From BioLogos President Darrel Falk and Senior Web Editor, Mark Sprinkle
Most daily posts on the BioLogos Forum begin with the observation that we are “pleased to feature essays from various guest voices in the science-and-religion dialogue,” even when the views expressed are not those of The BioLogos Foundation. This week, we take that commitment to engage in charitable dialogue with those who disagree with us in a new direction by posting the first of several essays from Southern Baptist scholars along with our responses to their concerns and arguments—a series we are calling Southern Baptist Voices.
This series came out of conversations one of us (DF) had some time ago with Dr. Kenneth Keathley, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, when we met at a conference. We talked about BioLogos and he expressed some concerns about the BioLogos point of view. As the conversation continued, Ken summarized our differences and the very important things we have in common with an equally gracious spirit. With that in mind, we asked him if he would arrange for several contributions from fellow Southern Baptist seminarians to address the concerns that he and his colleagues have about the BioLogos view of scripture, theology, and biology. We suggested that various BioLogos staff members or associates could respond in turn to each of those concerns and we agreed that the discussion would take place in the context of mutual respect as followers of Jesus. Nothing would be posted unless it had received the approval of each of us, together.
Tomorrow we begin our Southern Baptist Voices series with part 1 of an essay from Dr. Keathley, outlining the first three of six areas of his own concern. Part 2 of Dr. Keathley’s personal overview will follow on Wednesday, with the BioLogos response to be posted on Thursday and Friday. Even as we move forward with this dialogue on the pages of the BioLogos Forum its form will continue to develop, as each paper and response will reflect the scholarly expertise and style of its particular author, even though writing as representatives of opposing perspectives on these issues of science and faith. For instance, this first essay from Dr. Keathley is introductory and thereby covers a broader scope of issues than the pieces that will follow, and similarly, our response gives pointers towards how we intend to build upon this beginning, rather than exhaustive arguments.
But whether a paper in this series frames the breadth of the debate in clear terms or delves into specific issues more deeply, our intention in initiating this series together was not to engage in a tit-for-tat argument, but rather, for each of us to take the points of the other under serious consideration, recognizing them as issues with which the church needs to think carefully about together going forward. In other words, we understand these papers to be the beginning of a more charitable and respectful engagement with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not the end of the discussion.
Over the coming months, six more Southern Baptist Voices will post essays to follow Dr. Keathley’s introductory essay. Biologos will post a response to each. The essays yet to come are as follows:
- Dr. John D. Laing, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will write on “Evolution and Death.”
- Dr. Bruce Little, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Seminary will write on “Evolution and Essentialism.”
- Dr. John Hammett, Professor of Systematic Theology and Associate Dean, Theological Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will write on “Evolutionary Creationism and the Imago Dei.”
- Dr. Steve Lemke, Provost, and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, will write on "Evolution and the Problem of Evil."
- Dr William Dembski, Research Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will write on “Is Darwinism Theologically Neutral.” (BioLogos does not subscribe to Darwinism, but Dr. Dembski has chosen this title and we will respond to it.)
- Dr. James K Dew, Assistant Professor of the History of Ideas and Philosophy, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will write on “Teleological Arguments, Theistic Evolution, and Intelligent Design.”
Given the commitment to productive dialogue on the part of both BioLogos and our Southern Baptist colleagues, we hope that this paper and the ones that will follow will generate important conversation on our site and beyond. But because public discourse in this area has not always been productive, or even always civil, we at BioLogos have decided to adjust the way we invite the engagement of our readers with these posts. In short, we want to make sure that the comments and discussion here occur with the spirit of respect that we have pledged to maintain in the essays themselves. First of all, though we will publish Dr. Keathley’s essay and our response in two parts each, we will not open the essays to comments until later this week when both papers have been posted in their entireties. Our hope is that this procedure will encourage thoughtful consideration of each section of the arguments as well as their wholes. Furthermore, in addition to reminding readers to adhere to our commenting guidelines, we will be more actively monitoring the comments as they are posted so that both tone and content are consistent with the BioLogos aim of creating a space of conversation, rather than confrontation.
We hope and pray that this dialogue will bring greater clarity to the issues at hand, charity towards those with whom we disagree, and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.