The Future of Peaceful Science

Here’s a thought for you @swamidass.

In my recent unplanned one-to-one with an Evangelical leader here (see article on The Hump), he, speaking as a Young Earth IDist, I should add, said that what was really needed was something like BioLogos but with a greater commitment to the sufficiency and reliability of Scripture, and less ideologically committed to evolution (especially in its conventional Neodarwinian form).

I pointed him here, having myself begun to think only the week before, from the quality of the discourse and the range of the participants, that this place is beginning to find such a role. It’s certainly more likely to get Temptleon funding than The Hump of the Camel, though possibly that would be the kiss of death for its independence anyway!

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It would LIKELY be the kiss of death for its independence. Please keep the Hump around too. If you can get a more powerful format I think it would help. Here we can edit, display quotes and links powerfully, and track comments we are interested in much better.

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Yeah, Joshua suggested that a while back. But it’s swings and roundabouts; the software here, as at BioLogos, is rather disjointed from the “blog” element which, up till now, has been where The Hump is at.

Still, things may always change - it took a while and a technical glitch at my web-host for me to listen to a couple of voices at BioLogos and start the blog in the first place.

It would not be a kiss of death. Templeton is forward looking and definitely not anti-traditional theology.

Perhaps. This gets to the larger questions about where we fit in the conversation.

It seems there is a real need for a new camp in the conversation. One that both affirms mainstream science, but also recognizes it is a limited view of the world, and fosters authentic engagement between theology and science. Of course, I’d love to be “acquired” by BioLogos or RTB, so some other group, but at the moment, BioLogos seems to want to have nothing to do with our effort here. We might just have to forge our own path.

If I were to map out the the dialectic on God’s action, it might be something like:

YEC creationism (by way of AIG and CRI): a literal and plain reading of Genesis teaches that Adam and Eve were de novo created recently, and we trust this over anything we find in science.

Atheistic evolution (by way of Dawkins): Evolution shows God is not necessary, natural process work just fine on their own. Adam and Eve, also, is just a myth which science shows must be false.

Intelligent Design: But natural processes alone are not enough, and we can scientifically demonstrate this. Until just this year, we’ll be motivated by theological concerns about Adam, and our faith in Jesus, but not mention them publicly lest people ignore our scientific argument.

BioLogos: That is a horrible argument for design, and God could have used entirely natural processes to create us, and it would still His good creation. The Church needs to move on from traditional theology, because Evolution teaches us that Adam was not de novo created.

So what is the next step? Perhaps something like this:

Peaceful Science: Science does not answer the questions we care most about; maybe God directly intervened, or not, but we cannot tell from evidence. Moreover, even in a literal reading, nothing in Scripture is in conflict with mainstream science; Adam could be ancestors of us all, and de novo created. Science is much more silent about the questions of theology than we ever imagined.

What do you think we should from here though?

Possible partners are available. Perhaps ASA might be a good home. Or maybe we need our own structure. Maybe, also, we should apply for a Templeton grant. If not, a non-profit could enable us to start taking donations. I’m not sure any of us can sustain this as a part time hobby.

Honestly, I still hope we will get “acquired” by someone soon.

What do you think?

I suggest, when you post articles relevant to us, that you answer on the Peaceful Science forum, and merely post a link to your response on your blog comments. Such a move would allow you to keep essentially the same format, but allow for deeper conversation when it is warranted, and aligned with our joint goals.

Good thinking, Batman!

Nevertheless the practical historical reality of relying on a large single donor is a loss of independence. I would suggest pursuing a diverse array of small donors or advertising ala the top three posts of ZeroHedge if you wish to garner funding while keeping independence.

This is perfectly in line with my hypothesis of Ironic Design. There may be faith-related reasons for this…

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9 posts were merged into an existing topic: What is the Serpent?

Still? Could you please say further about this comment already from 2 weeks ago? Does it mean you are keeping this Forum open for some kind of investment or are thinking to pass some sense of direction and ownership of the Forum to someone else, or to an institutional home base (other than your home university) that would ‘host’ it with your participation from a distance? The Blog itself should be treated separately from the Forum, which I’d suggest is still rather fresh & young for most of us.

If nothing else, I’d suggest you find a few more women to join in before you consider how official or valuable the Forum is, when currently a max of @54% is what it is worth. With @Agauger that’s a lot of weight to carry toward equality right now among (even mostly friendly) origins bickering men. ; )

I’m not sure any of us can sustain this as a part time hobby.

Actually, volunteer labour, thy name is ‘retirement.’ Your site’s volume is carried by several retired white men who have lots of time on their hands. It is not a ‘young’ movement, so it seems.

Your regular journalism & conversation here is the main reason the site gets traffic, @swamidass. It has been admittedly prolific volume so far. Do you plan to carry it on for the summer until Fall/Autumn semester?

