What is the Value of Peaceful Science?

Greetings! I’m interested in the Peaceful Science Community, and looking to understand it’s uniqueness in the dialogue between issues theological and scientific.

As a few points of disclosure, I am a friend of @swamidass looking to develop an objective picture on this organization/community, further I am a Christian Pastor who has worked at the AAAS and wishes to foster meaningful dialogue about good theology and good science among the general populace. Also, you should know that I may use insights from this thread to share about what Peaceful Science is doing more broadly. If we’ve already connected and you wish to share here some of what you sent me earlier, please feel free to do so as well!

So, with all of that, what value does Peaceful Science bring? To you personally, to those you come into contact with through Peaceful Science initiatives, and to the broader conversation “at large.”


I’m very curious, in particular, how some of the atheist/agnostics would answer this question (e.g. @nwrickert, @Dan_Eastwood, @Patrick, @Argon, @T_aquaticus, @John_Harshman, @John_Dalton).

In particular, why have you stayed and become such foundational members of our community?

Well the first thing I would respond is that Peaceful Science is not an organization. It is not funded by anyone. It is a blogsite establish and maintained by you in your efforts as an MD, Associate Professor, Scientist and a Christian. Comments and opinions expressed by bloggers are their own. The site is loosely moderated by the group but everyone’s opinions and insights are welcomed.


Very true @Patrick. All of it.

Also interested in hearing from everyone, not just the Atheists/Agnostics: @Jordan, @deuteroKJ, @jongarvey, @eddie, @Guy_Coe, @dga471, @PdotdQ, @glipsnort, @AJRoberts, @mark, @randy, @cwhenderson and more.

Thanks, @Patrick and @swamidass for the clarification on the “organization” question. That is a real help to understand clearly and to recognize the value of this forum as an unaffiliated gathering place.


Well, I’ve seen very few forums with (unless they are lying) so many qualified people to talk to. I have lots of questions but also theories of my own that I like to run by people and this is a good place for that.


I’ve already indicated some of the positive things about this site, but can repeat and possibly augment the list: the commenters here tend to argue constructively rather than destructively (which was often the case on BioLogos, and on many other sites on the internet concerned with origins); there are some fresh new faces here I haven’t seen on other sites, with fresh ideas; the moderation is not excessive; the site-owner is willing to listen to people of all perspectives without projecting disdain (as again often happens on other sites), and is more active at inviting dissident voices than are the owners of most sites.

I also like the fact that people here are willing to give “Likes” even to people they disagree with, if they see some value in a reply. I find myself giving “Likes” here to some folks I disagree with, if their reply is genuinely responsive to my discussion (even if they disagree), or to the discussion of the person they are answering. On BioLogos, on the other hand, the giving of “Likes” was as often as not a political statement of alliances and allegiances. If A disagreed with X, B and C would reflexively give “Likes” to A, merely to indicate their dislike of X. It was pretty puerile. People here seem more mature and dialogical in spirit.


I’ve not found a place (online or face-to-face) where I can:

  • Dig into the science of a different field (see The Sky Glows With The Lyman-Alpha Emission ) with an astrophysicist.
  • Discuss some of the scientific nitty-gritty of origin of life (abiogenesis) research (Brian Miller: Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life) with graduate students, post-docs, and faculty in physics and biology.
  • Discuss hermeneutical theories of Genesis with a Hebrew professor (Is Dual Authorship Coherent?)
  • Read about state of the art integrative research combining computational biology and Christian faith (Three Stories on Adam)
  • Talk with people representing Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism, Theistic Evolution, Agnostics, Atheists, and various positions in-between and, for the most part, get along while discussing deeply held convictions about the very complicated “big questions” of life.
  • Feel free to have more questions than answers.

Basically all at the same place (and time, which can cause problems for sleep patterns).


This is a key insight. We all have more questions than answers.

