BioLogos’s New Comments Policy

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October 25, 2013 Tags: BioLogos

Today's entry was written by Jim Stump. You can read more about what we believe here.

BioLogos’s New Comments Policy

Update: In a move that will probably be compared by some to a flip-flopping politician, we’ve reversed (with some qualification) the change in policy explained below. See our rationale and updated comments policy here.

For a long time I resisted participating in the inevitable march of higher education in the 21st century toward online delivery systems. I like the classroom environment and in-person interaction where I can see the whites of my students’ eyes. But I was eventually compelled to teach a “hybrid” course in which there was some face-to-face classroom teaching, while most of it was online. To my surprise it was a good experience, and although I still prefer the real classroom to the virtual one, I learned there are some benefits to online education. One of the big ones has to do with student participation. Even in a classroom of only 15-20 students, it is easy for a few to monopolize the conversation. Personality types surface pretty quickly in such an environment and professors have to do their best not to let the alpha males and females dominate. Online it’s a different story: students who cowered in the back of the bricks and mortar classroom might come alive online and contribute insightfully when they can take their time and craft their comments for a virtual discussion.

Interestingly, as blogs have worked themselves into the fabric of our society, the same kinds of concerns have surfaced about readers and comments. Does everyone feel comfortable to comment in the wide-open “no holds barred” format that has become standard for blogs? And what do comments contribute to understanding the issues? Popular Science has recently shut down comments on their blog, in part because of a study that shows how comments to an article can actually affect how other readers interpret the article content.

We’ve been talking about how well our current open comments policy on the blog serves the purpose of facilitating discussion within the BioLogos community. So we did our own study, and it turns out that our comments section does very well at facilitating conversation among very few people. We have multiple tens of thousands of unique visitors to our site per month. During the month of September, 93.7% of the comments made on the blog came from .026% of our visitors. That leaves a lot of voices “cowering in the back of the classroom” (in a virtual sense, of course). So we’d like to try something different.

Beginning next week, comments on the blog will typically be closed (there may be some exceptions to that policy for certain posts). Instead, we’ll invite readers to submit their comments and questions to an email address (comments@biologos.org). Then, every so often we’ll ask the author of the blog post to respond to some of the best of these, and we’ll feature them in a “Letters to the Editor” format on the blog. We want to see if this encourages more people to join in the dialogue about origins. Perhaps we’ll revert to the open policy at some future time, but we thought we’d give this a try. For now our Facebook page will remain open for comments. And comments to this post are open for one last time.

 


Jim Stump has served as the Content Manager at BioLogos since August 2013. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates the existing content. Jim's PhD is in philosophy from Boston University where he wrote a dissertation on the history and philosophy of science. He is the author (with Chad Meister) of Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010) and the editor (with Alan Padgett) of the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Jim is a frequent speaker at churches and other groups on topics at the intersection of science and Christianity.

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Merv - #83185

October 25th 2013

I appreciate the desire to draw the other 99.9% into more active participation.  However I’m not sure how removing this process from its current format to an apparently more restrictive one will accomplish that.  It could be that if comments can be emailed in without readers having to go through a registration wall (which may be a significant ideological or religious barrier for some) that maybe more quality responses will come in.  But again—site visitors will never know the benefit of such increased participation if the vast majority of these emails never see the light of blogosphere.  My main concern is that I have had extreme benefit from some commentors who link to other valuable sources.  I hope that you have adequate staffing to keep all such valuable interactions available.


Eddie - #83186

October 25th 2013

Mr. Stump:

I suspect that one of the main reasons that BioLogos gets low participation from the mass of its readers is that only a very small percentage of the columnists ever respond to the readers.  If you look at the websites that are very active, with much reader participation, the writers of the blogs interact quite often with the commenters, in some cases making a point of responding to every commenter.  When even the shyest commenter gets a reply from the author, that (a) encourages the shy commenter to comment more often, knowing that even if the other commenters are ignoring him or her, the author isn’t; (b) encourages other shy commenters to take a stab at commenting, in hopes that the author will interact with them as well.  Currently, however, only Ted Davis and Dennis Venema interact frequently with commenters.  The majority of columnists here either never interact with commenters at all, or interact with at most one reply.

