The @Swamidass Model. What is "seeking peace"?

NOW THAT is a great example!!!

Overall, I agree that peacemaking is part of following Jesus, and so the direction outlined here is worthy and laudable. I want to understand the specifics better, primarily so I can figure out how I can contribute; that is the spirit in which I offer the following questions and comments.

Hard to argue with this!

This is the area which interests me the most. I would like to hear more about where you specifically see a lack of peace with atheists (and ‘nones’, the areligious, and anyone else who does not claim any particular religious beliefs or any identity defined with respect to traditional religion or beliefs) and how Peaceful Science can address those points of departure. I’m also curious how you balance coming to that peace with the part of following Jesus that involves calling others to follow him as well. I don’t think the two are exactly at odds; at the same time, any attempt to call someone else to a different belief can be perceived as confrontational. Of course, I am happy to hear the perspectives of other forum members on these questions as well.

I can see the value in making clear that an ensemble of models are both scientifically and theologically valid, rather than advocating for one member of that ensemble. At the same time, I greatly appreciate when individuals clearly and specifically articulate what they do and don’t think or believe. It enables me to get to know them better personally, and to engage them better in conversation. For example, while I don’t share his beliefs, I am very glad for books like Stuart Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred. How do you think individuals should articulate the specifics of their beliefs so that it does not come across as advocacy?

My final question is not a reaction to any particular element of your model, but my own struggle with peacemaking. When I set out to write my book, I had a very similar aim of peace in mind. I did not expect to persuade everyone or even anyone of a particular take on origins or theology or anything, but instead hoped to encourage space for a wider range of co-existing beliefs. Over the past couple of years, the consequences of different groups maintaining vastly different understandings of reality & truth & the value of expertise have been thrown into rather sharp relief. In light of that, I guess my question is whether you see any limits to the peacemaking process, at which point a different mode of interaction (or noninteraction) takes over?

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I don’t know if there will be a next edition, but I am not opposed to amending it where appropriate. There seems to be an interesting tension in this reply, however. @gbrooks9 seems to be looking for evidence that the Swamidass model is about more than particular models about Adam and Eve. On the one hand, my book is held up as an example of a project that is interested in something other than the Adam & Eve question. On the other hand, that is immediately followed up with an assertion that my book ought to engage the Adam & Eve question and include the Genealogical model. That seems to reinforce the perception that Genealogical Adam & Eve models are a critical element of the Swamidass model.

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Hmmm… there are a couple of different ways of interpreting that observation.

I think I should volunteer what it is I’m looking for:

In a room full of new friends and mysterious strangers, I am looking for those who wish to support Joshua’s work to be clear-headed about our biggest goal:

that we hope to attract two sides of the discussion that very rarely agree on anything long enough to develop additional agreements.

Pro-Evolution Christians see too much natural evidence for Evolution for them to ever consider dismissing the natural evidence.

And Creationist Christians see too much Biblical investment in de novo Adam/Eve to ever consider dismissing the Biblical stance.

So rather than continue the next century with a “winner-take-all” viewpoint, the @swamidass Models are designed to do one thing:

to accommodate BOTH sides of the scenario without making the other side feel they are losing something crucial.

For Evolution-minded Christians, we remind them that they already premise their faith on the miracle of Resurrection, and other wondrous works and signs. So despite their earnest support for Evolutionary natural law, it really shouldn’t be a “shocker” if God uses “special creation” to create a very special mating pair, unnoticeable by archaeology and genetic science, who are released into a larger population of evolved humanity.

For Creation minded Christians, they have the satisfaction of special creation of Adam and Eve, who by the computationally confirmed dynamics of the genealogical process, have become the dominant universal ancestral pair for every human that is now alive, and who were alive at the time of the birth of Jesus!

Science keeps it’s science; the miraculous tends to the wonder of the miraculous. And slowly but surely, the two sides can continue to compare notes…

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My issue is that your discussion in the appendix misses fundamentally important material facts regarding Dennis and McKinght’s book. I’m not sure your personal position on Adam. It does not really matter. You don’t have to change anything I’ve seen in the main text, but there are just major overlooked developments you missed in the appendix (p. 266). As one example, we found out that Dennis’ argument against a bottleneck made two large errors.

So, honestly, you do not have to personally affirm or promote a genealogical Adam. I just don’t care about that. However, we all have to be honest about the science. Dennis’s book has major scientific errors. It is not a reliable scientific resource at this time. At the very least, it has to be balanced with other resources that correct the errors he made. That’s all.

Nope. This should clarify that theological neutrality and scientific accuracy are critical. I don’t care what you personally think of Adam. Your book, also, isn’t about the science of Adam, and that is fine. I like it how it is.

