If you are going to read this, please read it in entirety. Remember that I forgive everyone involved in this already. Only one person is named, for good reason, below. All the rest should be kept anonymous. I am sharing this story because I believe it is important to know, even though it includes deeply personal and difficult things.
The Forum Exchange Summarized
So what happened, well, as I remember it…
Evolution ruled out a traditional view of Adam and Eve.
This is false. That nothing in evolutionary science unsettled the view that Adam and Eve, ancestors of us all, were de novo created 6,000 years ago in a Divine Garden. The only way science presses on that story is by suggesting, alongside Scripture, that there were people outside the garden, with whom their offspring eventually interbred.
And proceeded to explain all the science that is now published on this topic by me. One of the moderators, reacted strongly (and consistently with the official BioLogos position on Adam), saying:
We have to be honest with people that traditional theology is not compatible with evolutionary science, or we risk being called “wolves in sheeps clothing.”
He directed people to the official BIoLogos page (The De Novo Creation of Adam and BioLogos). I responded,
Well, I hold a traditional view of Adam, and I am on the BioLogos Voices program. What are you going to do with me?
Another person objected very strongly,
What you are saying cannot be true, because we have never heard it before. Everyone knows what you are saying is false.
I responded, calmly at the time,
I’m sorry, but respectfully, they are all wrong. Look at the articles and science I’m citing here.
Then entered Dennis Venema. He said, dropping the gauntlet,
This inevitably leads to calling other people sub-human.
To be clear, I had talked to him for over an hour, making sure I had represented him correctly in the Sapientia piece. He had not raised this objection once with me privately. I was angry, and said:
That is just false. You lack imagination. This is not racist.
It went on from there. I was deeply (am still deeply) offended by being accused of racism by a bunch of white people. I could not believe the race card was being played on me by (I thought) a friend.
Then the thread was made private.
Now, in private, I unloaded on Venema and the staff member who said I had no place in BioLogos. I told that I did not appreciated being accused of racism.
Then I was booted from the forum.
I received a very angry email demanding I apologize to everyone. Apparently, the narrative became “Josh became toxic” and “was misrepresenting science” and is “falsely saying he was accused of racism.” Several people stated that they were angry that I had publicly criticized Venema on the forum. I was told it was inappropriate to publish the Salientia piece criticizing him.
Of note, right after this happened, I gave the talk reviewing Adam and the Genome. I encourage you to watch it. It is the FIRST talk on a genealogical Adam, and I’d be surprised if anyone can detect anything but professional kindness to Venema.
Any ways, I decided to take the high road. I apologized to everyone involved. No one apologized to me, until at least two months later (and it was all emphasizing that this was all my fault).
Then three months later, Deborah Haarsma kicked me off the BioLogos Voices program, putting this episode at the center of her reasons. She made it a referendum on my character, but I understand it as honest recognition that a Genealogical Adam was wildly outside the BioLogos tent. It was striking how even in that moment, she emphasized that this was 100% about character flaws in me, and absolutely nothing to do with my views on Adam. I’ve found that this is a common tactic. Instead of dealing with with unsettling findings, attempting shift attention to referendums on character can be a very effective strategy.
And that is how I was kicked of the BioLogos Voices program.
In November, the Tim Keller fiasco took place (http://peacefulscience.org/defense-tim-keller/), and I left.
They let me back on the forums, but then a few months ago kicked me off again, it seems because I accidentally demonstrated Venema was wrong again. I say accidentally, because I was surprised that Buggs and @Agauger (ultimately, if not alwasy in their precise arguments) were right. The evidence changed my mind.
Thoughts on Racism
I have to say, this was one of the most damaging experiences I’ve ever had. It was not easy. It is very hard to explain the helplessness and anger that comes from (1) being the single dark-skinned person in the room, (2) being silenced by “concerns of racism” by a crowd of white people, (3) being asked to apologize for offending the white people by expressing anger about being called racist.
The only person I am naming here is Dennis Venema. The rest of the people should remain nameless, and I do not think they did this on purpose. I think they were genuinely surprised, and maybe even scared, of my position. I do not think they woke that morning planning to beat on the dark man, but that four months was among the most bruising experiences of racism I’ve every experienced.
Now, to moderate that again, I do not think they saw it at the time, or perhaps even now. I do forgive them. It is just a reflection of the brokenness of our society. White people are often more concerned about posturing about racism, than protecting the voice of minorities. The biggest injustice they seem concerned about is being falsely accused of being racist.
It was an eye opening experience. In a very visceral sense, I came to feel we need to seek peace in science, yes, but also on race. Our society is deeply broken on race. That is one reason I ended up writing this:
So, that was was very personal and sensitive things to share publicly. I have personally forgiven everyone involved. Things have developed since then, and I think it is important to have this part of the story in the public record.
I hope for reconciliation with BioLogos, but it will require working through this too. The fact they have banned me again recently from the forums does not give me hope for anything in the near term. It appears I am more of a problem to manage, than a voice to value. That is okay. It is probably for the best that we have parted ways.