The Next Step for Peaceful Science?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Hello all, interest is growing. There seems to be opportunities to move the conversation forward. I’m thinking about how Peaceful Science can “evolve” for this next stage. I am curious your thoughts.

I’ve been considering either:

  1. Forming an advisory board of scholars publicly associated with Peaceful Science.

  2. Doing a blog series with guest posts, inviting submissions from across the spectrum.

  3. Creating some sort of affiliation program for scholars wanting to support us.

What are your thoughts? How do you think we can continue to crystallize a community here, and build a network of scholars? How do you think we can best grow as opportunities are increasing?

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The Fifth Voice
(George) #2

@swamidass:

I particularly like option [2]!

Those who participate in that can be recruited for option [3]!

George

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

Continuing the ongoing dialogue about “what we are becoming” at Peaceful Science, I wanted to note where ew have come and post some values to discuss.

While we have done none of the things we were considering in the OP, we have instead:

  1. Hosted several Office Hours, which are turning into an excellent way to go deeper with scholars on a wide range of questions. What are Office Hours?

  2. Planned on a book club with @AndyWalsh on his new book: Book Club: Faith Across the Multiverse.

  3. Become a place to host dialogue on important events as they arise in the faith-science conversation.

Going forward, I am hoping to articulate some of our values more clearly. I’m curious how this is received:

Distinctive Values:

  1. Find common ground in the grand questions themselves, instead of in specific answers. In the spirit of science, we will take questions seriously.

  2. Emphasize a confessional voice in science: personal and public disclosures by scientists that Jesus is Lord, and we believe He rose from the dead.

  3. Explain mainstream science with theological neutrality, encouraging dialogue between theologically diverse groups.

  4. Engage the concerns of the overlooked audiences, such as non-white communities and secular scientists, who approach science with their own questions, concerns, and values.

What are your thoughts?

(Jacob) #4

On point number 3, speaking of theologically diverse, I think it is worth looking at how the Catholic Church has handled the issue of science and faith in modern times.

I think the more “Bible only” Protestant churches see conventional science and cosmology and especially evolution as an attack on the authority of the Bible. And they have no authority other than reading the Bible in a very literalistic way, which to them is the only safe way to read the Bible. I think this is why Young Earth Creationism is so common in America, and not just in churches that are strictly fundamentalist. I have found when talking with people that this is a brick wall - “You don’t believe the Bible.” “You don’t know the Bible.” Of course the task would be reaching people who are questioning and open minded, like a student who hopes there is more than YEC and atheism.

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(Mark M Moore) #5

“Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans”.

It may wind up being the same on your second list, but since you ask…

Regarding number one, if what you are talking about is the framework in which we seek answers then I agree. For example we should dialogue on the basis of reason, in an honest manner, and treat each other with respect when this is done. I am “down for the struggle” with that. If it is a unity on specific answers to the question, well drives for “unity” of position have ever been the bane of truth discovery.

Number two is a given in that it is most reflective of who you are. This comes through even while you stay “agnostic” on specific answers. I endorse it fully.

I don’t think you can stick with number three. You are bringing the two-population model to the fore, and it is one of the distinctives here and will be regardless of whether you adopt some formal rule of “neutrality” or not. That that it should be a requirement or anything, but it is a distinctive that you are offering to the debate on theology and science. And the church needs that whether they recognize it now or not because its what the text says and its what the record of nature allows.

BioLogos is “theologically neutral” and it winds up just being a place to try and browbeat Christians to believe evolution occurred while shying away from theological content. I think the openness should be more out of an effort to have, on non-essential issues, the “educated mind” of Aristotle who said such a mind was marked by the ability to entertain ideas with which one did not agree. This dovetails into a call for a return to theology returning to its roots as a type of science, distinct from natural science, but using similar methods on different subject matter.

I don’t feel much qualified to comment on number four.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

Why do you think that BioLogos is theologically neutral?

@jongarvey and @Eddie, help!

(Mark M Moore) #7

You are a perfect example. When you got too specific on theology, making it “too real”, they recoiled. Or do you see it differently?

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #8

I think my story with them is an example of how they are not neutral on theology. I want us to be different.

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(Mark M Moore) #9

Maybe you better define what it means to be “neutral on theology” then. Sometimes our communication problem is that you use terms in a sense that I would not use them.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #10

I what way is Biologos theologically neutral?

(Mark M Moore) #11

In that they don’t care about theology. They don’t even particularly want theology. They just want to convince Christians that macro-evolution is true. They don’t want Adam or Jesus getting in the way of that mission. That’s how I see it. If by “Theologically Neutral” you mean like BioLogos, then I am against it. If I wanted that I’d be at BioLogos, not here.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #12

That is not true at all. What makes you think this? They have a strongly preferred theology and hermeneutic.

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(Mark M Moore) #13

That is my personal experience from my time attempting to participate there. They may have something on paper. In practice attempts to steer the topic towards Christian theology, unless it directly related to getting Christians to accept human evolution, were treated with some disdain by the moderators and buffeted by the atheists which dominate that board.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #14

Maybe that’s because they did not prefer your theology.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

The Catholic Church has mostlt the same problems as the Protestant Church. They have a seat at the table but the do not have a solution.

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(Mark M Moore) #16

They didn’t seem to care for yours either.

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(Jacob) #17

A starting place is affirming central Christian beliefs - obviously Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. I don’t know how much detail is needed. Without the extreme of going into the weeds about denomination-specific issues such as predestination vs. free will, the proper mode of baptism, etc. I think people who were raised in fundamentalism in particular are afraid that once you get rid of a literal 24 hour per day creation week in Genesis you are just a few steps away from doing away with a literal Jesus. That is not an unreasonable concern given where they are coming from.

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(Jacob) #18

The Catholic Church has plenty of problems, some really horrible problems (I say that out of sorrow, not out of smugness). They don’t have a strong YEC movement. Even very conservative Catholics tend not to have as much as a conflict about science vs. faith - not that I have seen.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #19

They are a central locus for geocentrism.

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(Daniel Ang) #20

I used to think that way about Catholics, but then I became aware of subgroups. some of which are skeptical about evolution (e.g. Fr. Michael Chaberek), or other scientific claims - including special relativity and helio vs. geocentrism. It is somewhat true, though, that in my experience these groups sound philosophically more sophisticated than common caricatures of the “Bible-only” YEC fundamentalists. Perhaps because Catholics are in general less against drawing from prior philosophical and theological traditions.