It seems as if most of the writers of columns here don’t want to be part of any discussion of what they write—which is odd for a site which is constantly preaching the value of having an open “conversation” about faith and science issues.  If BioLogos truly wants conversation, it must actually model it, by taking the time to offer substantive replies to people (some of whom have often taken an hour or more to craft thoughtful and educated replies).

If you look back at the columns under the old posts (I assume that the comments still exist, but are suppressed), you will find that a much greater number of people posted a few years ago than now.  This was in part because columnists used to engage more—Pete Enns and Kenton Sparks, for example.  The President, Darrel Falk, was often frequently found putting in a word in various discussions.  But all of that is a thing of the past.  The current top two figures (President and Senior Scholar) are invisible as far as discussion goes, a large portion of the columns are “reprints” of columns previously run, the occasional columnists rarely engage, and of the regular columnists (who seem fewer than before), only two regularly engage.  The message that comes across (however unintentional) is that most of the writers of the columns here don’t really care very much what the readers think about what they wrote, and that the management doesn’t care very much whether or not the columnists engage with the readers.  That is not an impression which is likely to bring shy people out of the woodwork.  

I am not saying that you should not try your new experiment.  It seems to me, however, that your diagnosis of the problem puts all the “blame” for low participation on some of the commenters, i.e., on those who comment frequently and thus may be intimidating others from commenting, and does not challenge the BioLogos writers (including occasional writers) and management to make a greater effort to respond to thoughtful readers.

One thing you could do, for example, is lay an obligation upon guest columnists to respond, at least once a week, for up to a month after publication, providing answers to questions of clarification and responses to all constructive comments from readers.  If that were a condition of publication, you could slowly build up a group of occasional columnists who actually enjoy interacting with readers here.  This would be a pleasant change from past practice, where 90% of the guest columnists drop their pearls of wisdom and are never to be heard from again.  

It’s like the difference between a sermon and a Bible study.  In a sermon, the congregation is not expected to talk back, but only to listen.  In a Bible study, the participants are encouraged to talk back to the discussion leader.  BioLogos would attract more response if its columnists acted less like sermon-givers and more like Bible-study leaders.

Best wishes.


paul.bruggink1 - #83187

October 25th 2013

Just because most of the comments come from a small fraction of readers doesn’t mean that the rest of use don’t enjoy reading most of them, and what’s wrong with possibly affecting how readers interpret the content of a blog. You’re never going to be able to control that.

Your proposed solution to your “problem” is going to cut off all discussion of blog content. I think that is sad. 


Jon Garvey - #83193

October 25th 2013

Paul

Reading around some of the cmments on the web about Popular Science and its decision to ditch comments (so I didn’t read it there, of course), a link to the study in question showed that readers already predisposed against a (test) article were polarised by “uncivil discussion” -  not that views were changed. 

And it was uncivil discussion that was the issue being researched - not something I’ve noticed as the norm on BioLogos, in contrast to Popular Science. Sounds to me like the misappliance of science.

Incidentally yesterday on my own blog I had 660 hits, and no comments. I don’t intend to close comments, though, because most of those hits were spambots ... one hopes BioLogos software can distinguish these.


Jimpithecus - #83210

October 25th 2013

As a Biologos author, I tend to agree with this comment.  Very often, someone will comment directly on a blog post with either a well-considered contrary opinion or contraevidence that readers might not know exists.  Yes, there are the blog commenters that make you bang your head against a wall because they never seem to understand the concepts (e.g. comments to Dennis Venema’s posts) but I think this is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Having a “letters to the editor” section forces readers to have to reassociate the letters to the original posts since the two will not be contiguous (I assume). 


Jon Garvey - #83213

October 25th 2013

Hi Jim

I put a late post about H erectus skulls on your recent Neanderthal thread - any chance of feedback before the gates shut? Good columns, by the way - I don’t tend to have much to say on the technical articles, but palaeontology was always close to my biological heart, if I hadn’t ended up in medicine.

