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Report on BioLogos-Reasons To Believe Dialogue
February 25, 2010
Category: BioLogos Reflections
Intoduction by Darrel Falk
The BioLogos Foundation exists to help bring harmony between the Christian faith and science. Since BioLogos is an organization of Christians, this means that those who support it are members of a single Body, and by definition this includes people who do not all think about issues in exactly the same way. Jesus prayer for unity in John 17 is our prayer too. Hence, Paul%u2019s I Corinthians 12 and 13 description of how things are to work in the Body of Christ is our calling. Indeed, it is our mandate. With that in mind BioLogos sponsored the In Search of a Theology of Celebration conference between pastors, theologians, scientists, and other scholars in November, 2009. The statement that emerged from that meeting and its signatories has been posted.
We have also been privileged to engage in several discussions with leaders of the Reasons to Believe organization, including an all day meeting in January, 2010. The following joint statement is the product of that meeting.
Report on BioLogos-Reasons To Believe Dialogue
BioLogos and Reasons To Believe are Christian non-profit organizations. Both may be described as science-faith think tanks. Both affirm that the revelations of Scripture and nature testify to the glory of God. BioLogos promotes theistic evolution as the best understanding of life%u2019s origin and history. Reasons To Believe advocates day-age creation that accepts micro-evolutionary but not macro-evolutionary change.
On January 23, 2010, three scientists and a theologian who support BioLogos met in Washington, DC, with three scientists and a theologian from Reasons To Believe to discuss areas of agreement and disagreement. On the broad subject of creation and evolution, our particular focus for this discussion was the biological record of the past 700 million years.
We agreed on four goals for this session of an ongoing dialogue that began more than a year ago:
Clarify for each other our beliefs about and positions on various aspects of creation and evolution. We wanted to establish areas of agreement on science, theology, and philosophy of ministry as well as major differences%u2014with the understanding that secondary differences would require additional discussion at a later date.Significant progress was made in clarifying similarities and differences and more will be reported on this at a later date
Outline the means by which at least some of the more significant differences between us could potentially be resolved.We agreed to undertake back-and-forth exchanges%u2014video, written, or a combination%u2014on specific topics.
Set up public forums that will allow both Christians and non-Christians to learn about our respective positions on specific creation and evolution issues, observe our dialogue, and then engage in conversation with us.We agreed that the emphasis in these events must be on education and discussion, but this does not rule out sincere debate
Consider how our interactions with one another might model for the Christian community at large how to approach differences of perspective and interpretation.We agreed on the primary importance of showing civility, grace, and unity in the common goal of understanding and submitting to God%u2019s truth.
We%u2019re pleased with the progress already achieved. As far as we%u2019re aware, this is the first time in the recent history of the church when two ministries that share protestant evangelical commitments, but with divergent views on creation, have engaged in dialogue showing respect for each other%u2019s Christian character, professional qualifications, and scholarly integrity. Each participant has embraced the exhortation in 1 Peter 3:15-16a:But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect%u2026
Thus, we remain hopeful that at least some of our differences can and will be resolved and that, even with an admixture of agreement and disagreement, our unity in Christ will be upheld and strengthened.
Filed Under:science, religion, creationism, evolution, Reasons to Believe, theologians, scientists, dialog, harmony, Christianity, fellowship
David Wilson - #5314
February 25th 2010
I love this. Thanks to both organizations for their commitment to seeing the Christ in each and also for being willing to work alongside each other to learn and grow.
Very encouraging for this pastor who doesn%u2019t see a herd of cats play nice together very often.-->
Would appreciate clarification, as it appears mixed messaged are appearing.
In this thread it reads:
%u201CBioLogos promotes theistic evolution as the best understanding of life%u2019s origin and history.%u201D
Yet in one of the Questions threads, it speaks of How BioLogos *differs* from theistic evolution:
%u201CBecause the term evolution is sometimes associated with atheism, a better term for the belief in a God who chose to create the world by way of evolution is BioLogos.%u201D
Dr. Karl Giberson says quite unambiguously:
%u201CWe are actually using the term %u201CBioLogos%u201D so we can avoid constantly having to refer to %u201Cevolution,%u201D which has become such a loaded term. The narrow scientific meaning of evolution has been lost as the word has come to include a fully materialistic worldview for many.%u201D
So I am unclear about what BioLogos is offering that is *new* or instead what synthesis of views it presents. Avoid or embrace %u2018evolution%u2019?
As for me, I didn%u2019t think that %u2018evolution%u2019 can philosophically account for %u2018origins,%u2019 but rather only %u2018processes%u2019. Please un-confuse me! : )-->
I think this is awesome and found much encouragement from reading this post!!
