The BioLogos Foundation’s Theology of Celebration II Workshop

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January 11, 2011 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

The BioLogos Foundation’s Theology of Celebration II Workshop

On November 9-11, 2010, a group of pastors, church leaders, scholars, scientists, and informed laypersons met in New York City for the second Theology of Celebration BioLogos Workshop. In light of the scientific consensus that has emerged about the origin of the universe and of life’s diversity, there was extensive discussion around the following three themes:

  • The theological significance of Adam and Eve’s historicity
  • The nature of divine activity in a world where life has been created through an evolutionary process
  • The appropriate response to the emphasis on scientism that has emerged from some in the secular scientific community

After much dialogue, the following statement emerged, which represents a summary of the discussion, as no attempt was made to develop a binding consensus statement.

Summary Statement

Science and Faith

We affirm historic Christianity as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds. Beyond the original creation, God continues to act in the natural world by sustaining it and by providentially guiding it toward the goal of a restored and consummated creation. In contrast to Deism, Biologos affirms God’s direct involvement in human history, including singular acts such as the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, as well as ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.

We also affirm the value of science, which eloquently describes the glory of God’s creation. We stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom faith and science are mutually hospitable, and we see no necessary conflict between the Bible and the findings of science. We reject, however, the unspoken philosophical presuppositions of scientism, the belief that science is the sole source of all knowledge.

In recent years voices have emerged who seek to undermine religious faith as intellectually disreputable, in part because of its alleged dissonance with science. Some go further, characterizing religion as a “mind virus” or a cultural evil. While many of their ideas are not new, these voices are often identified as the New Atheists, and scientism undergirds their thinking.

In contrast to scientism, we deny that the material world constitutes the whole of reality and that science is our only path to truth. For all its fruitfulness, science is not an all-inclusive source of knowledge; scientism fails to recognize its limitations in fully understanding reality, including such matters as beauty, history, love, justice, friendship, and indeed science itself.

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Accounts of Origins

We affirm without reservation both the authority of the Bible and the integrity of science, accepting each of the “Two Books” (the Word and Works of God) as God’s revelations to humankind. Specifically, we affirm the central truth of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve in revealing the character of God, the character of human beings, and the inherent goodness of the material creation.

For a more comprehensive look at what we believe at BioLogos, please see our official faith statement.

We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record. Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.

 

The following individuals were present and thoughtfully participated in the group discussion that produced this statement:

Denis Alexander, Director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion

Kathryn Applegate, Program Director at the BioLogos Foundation

Robert C. Bishop, John and Madeleine McIntyre Professor of Philosophy and History of Science in the Physics Department at Wheaton College

Stephen Ashley Blake, Filmmaker and President of Realm Entertainment

Jim and Carolyn Blankemeyer, Chairman of the MetoKote Corporation and the National Christian Foundation

Barbara Bryant, Trustee of the Trinity Forum

R. Judson Carlberg, President of Gordon College

Ron Choong, Ordained minister and Founder of the Academy for Christian Thought

Francis Collins, Former leader of the Human Genome Project, author of The Language of God, and Director of the National Institutes of Health

Michael Cromartie, Vice President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

Pete Enns, Senior Fellow, Biblical Studies, The BioLogos Foundation

Catherine Crouch, Associate Professor of Physics at Swarthmore College

Andy Crouch, Special Assistant to the President at Christianity Today International

Darrel Falk, President of the BioLogos Foundation and Professor of Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University

Leighton Ford, President of Leighton Ford Ministries

Kerry Fulcher, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Acting Provost at Point Loma Nazarene University

Karl Giberson, Vice President of the BioLogos Foundation, Professor of Physics at Eastern Nazarene College, and author

Charley Gordon, Neurological Surgeon

Os Guinness, Author or editor of more than 25 books and primary drafter of the Williamsburg Charter

Deborah Haarsma, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics & Astronomy at Calvin College

Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister of Colonial Church and author of Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith

Matthew J. Heynen, Project Manager for the Theological Book Network

Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Ian Hutchinson, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Randy Isaac, Executive Director of the American Scientific Affiliation

Sidney J. Jansma, Jr and Catherine Jansma, President and CEO of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corporation

Tim Keller, Pastor and Founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Reason for God

Paul H. Lange, Professor of Urology at the University of Washington

Ard Louis, Reader in Theoretical Physics at Oxford University

Patrick McDonald, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Seattle Pacific University

Tim O'Connor, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Indiana University

Thomas Jay Oord, Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University

Jeff Schloss, Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Faith, Ethics, and the Life Sciences at Westmont College

Randy Scott, Chairman of the BioLogos Foundation

Sanford C. "Sandy" Shugart, President of Valencia Community College

Dean Smith, Senior Pastor of the Highway Community

Mark Sprinkle, Artist and Senior Fellow at the BioLogos Foundation

Tim Stafford, Author and Senior Writer for Christianity Today

Dave Ussery, Associate Professor at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark

Luder Whitlock, President of Excelsis and former Executive Director of The Trinity Forum

Philip Yancey, Best-selling author of evangelical Christian literature

Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology at Regent University



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Ryan G - #47184

January 14th 2011

It seems that education in basic philosophy is sorely lacking.

A faith like Christianity proposes that meta information regarding the universe (its origin and end, our purpose) has been revealed through artifacts (this is special revelation).

It may be possible to evaluate e.g. the consequences of morality using the scientific method. However, if the God of the Bible is indeed separate from His creation, why would we think that the scientific method is an appropriate tool to investigate Him?

Believing OR DISBELIEVING this revelation is fundamentally an act of faith.


Ryan G - #47187

January 14th 2011

Martin, do you really find the Bible totally accessible to us? I see plenty of clarity regarding God’s purposes, justice and plan of salvation - certainly, no moderately thoughtful reader is without excuse. Salvation by grace through faith is remarkably stamped throughout the Bible - it’s hard to see this as anything other than evidence of its supernatural origin.

However, I think the best description I’ve seen is that the words of the Bible come “with soil clinging to their roots”. Even if we disregard cults, Evangelicals have wildly differing interpretations of numerous passages - is Song of Solomon an extended allegory regarding God and His people, or a description of idealized human love. What about Luther’s views on Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation. Is Revelation a description of events that have happened or those that are yet to come? And what events, exactly? Who were the Nephilim and why did God think it important for us to know about them? What about the contentious passages in Peter, Hebrews, etc.? And how about Sabbath keeping and NT interpretations of other OT laws?
(cont)


Ryan G - #47189

January 14th 2011

Certainly, God has revealed no less than He intended. But the Bible, as real revelation through real people, is not a crystalline monolith of doctrine. And, do the words of God not gain their ultimate importance inasmuch as they point to the Word of God?

As for science, one doesn’t have to look far to find mysteries. However, this overlooks that a large portion of our everday experience and environment can be completely and rigorously described, as evidenced by our successful technological forays. Is it really credible to propose that we can create graphene yet be unable to read the short history of rocks on our planet? Should we assert that the universe has a deliberate twist of incredulity to test our faith, based on a tenuous interpretation of short passages with highly organized religious symbolism?


Chris Rowley - #47190

January 14th 2011

To Ryan G - #47184

I find your view facinating, to take something which lacks any evidence whatsover and claim that not believing in it is somehow an act of faith.

Any scientist who believes in the statements listed above already has a conclusion,everything else they do is adjusted mentally to fit this conclusion.

The comments on heremake me smile but also make me sad, so much twisting of logic and so much assumption it’s almost funny, if it was not so tragic.

All the best,

Chris


Ryan G - #47191

January 14th 2011

Chris, not believing IS an act of faith. The key is the root word belief.

Scientifically, the best you can do is say that you have no comments to make whatsoever.