Jon


hanan-d - #83214

October 25th 2013

Jon,

I guess your blog will be my new home. Do you have a contact info on your site?


Jon Garvey - #83216

October 25th 2013

Here we are, hanan-d. Bring a bottle.


Matthew Winegar - #83189

October 25th 2013

I haven’t commented much (this is actually just my 3rd comment, but I set my account up a couple of months ago for the purpose of participating in discussion).  We’ll see how this goes I suppose.  I think, as Eddie said above, increased participation in the comments section from the Article authors would work perhaps better.  Hopefully this will help keep the comments that display more ‘on topic’ and things like that, and hopefully it will not result in legitimate dialog being suppressed (either because it doesn’t make the ‘best of’ cut, or because people don’t bother to email comments).

I would pray that God would give the blog operators wisdom in implementing this policy, including the wisdom to know if it should be changed.  May His will be done.


James Stump - #83194

October 25th 2013

Thank you for the fair comments thus far.  I left the comments open today (against the recommendations of some) knowing that that people would like to weigh in on this new policy, and expecting that many of the comments would be critical of it.  So let me respond to a few points:

This was a team decision that was made.  I was initially against it.  But then a couple of weeks ago, I jumped in on the comments for a post—on one that I hadn’t written, but felt the compulsion to try to correct some of the misimpressions that had resulted.  From that experience I realized the amount of time it takes to read, think about, and respond to comments.  And given the nature of a daily blog, that time must be invested immediately.  It becomes fairly consuming.  Since all of our bloggers have other jobs, it’s not feasible to think that they could invest that kind of time responding.  Instead, we think it will increase author response by submitting a few questions or comments to them, and giving them a few days to respond.

In the early days of BioLogos, the organzation was only a website.  The leadership spent its time significantly on our online presence.  That isn’t the case anymore.  The blog is one part of a complex organization which has extended its influence far beyond the blog.  The way our leadership spends their time now reflects this organizational change.

As I said, this is an experiment.  We’re a scientifically minded organization, and we’d like to see some data.  If the readership of the blog drops significantly under this new policy, we’d take that as evidence that many of our readers come here for the comments.  And in that case, we might change the kind of content we post and make it more of an open forum for online dialogue.  We’ll also see how many comments we get through the email system and whether this is an efficient way to encourage dialogue with the blog authors.  It is possible that this is a miserable mistake on our part, in which case we’ll aim to correct it as soon as that is evident.  We’re testing a hypothesis.  We’ll go where the evidence leads.


Jon Garvey - #83197

October 25th 2013

James

I would like to set the record straight, as the person whose “misapprehension” prompted your response on the neurology thread. The question I raised about the inconsistency between the content of the article, and other published views from BioLogos led, after your two replies, to a fruitful conversation of 81 posts on that thread, which then crossed over to the “Expanding the paradigm” thread with 107 posts, and then to Ted’s post on Boyle, where so far 62 posts have appeared. A good number of people found it important to contribute.

All it has lacked is an adequate BioLogos response to my initial question, which arose not from any misapprehension, but from perception of the single most controversial issue in BioLogos’ position, not only amongst posters here, but in the wider Evangelical and Christian community.

Sure, it takes time and effort to engage with reasoned criticism, but if that’s not what BioLogos is for, then what function does it serve?


James Stump - #83202

October 25th 2013

Hi Jon, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that the misapprehension was yours.  Rather, it was on the part of several (perhaps many) of our readers as a result of your comment.  Namely, BioLogos doesn’t have a position on how God interacts with the natural world.  We think there are several legitimate, defensible options open to those who believe God creates and sustains through the evolutionary process.  Not everyone within BioLogos agrees on how God does this.  We think it is an important issue, and one that needs attention.  We’re not convinced at present, though, that the best forum for working through this issue is on the blog comments.  Yes, lots of comments were made on those posts—comments by the same handful of people.  We’re aware that this policy change affects those few people in a significant way, and we’re sorry to pull away from them a vehicle that has been meaningful.  But we’re trying to determine if there have been many more who were affected negatively by the old policy.  We’ve already received emails to the new comments address thanking us for the change.  We’ll let the scenario play out a bit before jumping to conclusions either way.


hanan-d - #83205

October 25th 2013

I don’t know what to say. 