Too often we %u201Cbox%u201D (judge) others according to their positions on origins/eschatology/baptism/etc and in so doing, often miss the fact that we%u2019re all family, and although these are important issues, the ultimate issue is unity in Christ!
Looking forward to seeing the next stages and the outcomes of this dialogue!-->
@Gregory: As far as I know, Dr. Collins decided to use the term BioLogos since (as Dr. Giberson said) evolution has certain connotations. The idea, I believe, was to make it so you could bring up the issue and use the word BioLogos, and then people might not have as much of a negative reaction as if you were to just say that you were an evolutionist. In a sense, it is a %u201Cback door%u201D term into the issue, that is trying to help people see things more clearly.-->
%u201CThe idea, I believe, was to make it so you could bring up the issue and use the word BioLogos, and then people might not have as much of a negative reaction as if you were to just say that you were an evolutionist%u201D
A very good %u201CWedge Strategy.%u201D How%u2019s it working so far? Why isn%u2019t honesty acceptable?-->
It is unclear where your allegiances lie, Unapologetic Catholic.
Are you a universal evolutionist? Can you give examples of %u2018things that don%u2019t evolve%u2019? Somehow I doubt it.
The Vatican has said evolution is %u2018more than a hypothesis.%u2019 But in his inaugural address Benedict XVI clearly limited the meaning of %u2018evolution.%u2019 Some %u2018evolutions%u2019 are *NOT* acceptable for Christians.
Do you deny this?
I wouldn%u2019t want to call myself an %u2018evolutionist%u2019 and I don%u2019t know why any Christian would. A monotheist can accept biological evolutionary theories without being an evolutionist.
%u2018Evolution-ism%u2019 implies ideology, *not* science.
Do you call yourself an %u2018evolutionist,%u2019 unapologetic catholic?
What Ben says has *nothing* to do with a %u2018Wedge%u2019!-->
I look forward to hearing more of your discussion and points of agreement/disagreement. This is a very hopeful development.
As a non-hard-scientist, I will hazard a few points of clarification. First, Reasons to Believe could be categorized as coming from an %u201COld Earth Creation%u201D (OEC) perspective. You could expect many more points of commonality between BioLogos and RTB than with, say, a Young Earth Creation organization like Answers in Genesis.
Second, on the issue of origins, it seems like we can distinguish between primary and secondary origins. Primary origins would be the initial flowering of biological life on Earth (or elsewhere), which is the field of study called abiogenesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis). This should not be confused with evolution, which is the theory about how already-living organisms change. Secondary origins, then, would be the origin of various species from earlier life forms.
I interpret the sentence in the post, %u201CBioLogos promotes theistic evolution as the best understanding of life%u2019s origin and history%u201D as pointing to secondary origins only. Collins writes how abiogenesis is still shrouded in mystery, and I doubt BioLogos has taken a position on it other than to (as Collins does) warn against a premature %u201CGod of the gaps%u201D position.
So just as Gregory points out there are different kinds of %u201Cevolution%u201D, there are different kinds of %u201Corigins%u201D as well. So many opportunities to talk past each other!-->
How exactly does Biologos expect to dialogue with an organisation whose %u2018evolution expert%u2019, Fuz Rana, gave a talk last weekend entitled %u201CHuman Evolution: Confronting the Myth%u201D explaining how %u201CDarwinism has become bankrupt as a paradigm to understand human origins?%u201D-->
Response to Greg (5376):
Great question! However, think of it this way: What do we gain by not talking? Increasingly the data speaks for itself. If BioLogos is at the table presenting the data in a loving way and helping people understand that the ramifications of the manner in which creation occurred do not create insurmountable difficulties for their faith, we have much to gain and nothing to lose.
Response to Gregory (5331) and others regarding our use of the term %u201Ctheistic evolution.%u201D
Since words have different meanings to different people (see the Jeff Schloss video on this, for example), I prefer the term %u201Cbiologos%u201D to %u201Ctheistic evolution.%u201D As pointed out, %u201Cevolution%u201D is one of those words that takes on many meanings. However, the shift to the common use of the term, %u201Cbiologos%u201D has not yet taken place. We%u2019re fine with using %u201Ctheistic evolution,%u201D %u201Cevolutionary creation,%u201D or %u201Cbiologos%u201D for now. Depending upon who is using the term, they usually mean pretty much the same thing. This is not about semantics. This is about helping people understand that God created through a gradual process and that coming to know this can enhance one%u2019s understanding of the nature and activity of God.