I would like you to propose how you would intend to investigate a God who claims to be above and beyond His creation?


Ryan G - #47192

January 14th 2011

I’ll give another example: What about the suggestion that there are other universes with different laws of physics? What can science tell you about that?

To claim that there are no such universes is an act of faith.
To claim that there ARE such universes is also an act of faith.


Chris Rowley - #47200

January 14th 2011

Not really Ryan,  it’s an old argument but not believing in Thor or Zeus is not an act of faith, not believing in your god is not an act of faith, the same way that not collecting stamps is not a hobby.
As a side note I have not mentioned that I don’t, my position is that with no evidence to the contrary it’s not even worth a consideration that god is believable or not, I don’t have to take any action.  The same goes for any and all of the thousands of other gods, as well as flying spaghetti monstors and teacups on the edg of the galaxy.

At the minute, I am undecided agnostic if you will) with my view towards a multiverse theory, same applies for string theory, supersymetry and so on.  I have no view either way as although the theory is in place it does not stand up to experiment and these current Theories are to easily tweaked to hide negative results after experimentation.  Only when the experimental results can confirm Theory will I then know if it’s a valid claim or not.  Now tell me, where is my act of faith?


Ryan G - #47205

January 14th 2011

Chris, of course there are no limits to what one could potentially not believe in.

However, the Christian faith comes with a claim to be revelation from a transcendent God (in common with various other faiths, of course). If God is TRULY transcendent, the revelation is necessary.

So, the least one can do is evaluate the revelation itself and see whether it is belief-worthy. This will never be MORE than an act of faith, but it’s not contemptible purely because it IS an act of faith.


Ryan G - #47210

January 14th 2011

One could say that it is equally laughable to claim that, simply because we have some approximations to physical laws in our neighborhood of space-time, we have any basis for making ontological statements regarding What Exists.


Cal - #47214

January 14th 2011

Following Ryan G:

This transcendent God is beyond any Human attempt to ever find or see (but we always have a hint or suspicion). So to truly know and understand the face of God, we need the strongest revelation, Himself incarnate! That is what Jesus is and does: “[Jesus] is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being”(Heb 1:3).

So to understand the Christian faith, you must understand the life of this 33 year old carpenter from a dusty town in Palestine, who died a criminal’s death. This is where the evidence is, everything is weighted on Him.


Chris Rowley - #47219

January 14th 2011

Ryan,

I agree to a point, laughable isn’t the word I would use, naive? presumptuous? speculative? maybe.  But do you find this more laughable than an invisible entity that is every where unseen that listens to and acts upon your thoughts and prayers?

Cal - Any human?  How are all of these supposed events before jesus (allegedly was born then became this 30 odd year old man without any in between) life documented?  now I’m really confused, if this is all the evidence do we ignore the lessons from before?  And what about all the conflict and contradictions in the stories written some hundreds of years after jesus’ alleged death and (ahem) resurrection?  Is this the evidence you’re talking about?


Jon Garvey - #47221

January 14th 2011

@Chris Rowley - #47219

“Jesus”, being a proper noun, has a capital letter, chris.


Chris Rowley - #47222

January 14th 2011

Ryan,  Just so I’m clear, you see how my not believing is god isn’t faith don’t you?  Just you didn’t mention anything but you did respond to my post.


Martin Rizley - #47230

January 14th 2011

Ryan G,  Do I believe the Bible is totally accessible to us?  Well, no new books have been added to it in the last 2000 years.  During that time, millions of people have been pouring over its finite number of pages, studying every word and line according to their linguistic, historical, and culltural context with with scholarly rigor.  Moreover, the Bible contains a divine promise of comprehensibility.  Though not everything in it is equally clear, it is not essentially ‘darkness’ and ‘confusion’ but a ‘lamp to our feet’ and a ‘light to our path.’  The Scriptures were given to be read and understood by average people, as Paul and Peter make clear (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:19).  It contains ‘SOME things’ that are hard to understand, but the gospel itself, and the basic teaching regarding sin’s entrance into the world through one man, the universal corruption and condemnation of mankind in that man, the redemption of sinners through Christ as the ‘last Adam’ and salvation by faith alone in Him, are crystal clear.  By contrast, there are ‘layers’ of physical reality we are only now discovering.  Nature has hardly been ‘accessible’ to people over the last 2000 years in the way that the Bible has.


