The Radical Definition of Evolutionary Creation

Continuing the discussion from Concordism and Genesis 1-2:

A great article comes to us by way of @deuteroKJ, which explains the meaning of Evolutionary Creation, by the man who coined the term:

Those who pin Adam to the tail end of evolution are scientific concordists because modern genetics offers no evidence for his existence. Their belief in Adam comes from Scripture, not science. And from my perspective, scientific concordism always falls short.…From my perspective, a foundational tenet of evolutionary creation is that it rejects scientific concordism. Consequently, those who accept human evolution and a historical Adam should really be classified with the progressive creationists because they embrace concordism.”

It sounds like Evolutionary Creation is not compatible with a historical Adam, at least according to the man who coined the term. According to Denis Lamoureux:

  1. There must be genetic evidence for Adam to substantiate his existence.

  2. Adam is in Scripture, not Science.

  3. Therefore, If you affirm Adam, you are a progressive creationist, not a evolutionary creationist.

Let us point out that the same is true for the Resurrection. (1) there is no genetic evidence for the Resurrection. (2) we find the Resurrection in Scripture, not science, and (3) therefore if you affirm the Resurrection, you are not an evolutionary creationist? Clearly that is not what Lamoureux means (because he affirms the Resurrection). What this does show, however, is that this is a silly argument, even though it might have weight in some forms of Evolutionary Creationism.

Obligatory note to avoid a misunderstanding:The BioLogos tent includes many views on Adam…yada yada yada.” Though it seems the tent does not include me.

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Oh, it’s certainly a silly argument, but may in fact be the “orthodoxy” which you dared question, and got you black-balled. Uhhh, I mean, white-washed! ; )

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My reading of the intent of Evolutionary Creation (evolutionary mechanisms, orthodox Christianity, non-concordist) means it should be able to include a genealogical (but not genetic) Adam & Eve, they maybe just haven’t thought it out yet. I believe BioLogos and Lamoureux rejected a historical Adam because the assumption was that it would require positive genetic evidence of a sole genetic progenitor ( I think that’s the term @swamidass used at his recent workshop). But a lack of positive scientific evidence for a particular model for a historical Adam is not the same as disproof of the whole enterprise.

The only reason they would care that Adam is in scripture was if science specifically ruled out the Bible’s descriptions of him. Evolutionary Creation doesn’t care if Job was a real person, for instance, except if in saying that Job was a real person meant introducing a conflict with established science. (Jonah may be an example similar to Adam)

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They are working right now to modify their core belief statements and their official position on Adam. Right now, according to the letter of the position, a genealogical Adam is outside their position. In the long run, it is not likely to be their preferred position. It would be tolerated, but not necessarily even mentioned. Of course, I could be wrong. I’m curious to see how the changes go.

Yeah, that is why Lamoureux’s explanation is so radical. He want’s positive evidence, not just lack of negative evidence. One reason why the appearance of age objection came up is that some have (wrongfully) rejected this based on a misapplied Deceptive God Objection. The bizarre thing too, is that he is supposedly the anti-concordist, but he want’s scientific for a biblical truth. That sounds like concordism to me.

Having read the “Is BioLogos Post-evangelical” thread I see what you’re saying. Having been “around” in the early days of BioLogos, I felt it was quite open and I would be very disappointed if they become theologically “narrow” on things that are within historic orthodoxy and are scientifically viable (which I take to be lack of negative evidence for non-science proposals). I will definitely be keeping an eye on it.

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Any help on the terminology would be nice. They do not appear to like that term. I just want a clear way of talking about it.

They did become narrow, but maybe they will widen a little bit now. At Peaceful Science, though, we are trying to be as wide as possible, even helping other origins camps.

This quote totally threw me when I first encountered it. It seems to show that Lamoureux is at odds with Biologos, which allows for an historical Adam within its use of Evolutionary Creationism. While I tend to side with the “non-concordist” camp, Lamoureux’s quote actually got me to second-guess my simplistic non-concordist stance. Right now, I simply cannot give up an historical Adam (I don’t think inerrancy can be maintained, which is important to me…and to my job!), even though I’m willing to consider various models to maintain it. That’s why the GA model is intriguing (though I don’t need a de novo creation, as normally defined).

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I do think BioLogos is trying to stay within a “big tent” evangelicalism that encompasses some parts of Mainline churches. In terms of terminology, they may like Roger Olson’s “post-conservative evangelical” better. An older reference defined it this way:

Or this one that is more specific:

The term “postconservative evangelical” never seemed to catch on, but I think it’s a more palatable descriptor perhaps than post-evangelical, which sounds more like they wish to leave the “camp” altogether. My guess is though, that BioLogos won’t want to take on a particular theological label, especially since it probably won’t cover all the people involved. The concern is if they are a “broad tent” on the label, but then take specific theological positions when it gets to specifics.

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The issue though is that they have a distinct and narrow range of preferred approaches, which is not well described as “mainstream” in evangelicalism.

@deuteroKJ (& @swamidass):

This Concordist label seems unfair. The point of the genealogical angle (instead of a genetic one) is there is very little likelihood that science will ever “see” Adam and Eve’s presence in a human population even as small as 10,000 individuals.

The label of Concordism is an over-reaction!

