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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Mike Gene - #47401

January 15th 2011

Ichthyic,

so, say, if the President of the US attended a KKK rally with a white hood on…. you’d say that had NO policy implications whatsoever?
man, I can see why you guys are getting more and more bad press.
you appear to be quite tuned out to reality.

Are you under the impression that this weak analogy counts as “the scientific method?”  If one is to preach “science,” don’t you think you should practice what you preach?  So where is the scientific evidence that the NIH played a role in the statement?


sy - #47429

January 16th 2011

Ichthyic

You might not like the word scientism, but that is exatctly the philosophy you are preaching here. The only knowledge that has value, according to you is objective, verifiable, and more than personal opinion. That is certainly true for scientific knowledge. Scientism is the idea that this definition applies to everything. It doesnt, in my opinion, (nor in the opinion of a great many other scientiists).


mark - #47473

January 16th 2011

Jon Garvey I think you are wrong about who paid. Where did you get your information from? I think this was a sponsored event.


Alan Fox - #47561

January 16th 2011

The only knowledge that has value, according to you is objective, verifiable, and more than personal opinion.

But that doesn’t make sense. In what way can opinion be said to be knowledge? Try reality and imagination. Reality is the only thing we can agree on by shared experience and confirmation by experiment. Imagination can be powerful and compelling but it cannot trump reality.

*waves at Tom*

Someone who spent time in your adopted country described his experience as “like England on a Sunday afternoon: green and peaceful”. Hope it stays that way for you.


Ryan G - #47679

January 17th 2011

“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.”

Chris, in the absence of complete knowledge, anything we choose to do or choose not to do is based on faith. That is not to say that we behave completely rationally (far from it) - but our incomplete knowledge puts a limit on our ultimate rationality.

You claim to be 100% ambivalent towards Christianity (or religion in general), in the absence of evidence. I have stated why I think you’ll be waiting a long time for evidence of God’s existence (His transcendent nature). Christians do claim evidence, though - special revelation in the Bible and in the person and life of Christ. You could wait for a sign from God as evidence, but we have some idea of God’s attitude to that request - Matthew 12:38ff. - no sign would be given other than the “sign of Jonah” (a veiled reference to the resurrection).

Choosing not to investigate extraordinary claims may be expedient, but it demonstrates clear faith that you won’t find anything. The only alternatives are willful laziness or ignorance.


penman - #47687

January 17th 2011

Martin Rizley - #47259
=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)=

Maybe it means that all humankind are derived from the same stock, the same original proto-family of image-bearing humans of which Adam was the federal head, rather than different “races” having unrelated lineages. So all humans (Greek, Roman, barbarian) are one family before God - contrary to the prideful Greek racist notions Paul seems to be rejecting in his speech.

The other references (“in Adam”) etc I take to be parallel with Paul’s “in Christ” language. Being “in Christ” does not mean that we are physically descended from HIm. It’s setting forth a spiritual-federal unity. All humanity is spiritually & federally “in Adam”, just as all the New Humanity is spiritually & federally in Christ the New Adam.

I notice you never even attempted to answer my question….!


Mike Gene - #47714

January 17th 2011

So where is the scientific evidence that the NIH played a role in the statement?


Katie - #47726

January 17th 2011

Hi Mike (#47346)

‘“by extension,” the NIH had a role in this statement.  There is no evidence the NIH played any role in the statement.’

The signatures on the statement are given, presumably, to add weight to the claims contained therein.  This should necessitate a disclaimer on the part of BioLogos that the views expressed are the individuals’ views and are not representative of the professional positions of their holders. 

More importantly, the statement expresses *truth* claims about the nature of the world, something that falls within the NIH’s purview.  It is distressing to me that the head of the body overseeing much of what is done in American science today can publicly hold such a conflict of interest.  Contrast this with a hypothetical example of an NIH director both promoting the use of a drug made by a pharma company and being on their payrole, without clear disclaimer.  I suspect some heads would turn even without the disclaimer.


Marshall - #47733

January 17th 2011

“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.”

The questions about Dr. Collins / NIH seem to presuppose that the above sentence isn’t an accurate description of the statement.


Mike Gene - #47744

January 17th 2011

Hi Katie,

The signatures on the statement are given, presumably, to add weight to the claims contained therein.  This should necessitate a disclaimer on the part of BioLogos that the views expressed are the individuals’ views and are not representative of the professional positions of their holders.

A lack of a disclaimer hardly qualifies as scientific evidence that the NIH played a role in that statement.  Also, wouldn’t you also have to argue that MIT and the University of Washington likewise played a role?  It’s simply not uncommon for professors to list their position when they sign off on various public statements.  And what’s more, neither Coyne nor PZ Myers has a disclaimer on their blog.  Does this mean their schools play a role in the content of those blogs?  I can sympathize with your concern about disclaimer, but only if it is applied across the board and not targeted by a political/metaphysical agenda.


Mike Gene - #47745

January 17th 2011

More importantly, the statement expresses *truth* claims about the nature of the world, something that falls within the NIH’s purview.

This is not true.  The NIH has no mission to police all truth claims about the world.  Its focus is much more narrow than this and is clearly laid out in its mission statement:

NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

If “truth” (however you personally define that) is the purview of the NIH, the why doesn’t the NIH tell us the truth behind the recent assassination attempt in Arizona?


Mike Gene - #47746

January 17th 2011

It is distressing to me that the head of the body overseeing much of what is done in American science today can publicly hold such a conflict of interest.