I would suggest you make available information at some point in the near future about Forum stats, e.g. participation, including trajectory, leading posters, etc. That helps for things like ‘pitch’ format for investment or acquisition in case you were being serious about it. A Disclaimer is quite different from identifying a specific market audience. ; ) But please don’t turn into Disco or BioLogos’ ‘customer’ ideology strategy, while at the same time yours is not pluralism or relativism, but whatever you mean by Peaceful Science’s ‘core beliefs’. It is still so young that only evangelical ‘free thinking’ protestants might be interested to invest or acquire.

There are more waves to move forward in you still without first being necessarily ‘acquired,’ @swamidass, if you would like my opinion.

By acquired, I am not referring a business transaction. Rather, I mean it would ideal if another organization took responsibility for the gap we are filling. At the moment, the most likely organization to do this is BioLogos, but the likelihood is exceedingly unlikely. Another long shot is the American Scientific Affiliation, but also this is exceedingly unlikely.

It is unclear to me if and how to bring this to scale.

I’m glad to report this is false. Most obviously, you’ve forgotten about @Elle (congrats on becoming a BioLogos moderator!), @T.j_Runyon and @vjtorley . More importantly, there are several “lurkers” that are younger but listening in. I’m often getting emails from them. Also, this supports my speaking, and the vast majority of my speaking engagements are at the request of students less than 25. They have been particularly interested in a new way forward.

Peaceful Science is much more than merely a Forum, or even a Blog. Certain on-ramps will be better for some to visibly contribute. That is normal. We are not reducible to a single on-ramp. There are many younger people engaged. More will come.

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Hello @Elle, welcome to this digital space. Is this your first Introduction from @swamidass here? Glad to hear your thoughts as they arise or need expression.

Your stated collaboration with @vjtorley could be interesting, @swamidass. Are you moving forward with it? This will require a lot of research about Catholic scientists and science according to Roman Catholics on your part that doesn’t seem to have been a topic of your previous work. My view is that this will help you escape the clutches of evangelical protestantism, by now a sad victim of religious disorientation & fragmentation on the topic of evolution & divine creation. Yes, we differ significantly about that fact in this conversation and how to address it openly.

A ‘realistic’ recovery of evangelicalism as a public ideology associated with the founding of the USA and at the same time distinct from the nation’s ‘Creation War’ is something we agree is needed. This site appears to be your attempt to do that.

To me one such pathway is not unclear. It won’t be a path known to you. Are you interested to see if you might walk & talk it?

You still haven’t said who specifically you aim to on-ramp. That’s rather important. If you look to BioLogos or even ASA, it’s again largely evangelical protestants, just as IDC targets. I doubt you’ll scale that way anymore in those old ‘markets’.

I’m glad to report this is false.

& I’m glad to clarify so you’ll holster that ‘false’ accusation and look to what is said that still awaits answer in what I wrote. :wink:

You have 3 retired white men whose posting constitutes at least 50% of Forum volume. Yes or No? That’s why I suggested making available the Forum posting stats, which would confirm or dis-confirm this. “Good idea, Aunty!” could have been a more welcome response from Joshua. Or just, “No, that’s not in the cards.” At least it’s a polite answer that doesn’t start by accusing of falsehood.

You expanded to other activities in your current portfolio that I didn’t wish to address, e.g. on-ramping (see note above). Yes, we are both well aware that young people are hungry and ready for a solution on this topic. Is GA supposedly the solution?!


You are making several assumptions about people here. I would correct you here, but it is not the purpose of this forum to delve in the personal lives of casual participants.

It has been clear for a while you are an “evangelical” Catholic just as @patrick is often an “evangelical” Atheist. You both are welcome here.

In my view, all who are in Jesus, are members of the catholic Church of all believers. The Catholic denomination is one voice among many within the Church, and it is welcome here. Catholicism has a wonderful theological tradition, on which all of us should draw from at one time or another. In the same way I can’t personally become Lutheran (I’m not German enough), I can’t become Catholic (it is not my story). We still, however, are the same family.

If we end up forming a 5013c and hiring staff, such information will be made available to donors and advisors. It is not clear if this will or should happen. Until then, however, I decline any externally imposed obligations by anonymous participants in the forum.

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Protestant evangelicals’ largely negative views of the Catholic church are a significant part of the challenge (because they don’t read or listen to Catholics on the topic of evolution & creation). Whether or not you make the most advanced and balanced views in Christendom on the main topic part of this Forum and how awaits to be seen. I’m merely suggesting you’ll need to go outside of evangelical protestantism to do it, which actually is not a very strong claim. You leave out the Orthodox as well (who are also not a ‘denomination’ - that’s protestant talk), @swamidass, to which you will also willingly attach a small ‘o’ letter to your religious faith.

