Harmonizing Evolution and Guidance at BioLogos

I am probably oversimplifying but I thought @dga471 was making a reasonable point about getting clarity on what is meant by ‘guidance’ in the context of a certain omnipotent god. I think this is reasonably similar to getting clarity on what is meant by ‘heritable’ or by ‘evidence in support of’ in the context of a particular scientific subdiscipline. No one is going to identify guidance by the gods, at least because no one can show the opposite but also because the gods are imaginary. This is not relevant IMO to what Daniel is saying, and so I really think his comparison is fine.

1 Like

Well, in their defense. they probably had reason to walk on eggshells.

Perhaps you wanted the intellectual conversation that they were never prepared to give you. If that’s the case, perhaps it’s best to accept as they are, and find elsewhere what you needed.

1 Like

Well, yes, given that most of them hardly knew anything about theology, yet made frequent theological statements, when people showed up who actually had read Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Wesley, etc., they might well have felt that they have to tiptoe very carefully to avoid exposure in front of their evangelical target audience. :slight_smile:

Very true, except for the “you”. It wasn’t just me. It was a whole bunch of people. Jon Garvey had the same problem with them. So did Dave Wallace, a guy named pds, and many others. We all thought that BioLogos, with that pretentious Greek-based name, suggesting something academic or at least intellectual, was a serious theoretical effort to harmonize science with Christian theology, rather than simply an advocacy organization trying to make Christians from evangelical backgrounds comfortable with evolution. Hence the constant disconnection in the conversations.

I think that Falk etc. perceived the objectors to their theological statements as creationists acting out of malice aforethought; I think they never perceived that the objections came out of a genuine concern for theological clarity and academic accuracy. I expect that this was partly due to the fact that Falk, Applegate, etc. had no idea at all of how theology was studied in a serious academic (as opposed to evangelical-churchy) context, no idea of the level of historical and philosophical rigor that is required. They simply had never encountered people like myself or Jon Garvey before, and did not know how to constructively react. So they fell back on the reflexes that they had acquired from dealing with Ken Ham, Henry Morris, etc., which is like using badminton moves when the object coming over the net is a tennis ball.

But hey, how did we get into this? Was it George’s question about BioLogos? I think I already answered it: BioLogos never endorsed God-guided evolution. The phrase gave them the cooties. So we can drop the topic of BioLogos. Please!

I don’t think that’s what he was saying, but perhaps he will tell us. It wasn’t about clarity but about shared belief. There is in fact no clarity, and I think he has agreed that there isn’t.

For what I’m trying to say there is not much of a distinction between “sharing beliefs” and “understanding the field”. In both cases one seeks to identify whether another person is a member of one’s community (whether it’s a community of scientists in a sub-field or a community of theologians in a certain tradition). A scientist doesn’t subject every fellow scientist they meet to a comprehensive test on whether they truly understand the field, as that is unrealistic. Instead, we look for shared technical jargon, concepts, and interests, to know that we’re talking “on the same wavelength”.

It seems that you’re just hung up on wanting to make sure that science is “objective” and about “knowledge and understanding” and while theology is “subjective” and about arbitrary “shared beliefs” without justification. That is completely irrelevant from my point. Regardless of the foundation or justification of the disciplines, there are undoubtedly communities of scientists and communities of theologians. They are both communities with certain rules and norms of discourse.

I’d argue they’re in the minority and heterodox, even if they’re Christian. It also depends on the specifics of what they say.

What gives you the idea that it’s not? What’s the use of making statements about what a field of study can or cannot ever accomplish in the future? Seems to be a lot of speculation in both cases.

6 posts were split to a new topic: Toleration of YECs

Anyway, before the thread gets derailed I want to comment on this issue.

My perception of BioLogos and TE/EC has always been that the only defining feature of their category is to accept God as the creator without allowing for the possibility of ID. I do not think that is possible. That contradictory position is the source of all the consternation expressed about BioLogos on this thread. They cannot square the circle. Either God actually intended certain outcomes and therefore we can determine the likilihood thereof versus a random or unguided model, or He didn’t.

More recently, some TEs have admitted the possibility of ID being legitimate within the confines of a clear definition of TE. That is progress of a kind.