I understand, but this doesn’t mean anything to me.  It comes off as a form of “spin” we might see on a cable TV talk show.  What you need is the very thing you claim to champion – scientific evidence.  You need scientific evidence that the NIH played a role in crafting that statement.  Or scientific evidence that the science has been damaged by having Collins overseeing much of what is done in American science today (Sam Harris predicted this would occur 2 years ago).  But you have none.


Chris Rowley - #47841

January 18th 2011

Hi Ryan,

I do not believe in your god or any god, I have assessed the evidence available and it does not in any way stack up.  I have made efforts to evaluate the possibility and probabilities based on evidence available.  To conclude that there is no god after this is not lazy, or ignorant or an act of faith, it’s based upon there being not one jot of evidence that can withstand scrutiny and concluding that it’s bunk.

In no way is this faith, it’s certainly not lazy and it isn’t ignorant, although the last one will be open to debate as nobody who does believe can claim to agree on what god is I am sure that I’ll be classed as ignorant for ignoring what people class as evidence to support there own faith position.


Beckett - #48261

January 19th 2011

Chris R,

Do you live your life on the basis of what you deem as clear incontrovertible evidence?  Guess what? There is simply no such thing.


Chris Rowley - #48274

January 19th 2011

Beckett,

No.


Beckett - #49260

January 27th 2011

Chris,

“I do not believe in your god or any god, I have assessed the evidence available and it does not in any way stack up”  Those are your words correct?  I rest my case. You sound more radical than Josh McDowel. Must be an amazing ability, god-like ability, to assess “the evidence available.”  I think Clifford is your man.

-B


Chris Rowley - #49376

January 28th 2011

Beckett,

Yes, these are my words.  Specific to a case in point. 
You asked if I live my life on the basis of what I deem as clear incontrovertible evidence, I said no.

What case are you resting?  How am I radical?  And what is god like about assessing available evidence and making a conclusion?


Beckett - #50007

February 3rd 2011

Chris,

In your earlier post you said: “I have assessed the evidence available and it does not in any way stack up.” This is a very bold statement, much different than: “assessing available evidence and making a conclusion.”  What I’m trying to get you to understand is that there simply is and never will be enough evidence to decide, on a scientific “Cliffordian” basis, whether one should believe in God or not. To make the claim that “I have assessed the evidence available” is simply hubris. What exactly is the evidence available? What do you count as evidence? Perhaps an analogy will help -last night the weatherman said “all the evidence available makes it certain that we will receive 20 inches of snow.” Guess what, we got about 4 inches. The weatherman assessed all the evidence supposedly available and yet he was completely wrong. Another weatherman in my community assessed the same evidence yet made the prediction that we will get about 4 inches.


Beckett - #50009

February 3rd 2011

Chris (part2)  Who should I have believed and rested my trust in? I personally assessed all the evidence available from these 2 weatherman and i believed that we will not get 20 inches. Evidence must be interpreted. And interpretation is a rather complicated business. There simply is never enough evidence for most of the things we believe or think we believe. I am not sure what you base your life on. From what I have seen here, you seem to base it on evidence; which somehow, you are able to assess it ALL as “not stacking up” for belief in God. This attitude is what I am referring to as ‘god-like’ and ‘radical.’ It is the same as Josh McDowel who claims that the evidence available demands a verdict of belief, only you say it demands unbelief. You and Josh are on the same page, you just reach different conclusions. I recommend a healthy dose of Augustine, Anselm and Pascal mixed with a little Keirkegaard as the anti-dote to your evidential sickness.


Chris Rowley - #50317

February 7th 2011

It’s quite simple to assess the evidence available for a god.  none.  there is not one single, testable, provable piece of evidence, none, nada, zip. 

The fact that people believe it, billions - not evidance,
The fact that there is a book proclaiming it - not evidence,
The fact that people want to believe - not evidence.
No evidence. None.

That’s when I say I have assessed the evidence and it doesn’t stack up I’m happy to stand by that.  Nothing god llike or radical in saying it.

Did your weather man predict snow?  did it snow?  That’s the significant issue here.  The data they assessed lead them to a conclusion, the volume of snow was incorrect, but there was snow.


Beckett - #53507

March 7th 2011

Chris,
Saying it so, don’t make it so. I don’t care how many adjectives you use.
You have never mentioned the evidence you supposedly have assessed. What you have given me are 3 weak points to argue about evidence against God. #1. Scientists believe a lot of things with little or no evidence. I guess their beliefs are wrong.  #2. What book are you referring to? There are in fact several books which speak of god’s or a God. Mind you, the one called the Bible has historical facts embedded within its narrative. But I guess history is not evidence. I don’t know what is evidence for you? #3. Sounds Freudian to me. You want to believe that God/gods do not exist. In fact, you believe there is no evidence for God/gods. I have to conclude then: there is no evidence to back up

your

assertion. Simply because you want to believe that there is no evidence for God does not mean God does not exist. What for you counts as evidence? Seems to me, you have merely interpreted some sorts of pieces of knowledge or artifacts (not really sure what you have assessed) through your preconceived atheistic worldview. Like I implied at the start of our conversation - you live (or think you do) your life on the basis of evidence. I’m equally happy to stand by that. Sadly, for people like you there will never be enough evidence.
Good luck my brother. That’s all you will have in a world with no God.

-B

p.s. So being partly correct (in this case 10% correct) is what really matters in science? Your reply says nothing to the countless times predictions were made on the basis of “evidence” which turned out to be 100% wrong.


Silly - #50184

February 5th 2011

“The theological significance of Adam and Eve’s historicity”

How silly.

“welcomes both critical”

Nope.


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