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“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

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October 29, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity
“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

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

Part 1 of Darrel's series can be found here.

I have just returned home from the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science Conference in Austin, Texas.

This is likely the first conference of its sort ever held. Although no young earth creation organizations were represented, many from Reasons to Believe and The Discovery Institute were there. Several of us who hold to the evolutionary creation perspective were asked to speak and lead breakout sessions as well.

I first learned of this meeting about a year and a half ago. At the time, we at BioLogos were very hesitant to participate and initially turned down the invitation. Not knowing the organizers, and based upon the prescribed set of speakers in the breakout sessions, our initial thoughts were that the BioLogos invite was largely tokenism. To be honest, we suspected that we were included largely to provide the impression that the view which accepts that mainstream biology is correct—was on the table. We doubted that it really was.

However, about a year ago, I had my first conversation with Larry Linenschmidt, one of the two organizers of the meeting. He stressed that our representation would be more than tokenism and indicated that some people whose work I highly admire would also be present. He assured me there would be broad representation of topics in the breakout sessions—that the deck would not be stacked. He also told me that the overarching theme of this meeting was Christian unity and that all speakers and participants would be held to a very high standard in this regard. I learned that he and his co-organizer, Dan Heinze, would visit with each speaker to ensure that all clearly understood the intended tone of the meeting. Upon receiving those assurances, I told him I would be honored to participate; the meeting’s purpose aligned nicely with ours.

The meeting proceeded at a grueling pace. It started each morning at 8:30 a.m. and went almost non-stop until about 9:00 p.m. On the first day, I did a 55 minute plenary talk at 4:00 p.m., a plenary testimony soon after dinner, and then led a breakout session immediately after that. On the second day, I participated in a plenary panel discussion and led another breakout session in the evening. Finally on the third day I participated in a panel discussion. Many of the speakers had a similar schedule; indeed mine was likely not as heavy as that of some of the others. Every detail of the meeting was planned in intricate detail and I have seldom, if ever, been to a meeting so carefully organized.

There was one session I was invited to co-lead about which I have always been very hesitant. The organizers knew how concerned I was about this session—a direct exchange in a breakout with Stephen Meyer. I have held the position that I would not engage in a public interchange with those who view creation so differently unless we who hold the pro-mainstream-biology position first met informally with those who hold the alternative view. The purpose of such a meeting would be to focus on that which we have in common—which is almost everything when one is a follower of Jesus. I wanted such a meeting to take place—a time of prayer, Bible study, worship, along with a time of thinking together about aspects of our projects where we have common goals and vision. I have wanted that meeting to take place before we publically engaged issues about which we disagree.

So although I had been especially hesitant about this one session, the organizers assured me that since they were travelling to personally meet with each speaker, I could be assured that even this session would exemplify Christians working together in a spirit of Christ-centered unity. We might differ on scientific and theological details, but we each would be held accountable to work within this context. I appreciated that.

It is hard to imagine anyone not recognizing how sensitive these discussions are. On the creation issue, the spirit of acrimony rather than the spirit of love, has too often ruled the day within the Christian community. This has done great harm to the cause of Christ. I know firsthand how fragile these discussions are and I was extremely hesitant to accept until the private meeting I desired had taken place. But the organizers, who I have appreciated so much, reassured me. I agreed to a breakout session with Steve Meyer.

Five days before the meeting, the Discovery Institute posted a statement about the upcoming event:

“Next week the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science becomes the God and evolution showdown in Austin…”

The posting then went on to state:

Attendees have three days of speakers and sessions but should prepare for a rumble on Thursday, October 28, when Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe will go up against Darrel Falk and Randy Isaac in a debate on the origin of life…

The way this was described by the Discovery Institute was exactly what had concerned me most about this meeting. Knowing that this may have been inadvertently put up by someone who was not aware of the intention of the meeting, I immediately contacted the organizers and asked that the statement be taken down and that it be replaced with a statement which indicated an assurance that the Discovery Institute was committed to enter into our breakout session, not in the spirit of a “God and evolution showdown” or a “rumble” but within the Spirit of Christian unity. I felt the task was difficult enough as it was that unless we both clarified our mutual commitment from the start it had the potential to harm the Church.

