BioLogos Goes Silent on Adam

Continuing the discussion from Was the Earth a Perfect Paradise Before the Fall?:

It is not just that they are avoiding a “no Adam” position. For a while now, BioLogos is has been studiously avoiding the topic of Adam altogether. They plan to deemphasize or avoid the question of Adam at the upcoming retreat (and we are not invited). I wonder why?

Let’s see what happened since March 2017:

  1. The book on Adam they promoted everywhere, by Dennis Venema, was shown to be in error on several central points.

  2. They publicly reprimanded Tim Keller for affirming the de novo creation of Adam, even though it is not against the evidence.

  3. I was kicked out of BioLogos for pointing out this uncomfortable fact (#1), and bringing forward the Genealogical Adam.

  4. Richard Buggs was vindicated in an extended debate with Venema about the limits of population genetics (#1).

  5. They are still unwilling to publish a single review of Adam and the Genome. Only two brief mentions of the Genealogical Adam. No mention of Richard Buggs.

It seems they are having a difficult time with Adam, and want to leave the conversation. Perhaps that would be a good idea, but we are cleaning up a mess they created. They’ve been arguing, incorrectly, that everyone needs to get with the program and rethink Adam, as they proscribe. They can leave the conversation if they like, but their belief statement on Adam and Eve is still out of date. At some point they need to retract the mistakes, and I hope they will. That is the honest and responsible thing to do. I can see why they do not want to, but it is not responsible to create a mess like this and just go dark.

Where do you think they stand now? I’m still wondering when they hope to reconcile, and when they plan to dialogue. Walking away like this is creating a lot of avoidable problems.

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Biologos died a year ago. Didn’t you attend the funeral? They are no longer relevant. Who speaks for Biologos now? Not President Deb Haarsma. She writes something and nobody comments on it Don’t know why Templeton is wasting their money funding it.

But yet, here are all of you still talking about them.

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As I have said many times. BioLogos does matter.

8 posts were split to a new topic: Pevaquark Asks About the Genealogical Adam

From their point of view, BioLogos risked their very “raison d’etere” on presenting an acceptable “mythical” Adam, in an attempt to rescue their version of Christian orthodoxy from the inevitable march of scientific populism.
You and others rocked their world with real science.
They had improperly diagnosed the problem, solved it with something lame --and damaging, even --and the whole house of cards has collapsed in on an introspective version of itself.
That said, a “phoenix” is slowly arising from those ashes, if I may be so mythically imaginative. BioLogos does, indeed, still matter.
And now, I’ll go collapse in an introspective heap somewhere, myself.
And, I’ll guess that my friends, @Patrick , and maybe even @AJRoberts , find that at least mildly amusing. : )

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Coming back to the original thread, this is important to address.

I agree. That is precisely the problem. I could name names, and perhaps I will if people ask. That is not the point though.

You are pointing out precisely one of the scientific errors that BioLogos knowing made in dialogue with Keller, and then refused to retract. You are pointing out an error that runs through several of the key books they have promoted. In the end, we have to be honest. There is no evidence against a GA, even with a de novo Adam.

We are still waiting for this from BioLogos. Right now, it looks like,

And @Guy_Coe don’t worry about this:

It would be good for BioLogos to take a positive role in the conversation. At this point, for me personally, we may be past the point of no return. I do not expect I’ll be working closely with them again, nor do they appear to want to work with me. That’s okay though. We should hope for the best with them.

I heard from a key leader today from BioLogos. I’m pleased to report they plan to present, and perhaps confirm, several changes to their beliefs statements with their Advisory Council very soon. This is really good news. I am also told this is just the first of many changes that are being planned. It seems that there is real effort by some of the leadership to adjust course. I hope that these adjustments continue.

There is no work yet on retractions of the past errors, and I’m concerned about this. Hopefully this is what will be part of their longer term effort.

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Good news, but I share your concern about “correction of errors” not because I have the same kind of stake in them that you have, but because my past experience is of “invisible” changes which somehow remind me of Animal Farm. I you don’t acknowledge significant changes in direction, nobody knows what you actually believe.

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Wow. Glad to hear this.

Of course, how they go about this is going to impact their effectiveness and reputation for years to come. (Captain Obvious speaking here.) And will they learn from this — dare I use such a strong word? — learn from this debacle?

The entire misbegotten episode was so unnecessary.

I agree with @jongarvey’s Animal Farm concerns. We can probably all cite examples of Animal Farm histories in various organizations. Very human.

