What is "Reconciliation"? What is "Peace"?

We are Peaceful Science.

Some people find “Peaceful” to be a negative word, implying a weak willed complacency, and inability to press for important things. Those have been around know that know this is NOT the peace of which we are speaking. Forum, how would you describe the peace we are seeking? How would you describe it? Is the word and these concepts attractive to you?

An alternate word was proposed: “Reconciliation”. I’m not sure this word is well understood, especially by people outside the Christian faith. Especially for the non-Christians here, what do you think Reconciliation means? In your view, are we seeking it? Is the word attractive, obtuse or repulsive to you?

This thread may be open for a while, but some substantive comments in the next 48 hours would be very help to me. Let me know what you think of Peace and Reconciliation. I wonder if it might touch what we understand of Truth. This isn’t a debate. No one is right or wrong. I want to know your untutored thoughts.

I hope also to hear from those with whom we are sometimes tussling (@Agauger, @pnelson, @stcordova, @J.E.S, @pevaquark, @Randy ). I also hope to hear from the secular members of the forum too, and the students. Thank you in advance for your response. Please keep this thread clear of chit chat. For now, do not respond to others posts. Just explain as coherently and clearly as you can your own answer to these questions.


I think ‘Peaceful’ works just fine. And while a word ‘peaceful’ does have a somewhat broad meaning, I would call this

spineless. (Too rough?) Peaceful doesn’t mean that we’re going to just sit there and let those who are a little less peaceful do whatever the hell they want or back off whenever an argument presents itself, we just won’t let an argument escalate in a flame war with personal attacks and such.

I’m talking specifically about this forum, not word ‘peaceful’ as a whole.

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For this forum and our goals I am more supportive of the term “Peace”. The first reason is because it is a more general and neutral term than “reconciliation”, which has been used in more serious contexts such as ending physical warfare or ethnic conflict. The second is because reconciliation might imply some sort of synthesis of views between people, which is a much loftier goal than simply understanding and talking to each other in a cordial, truthful, clear way.


For me the operative term is “Common Ground”. If you share a common basis for understanding what the other person really means, the disagreements don’t matter so much.

Well, most of them. :wink:

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Peaceful Science --Seeking reconciliation among divergent faith perspectives, through mutually respectful dialogue about the evidence and its warrants.


@swamidass, here are my thoughts:

I do not think that “Peace” implies weakness. So far (today, if the little icon is correct, marks my presence on this forum for 1 whole year), I have thought of “peace” in the sense that we seek to discuss the sensitive issues of origins in a civil and peaceful manner. This ideal tends to be difficult to reach (especially in online settings), but it is an ideal that I support nonetheless.

As sinful people, we cannot maintain peace in our interactions with each other for long without reconciliation, that is, a willingness to forgive others when they wrong us in some way (and vice versa). As Christ has reconciled us to God by His death and resurrection, we are free in Him to be reconciled to others.

In an environment of peace and reconciliation, valuable conversations can thrive. The cultivation of such an environment is a worthy goal.

In the end there is Absolute Truth. Someone is right or wrong. I, personally, am also a fan of “debate” and think that the terminology (if not the concept) of debate is often undervalued in today’s society. What I mean by “debate” is a friendly discussion of a disagreement between parties of differing views for the purpose of finding the truth.

However, that is not to say that friendly conversations geared towards understanding of opposing viewpoints are pointless. I very much enjoy asking questions and learning about what others think about origins.


@swamidass, here are my thoughts: I am always confused of what the “Peaceful” in Peaceful Science is supposed to be.

My understanding is that this site was created to facilitate exchanges of ideas from people who might not agree with each other in a respectful manner. At least this is my observation; I don’t know if this is actually true. I know that there was some history with Biologos that might be the impetus for the creation of this site, but I have never even heard of Biologos until I joined this site.

Perhaps in my head, “Peaceful Science” is more about being respectful in debates and disagreements than anything actually “Peaceful”.


Peaceful Science seems a good enough name… perhaps a tag line will help people think on right lines about what the site is about…
For example, if reconciliation is important…what exactly is being reconciled? Science and Christianity?
If peaceful is the key word… then what exactly needs to be peaceful… I would assume it refers to the quality of interactions between individuals… in which case the tagline would communicate “peaceful discussions of conflicting ideas”…

Both words hint at a culture war by the way… I don’t know if that is good or bad.


Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14 provide wise guidance here, as does the Golden Rule. More pragmatically, I have found since the early 1980s that I usually learn more from my critics than I do from my colleagues and supporters, because the former make me think and work harder.


I concur with @dga471 on the use of the word “peace” over “reconciliation”. I do think it is appropriate: we are seeking peace rather than conflict in dialoguing and understanding each other’s perspectives. And though the broad meaning of “peace” may be initially confusing, it only takes a brief explanation of its use in the name of this forum to clear that up.



I’ll be a dissenting voice here (nothing new!)
“Peaceful” does not work for me, and neither would reconciliation. That is your goal. That’s not what I find here. Open honest dialog while trying to hear what the other is saying is more like this place when the forum is at its best. Also, if peace is the goal, it happens rarely if at. Peace implies more than detente or tolerance or respect. Those three words are the situation at its best now. What we have is frequently imposed peace; that is not peace, it’s crowd control.

An offering:

Crossroads: a respectful dialog on the intersection of science, philosophy and faith

The words are neutral, merely indicating the topic, and one hopes they will be lived out.


I agree with @Agauger on the above.

But I disagree with @Agauger offering of “Crossroads” as I am now even more firmly in the Jerry Coyne camp that there is no intersection of science and faith as they are incompatible.

@Agauger is there not peace between you and I?


Dr. Gauger’s post is very helpful because it is a view which I hadn’t previously considered. I guess I naturally assumed that the “peaceful” in Peaceful Science is an aspirational peace, a goal to look toward even when we as imperfect people don’t always attain our goals. Yet, based on some of the posts above, it is clear that not everyone reacts to the title as I do.


@swamidass Yes. I spoke of the forum as a whole.

I was just reading a piece on the ethics of communication and found this relevant and highly interesting quote.

Following the insight of Bok, we recognize this era as a time of “minimal” agreement as opposed to “maximal” agreement, in which only a few basic agreements about the good may be discerned. Minimal agreement can actually invite productive communication among persons with different understandings of the good and makes learning about the Other an absolute necessity. …The rationale for this minimalist approach is twofold. First, the wisdom of Bok seems irrefutable in this historical moment. If we live in a time of disagreement, finding a minimal set of ethical agreements is more likely than identifying a maximal set of ethical agreements. Second, we seek to move communication ethics discussion away from its use as an ideological weapon that justifies the worst of provinciality by permitting unreflective confidence in pronouncements of ‘this is right’ and ‘that is wrong.’ We offer a more modest option—communication ethics literacy— encouraging learning from and about differing understandings and enactments of the good (Arnett, Fritz, and Bell, Communication Ethics Literacy, 2009, pp. xiv-xv).

My only caveat to this statement is that it could be take to make truth relative, something i am not prepared to do, as a scientist and as aa person. What I am willing to do, though, is to grant that my understanding is imperfect, and to hope that others will do the same. That allows me room for learning from others and seeing the good in others. Even those who are unwilling to consider another point of view.

In fact, I would go on to say, perhaps we should attempt to come up with a set of minimal agreements about the good, things we can all agree are true and good. I added truth because science is more concerned with truth than goodness. Such a process should be quite enlightening.


Can we find “peacefulness” on common ground amongst the various scientific perspectives manifesting at the “crossroads” of the wide divergence of scientific views held among professing Christians?
Perhaps that’s a more attainable goal than “detente” at the intersection of the wider, secular faith and science dialogue, although I certainly don’t think that’s completely impossible, interpersonally, on a forum like this.
Would that the “culture wars” could be completely solved by forums like these!
The phrase, “Kingdoms in Conflict” keeps coming to mind, e.g. Some folks prefer to keep their eyes closed and minds shut off from the uncomfortable truths of our common faith.

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Thank you for your part in making this possible my friend.

I agree with this. For us to define common ground would have value and would be enlightening. @Agauger, this would be valuable between you and I. Perhaps even this would be a valuable activity with others in ID too.

I wonder how you imagine we could do this?

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There is something to be said for having the right level of discord. Sometimes the most productive discussions are controlled arguments, not nasty and insulting spats, but honest exchange of ideas are possibilities. Too often these discussions are treated as if it was a zero sum game, instead of an exchange where both might come out ahead.


I agree. Both can come out ahead if both are willing to consider what the other is saying. But even if not, it is still possible for one to learn from one’s opponent who will not consider any other possibility, as long as the discussion remains civil.