1 Like

So then, it seems that you put @dga471 and I in a different bucket, even though we are critical of ID?

Honestly? I don’t know. I am still unsure as to why @dga471 thinks specified complexity is different than the fine tuning argument. But it does seem like he has technical issues and is not philosophically opposed to a design argument as such. But then again he might be and he’s just hiding it rather well.

I don’t recall having any in depth discussion with you about it. My honest impression of you is that you felt betrayed by YEC/ID and have emotional barriers in place against any arguments they might make. I have not seen you deal with any of the issues relevant to this thread. You claim you are not a methodological naturalist, but you also claim the GAE is consistent with MN when it’s clearly not. So I honestly don’t know what you think. Is a design argument possible to make and you just disagree on technical points?

The fact is that everyone knows ID is anathema in professional circles, and becoming an ID advocate carries professional risk. It is not simply, as you often claim with YEC, an issue of allowing someone to get a PhD or become a professor. It’s primarily an issue of access to grant money, and as everyone knows, getting grant funding is a key metric for tenure track professors trying to get tenure. Because of that I suspect that anybody such as yourself and Daniel who does not appear to have any substantive objections to ID is harboring ulterior motives. And as a reminder, you make the same objection about YEC as is clear above.

I claim I am not a metaphysical naturalist, and I don’t know what a “methodological naturalist” is. I do think there is a great deal of confusion about how MN works in practice.

Yes, it is possible to make a design argument. I disagree on the technical points in several specific ID arguments, and I disagree with how scientific errors are (not) managed in the IDM.

1 Like

Try publishing something in a scientific journal relating to GAE or better yet, put it in a grant proposal. You will quickly find out exactly what MN is and that it is in fact an enforced belief within the scientific community.

Getting grant funding on the GAE? That’s already happened, and it is likely to happen again soon. :slight_smile:


@BenKissling, in the coming months, you should look out for two things.

  1. Glenn Branch (from the NSCE) is publishing a review of the GAE. It is a positive review.

  2. Ken Miller (chairman of the NSCE board) is responding at AAR to the GAE, and its likely to be positive.


The science about GAE was published in Nature in 2004. Do you know anything about that science? Do you know anything about the GAE argument? Do you think that such knowledge is important before making accusations in a public forum?


Venema wrote a really good article on abiogenesis that might help illuminate this subject.

It seems that he is reluctant to commit himself to a God of the Gaps argument, but he is still very charitable towards other views.

I would disagree with you here. While cessationists dont believe the gifts of God are for today, they do believe God is capable of doing miracles on his own initiative.
Most cessationists also affirm that Jesus and the Apostles and the OT prophets did many miracles (such as multiplying bread, casting out demons, raising the dead, healing the sick etc).
As far as i have seen, the folks at biologos have a deeper aversion to the idea of miracles.

1 Like

Let’s be fair here. At BioLogos, they would almost always affirm that “Jesus and the Apostles and the OT prophets did many miracles (such as multiplying bread, casting out demons, raising the dead, healing the sick etc).” They certainly believe God can do miracles, the question is rather whether or not He did in specific eras and specific events.

Same with cessationalists. They agree God can do miracles, the question is rather whether or not He did, albeit their skepticism is in a different era.

1 Like

I think you missed some things here. While @dga471 doesn’t commit to an exact description of how God guides, he acknowledges the following -

  1. That the process was ordained- meaning God had a clear picture of what he wanted to happen and he caused it to happen.
    This adds teleology in the Historical aspects of evolution. Everything was according to God’s purpose. Nothing was “random” or beyond God’s control.
  2. The process also invokes a meticulous knowledge of the future and about every mutation that has and will happen and an ability to control everything that happened.
  3. Since, the end result was in God’s mind, it invokes design.

All these are theological commitments. So he is not avoiding the question, he is making specific commitments.

@dga471; Do you reject the possibility of God intervening directly (like Jesus intervened in a natural process by changing water into wine. We don’t know how he did it, perhaps he accelerated natural processes or created wine de novo) ?

1 Like

I’d say that the criteria are completely different: understanding vs. belief.

We disagree on the relevance.

The inability to even articulate what to look for, to pick one thing. Past experience despite the great length of that experience, for another.


How would you articulate the difference between understanding and belief?

1 Like