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Further Reading

Department: Surveillance

Baptizing Darwin

BioLogos, Theistic Evolution & the Darwinization of Christianity

by Terrell Clemmons

Background

Article originally appeared in
Salvo 34

In 2006, Dr. Francis Collins, then-director of the Human Genome Project, published The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, an autobiographical account of his conversion from atheism to Christianity. As a result of responses to the book and questions about his synthesis of science and faith, Collins submitted grant proposals to the Templeton Foundation and launched BioLogos.

Its mission is concise: "BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God's creation." Deborah Haarsma, the current president (Collins went on to work in the Obama Administration), explains that Collins coined the term BioLogos "to describe this position of evolutionary creation, of seeing God as using evolution as a means to create," bio meaning life, and logos meaning the word.

Evolutionary creation is "the view that all life on earth came about by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent. Evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes in creation." This view, also called theistic evolution, has been around since the late nineteenth century, and BioLogos promotes it today in a variety of religious and educational settings.

Reason for Surveillance

BioLogos's statement of faith is largely consistent with Christian orthodoxy, affirming central doctrines such as the divine inspiration of the Bible and Jesus as the divine Logos, or Word of God, who died and rose to reconcile us to God. But once you dig into the details of what BioLogos espouses, it's anything but orthodox.

In its attempt to harmonize mainstream science with Christian theology, BioLogos hasn't so much harmonized the two realms of thought as it has hoisted an epistemological white flag on behalf of Christianity. From the BioLogos standpoint, science—received, consensus science, that is—gives us truth, and theology must adjust itself to what we "know" from science. BioLogos's understanding of science, then, is effectively indistinguishable from that of Darwinian naturalism. For example, BioLogos leaders have suggested—on the thinnest of evidence—that in the name of evolutionary science, Christians ought to abandon the traditional view that humanity is descended from an initial couple (Adam and Eve) who willfully rebelled against God, thus bringing sin into the human race.

As Dr. Stephen Meyer explains it, the central issue dividing Bio-Logos writers from intelligent design theorists is BioLogos's commitment to methodological naturalism (MN), which is not a scientific theory or empirical finding, but an arbitrary rule excluding non-material causation from the outset. "Unfortunately," Meyer writes,

methodological naturalism is a demanding doctrine. The rule does not say "try finding a materialistic cause but keep intelligent design in the mix of live possibilities, in light of what the evidence might show." Rather, MN tells you that you simply must posit a material or physical cause, whatever the evidence.

What this means, according to BioLogos's own epistemology, is that God is objectively undiscoverable and unknowable—a tenet that sits squarely at odds with Christian orthodoxy, which has for centuries held that God is clearly discernible in the natural world (e.g., Romans 1:20). Obviously, this is theologically problematic, but Meyer also points out that theistic evolution faces problems from a scientific standpoint as well, as the technical literature among evolutionary biologists is moving away from the Darwinian mechanism. "Why, at just [this] point," he asks, "would there be such a big push within the religious world to effectively baptize this idea and say, 'This was God's way of creating'?"

Most Grievous Campaign

Why, indeed? Nonetheless, with close to $9 million in Templeton funds, BioLogos is taking theistic evolution into Christian middle and high schools, with an expressed desire "to foster discussion and fellowship around these topics within university communities, as well."

The atheists certainly welcome this "discussion." In the 2008 film Expelled, Richard Dawkins admitted as much to Ben Stein: "There's a kind of . . . evolution defense lobby. They are mostly atheists, but they are desperately wanting to be friendly to mainstream, sensible, religious people. The way you do that is to tell them that there's no incompatibility between science and religion."

BioLogos fills that order perfectly. But the discussions may well center on outgoing science and an irrelevant, subjectivized God. Why would orthodox Christianity want to foster fellowship around that? •


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