penman - #47236

January 14th 2011

Martin Rizley - #47230

Martin, I apologise for not replying to you in a different thread a week or more ago. I went down with an illness that kept me at home, away from my office computer & internet access. I won’t resurrect the discussion here - different thread!

Incidentally, I agree with your summary of what’s clear in Scripture, although I suspect it won’t be clear to everyone. Why can’t we take what you say here about origins (=sin’s entrance into the world through one man, the universal corruption and condemnation of mankind in that man=) & let it stand, without adding on a young earth, a necessarily anti-evolutionary account of life’s diversity, & a necessarily genetic universal-fatherhood of Adam?


Tulse - #47242

January 14th 2011

“Do I believe the Bible is totally accessible to us?  Well, no new books have been added to it in the last 2000 years. “

Martin, you seem to have forgotten the discussion above in this thread about how the canon was developed.


Cal - #47255

January 14th 2011

Chris:

I’m not sure really what you’re getting at. I see it is some strawmen mockery to lampoon. Jesus is the full embodiment of God, that is what it hinges on.

There was revelation before (as recorded biblically (and perhaps even times unrecorded)) for the purpose of slowly bringing about the climax of history, Jesus crucified, rescuing man. That is the synopsis of the story.

Please do some serious reading on the subject also. The Gospels were written down within the first century (or to some skeptics really pushing it, John may have been written early 2nd), and were the teachings were taught orally. Only the radical fringe of historians believe there was never a Jesus and His disciples did not martyr themselves over something they believe. Even the skeptics worth their salt realize something (be it delusion or illness) changed the disciples radically to go about preaching.

I pray your mind’s gate would open, and the barricades of ridicule, mockery and sarcasm would fall.


Martin Rizley - #47257

January 14th 2011

Tulse,
No matter what view one holds of the canon of Scripture, no one believes that any books written after the first century made into the canon—neither Protestant, Catholic, nor Orthodox.  The Apocryphal books which Catholics receive, and Protestants reject, as divinely inspired Scripture, were written prior to the New Testament writings; and there is no difference between Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants regarding the canon of the New Testament.  All receive the same 27 books as the New Testament as inspired Scripture—and no more..  So all are agreed that God has not ‘breathed out’ any divinely inspired books since the first century which should be included in the canon of Scripture.


Martin Rizley - #47259

January 14th 2011

penman,
If the Bible does not teach that Adam is the physical progenitor of all human beings, what do you make of Paul’s statement, ““He (God) made of ONE every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth. . .” (Acts 17:26).  Or Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because ALL SINNED. . .”  The context seems to suggest that Paul is saying all people sinned ‘in Adam’ when Adam sinned, because they were ‘in his loins,’ so to speak, and so were in some sense involved in his rebellion.  The same biblical type of argument is used by the writer to the Hebrews when he speaks of Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek ‘in Abraham,’ because he was still in the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:10).  This way of reasoning is alien to our modern way of thinking, which is so individualistic.  And I don’t deny that Adam had a federal relationship to mankind; but Paul’s statement that ‘all sinned’—if he means, ‘all sinned in Adam’—would seem to suggest an organic, physical relationship between Adam and his future descendants.


Cal - #47264

January 14th 2011

Martin Rizley:

We are also In Christ, of imperishable seed. That is to say we are reborn in Christ, as we were born in Adam. I’d argue that’s a spiritual condition (as was the death God spoke of; separation) and that Adam brought the whole of mankind under the chains of the Devil. Just something to consider.


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