This is actually quite upsetting. So because some readers feel intimidated the rest of the voices have to suffer? Those in the back of the class have always been free to send private emails to BioLogos. Part of the power of any blog is the back and forth discussion, and it so rare to have a blog like this that actually has CIVIL discussion. Sure there is passion, but it never digresses into anything vile as you would find on PZ myers or anti religion blog. If someone is mis-representing the intent of the article and is cowering in the back, that is the fault of the blog author for not answering disenting voices, not the commentators. If not for the commentators here I would never have known that there are discenting voices even within the evolution camp. Doesn’t that contribute to the overall discussion? 

To tell you the truth, (and I am sure I am not alone) it has always been the great comments on this site that has made me return every single day (hour?). I’m not sure there is a reason to return all that much now that you are removing comments. 


hanan-d - #83206

October 25th 2013

Now I have to find a way to save all my favorite past posts with the comments onto my desktop. 


paul.bruggink1 - #83207

October 25th 2013

hanan-d,

I’ve been doing that since the beginning of BioLogos, and refer to them frequently. Have fun!

This whole situation reminds me of when the American Scientific Affiliation decided to shut down their wonderful e-mail discussion group because of a couple of passing problems.

Fortunately, there are now other blogs that frequently cover creation-evolution issues and have active real-time commenting.


hanan-d - #83208

October 25th 2013

How do you do it? I’m assuming there is no way to PDF it or something.


paul.bruggink1 - #83221

October 25th 2013

hanan-d,

I just copy and paste the blog & comments to a Word file and put it in an appropriately-titled folder. I also copy and paste the web address, to make it easy to go back and check for any additional comments.


hanan-d - #83209

October 25th 2013

I would also like to say this. Your site is not only visited by Christians seeking answers. I am Jewish. Though we don’t share all beliefs, I would say much of our journey lies on the same path. It is by virtue of the back and forth discussion (and Ted Davies) that has led me to have a better appreciation and an ability to sharpen theology. 


nedbrek - #83215

October 25th 2013

I wonder how many remember me

 

I have been following along all this time using the comment RSS feed.  I don’t think I’ve said much of late though.  I think I can name the .026% percent, and where they stand on the issues


Richard W - #83217

October 25th 2013

Is it possible to have both the comments section AND the email system?  That would cover everyone’s needs.

I am one of the, “cowering in the back” readers here, having only posted 3-4 times.  But it isn’t because I’m uncomfortable with the free-for-all format, its becuase I’m not as well versed in the subjects typically presented here as a lot of others are, and enjoy learning from their posts.  In fact, I feel probably I learn, and enjoy, more from the comments then from the articles in many cases.  I honestly think its a big mistake to take away the ability to post comments from the many posters here that are so learned in these subjects and have so much to offer.  Also, I love to read the back and forth threads, even if some of the arguments offered from one side aren’t very sharp.  If there’s any chance you could reconsider taking down the comment section, please do.


Hannah C - #83242

October 26th 2013

I agree with you. This is my second comment and the reason I don’t comment is because I often have nothing to add, as I am not an expert in anything being discuseed, not because I am a ‘‘shy commentor’‘.


glsi - #83244

October 26th 2013

That’s too bad you felt that way, Hannah, we would’ve welcomed your comments.  You don’t need to be an expert around here, just a little common sense and critical thinking skills are all it takes.  

 

 Years after publishing On the Origen of Species, Charles Darwin invented yet another theory of “gemmules” (imaginary particles) and Pangenesis whereby a child could supposedly inherit the traits of a parent acquired during their lifetime such as scar tissue from a burn.  One didn’t need to be an “expert” in 1868 to disprove his theories using nothing more than the simplest observation and clarity of thought.  And yet the world today considers him one of the greatest experts of all time.

 

Don’t sell yourself short!


