cannot fathom His nature or His purposes. I would also submit that we humans are not really as great as (some of us) sometimes think we about understanding the natural world either. I am not denigrating human science, that would be foolish. But we (again some of us, especially the atheists) have come to believe a bit too much in our own powers of understanding a natural world that is actually about as resistant to being fully understood as is its Creator. Though Im not a physcist, I think some of the results coming from CERN testify to this.

So I agree with Eddie about not tying evolution to theodicy. I think the best thing we can say about that is we just dont know. We dont even really know what evil is, other than we all know stories of really bad things happening, and of immense suffering. And we dont know why. But we do know there is an answer, because for a theist, there is always an answer for every question about God’s world. The answers are very hard to find, whether we look for them in the word of God, Christ’s word to us, or in the so many still hidden truths of nature. I am convinced all the answers are there to be found, and that is the purpose of our existence, as a species and as individuals.

When Mike says the entire universe is teleological, I agree that must be true. And whether God front loaded or guided or something in between, we are also teleological. We understand the concept of purpose, and that is already a clue that we must have one. Whether it was breathed into our souls by the Lord, or a result of evolutionary pressures, doesnt matter. Its as real as we are. We must find truth because that is our calling from God. Praise Him. And God bless all who work at our divine purpose.


(sy_garte) #18

Beaglelady

It was


#19

Is it available yet?


#20

Great post, Mike!