The fact that we aim to help others does not mean we have to be silent about our own beliefs. Just look at how I helped @Agauger and Richard Buggs: Heliocentric Certainty Against a Bottleneck of Two?. I see no Scriptural merit for insisting on sole-genetic progenitorship. However, they feel it is necessary, and it is a well-posed and interesting scientific question. Moreover, there are a lot of people who agree with them, not me, and are threatened by evolutionary science as a result.

For these reasons, and just basic human kindness, it is worthwhile to take their questions seriously. No one was taking their questions seriously. I did, and helped them make their case. Everyone knew the entire time that I saw no reason in my reading of Scripture for sole-genetic progenitorship. That, however, is irrelevant. Much ore important is an empathetic response to questions, and an honest account of science.

It requires subsuming our personal views to serve others. That’s all. We can still talk about our personal views, but always remember that they are our personal views. We are not here to advocate for ourselves. We are here to advocate for others. For The Empty Chair.

As Christians, we seek the Kingdom of God, whose Prince is of Peace. In the Church, we will see people claim to follow Jesus, but then choose war. We also find people who pursue peace. We will find them in unexpected places. When we find people of peace, we should stay with them, and do what we can to build bridges.

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? (II Corinthians 2: 15-16)

If we pursue peace, expect to make many enemies. People of war may truly come to despise us. We do not pursue peace because it is successful, but because it is right. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This clip from Stanley Hauerwas, one of the greatest living theologians, is important to me.

We pursue peace because it is the right thing to do, not because it will reduce conflict. In fact, in the short term, it might even increase conflict. It might even create enemies, with whom we will still seek reconciliation. Peace is costly, but seeking reconciliation is what it means to follow Jesus.

Not exactly how I see it , however I agree, I am much less concerned about ruffling feathers on the Evolution side. The issue is that those that are already at peace with evolution don’t need our help. If they can just hold off advocating their personal views, and instead turn to serving others with their concerns, a lot of good could be done. That service orientation has been difficult for many pro-evolution Christians. I’m not sure why.

Though there are many allies among them, some no-Adam Christians have been very threatened by our work. We are going to ruffle their feathers, but if they are already at peace with evolution, I’m not sure we should care.

As one example, I defended Tim Keller’s affirmation of a de novo Adam against Deb Haarsma’s false claim this was anti-science:

It is just not important whether Keller is correct in his interpretation of Scripture or not. It is not any of our place to tell him one way or another. This certainly angered people at BioLogos. In the end, honest in our account of science is more important than their approval. They do not have the right to misrepresent science. The longer they take to retract, the less those outside the BioLogos camp will trust them.

[As a side note, we are coming up on 1 year in a couple months. I wonder if they can recover if it takes longer than one year to retract their claims]

None of this confrontation is inevitable. Many no-Adam Christians have been very supportive, and have been careful to get this right. The problem is not rejection of a historical Adam. The problem, rather, is misrepresenting science and infusing it with theological agendas, turning it into a weapon against others. That is the problem.


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This is a nuanced and reasonable concern.

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I like how you put that @gbrooks9. You are really getting it.

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That’s why I asked George about the resurrection. Even if it took awhile to happen, and was not exactly a "voila!-“poof” instantaneous moment, that doesn’t deny how special the re-creating of life in a former corpse was on God’s part. It doesn’t strip away the miracle to posit a gradual warming up, prior to an interdimensional shift through the graveclothes, culminating in the freed, resurrected body of Jesus (nor did it wipe out Jesus’ genetic makeup or past life marks). No question George “gets it.”


This sentence describes what sounds like an exotic NATURAL operation … rather than a simple miraculous POOF!

There is a New Testament control, possibly, on this. Paul says that the last generation, which avoids death at the coming of Christ, will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye.”

It would seem the spiritual transformation of creation, of which the resurrection of the Lord is the firstfruits, doesn’t hang around!


I may have too much of the soul of a physicist in me, but I posit a more gradual scenario at the resurrection so that the local energetic outcomes are less “damaged by” the energetic action supernaturally taking place in Jesus’ body. We basically have a phenomenon of “controlled time reversal” and “reverse entropy” taking place on a scale of operations large enough to have fascinating side effects. Was the rock covering the door to the tomb so much “rolled away” as “blown away,” e.g.? Was the angel there to prevent the stone from killing the soldiers, e.g.? I’m one of those weirdos who wonders about such things. Can’t help it!

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I look forward to there being an audible “Poof!”, to the great disappointment of all scientifically minded persons!


I’d prefer an audible “Voila!” : ).
We do know, for certain, that the first words out of the resurrected Jesus’ mouth were NOT “Who’s got the remote?”

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Thanks for clarifying your thoughts; that was helpful to me.

Fair enough. I wasn’t sure if this was the only issue (I expected it was at least among them) or if there were others in the main text. I can certainly understand your concerns about the appendix and will explore options for updating the book when possible.

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I think if you changed “soul of the physicist” to “soul of a meta-physicist”, it would be more consistent with your inclinations.