Peter Hickman - #83219

October 25th 2013

I am very disappointed by this decision. As a frequent visitor to the site (and an infrequent but by no means shy commenter) I value the discussions as much if not more than the blogs themselves.

The loss of the ability to comment devalues the site and as a consequence I would expect you to see a significant reduction in activity.

I hope you will reconsider, and quickly.


Scott Jorgenson - #83224

October 25th 2013

As an infrequent commenter myself, and a theistic evolutionist who pretty much agrees with most everything Biologos stands for, and with the specific content of the blog authors most of the time - I agree with Peter.  Biologos commenters tend to be knowledgeable and civil and represent multiple perspectives from the occasional YEC to non-believers; their dialog is a significant asset and supplement to the blog articles.  Taking that free flow out of public view and replacing it with a necessarily more time-delayed, circumspect and one-way “Letters to the Editor” format will significantly diminish the value of the Biologos site to visitors/readers like me.

In addition, by shutting down the free back-and-forth that online commenting gives, Biologos will be playing into the hands of detractors.  Free and open speech is a universal modern value and it benefits Biologos to accommodate that value, because doing so positions Biologos as a more fair, respectable and open partner in the origins conversation than other, more controlling and dictatorial, organizations (say, Answers in Genesis).  Biologos will be shooting itself in the foot.

I too hope you will reconsider.

 


sy - #83226

October 25th 2013

I have recently returned to the Biologos web site after an absense of several months. First I would like to echo Merv’s comment above. I have had two articles posted on the site, and I responded to almost all comments. Both blogs had a large number of comments (about 90 each). I am a busy person, but I feel passionate about the mission of Biologos, and it was worth my time to do this.

I will be frank. I believe this is a terrible decision. It means the end of the Biologos blog as a means to increase communication about faith and science. I follow this blog more to see the comments of interesting and thougthful  people like Jon Garvey and Merv, Eddie and so many others, than to read the actual articles, which vary in quality. Ted Davis produces wonderful articles, and he and Dennis Venema teach us from their comments as well as from their articles.

I am very concerned that this decision is underscoring a shift in Biologos direction. You mention that Biologos leadership is heading in a different direction. This leaves us guessing, since we will not know what that direction is, without the blog.

One also wonders what is meant by the Biologos community. If the blog goes away (as it will, following implementation of this decision) how will you define such a “community”?

I understand that this decision is not up for discussion or debate. It has been made. But I think you should realize that it isnt going to be easy to reverse it, once you see how badly conceived it is. Web sites that turn away visitors for whatever reason do not survive.

 

I am truly sorry to see this happening, and I count this a black day for the cause of harmony between science and Christian faith.


Eddie - #83227

October 25th 2013

One last comment, Mr. Stump, if I may:

” ... BioLogos doesn’t have a position on how God interacts with the natural world.  We think there are several legitimate, defensible options open to those who believe God creates and sustains through the evolutionary process.  Not everyone within BioLogos agrees on how God does this.  We think it is an important issue, and one that needs attention.  We’re not convinced at present, though, that the best forum for working through this issue is on the blog comments.”

What, then, is the best forum for working through that issue?  The blog columns themselves, sans comments?  Accepting that suggestion, for the sake of argument, and bearing in mind that at any time in the past, any columnist could have requested that comments be disallowed, and management has always had the option of not allowing comments on any particular column, why has there not been even one BioLogos column in the past 6 years that directly tackles the question of God’s involvement in the evolutionary process?  Especially when the readership has been crying out for BioLogos to offer some coherent views on the subject?  

If BioLogos is dealing with the issue somewhere else, where is it?  I’ve looked through the list of BioLogos grants; I haven’t seen one grant to any scholar/theologian/scientist for working specifically on the question “How God interacts with the evolutionary process.”  

If BioLogos is not interested in producing an account of God’s role in evolution that is compatible with orthodox Christian faith, it has no raison d’etre.  If the proposed mechanisms of evolution cannot be reconciled with orthodox Christian faith, then orthodox Christian faith must reject evolution.  So the theoretical question, the theological question, the question of how God in involved in the evolutionary process, is absolutely central—more important than any subsidiary question about genomes or fossils etc.

