The Confusion Between RTB and BL

Continuing the discussion from Stephen Jay Gould: Evolution and Human Equality:

That is not correct, in my opinion.

Reasons to Believe

RTB has a constructive model that they have been progressively adapting as they engage with the evidence. It is an account what they think happened, and on the time-scale of years, they have been consistently refining their approach. It is slower than many of us would like, but it is a legitimate activity that I believe they are engaging in good faith.

RTB also has a negative component. It is common to see them putting out anti evolution arguments, but my experience with them is that this isn’t really core to what they are doing, and they are increasingly realizing that arguing against evolution doesn’t make a positive case for their model, which is what they really care about. Still, this may never entirely go away, because they are triangulating between evolution and YEC.

This is one reason that PS and GAE is so important, because they have made a careful decision not to triangulate off us. So at least the GAE is model of evolution they do not reject, even if it’s different from their model.


BioLogos does not really have a constructive scientific model. They just appeal to evolutionary science, without really engaging any of the details (which bothers ID to no end). And they are generally resistant to any integration, which they quickly dismiss as concordism (which is one false reason they don’t like the GAE). Any of the disagreements about evolutionary mechanisms or integration, they see as a distraction from their true mission, which they only engage if absolutely forced. This is not a scientific model in any meaningful sense.

BioLogos has, however, been motivated about scientifically negating everyone else’s models of integration. They have what Falk calls a “particular genetic paradigm” which they use to claim everyone else is in conflict with the science, but to do this end up having to systematically misrepresent OECs and others that are doing constructive integrative work.

BioLogos works very hard to keep this model in the background, protected from scrutiny and criticism. One of the key reasons I was (and am) blacklisted at BioLogos, and that they still do not recommend the GAE, is that they do not want the scientific and evidential problems to be known. They do not want their theology to be visible; it’s supposed to just blend in with “what science tells us”.

(This is I think better description of @jongarvey’s experience with BL, and what @eddie is often pointing too. Of course ID has similar issues too)

The Confusion Between BL and RTB

In the end, I’m most concerned about accurately representing science here. And right now that is not happening in the interactions between BioLogos and RTB.

A damaging example of this is how the term “genetic sole-progenitor” is used in @glipsnort’s article at BioLogos, and how it will be misused by BioLogos as a club against RTB. Recall that RTB uses the term in a different way than BL. RTB’s model is a sole-genetic progenitor model that allows for interbreeding between Adam and Eve’s lineage and others. To BL, that is an oxymoron, because sole-genetic progenitor is defined as “no interbreeding.” So, ignoring all the details in the RTB model, because it is labeled by RTB as “sole-genetic progenitor,” BioLogos claims to have evidence against RTB’s model. That isn’t fair, and it has been an ongoing issue.

A similar problem is taking place in their assessment of WLC’s model. They still, inexplicably, think that he is proposing a sole-genetic progenitor (with no interbreeding) model. He isn’t. In fact, back in 2014, both RTB and WLC made clear that they allowed for interbreeding, and that was totally ignored.

These issue are well known them at this point, and some key scientists at BioLogos even privately agree its a major misrepresentation. But it still goes on. They have a code of silence though, so nothing will be acknowledged publicly, unless some private emails are made public someday. I am doubtful this is just a neutral mixup. It is more likely that they just want to claim the higher ground scientifically, and straw-manning others makes that easier.

RTB was very kind to @glipsnort, and he was respected as an invited guest with @NLENTS to their human origins workshop. @glipsnort is well aware of this specific issue. And he also is aware that RTB contacted BioLogos about this just before that workshop, but they just cited back frankly incorrect science in response. So this is a live issue.

@glipsnort could do some good here by editing his recent article at BioLogos to clearly disclose that he is using genetic sole-progenitors different than RTB, because they allow for interbreeding, and clarifying that none of the evidence he presents contradicts their model because of that mismatch. Of course, he doesn’t have to actually approve or adopt RTB’s definition, but it’s just a fact that they use the term differently.