Yes, that’s a good idea to keep an eye open for the threat of ‘externally imposed obligations.’ I haven’t noticed anything even remotely fitting that description from anyone anonymous or tied to an actual person’s name here on this Form, but will be sure to let you know if that’s what I see happening. Good that you warned about it now, Joshua, on a question about partnerships.

I’m not in any way faulting you for being an evangelical protestant @swamidass. I’m faulting evangelical protestantism in the USA for its destructive legacy involving creationism, evolution & warring science. I don’t see how this can be avoided in your spat with BioLogos either; you are evangelical brothers & sisters. Should we not be able to more easily converse once that is established? Or do you just accept it with a slightly nuanced view & wish to express that openly?

p.s. there are quite a few non-German or ‘not German enough’ Lutherans :wink:


How about the group in England? Faraday?

There are special challenges in the United States that are difficult for Europeans to understand. We have a much larger movement of YEC fundamentalists to engage, with empathy. Faraday has been positive about our contributions, but I’m not convinced they are situated to engage with the United States. @jongarvey is the exception to the rule, in that his work is very accessible “across the pond,” but he is the exception not the rule.

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Thanks Joshua - part of that, if true, is that I’ve been engaging at BioLogos and elsewhere in the Good Old US of A for 9 years now. I even spell like an American, which isn’t so good back home!


Realize Faraday has been promoting science to children through Faraday talks for about 150 years. Richard Dawkins was an annual speaker in the very famous Faraday Christmas Talks on evolutionary biology for underprivileged children. I don’t see a connection between the mission of Faraday and what is trying to be achieved here regarding YEC, which is really American Evangelical YECism created in the 1950’s by Morris.

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Patrick - just to note that the Christmas lectures of the secular Royal Institution (which I attended myself in school days, though I was scarcely underprivileged) are organisationally quite separate from the Faraday Institute, which is a specifically Christian group using Faraday as a figurehead (quite legitimately, because Faraday too saw his faith and science as being of a piece).

Faraday, indeed, was not interested in promoting YEC, which didn’t exist then and wasn’t in any case the kind of thing he concerned himself with. However, the union of of science and faith was, as this lengthy pair of quotations shows:

A useful example of the detailed naturalization of a theistic scientist was the treatment of Michael Faraday, a beloved figure to both theists and naturalists. Faraday was a member of the Sandemanians (sometimes called the Glasites). That tiny group was a stringent Christian sect that demanded close attention to the Bible and constant moral rectitude. They observed the Sabbath rigorously, had no professional clergy, and generally kept high boundaries between themselves and outside society.
Faraday commonly used biblical metaphors and references in his lecturing and often spoke of the laws of nature as being divinely crafted. In particular, he saw the conservation and conversion of energy as being closely tied to theological principles. His faith was well known in the science community, and despite the Sandemanians’ generally negative social status, he was embraced as a typical theistic scientist. The Graphic carried a poem praising Faraday’s theistic science:

He sees in Nature’s laws a code divine,
A living Presence he must first adore,
Ere he the sacred mysteries explore,
Where Cosmos is his temple, Earth his shrine…

However, theists were not the only group interested in laying claim to Faraday and his work. The scientifi c naturalists, particularly Tyndall, had a deep reverence and affection for him. Faraday was responsible for Tyndall being hired at the Royal Institution, and they worked together as good friends for many years. The question was how to talk about Faraday in a manner that supported the naturalistic story of science. Tyndall was very successful at embracing Faraday’s contributions to science in a way that made the theistic aspects of his science seem only naturalistic.
Consider his review of Bence Jones’s biography. The biography did not shy away from Faraday’s religion, printing lectures, letters, and writings referencing theological matters (including the 1854 lecture that Maxwell quoted). In his extensive review, Tyndall did not discuss any of these documents. Rather, he quoted a letter in which Faraday said, “There is no philosophy in my religion” (likely referring to his rejection of natural religion in favor of scripture). Tyndall analyzed it this way:
For his investigations so filled his mind as to leave no room for sceptical questionings, thus shielding from the assaults of philosophy the creed of his youth. His religion was constitutional and hereditary . . . however its outward and visible form might have changed, Faraday would still have possessed its elemental constituents—awe, reverence, truth, and love.

His description of Faraday’s religion being shielded from science was intended to clearly separate the two, allowing no overlap. The lifelong practice of Sandemanianism was dismissed as “constitutional and hereditary”—that is, the sect’s peculiarities were not Faraday’s fault.
Tyndall’s comments about the outward change of the sect’s dogma, apart from the core Romantic pantheistic values, were a clear invocation of the standard naturalistic story of true religion being encrusted with theological doctrines. The implication was that what Faraday really believed was unproblematic emotional religion, and the doctrinal, sectarian aspects of Sandemanianism were unimportant and accidental. (from Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon, by Matthew Stanley.)

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