BioLogos has so far failed to respond to every challenge it has received on that question.  And now it wishes to further duck the question by shutting down on the commenters who have very articulately raised it.  If Dennis Venema, and the President, and the Senior Scholar, are unwilling now to discuss the central theological question publically, when the commenters are putting salutary Christian pressure on them to do so, they will have even less motivation to do so once the irritating questions are erased from the public eye.

What I’ve tried to do here, as someone with a Ph.D. specifically in the area of religion and science (from one of the top 10 academic religion departments in the world), is to induce the BioLogos scientists, pastors, etc., to engage on the substantive theological questions.  I’ve been consistently disappointed at how little they have been willing to do so.  This policy just underscores that unwillingness.

Best wishes to all those who have contributed to my education on this site.  To Ted Davis, for his columns on science and theology (which are currently the only columns, in my view, that actually address the original mission of BioLogos), and to the many civil commenters such as Jon and Merv and Lou and Sy, and to many others from the past who seem to have abandoned commenting but whose thoughts I found helpful.  I hope all of you can find new public venues for discussing the core issues in the relationship between theology and science.  Perhaps The Hump of the Camel will now inherit the mantle of BioLogos as the focal point for such discussions.  In any case, I hope some of us will meet again.


sy - #83235

October 25th 2013

Eddie

I think that comment is right on target, and as you know I do agree with you that the hard work is to answer that question, in order to finally resolve the doubts of so many Christians about evolution. Its one thing to say that evolution is God’s way of creation, but then the question is how does that work. I think there are answers, and though I dont know what they are, I have the sense that we can make real progress in finding them. And this will require both science and theology to get there.

I am sure we will meet again, and will continue these discussions. However, I still mourn the loss of Biologos as a viable and highly respected site for the highest level of discussion of these and so many other issues. I remain baffled.


Lou Jost - #83256

October 27th 2013

Eddie, I hope our paths will cross again somewhere. I particularly enjoyed discussions with you, though we often disagreed. I also  would like to express my gratitude to Ted Davis and Dennis Venema for interesting posts and for participating in the ensuing discussions. I think this has been virtually the only site where thoughtful, civil, deep discussions between atheists and theists regularly occurred. I am quite sad for the change in comment policy and the breakup of this community. However, it should not come as a surprise. We could see long ago that the management did not value our comments, since they always erased them after six months.

By the way, Jerry Coyne just wrote a post about BioLogos’ change in commenting policy:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/biologos-eliminates-reader-comments/

Jerry includes a long excerpt from your (Eddie’s) comment, saying that it was right on target.

I should add that several people on Jerry’s site complimented the scientific clarity of Dennis Venema’s posts here.


PNG - #83229

October 25th 2013

I agree with other commenters that I’m disappointed to hear of this decision. I remember when the ASA just changed the format of the old e-mail discussion group to being web-based. I learned more on the science-theology issue on that e-mail discussion than anything since. That wonderful discussion community dispersed and never reformed under the new format. The forums still exist but are a shadow of the former community. (Perhaps their Open Forum, which now gets very little activity and doesn’t require membership, would be a suitable venue for the present active Biologos commenters. There is of course no reason that threads corresponding to specific Biologos posts couldn’t be started by anyone who wishes to.   http://network.asa3.org/forums/topics.asp?forum=119210&)

I’m glad to hear that Biologos has many more visitors than those who comment. I was actually about to e-mail a question about this to the management. I’d be interested to know how e-mail responses, past and future, stack up as, say, positive and negative opinions on Biologos and the information provided in the Resources and blog posts.

Finally, I appreciate James’ point about how demanding it is for posters to respond to comments. Frankly, I’m amazed that Ted and Dennis can devote as much time to Biologos as they do, as I have a pretty good idea how demanding it is to have a “day job” as a college professor. I really appreciate their efforts, as I’m sure the other commenters do as well.