I encourage you to read my book, %u201CComing to Peace with Science,%u201D because it is difficult to put into 1250 characters that which is a story that needs to be read in its entirety. Or if you want to read a great book, read Tim Keller%u2019s %u201CThe Reason for God.%u201D Your question is so important, we should not attempt to answer it in such a small amount of space%u2014although there may be others checking this section who would like to try. The long and short of it though is that our belief in God is based on faith which is informed by evidence. Read Keller, especially, for an extremely fine discussion of the evidence.
If it%u2019s okay, I think am going to take Pete%u2019s approach
#5399 Question #1: Both are frequently important. Question #2, Of course.
#5401%u2014-Question #2: No.
Now, here%u2019s hoping you are able to take the time to read the books.
Hi Ben and Darrel,
Re: #5335, %u201Cpeople might not have as much of a negative reaction as if you were to just say that you were an evolutionist.%u201D - Ben
Yes, I welcome your interpretation and think this makes sense. Accepting biological evolution I still wouldn%u2019t want to be called an %u2018evolutionist%u2019, even if the qualifier %u2018theistic%u2019 is added. After having studied %u2018ideologies%u2019 in signficant depth, perhaps this is a more understandable rejection than someone%u2019s simply innocent addition of %u2018-ism%u2019 or %u2018-ist%u2019.
Likewise, the term %u2018creationist,%u2019 especially in the USA, carries a predominantly negative connotation. One can believe in creation/Creation or identify creativity, without being a creationist, without accepting %u2018creationism.%u2019 I wouldn%u2019t want to be called a %u2018creationist,%u2019 even if the qualifier %u2018evolutionary%u2019 is added, which is of course just meant to offer an air of %u2018legitimate science.%u2019
Both combinations, %u2018theistic evolutionist%u2019 and %u2018evolutionary creationist%u2019 thus have obvious problems.-->
#5335 Darrel: %u201CI prefer the term %u201Cbiologos%u201D to %u201Ctheistic evolution.%u201D ... However, the shift to the common use of the term, %u201Cbiologos%u201D has not yet taken place. We%u2019re fine with using %u201Ctheistic evolution,%u201D %u201Cevolutionary creation,%u201D or %u201Cbiologos%u201D for now%u2026they usually mean pretty much the same thing%u2026God created through a gradual process.%u201D
I%u2019ve no problem with accepting *some things* were created gradually. But I leave the door open that some things were created %u2018non-gradually%u2019 or %u2018rapidly%u2019. Would you leave this door open Darrel or is it closed in the field of biology?
In my academic fields, abrupt/rapid creation, i.e. with discontinuity, is a given.
In contrast with evolution or creation, BioLogos cannot take form of verb. One cannot say BioLogossing or BioLogossed. Thus, I think you%u2019re still stuck on the creation/evolution fork.
Welcoming more (evangelical) Christians to accept scientific vocabulary & contribute to doing biology is a noble goal!
BioLogos, as I understand, means God created/made life (biosphere).
The phrase %u2018created through evolution%u2019 is flimsy. Creation %u2013 origins; evolution %u2013 processes. Something must first be created before it can evolve.-->
%u201CLogos%u201D is the Greek term for %u201CWord,%u201D i.e. God, incarnate in Jesus Christ. %u201CBio,%u201D of course, is life.
%u201D Bio-Logos:%u201D All of life has been created by the Word through whom all things are held together. (Colossians 1:16,17)-->
Or, in the words of the theistic evolutionist or evolutionary creationist:
%u201CBio-Logos:%u201D All of life has been evolved by the Word through whom all things are held together. (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life Bible)-->
To Darrel Falk et al I am very pleased that you had discussions with RTB especially in the way things are framed. Are you hoping to have talks with the leaders of ID like you are having with RTB?
I think that the present divisions between Christians on the topic of Origins is not only a disgrace but SIN as well. At the very least we should all be fellow combatants against philosophical naturalism as held by Dawkins and Coyne, if not allies. The current state as adversaries who is some cases accuse each other of strong heresy is morally wrong.
I prefer to use the term Evolutionary Creationist rather than Theistic Evolutionist for at least two reasons:-->
1. EC makes it crystal clear that we stand in the same position as YEC and OEC in that we all believe %u201CIn the beginning God%u201D
2. The noun is creationist rather than evolutionist which indicates a better emphasis, ie we are creationists who also accept evolution not evolutionists who accept theism.
Yes I am probably tilting at windmills using a different definition, but this is one case where IMO it seems important but Biologos is fine by me if and when it gets accepted.
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This is great, I'm glad to hear that the two Christian Science organizations that I read are talking to each other. Both are serious scientists and serious Christians as well. Not whack job atheists or whack job Young Earthers either. :-) Heh, they are polite to each other, I'm not so polite sometimes...