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Alright, so Josh shared with me some of his story when I had him out at Crosswise this last June. I did not realize how contentious this issue of an historical adam is among the larger evangelical population, or at least among the public face of evangelical organizations promoting discussions of science and religion (RTB, BioLogos, AiG – etc). I am also learning that politics are alive and well within this larger conversation of science and religion always driving us to Pilate’s ever relevant question: “What is Truth?” Allow me to free think some thoughts as they occur upon re-reading from someone who is an outsider to this conversation in more ways than one.

This quote is from the linked article and attributed to Denis Lamoureux as evidence that he, and perhaps BioLogos generally, suggest that any links to an historical Adam will put you outside the limits of evolutionary creationism. This is due to the fact that lack of positive genetic evidence for Adam will always be the case within the genetic sciences.

Right, so Lamourex has set his definitions (including concordism) and following though with them. However, it appears he has unnecessarily limited himself to an evidence base of genetic science (a rather narrow and strong concordism one would think), at least in terms of historical Adam.

Swamidass’ Dabar paper opens up the evidence base to include genealogical sciences and universal genealogical ancestors (UGAs) including Adam and Eve. These are genetic ghosts as we can’t pinpoint specific stretches of genetic material due to any stretch being recombined/swamped/mixed/changed (proper terminology?) in future generations.

My point here, is when seeking truth or understanding, ought we consider larger sources of evidence? This is simply good epistemic practice. Why would one narrowly focus on the role of genetics? I understand that this is @swamidass point (even arguing that the genealogical and genetic need not conflict), but BioLogos has philosophers on staff. In fact, I think one of Lamoureux’s PhDs is in philosohy! They should know that putting together an explanation or argument requires evidence from multiple sources and that each decision suggests certain value judgements that could (and often should) be reconsidered? I think @deuteroKJ humorously discussed it in a different thread as a Plinko Game in relation to the decisions a linguist must make translating ancient languages.

This is why I’m rather adamant about the interdisciplinary point I keep bringing forward in various contexts. Moreover, if Lamoureux and BioLogos are so set on current genetic theory, what happens when the science changes on them? This again is what I would argue is a part of @swamidass is getting at. However, from a philosophical point of view and a scientific point of view (e.g., neutral theory of evolution vs Darwinism), science will change. Why would Lamoureux (and BioLogos?) put so much faith in current science, even a certain aspect of a certain science, remaining the status quo? In philosophy of science this is related to the pessimistic meta-induction, we aren’t necessarily discussing questions of realism/anti-realism, but why put so many eggs in one scientific basket? They must realize that their views will have to change as the science changes.

@deuteroKJ

Yeah, I hear you. My job may be even more tenuous then yours on these issues! However, what is it about the current historical Adam conversation that is so worrisome theoretically? Again, I’m a philosopher, not an exegete, but the Lutheran approach to this is to start with Christ and then move backwards to an historical Adam. Meaning that Christ seems to validate the OT through constant reference to the OT, including Adam and Eve, putting a divine stamp of approval on Genesis. This seems enough to at least give me confidence, whatever the scientific mechanics of Genesis and Adam and Eve, that Adam/Eve ARE historical in some sense according to Christ. Thus I am free to play with/explore/meditate upon various models of creation (scientifically and theologically) recognizing that I will always be going beyond what was revealed to me in scripture or the world for that matter. Or, to put it another way, my identity is bound up with Christ’s death and resurrection, not whatever Plinko bounces my intellectual reflections on Christianity (and Genesis) actually take. It may even be that I have to live in tension/paradox with what I take Scripture to be saying and what science is currently revealing.

We’ve had a couple of BioLogos affiliates speak at my university and they always seem to preach at us about why we should sign onto position X. I don’t mean this as a slight, but I’ve found the speakers I’ve encountered to be more like preachers or pitchmen than presenters of arguments. On the other hand, I do often find myself linked to, and enjoying, their blog posts as I search for various topics on the net.

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Lamoureux crossed swords with Darrel Falk in the BioLogos forum several years ago, for the latter’s even entertaining writers who accepted the possibility of an historical Adam. He claimed that no reputable Old Testament scholars accept an historical Adam. So hard cheese for you, Keith! :grinning:

It doesn’t really matter how Lamoureux might nuance it - Joshua’s example of the resurrection reveals that it’s based on an internally incoherent soft-scientism, in which acience is believed to offer the answers even to individual contingencies, and to be the final arbiter on any truth claim. It’s poor PoS apart from anything else (and that, even if not total aversion to Adam) does appear to be something shared with BioLogos.

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Maybe of interest - there’s a discussion on BL at the moment about the definition of evolution. Most of the “science experts” there have plumped for “change in allele frequency” as being the best (even if it misses out a few unimportant nooks and crannies - like the whole of Darwin’s original theory, for example, which had no concept of genes!

But of course it won’t, because the science is now settled… :rofl: Some of us have been arguing about the limited scientific scope of BioLogos Evolutionary Creation for 8 years, to deaf ears in the main. I wrote my only essay there on the need for interdisciplinary openness and respect - and got a fair amount of stick in comments, mainly about the priority being on “good science”. I remain unsure whether it’s a deliberate attempt to accommodate Christianity to “consensus science” to avoid being tagged “Creationist”, or whether the scientists they happen to have there are mainly from one corner of the science arena and playing a demarcation game for their own specialities.