Leaving out this point, in my view, is a material omission with avoidable negative consequences. RTB’s model does have real scientific issues, but it behooves us to be honest and rigorous in our pushback. It isn’t fair to cite evidence against them that is not really evidence against them. It is indefensible to do this knowingly.


Could you point to specific language where BL describes the scientific tests that can be used to detect God guiding evolution, as they define it?

I don’t see why BL would need to give the specific details of how God’s Providence works.

They seem to have a more general view where science explains how nature works and a religious belief that God’s Providence is part of the process. In the past, we seemed to largely agree that God’s Providence exists as a religious belief and rests outside of science.

I think they can decide for themselves what ideas they want to incorporate into their theological views.

I understand your concern, but from what I can see this hasn’t happened. If @glipsnort’s article is misused then it is hardly his fault. He clearly states that his model only considers a founding population of 2 people, not an integration of 2 people into an already existing human population. @glipsnort also expressly states that he is only considering the view of creationism he was exposed to as a kid, which is Adam and Eve being the sole 2 people to give rise to the modern human population.

If that is the case then they are wrong for doing so. That still doesn’t change the fact that the genetic data does rule out a bottleneck of 2 humans in the recent past. The BL view of a duality between science and theology is consistent with the position that the human population did not have a recent bottleneck of 2 people.

Since RTB isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article, why would anyone think @glipsnort’s article is specifically aimed at RTB? If RTB isn’t pushing a recent bottleneck of 2 people then what is the problem?


3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Thinking About Evolution…and Progressive Creation

To @glipsnort ’s credit he does not directly make the claim. However, I know for a fact that others at BioLogos do. His article was not published in a vacuum, and as it is, without clarifying this issue the article does real harm, to people that have been kind to him. This really undermines the advancement of science.

You don’t have to agree, but I don’t think it terribly productive to debate this with you @T_aquaticus . I am happy to clarify further, for the purpose of understanding why I’m saying this. But it is something that would only be resolved by edits to that article, or a very clear explanation from BioLogos (or the author) of why they are unwilling to clarify an easily classifiable matter.

Truth is, I don’t think they will. So there is not much value in belaboring this.

Nope. As I stated earlier, they do not have a model of integration.

Their scientific model is not a constructive scientific model of how it all works together, but they do have a scientific model designed to demonstrate everyone else is in conflict with the evidence. There are abundant examples of this.

RTB’s model is not an “integration of 2 people into an already existing human population”. It is a “sole-genetic progenitor” model that allows for interbreeding.

We are all responsible for the contexts where we publish our articles, and how they are misused. We are responsible to do what we can to mitigate misuse, or we are complicit. Obviously, we cannot always do so, and science will be misrepresented outside our control.

So this is in @glipsnort 's control. Perhaps @glipsnort wasn’t thinking about this and intending to be misleading when he wrote the article. Maybe it was all in good faith. That isn’t the point. Oversights like this happen, especially when stuck in the echo chamber of an advocacy group. The more important question is how it is managed now that it has been brought to light.

There is a pretty simple way to protect his article from misuse. If I were in his shoes, I would be quick to clarify. If any of us were in RTB’s shoes, we would all want this clarified.

It is just so costless to clarify a matter like this. So we should.

Then I would agree that they need to be called out if they misrepresent RTB’s views, either overtly or tacitly. We can perhaps disagree on whether this has happened in @glipsnort’s article, but we agree on principle. Given what you wrote in a previous post, it would seem that RTB would agree with BL that a bottleneck of 2 isn’t a viable model because of the science.

I would disagree. BL’s model of integration is Evolutionary Creationism, whatever you may think of it. However, Evolutionary Creationism is not a scientific model in the same sense as RTB’s created kind model. RTB seems to be saying that we can scientifically evidence a supernatural creation event while BL is on the side of God guiding nature in a way that isn’t scientifically detectable and in line with consensus science. It’s hard to criticize BL for not having a scientific model for something they claim can’t be modeled by science.


That is what I am doing. One example of this was a set of articles that they just deleted on June 11, that I referenced here: 18 Million Years Ago Means...500,000?.

