What Denominations are Tolerant of Evolution yet Conservative?

(Chris Falter) #70

Hi Hman,

I appreciate your priorities.

Speaking for myself, I am a proponent of the ancient perspective that God has spoken to us through two books: the book of Scripture and the book of nature. Therefore the careful study of nature is fruitful, and the clarification of serious misunderstandings about nature is per se worthwhile.

In fact, I have found that understanding the science of origins has been a two-fer, because I have been forced to grapple with the question of the message of Genesis for today’s world, if indeed it’s not intended as a literalistic natural history. In other words, a better understanding of the book of nature has pushed me toward a better understanding of the book of Scripture.

I would also point out that presenting a view that harmonizes the two books has considerable value in converting those who have been misled into rejecting the book of Scripture because it is portrayed, erroneously in my opinion, as being at war with the science of origins.

Grace and peace,
Chris Falter

(George Brooks) #71

I can do that… but being a U.U… I’ll have to skip the part about evangelizing. :wink:


Good look doing that while so many christians tell them that they must abandon evolution and other scientific ideas in order to do that, besides, christians themselves can lose their faith when exposed to the overwhelming evidence of evolution if that idea is dug too deep inside their heads, as ilustrated in that comic @archicastor1 posted here a while ago: http://www.oldearth.org/tract.html

(Randy) #73

Also, @HmanTheChicken, all truth is God’s truth. If He made the earth in billions of years, then we don’t have to be afraid of it. If it’s confusing, He knows where we stand and won’t send us to Hell if the reason for our doubt is because of misunderstanding. I truly believe that He is just.

What’s more, millions of YEC Christians struggle in undergrad as they learn evolution from professors who are not biased, but only trying to do their job (mine were terrific and very patient with me as I put up resistance and questions). If only I had known there wasn’t a problem in the first place, it would have saved us all so much difficulty!

By the way, I’m intrigued. Would you mind explaining your choice of names? Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts.


Sure, but Peter Enns is happy to have people reject the existence of Adam and Eve. Frankly I think Adam and Eve is a Gospel issue. It seems hard to imagine what a Fall-less Christianity would look like. An Old Earth is fine, common descent is fine, but to think that there was no Fall and that we were destined to be like any other animal by most standards is hard to fit into Christianity.


I absolutely agree with you, and I’m very glad YEC does not equal condemnation, as most of the people I love are YEC. I guess I don’t see “evangelizing evolution” as part of what BioLogos does, at least from what I’ve seen. This site was here when I had questions and started looking for answers, which I’m very grateful for, but in my experience it was the young-earth model that was much more often used as a means of “evangelism.” And when people grow up seeing that as a key element of their faith, it can be far too easy for that faith to be shaken when they realize how bad the science is.


This is a good point. I do not think that a Christian cannot believe in Common Descent or an Old Earth, both are reconcilable with our faith. BB Warfield and Charles Spurgeon were open to both. I’m ok with BioLogos doing a compilation of non-literalists when it comes to Gen 1-2, and saying that Christianity can coexist with these things. No problem, and really that’s good.

If somebody wants to be a Christian and believe in evolution, it seems to me like they can just read John Lennox’s Seven Days that Divide the World, then see that the two are compatible. If they know that they’re logically compatible and that there is reason to believe in Christianity, they have enough information that it’s on them (with God’s grace) to convert.

I think somebody like Richard Dawkins, Sean Carroll, Stephen Hawking, Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, etc. would stay atheists either way. They are not atheists for lack of information, but because they are not open to God. While it’s probably true that Ken Ham doesn’t help the Gospel spread to academics, I don’t think most of them are atheists because of him. (I think we agree on that)

  1. That is a noble cause. I wouldnt want anybody to lose their faith over YEC. On the other hand, it seems like accommodating worldly concepts can go too far. Dr. Enns denied the historicity of Adam and Eve, even recognizing that Paul believed they existed. To me that’s fundamentally undermining the Gospel, and if somebody stays Christian but doesn’t think Adam and Eve were real people, it seems to me to be a very small victory, if it’s one at all. Sorry if that’s hyperbolic.

