Chipping away at the middle ground

It appears to me that key decision makers on both sides of the TE/ID dispute wish to remove the possibility of there being real middle ground. What I see as the most promising area of potential middle ground is something like “theistically guided evolution”. It seems to me that there used to be space in the Biologos camp for quite strong views of divine guidance of evolution. But, the camp (in this ways and others - as seen, it seems, on Adam and Eve) has got narrower.

An example of this is the removal (presumably intentional?) of Robin Collins’ excellent blog article on “Theistically guided evolution as God’s incarnational work”. Fortunately it is still available on the biologos forum - “Theistically Guided” Evolution as God’s Incarnational Work | The BioLogos Forum - Blog Posts - The BioLogos Forum

I wish that this speculation of mine were not true, and I would be glad to see Biologos making space for such a view again. While I suspect they are now fairly uncomfortable with any language of strong guidance of evolution, at least when coming from scientists, I think what is most unacceptable to Biologos is that there could be scientific evidence for guidance of evolution. My impression is that the leaders of Biologos typically hold this as an a priori or in principle position, which I think is basically indefensible.

An example of the ID side chipping away at the middle ground is the Crossway book critiquing theistic evolution. This also perhaps deserves analysis, but for now I’m particularly interested in any comments on whether people think it is true that Biologos have decided to not acknowledge the possibility of any “middle ground”, and any other examples or counter-examples to this thesis.


Great to hear from you @Zachary_Ardern. I think there is something to your thesis but I think quite a bit is in flux with YE/EC now. I don’t think anyone know what it will be like a year from now.

From many years of interactions with BioLogos leaders, I would say this “a priori” exclusion of a scientific case for guided evolution stems mainly from their embrace of methodological naturalism (MN). TE is a religious or philosophical stance, not a scientific theory, given MN.

To make a scientific case for guided evolution requires suspending MN. Doing so, for BioLogos leaders, moves one across the aisle into the ID camp.

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I don’t see it that way. The evidence we do have is inconsistent with guidance outside of natural processes. They aren’t ruling guidance out a priori, but are instead following the scientific evidence. If there is evidence for guidance in how mutations are produced, then I am sure they would be open to it.


I don’t think theologically we should have any reason to think there would be anything demonstrable scientifically to support guided evolution. It is exactly like God’s providence – a Christian can have personally experienced it beyond compellingly (as have I) and would not deny it upon pain of death, but the nonbeliever will just (irrationally, I think) include it within in their spectrum of beliefs about probability and so write it off. Let me reprise my story –


Alternatively, you have the ability to view all manner of ordinary events as somehow aimed specifically at you by a God who seems to think that you are more important than other people.

What you mean, apparently, is that anything that can’t be distinguished by empirical evidence from a natural event, even if it’s a miracle, doesn’t violate natural law. I don’t think that’s a proper understanding of what violation means. Any effect without a cause within the universe violates natural law, and so do apparently uncaused quantum events that are actually effected by God.

Luckily you don’t need a scientific case to argue for guided evolution.


You have to say that. :slightly_smiling_face:

Jesus calming the storm didn’t violate any natural laws, either, did it.

This is how I am seeing it as well. I don’t see as much an a priori commitment to a particular philosophy (or even theology) as a commitment to follow (scientific) data. I wouldn’t think people like Francis Collins, Darrel Falk, or Katherine Applegate would object strongly to scientific evidence that clearly showed God working in (natural) history. People like Tom Oord and Denis Lamoureux seem more invested in the idea of God only working through natural means but I’m not sure they would keep the stance if the evidence was more to the contrary.


276 posts were split to a new topic: Providence vs. Miracles: same difference?

The serious answer preceded the parenthetical. :roll_eyes::

I’m not sure I understand this - or perhaps I do not understand the position of BioLogos leaders? The trouble with ID is (the claims of) MN demonstrating Design.

Maybe the answer is in keeping the MN separate from the TE?


Seems like what we need is another camp…

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I’m not sure we do need another camp. Instead, I think people should simply embrace the fact that there can be reasonable disagreements about the central points of contention.

Given that there are independent and scientifically defensible reasons for rejecting methodological naturalism (MN), and that there are different ways of thinking about what MN entails, it would seem to me that anyone trying to furrow middle ground for a clear line in the sand is being intellectually irresponsible.

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Why not a camp in the no man’s land between the trenches? That is where I find myself…

@Zachary_Ardern, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that is where you find yourself too.

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Well, I affirm MN, and that isn’t changing.


I respect that.

I didn’t mean to sling an insult with that comment. I just wanted to raise that there can be reasonable disagreement about MN and that such disagreement can be (and is often) independent of any considerations about human origins.

My fear is that ignoring these considerations is detrimental to a peaceful and productive dialogue and risks misrepresenting many of the issues involved and the positions of other people.
My hope would be that acknowledging we can reasonably disagree about these things would be productive to a more peaceful and productive dialogue between camps and those of us who find ourselves in no mans land.

For the record, I hold to MN because that’s what I’ve been taught. I don’t really know what to think about it beyond this, except to see that there are intelligent scholars who debate about it elsewhere.

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I split out the giant “providence vs miracles” thread since the whole thing was off-topic. I should have done that days ago, sorry folks.


I’m always suspicious whenever someone makes mathematical statements about miracles. :slight_smile:


You don’t think probabilities can be assigned to miracles?