Nevertheless, for now we can rejoice that something very good appears to be happening. And we should commend those who try to take things forward in a good direction.

[POSTSCRIPT: Nevertheless, a reminder of realism sweeps over me as I realize that the vast majority of the evangelical world—including millions of Christians who closely follow various origins ministries—will remain oblivious of the excellent engagement of these topics by devoted Christ-followers within the science academy. Sadly, some of those origins ministries will probably selectively pounce upon these developments and inflame their donor base with misrepresentations of what is happening.]

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It’s an industry that thrives upon inflamed rhetoric. Is God amused, or annoyed, or understanding of --or glorified by it?
Ahh, the ironies of life.
Sometimes, I imagine an “oy, vey” proceeding from His lips… : )

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True. It is a formula which fund-raisers of every sort learned long ago: People are more likely to open their wallets when their emotions are stirred (not necessarily their intellect) especially in reaction to an outrageous opponent. Accordingly, organizations from political parties to many religious organizations regularly recycle the same scripts in their mailings with these appeals to donors: (1) “This is an emergency! The dangers are frightful. The stakes for our society are as never before!” and (2) “We need you to join us in fighting off this perilous enemy. We can’t do this alone.” (3) “The consequences are so frightful that we need your help immediately. Act NOW!”

I appreciate that Biologos has not followed the scare-people strategy. (Of course, they haven’t had to depend on mailings to donors.)

I am also encouraged by some private reassurances too that at least one leader:

  1. Agrees that the charge of polygenesis (e.g. from Venema and @pevaquark) is a baseless ad hominem, no matter how politely it is offered.

  2. Agrees that the Deceitful God Objection not a valid critique of the genealogical Ada.

I am encouraged by the private reassurances, but I also requested that they make these reassurances public. We are now past 1.5 years since I was first charged with racist theology by a BioLogos leader, in public. I’m encouraged that in private most BioLogos leaders have backed away from this. However, this has only happened privately.

At the moment, the only public statements from BioLogos has legitimatized this line of critique. Key leaders at BioLogos, to their credit, agree that the charge of polygenesis, in particular, is being selectively applied is an example of an ad hominem. It seems that it is time for them to make their positions on this public, to help others, such as @pevaquark, move to a more educated approach to us.

I hope these are additional moves we will see in the coming days, weeks, and months.

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It will be good to see the injustices done against you, @swamidass , acknowledged and righted. The ship of origination came far too close to sinking their own lifeboat.
Fortunately, you’re in the company of good fellow rafters and swimmers.
Let’s keep making for the beach! Appreciate and respect you, my friend!

A baseless ad hominem? I really have absolutely no idea how to get through to your head that it’s not about you and therefore by definition not an ad hominem attack.

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@pevaquark, I appreciate your willingness to participate in this discussion. I know this is a difficult conversation for everyone involved, including you. You deserve credit, nonetheless, for sticking it out. Your last question strikes me as genuine, so I wanted to help explain how arguments like yours from BioLogos are recieved by people outside.

Before I do this, I want to emphasize three things.

  1. I’m discussing how it really seems, but we might be wrong. Perhaps other things are going on here, and there are better ways to describe it.

  2. This is not just @pevaquark. He deserves credit for coming here and working this out. Others at BioLogos have made the same statements in drive-by’s without ever intending to engage.

  3. This does not reflect everyone at BioLogos, just those who have been most vocal. I hope that some of the leaders that find this to be ungracious behavior will eventually make this public. Until then, I’m in the uncomfortable position of helping BioLogos rectify this mess.

Not Precisely An Ad Hominem

Great question @pevaquark. I was using the terms of this leader, he said “ad hominem.” Hopefully he will make his views public soon, and you can take him to task on this.

Other Ways to Explain the Problem

I would agree that ad hominem is not precise enough to make sense of it. This is a bit different. Here are some possibilities that seem to be at play:

  1. Two times here you’e tried to execute the Red Herring Fallacy. Notice the topic here was about asking BioLogos to correct a scientific error. You followed Venema’s example perfectly, by making this a referendum on the GA and polygenesis instead of dealing with the substantive issue at hand. Throwing race into the mix is an effect twist on this strategy. Bravo. The second time you did this was in when you couldn’t produce a reason to call the GA polygenesis, and instead changed the topic to say you rejected it for other reasons.