Also another key to Peace Science is that we are not afraid to discuss the tough social issues of our time. We have had meaningful discussions on abortion, SSM, racism, inequality, creationism in schools, freedom of speech and expression, women’s issues, Government limitations on religion and free speech.


Mostly, good thoughtful discussions on a range of topics.


@Eddie has really summed up the best parts. I concur a lot with the frequent practice of giving likes to people whom you disagree with. In that respect, I’ve been following Josh’s example - he gives likes liberally to a lot of people. I think this is really where the “Peace” in Peaceful Science starts.

PS is also the first public, searchable forum in a while that I’ve decided to use my real identity. So, in a sense, I’ve officially entered “public life” by commenting on PS. Using my real name forces me to think carefully about each post - is this something I wouldn’t mind a future employer reading about, a decade from now? (Especially as I am still a graduate student.) It encourages me to be inquisitive, constructive, and peaceful, instead of combative. I think the fact that a lot of other PS members also use their real names contribute to the more peaceful discussions here.

Another interesting, unique feature is Josh trying to get every new member to introduce themselves and their background. I don’t know if this is sustainable as we keep growing, but it really helps to create a sense of community.

Finally, people have mentioned the surprising breadth and depth of experts and prominent scholars who have showed up here. There’s people from all sorts of perspectives and camps, from YEC to atheism, engaging without the overt hostility and insults common in FB groups and anonymous forums. As a result, real progress in understanding between the different camps has occurred here, recently most notably in the dialogue between Josh and Eric (representing the ID camp). The diversity of contributors (both in theological view and subject area) has also made me more eager to advertise this forum to any intellectually curious Christian that I’ve met.


I enjoy the conversations first of all and the friendly and respectful tone of the site. I regularly learn a lot about science, history, and theology here. Hopefully I can contribute in some small way. I’m glad to see and be part of an attempt at some form of fellowship or mutual acceptance between those with different beliefs. I believe the mission (and I hope I’m stating this well) to show that Christianity and science are not necessarily in conflict is an important one.


When I first became involved in “The Argument” over Intelligent Design (~2005), I had some deep discussions with a very nice Christian gentleman (“Bob”) who was also firm supporter of science. We could share ideas about what it would require to actually test such ideas. Our discussions were constructive, rather than the endless bickering that characterizes most discussion. It was evident a lot of people were arguing on the basis of their religious belief, rather than from any knowledge of science. I came to the conclusion that no scientific argument was ever going to reach such people, and what was really needed was more people of faith (like my friend Bob) to step up and take a stand supporting both faith and science.

So then I spent a lot of time in The Argument, too much really, but always looking for more people like Bob, and trying to encourage them. I knew they must be out there, a majority of Christians even, watching quietly but not taking a stand. I only encountered a handful of other “Bob’s” over the next ~10 years. Two years ago I found the Facebook group Answers to Answers in Genesis, which is full of just the sort of people I was looking for. The group is only a little over 3 years old, so I see this as a sign that Christians are starting to recognize the difficulties posed by Young Earth Creationism, and are taking a stand in support of reasonable belief (my words for it).

So the value in Peaceful Science is, at the lowest level, a place to have a better sort of argument. Joshua is aiming higher than that though, he wants to establish a place for Common Ground. So much of The Argument is people talking past each other, never trying to understand the other. How can we have meaningful discussions with people when we can’t even share a joke? Common Ground means having a little bit of understanding and compassion for the other guy, even when you disagree on almost everything. I have been able to establish a sort of common ground with a few YEC supporters on Facebook, but it’s damned hard work to gain their trust and respect. It’s so much easier just to argue, and most people never try to do anything more.
I wrote a post getting at this idea the other day, but I’m afraid the people who need it most haven’t read it yet.


