Vision for Change: Evolution & Christian Faith Grants Program
As our regular readers well know, the majority of evangelical Christians reject one of the most well-established of scientific theories—evolution. Evolution lies at the heart of many scientific disciplines; it is as fundamental to biology as 2 + 2 = 4 is to mathematics or as E = mc2 is to physics. If these basic truths were found to be false, entire disciplines would collapse. To the majority of Evangelicals, however, an anti-evolutionary view of origins is equally fundamental. In their view, it affects how we read Scripture and understand the Gospel itself—the very heart of our identity as Christians. If evolution were found to be true, it would be disturbing indeed.
While Christian scholars and scientists have actively worked on evolutionary creation and related topics for decades, their work has mostly failed to leave the ivory tower, creating a vacuum in the church. Well-meaning public figures have moved into the vacuum to proclaim that much is at stake if Christians ever yield to mainstream science. These figures preach that scriptural authority, Christian theology, and Christian morals and values will all collapse if believers accommodate their thinking to the discoveries of “man’s historical science.”
It’s time for things to change.
We at BioLogos are convinced that the Bible is the Word of God and that God has created through a gradual, evolutionary process, but we don’t have all of the answers; that’s why we regularly convene meetings of leading evangelical pastors, theologians, and scientists, and why we host this Forum for dialogue. It’s also why we’ve embarked on a new project: the Evolution & Christian Faith grants program.
The aim of this program is to address theological and philosophical questions commonly voiced by Christians about evolutionary creation in a way that is relevant to the church. Such questions might include:
- What does it mean to say God is engaged in creation through evolution? In what manner?
- How do we reconcile hominid evolution with creation, fall, sin, soul, the image of God, and other theological concepts of importance throughout the history of Christianity?
- Why do many Christians find evolutionary creation unconvincing? What are the historical, sociological, and pedagogical factors that prevent evolution from being accepted?
- How does a theistic perspective on evolutionary processes help us consider questions of freedom and free will?
These are just a tiny subset of questions that might be addressed with the $3.5 million we’ll be awarding through the program. A broader (but not exhaustive) list of topics is available in the Request for Proposals (RFP).
How will we ensure the program is relevant for the church, and doesn’t just stay in the ivory tower? First, preference will be given to proposals with high translational potential—potential to make a significant positive impact on the church. In fact, translation will be as important as theological and scientific integrity. Second, proposals from teams of scholars and church or parachurch leaders are particularly encouraged. And finally, all grantees will benefit from in-person interaction through a series of three summer workshops. These meetings will not only foster a broader knowledge base among grantees but will build a sustained network of scholars and church leaders, both young and seasoned, who are serious about addressing the concerns of the church around the topic of evolution.
Kathryn Applegate is Program Director at The BioLogos Foundation. She received her PhD in computational cell biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. At Scripps, she developed computer vision software tools for analyzing the cell's infrastructure, the cytoskeleton.