The organizers asked the Discovery Institute to take the statement down; it was not granted. I was told that it was an Associate Director of the Discovery Institute who had denied the request. I felt strongly that there was a need to publically acknowledge that the tone of the post was not consistent with the nature of the meeting. I also felt that it was important to make a public statement about our commitment to work together in the Spirit of Christ. Because an Associate Director of the Institute acknowledged that he knew about it and wouldn’t grant the request, I pulled out.

BioLogos remains more concerned than ever about ensuring that we all—together as Christians—can come to peace with mainstream science, including biology. We do not think it is fundamentally flawed even though we know there are those who have misused it for their own philosophical agendas. We look forward to ongoing discussions with those who see things differently---but not where it has been announced to be a showdown and not where it has been presented as a rumble.

Darrel Falk is former president of BioLogos and currently serves as BioLogos' Senior Advisor for Dialog. He is Professor of Biology, Emeritus at Point Loma Nazarene University and serves as Senior Fellow at The Colossian Forum. Falk is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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Papalinton - #37998

November 1st 2010

Hi Jon Garvey

“@Cal - #37982

Papalinton likes shaky ground. It means you can’t see the cracks in the argument so clearly.”

The ground is shaking, and a review of the last 100 years, together with the many irreconcilable rifts surfacing within that various christian positions [reflected in the varying views from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to Bishop Spong,  the views of Mohler, the demise of Bruce Waltke from the Dallas Theological Seminary, the inerrantists and the more liberal interpreters of the bible, the creationists and the evolutionists, even the requirement to have christian scholars sign a letter of the inerrant nature of the bible to affirm its authenticity because it simply cannot stand on its own merits and no one can be personally trusted to aver that inerrancy, you name it]  a largely tribal, internecine squabble, all seeking the ascendancy of their particular stripe of christianity,  tells me which side is inexorably ebbing, and which side of the ground is shaky.


Cal - #38004

November 1st 2010


Thus it ends my dear friend. Like the wind you dance about, flowing to and fro from topic to topic. The Status of the commercial church means little, the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, the Masiach, the Christus, remains victorious for Love remains and will remain.

May the truth set us all free

Papalinton - #38006

November 1st 2010

Hi BradK

“If the author of Luke-Acts were the same Luke mentioned in Acts and in Paul’s letters, ..”

I repeat, in dating Luke’s gospel, which is addressed to “most excellent Theophilus”, it should first be noted that nowhere does the author identify himself as the Luke who was a companion of Paul, mentioned in three Pauline epistles.  In fact , other than the title “the Gospel according to Luke”- which is admitted by all authorities to be an addition and not original to the text- Luke’s name does not show up in any gospel.  If he was that famous some mention of Luke at that time would have been noted.  Again, despite outward appearances, it is by no means certain that the author of Luke, who was neither an apostle nor a known disciple, was anywhere near in time to the events he is recording.

Brad, you say,  “We can wildly speculate on all kinds of things, like dating Luke-Acts late in the second century.  That is very much a minority view that needs a lot of support, isn’t it?”

No.  It quite rapidly moving that way.


Papalinton - #38010

November 1st 2010

Hi Cal
Please don’t pray for me because prayer is what you do when you can’t do something useful.

And I accord with you, truth will set us free.

And I say love for love’s sake solely and and do good for goodness sake only.  Much less complicated and much more universal in character.


DWDMD - #38038

November 1st 2010

I am sorry I missed this conference - was planning to go, but got stuck having surgery instead. Darrell, you did the right thing in backing out because you stuck to your ideals and were honorable, which the DI was not. Tonight, on the eve of election day, I think I hate all politics, because it is all about distorting the truth to gain some personal end. In this case, DI was proposing to change a constructive session into a circus. I have seen Stephen Meyer’s so-called “debates” on his own website before; he simply steamrollers (new verb) over the other person’s arguments without addressing their points - glad you didn’t get involved with that.

Barry - #38039

November 1st 2010

You know, if you guys would look at how far adrift from the original blog posting you’ve come, and see that you’ve ended up in shallow fist fights over your own trivial arguments, you would see that you are turning BioLogos into nothing more than the stereotypical discussion board where people with hard to please egos stay up until all hours trying to make personal points before an audience of only several. What a waste of time. Is this what Dr. Collins and Dr. Falk had in mind when setting up this site? Is this what one can expect to find every day here?

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