What is fairly remarkable about this is that RTB specifically explains that their model allows for interbreeding, between humans and neanderthals. Rather than taking this as evidence of a model mismatch, Venema switches to making a crass and incorrect theological objection. This has no place in scientific inquiry. What he should have realized is that his model of Adam and Eve was a total mismatch with theirs.

Notably, @glipsnort makes a similar mistake (without making the crass theological objection). He points to interbreeding with Neanderthals as evidence against “sole-genetic progenitorship.” He misses what the interbreeding really is: unequivocal evidence that “sole-genetic progenitorship” does not require a genetic bottleneck, because RTB calls their model (with interbreeding) “sole-genetic progenitorship”.

So this really does become an error in the analysis. Remember this is mean to be a review of what “science says about Adam and Eve.” But to do this requires a large number of theological assumptions. The way his article is written, this assumptions are hidden from view, and that is what is creating the opportunity for abuse.

This also is very fixable.

I don’t think @glipsnort’s article specifically called out RTB.

What he did, however, was adopt an idiosyncratic definition of “sole-genetic progenitorship” instead of just stating what he mean “no interbreeding.” It would be one thing to publish this article in a scientific journal, but he published on the website of an org that has systematically misrepresented the evidence against RTB.

He certainly had all the information to see the problem with this before I said anything, but it was most likely a good faith oversight. Now that it is in the open, I think the right thing to do is correct it.

No they would not agree with BioLogos on this. They would object (much as do I) as the specific phrasing of that claim.

Remember, also, that they were rightfully unconvinced by BioLogos’s argument against a bottleneck. That turned out to be bad science. What convinced them was not BioLogos, but me, with my work on TMR4A. So they did not articulate agreement with BioLogos; they articulated agreement with me about TMR4A.

@glipsnort 's scientific conclusions, to the extent they are correct, are backstopped by my work on TMR4A. Of course he does cite me, but there is good reason to doubt the SFS data that @glipsnort presents. I do not think his argument from that line of evidence is scientifically valid.

They claim that Adam and Eve can be model with science, and that is what I am criticizing. Their scientific models of Adam and Eve are oriented exclusively towards proving everyone else wrong, and to do this they rely heavily equivocations and material omissions.

That’s the issue here where they have been very specific.

27 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on The Confusion Between RTB and BL

I know the BioLogos issue is tangential to the discussion, but I think you’re right here. I believe the reason is that they haven’t really got a viable theistic metaphysics, so they (like many others now) try to graft theism on to what is, in effect, a materialistic metaphysics. Because that produces enormous anomalies, it pays to keep the model unscrutinised. The irony is that in covertly, perhaps even unconsciously, defending a chance-necessity framework, they end up making scientific errors.


@mercer @T_aquaticus and @davecarlson, I should remind you that @glipsnort asked me (quite insistently) to make public my objections to his article. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what he requested.

I accept crticism publicly from all of you about my work. This is no different. I’m not interested in debating the details with @T_aquaticus. So please stop. Stephen is perfectly capable of clarifying on his own.

So at this point please refrain from tone policing and objecting to my attempt to follow his instructions. He is an excellent scientist. He doesn’t need any ones help, and frankly some of the comments have been rejected here because they are toxic ad hominems. Let stop that now and give him some time to think and respond.

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He is welcome to suggest another way to dialogue about this to me. At this point the last communication from him was to address this publicly on the PS forum.

If he feels differently now, he knows how to contact me. He is welcome to suggest an alternative, and maybe that will work for me. Maybe not.

But I don’t raise objections I can’t substantiate, and my objections cut to the heart of the scientific argument of his article. We can deal with it now, or years from now. At some point those issues come due. They don’t go away by ignoring them.

If the data in the article is not sufficient to rule out a 2 person bottleneck 10,000 years ago then I would be very interested in learning why. I mean that honestly.


I believe you. And we’ll have that conversation eventually, once @glipsnort rejoins us and starts to work through the issues I raised.

Been a good discussion, but once again I’m going to close the main thread till @glipsnort is ready to pick this up. Very understandably it may take him some time, maybe a few months, or even longer. When he is ready to pick this up, we will reopen the this thread or start a new on that links here.