  2. I dont disagree that environmentalism is important, but what would you mean by the other toxic social movements?


Well, this is fair. So long as it doesn’t go against fundamental Gospel issues (like Original Sin, Adam and Eve), helping people to accept mainstream science is pretty noble. My issue is that BioLogos sometimes can be a bit vague on things I’d see as fundamentals.


This is a good comic, and I think it’s right. I’ve got no problem with an old earth or anything, but I think BioLogos does compromise on fundamental Gospel issues like the Fall, when really things like that are non-negiotable. If somebody is won to Christ but not to the authority of the Bible, they’re not really won to Christ tbh.


Biologos does not claim that these matters are wrong, they just acomodate people with different opinions on that, which I think is ultimately positive since many people leave the faith due to struggling with some specific issues like that. I guess we could discuss which points are ultimately unnegotiable, but biologos is not a church denomination, but more a space for discussion, therefore I don’t see why unorthodox views should be proihibited, since we are not preaching them as doctrine (that is up to the denominations to do), but just discussing them.

(Christy Hemphill) #81

I doubt you can find anyone saying “The Bible teaches a flat earth.” Most ECs are going to say the ANE worldview presumed a flat earth and their “cosmic geography” was accommodated by God in Scripture. You can be EC and still hold to inerrancy if you grant that not every presupposition held by the ancient audience and left uncorrected by the Bible is something the Bible directly “teaches and affirms.”

Pete Enns thinks inerrancy is an outdated construct, but that is not a requirement for accepting evolution or writing for BioLogos. John Walton affirms inerrancy and has written just as much, if not more for BioLogos. People who accept evolution and the authority of Scripture have different definitions of inerrancy and different levels of regard for the concept.

There was a whole blog series on the Resurrection this past Easter. And lots of articles if you put “resurrection” in the search bar: https://biologos.org/search/?q=resurrection

Many Christians who see the Adam and Eve narrative as true myth or archetype still believe humans are “fallen” and born sinful. That is what the Genesis narrative teaches (and the rest of Scripture builds on), even if it does not record actual historical details of how the fall of humanity happened.

But not everyone who writes for BioLogos thinks that Adam and Eve are not real people. There are a range of views. See Kathryn’s recent article: https://biologos.org/blogs/kathryn-applegate-endless-forms-most-beautiful/why-i-think-adam-was-a-real-person-in-history
And this common question page: https://biologos.org/common-questions/human-origins/were-adam-and-eve-historical-figures

BioLogos repeatedly affirms the authority of Scripture. It is not fair to say something like, “According to me, everyone who truly believes in the authority of Scripture must share my view of X, and since I found someone writing for BioLogos who does not share my view of X, BioLogos does not truly believe in the authority of Scripture.”

“We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God.”

“At BioLogos, we believe the Bible is God’s inspired and authoritative word, from Genesis to Revelation. It tells a single, overarching story: how God created the world good and made people in his image; how people rejected God; how God made a covenant with the people of Israel; how, through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, God has graciously redeemed broken and sinful people from every tribe and language and people and nation and has adopted them into his family; and how God’s kingdom is breaking into our world, making all things new.” https://biologos.org/common-questions/biblical-interpretation/scripture-interpretation

(Darek Barefoot) #82

Why do you think geocentrism is silly when it is based on a simple, natural reading of Scripture? Why wouldn’t you just applaud the fixed earthers for taking the words of Scripture more literally than you do, and for being more skeptical of (mostly) godless astronomers and their “evidence”? And what would be the effect on the progress of the gospel if most Christians were geocentrists? Would it be helpful? Or present yet another obstacle to those who might be drawn to the gospel but don’t want to dismiss the overwhelming testimony of the natural world.


This is a good point, but BioLogos does have a tent. It excludes people like Hugh Ross because he is not in agreement with the scientific consensus on some origins issues. It seems like there is a BioLogos orthodoxy, and that orthodoxy does not require historical Christian orthodoxy, while it does require scientific orthodoxy.