Red herring is a kind of fallacy that is an irrelevant topic introduced in an argument to divert the attention of listeners or readers from the original issue. In literature, this fallacy is often used in detective or suspense novels to mislead readers or characters, or to induce them to make false conclusions.
https://literarydevices.net/red-herring/

  1. Independent of the red herring context here, the polygenesis charge is an example of The Association Fallacy, where an idea is implicated because of a false or selective or superficial similarity to a false idea. Of note you argued that BioLogos was justified in distances themselves from me because of this association. This reasoning only works if polygenesis is meant to be understood (correctly) as racist.

An association fallacy is an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another. Two types of association fallacies are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association .

  1. Notice that this specific association fallacy does begin to look very much like a an Ad Hominem denied with Slothful Induction. You associated my ideas with polygenesis, for the purpose of raising concerns about it…what? Though you don’t say it, it’s clear what you mean. If you are right, then the GA is racist, and I am racist for pushing it forward. Of course, the smart thing to do is to refrain from articulating the obvious implications in order to claim deniability. Honestly, I was pretty surprised when this tactic was first executed on me, but you aren’t the first person to do this.

Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

Slothful induction , also called appeal to coincidence , is a fallacy in which an inductive argument is denied its proper conclusion, despite strong evidence for inference. An example of slothful induction might be that of a careless man who has had twelve accidents in the last six months and it is strongly evident that it was due to his negligence or rashness, yet keeps insisting that it is just a coincidence and not his fault.[1] Its logical form is: evidence suggests X results in Y, yet the person in question insists Y was caused by something else.[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slothful_induction

  1. It was also interesting to see a Thought Terminating Cliche arise when you, when presented with clear evdience you were wrong, resorted to just saying “that’s your opinion,” rather than actually engaging the substance. I wasn’t even asking you to agree with the GA, but just acknowledge that it was not associated with polygenesis any more than others.

Thought-terminating clichés, also known as thought-stoppers,[16] or semantic stopsigns,[17] are words or phrases that discourage critical thought and meaningful discussion about a given topic.[18] They are typically short, generic truisms that offer seemingly simple answers to complex questions or that distract attention away from other lines of thought.[18]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliché#Thought-terminating_cliché

  1. Perhaps most interestingly about all this, at least to me, is that this is an example of Racial Doublespeak. Of course you didn’t directly call me a racist. You also have been very polite and kind, except in the insinuation your making of racism. That is the beauty of it. I have to be careful not to react, so I’m not misinterpreted as thte aggressor, and you very politely insist on insinuating that I am racist (or my ideas are racist), without ever directly saying it.

A new language of racial tiptoeing has emerged in recent years, and some say it may be edging close to the linguistic absurdity of the dead parrot skit. It’s a racial doublespeak that sometimes evades more than explains.

It’s a tendency to call out someone or something as racist but to avoid mentioning the actual words “racist” or “racism” while doing so.

This doublespeak seems to have spread everywhere.

This language may be new, but it reflects an old social taboo that discourages many Americans from talking directly about race, especially many white progressives, says Robin DiAngelo, author of “White Fragility.”
https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/29/us/polite-racism/index.html

  1. Sadly, I could go on, but I won’t…

A Point of Fairness

Setting the precise argument aside, at center stage here is two things:

  1. Fair play and fairness.
  2. Motivations and trust.

Everyone in origins has a view that shares characteristics with polygenesis one way or another. Everyone who affirms evolution shares more characteristics in common with eugenics than any one else. This is irrelevant. The real question is if we share the salient characteristics with it to justify being concerned, which in this case is racism. None of the people we’ve mentioned in our thread do. None of us are putting forward the parts of polygenesis that made it racist, not even Denis L. how specifically affirms “polygenesis.” Yet, this issue is being selectively raised against me. That is not fair.

Why would people do something so unfair? Now we get to question of motivations and trust. It appears as if this charge is being raised as red herring to distract from large mistakes made at BioLogos. Supporting this hypothesis, the only people pressing this case, and pressing it against the evidence, are people form BioLogos.

That is what it looks like from the outside.

Once again, I emphasize that I have a lot of respect for you sticking out this conversation. I know this is not an easy conversation. Dialogue, however, is important. It is not personal for me. I’m not hurt or angry. I’d just like this silliness to stop. I am happy answer any questions you have about my position and how I am working through its implications. However, please do come to me with unalterable answers about my position. At Peaceful Science, it works different that BioLogos. We care more about the questions than the answers. Bring your questions.

Peace.