PNG - #83230

October 25th 2013

Eddie’s last post crossed cyberspace while I was still composing. I think he will agree, but in any case I would suggest that the most important question is not the details of how God interacts with creation (any answer to which is inherently speculative and untestable) but the question of the extent of his control, which is a basic theological matter. Is it really coherent or acceptable for Christians to think in terms of a “freedom” of the non-human parts of creation? With or without comments, Biologos needs to address this.


Hanan D - #83232

October 25th 2013

>Is it really coherent or acceptable for Christians to think in terms of a “freedom” of the non-human parts of creation?

Why the need? Well, I think I understand the need and correct me if I am wrong. You see the scientific evidence which shows unguided random evolution, but aren’t conformtable giving it to humans, so you desire Man to be the one exception. But why? It is the same mechanism, no? Is there any scientific reason you see in giving man the exception to the evolutionary rule in light of the fact that they are both using the same random mechanism? If there is freedom to non-human why should it be different to human, and vice versa. If theology is playing a role in one area you should be consistent given the evidence you have to deal with.

take care

-Hanan


PNG - #83234

October 25th 2013

I’m not sure what you are saying. Obviously most of us assume (all of us in practice) that at least some human actions are free. The question is whether atoms and DNA molecules are left to their own “freedom” in evolution (whether the evolution of viruses or humans), whatever that could mean, or whether God controls the outcomes, regardless of proximate causes. Historically, both the old Hebrew faith (you can correct me if I’m wrong about that) and Christianity have I think held that God created according to his will (he determined exactly what came to be.) Personally I think this is a question of theological commitment, not an empirical question, although of course athiests and some others disagree. I’m just saying that I agree with Jon, Eddie and others that Biologos needs to quit avoiding the question.


Hanan D - #83293

October 29th 2013

>The question is whether atoms and DNA molecules are left to their own “freedom” in evolution (whether the evolution of viruses or humans), whatever that could mean, or whether God controls the outcomes, regardless of proximate causes. 

Then did I just misunderstand you PNG? It seems you wanted to suggest that non-humans were under the control of random (free) mechanisms but not humans. My question is yes, I agree, how can you be a believer in a theistic God if evolution has free reighns, but, why, according to the given evidence would you say only non-humans are regulated by randomness and not humans? Does the empirical evidence show evolution treating humans differently? 

I hope that clarifies things


glsi - #83238

October 25th 2013

Well, I know a lot of you are disappointed, but I like to look for the good and rejoice in the Lord for all things, always knowing that the truth will come out in the end and not remain silent.  Thanks for letting my little voice be heard amongst the learned and the wise.  It’s been a gas hanging out with all of you!


Aniko - #83239

October 26th 2013

As another frequent reader and infrequent commenter - one that, ironically, was just planning to start to participate more - I share the disappointment of the majority of the commenters above and think this is an unfortunate decision.

The quality of comments on this blog has been exceptionally high, and the tone impressively civil (those who have participated in discussions of science and religion on other forums know what the typical fare looks like in comparison). I have appreciated the opportunity to read the excellent conversations here as much as I have appreciated the original articles (without confusing the different positions, I think), and I never felt intimidated by anyone - my lack of participation was due to time constraints.

I believe open conversation is important, especially in this area, and I can’t conceive of how it could be detrimental to whatever direction Biologos is planning to move in. I hope the decision to close comments will be reconsidered. As Richard W. said, why not have both comments and the “letter to the editor” opportunity?


GJDS - #83240

October 26th 2013

I will add my dissapointment at the changes to the BioLogos policy on comments and discussion. I understand that time constraints may prevent authors from participating with all comments, and also the web format may lead to a few appearing to have the largest say - but these matters are relatively minor compared to what BioLogos has achieved with this format; I have been greatly impressed by the diversity of opinion and argument from comments by people who have deeply held convictions. The majority are Christians of various backgrounds (which I have found by far the most stimulating aspect of this site), but also I feel that everyone benefits (including myself) from hearing opinions that are adversarial. I have not been a participant in internet discussions for about a year, but during during this time. I have found the BioLogos site far more interesting and thus I can justify spending the time I have reading and posting. 


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