Well, the point is that some claims can be scientifically falsified, while others can’t. YEC can be scientifically falsified, and thus can be proven wrong. You can’t prove Peter Enns wrong, neither can he prove you wrong, its merely a matter of different beliefs, so both of you get the benefit of doubt. Also, different denominations have different views on this issues, I’m not sure if this information is sound, but I heard that Quakers don’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture, for instance. If biologos got too strict with its theological beliefs, then it would not be able to reach people from all the types of christian faith. Imagine for instance if biologos decided that predestination is a unegotiable part of its core doctrine? Then everyone but calvinists and a few others would be basically excluded, and the big picture of biologos is to show people that science and faith can be compatible, not to advocate for a particular denomination. That is why people of widely different views write for the site, as Christy pointed out. It is not like biologos is pointing the non-literal Adam/Eve as the truth or the only option. You could argue that opening it for YEC’s or even OEC’s like Ross would make it even more inclusive, but it would do so at the cost of compromising biologos main goal of showing the compatibility of science and religion.


I don’t like constantly being critical of Dr. Enns, but if I believed what Dr. Enns believes about the history of the Bible, I would probably leave Christianity. If there were next to no supernatural prophecies, if Moses didn’t have any part in writing the Pentateuch, if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, the whole Gospel would be false. The New Testament is a New Testament because the Old one was prophesying it, so if that didn’t happen, the New Testament is just as well lost.

I can’t prove Dr Enns wrong scientifically, but I think it’s clear that many things he has said are simply not compatible with orthodox Christianity for the last 2000 years. There is no Church Father who I know of who denied Adam and Eve as real people, it’s a belief that comes only after the Enlightenment. Inerrancy was also the consensus of all orthodox Christians until the Enlightenment. With this too, I don’t know a Christian before 1600 who thought there were errors in the Bible. We know of Church Fathers who didn’t take Genesis 1 literally, so there’s latitude there, but I do sincerely think that if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, we’d have little reason to trust anything else in the Bible. The whole Scripture is based on Salvation History - God coming to save us to reverse the sins of Adam.

If BioLogos doesn’t want to include only people who would be considered orthodox throughout Christian history, that is alright, but it seems then that there are higher standards for scientific orthodoxy than Christian orthodoxy.

To your point about the harmony of science and religion, I think there is value in that, but isn’t there a problem if we sort of remove the doctrines of historical religion to fit science? I don’t know if that’s harmony in the true sense. :confused:

(Phil) #87

Certainly, Hugh Ross doesn’t quite fit under the tent, but he is invited in to visit and to get out of the rain. Generally, there is a pretty good relationship with RTB, and Ross has spoken in conjunction with Biologos on several occasions.
In other words, the tent is there, but it really is more a canopy, and people come and go as they feel comfortable, as I see it.


This is fair. One day I really want to read the Biologos - RTB book, seems really good. I’ve been reading his A Matter of Days, which has been an interesting read. It’s got me to accept an Old Earth as not theologically problematic, which is helpful.


I think the difference is that geocentrism is knowably false. We can actually send ships and observe the earth going around the sun. It’s an empirical issue. On the other hand, to know creation issues, all we have is the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture as historical records, not ongoing things we can empirically verify.

That said, I’m not a YEC. I’d probably be between OEC and ID. It seems like our faith is a stumbling block. Even Paul said the cross itself is a stumbling block, and certainly the Virgin Birth, Resurrection, etc are stumbling blocks to man modern people. I think those are fundamentals though that can’t be denied, and I’d imagine we would agree.


Well, I think that is actually a fair question. How unorthodox would be “too much” for biologos? Not believing in the inerrancy of scripture? Unitarianism? Here in the forums I really don’t see any reason to put any restriction (we even have atheists which are very participative in the discussions), but as for the staff and the people who write the articles it might be fair to establish a limit, I don’t know where that might be, however.