The main value I see in Peaceful science is that it separates the religious argument from the scientific argument. Both theist and atheist scientists reject ID/creationism because it is bad science. All too often the debate is cast in the light of a Culture War between believers and non-believers, and this simply couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Peaceful science also allows non-scientists a glimpse into the world where scientists work. There has been a lot of misinformation related to how christians are treated in the sciences, such as the movie “Expelled” that was released a few years ago. At least in my own experiences, fellow scientists really don’t care about your religious views in the vast majority of cases. There are thousands and thousands of christian biologists who deal with the implications of evolutionary theory every day, and it is a non-issue. Atheist and christian scientists work side by side with no problems.

I would hope that the take home message is that the sciences are filled with people just like those you see in your everyday life. Being a christian has as much impact on how you are treated in the sciences as it does for being a plumber or a car mechanic. The sciences aren’t some scary atheist cabal looking to take your beliefs away. Christians are a very welcome part of the scientific community, and will continue to be for as far in the future as we can see.

I think this last bit is important for one reason: we need the best scientists we can find. How many potentially great scientists have been scared away from a very rewarding career because of a distorted view of the field? I would say that there are a significant number. That needs to be fixed.


I’d love to know what the ID advocates (or inclined) see valuable here. I’m also open to hearing how we can do better.

@johnnyb, @Agauger, @pnelson, @bjmiller, @EricMH, @colewd, @Ashwin_s, @Mung, @Eddie

Both atheists and ID are in an interesting position here, because they each disagree with me about something significant. We still found enough common ground to meet here. What is that common ground?

Not quite ID but working for organizations not aligned with evolutionary science:

@AJRoberts, @LTBaxter, @J.E.S, @Philosurfer, @Perry_Marshall
For my part I’ll say that I believe you all have added greatly to our community. I’m glad you are here. Why are you here? What has made this valuable to you? How can we do better (presuming we continue to disagree)?

I did not mention you it’s just because these lists are not meant to be exhaustive. Please add your voice. We want to hear from you, whoever you are and however you label yourself.


A post was split to a new topic: Are Scientists Tolerant?

I would echo @Jordan 's thoughts that this really is a unique place with very knowledgeable (and friendly) voices on a variety of religious and scientific topics. Too often one camp or other other will spew nonsense outside of their discipline and will not get called on it :slight_smile:

The topics covered here are of great interest, but virtually impossible to discuss civility on a typical internet forum. I greatly appreciate the civility and respect shown here, while people (correctly) do not hesitate to speak their mind or to provide laser targeted helpful questions and feedback.

These types of discussions are of particular interest to me in that I work for an organization that does not typically take a positive view of evolution and has some pretty set ways of thinking theologically. And yet the very target we are trying to reach, university professors, skeptics and seekers, can be extremely turned off by this stance. I personally think it is far more productive to try to understand alternative viewpoints, to come at things with an attitude of humility, and to not denigrate brothers and sisters whose interpretation of Scripture does not match your own.


I appreciate a lot of things here, but one of the non-obvious things is the push back I receive from people who might not receive such a hearing elsewhere. That is, there are those who might not have the normal credentials, but clearly have done a lot of study and research…and yet feel “left out” of the normal discussions. I appreciate that, while I’ve been treated respectfully as a “scholar,” I’ve not been handled with kid gloves. I like the push back and opportunity to articluate my case clearly. I think there are some out there who know more than the so-called “experts” but have not been given a forum to discuss and debate. Peaceful Science allows this. Yes, this also allows a few kooks to jump in, but the payoff is more than worth it.

I also appreciate the platform for non-evolutionists to express their opinion, as long as they are willing to be challenged and have to state their case.


I appreciate the diversity of fields that are covered by the participants and the wide range of topics. I look forward to some interesting discussions.

I would like to see fewer gratuitous digs at ID. I’d also like to see less mischaracterization of what ID supporters believe.

The system appears to believe that I am still a new poster on my first day. How long with that last?

I’d like to thank Joshua for the site. I’e heard from friends about their experiences at BioLogos and this seems to be a friendlier and more open place.