What’s in the Works at BioLogos

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October 11, 2013 Tags: BioLogos, Christian Unity, Education

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

What’s in the Works at BioLogos
Image credit: RGBStock.com

In the last week, I’ve been privy to three conversations with people for whom science has been a stumbling block to their faith. One person, a high school student, said he was interested and intrigued by “spiritual” things, but didn’t know how to reconcile these with scientific claims that he found persuasive (especially when his Christian friends told him they couldn’t be reconciled). Another, a twenty-something with some college education, has fallen away from his conservative Christian upbringing because he is pretty sure that science has shown such a belief system to be wrong. The last was a married man with a couple of kids. He and his wife both gave up their faith after college because of the problems they encountered with the creationism they were taught to be “the” Christian view of origins. Since then, he discovered resources on the BioLogos website that squarely addressed his questions, and he has been slowly piecing back together his faith in a new and more profound way.

There is no formula for generating beliefs in people. There are plenty of people with access to the same facts who end up believing different things. But for many Christians—like the ones I heard from this week—access to information about the position we call “evolutionary creation” could make a significant difference for reconciling science and Christian faith.

I’ve been working as BioLogos’ new Content Manager for a few weeks now. I’ve been super impressed (and, if I’m honest, even overwhelmed) at the amount of information accessible on our website. There are well over a thousand blog entries I’ve started wading through, not to mention the questions, videos, and other resources we’ve collected over the past few years. There is a lot of fantastic content here, but I know (because some of you have told me) that it can be a bit overwhelming for you, too. One of our goals for the months ahead is to bring greater organization to these resources so people can find what they’re interested in. Because of the dizzying array of information available today on the topic of origins, we are also working to develop some introductory materials that will help people who are new to these topics gain their bearings with greater ease.

We’d like to hear from you (in the comments or at info@biologos.org): what kinds of resources would help you understand and sort out the implications of origins science (primarily evolution and cosmology) for Christian faith? Our goal is not that everyone comes to agree with every detail of the BioLogos perspective, but we do hope to show that it is a legitimate option for evangelical Christians today. In so doing, perhaps stumbling blocks can be removed that otherwise have kept people from faith in Christ. We value your input and your support as we work to advance this mission.

 


Jim Stump has served as the Content Manager at BioLogos since August 2013. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates the existing content. Jim's PhD is in philosophy from Boston University where he wrote a dissertation on the history and philosophy of science. He is the author (with Chad Meister) of Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010) and the editor (with Alan Padgett) of the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Jim is a frequent speaker at churches and other groups on topics at the intersection of science and Christianity.


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Eddie - #82859

October 11th 2013

Since Jim Stump has some responsibility for recruiting authors for the BioLogos forum, may I make some suggestions?  

Alvin Plantinga—his views on Darwinism, theistic evolution, and intelligent design

Del Ratzsch—his views on the compatibility of evolution with intelligent design

I’d like to see each of these authors offered a multipart series, and given free rein to present their ideas any way they want to.

And more generally:  this site has tended to present Christian views of a more “Wesleyan” type—Methodist, Nazarene, etc.—and of the “small free church” type.  The systematic theology in these traditions tends to be skeletal and sketchy, and often the impression is given that the columnist doesn’t think that precise systematic theology (of creation, providence, etc.) is all that important, as long as one has good science and strong personal faith in Jesus.  I think a counterbalancing effort should be made to find columnists who represent other Protestant traditions—Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican—in which rigorous systematic thought is at the heart of doing theology.  I’d like to see providence and sovereignty and omnipotence discussed here at the same level of detail as synteny, randomness, and whale fossils are discussed.

 


paul.bruggink1 - #82862

October 11th 2013

Re your “what kinds of resources would help you understand and sort out the implications of origins science (primarily evolution and cosmology) for Christian faith?”

I think that it would be helpful to address the following questions, which come up frequently:

1. Is it theologically necessary for there to have been a historical Adam and Eve?

2. To what extent, if any, did God guide the Big Bang and/or biological evolution?

3. Is it theologically acceptable to allow the findings of science to influence the interpretation of Scripture?

4. Can it be determined whether similarity implies common descent or common design?

5. How could Christians reach a different understanding of biblical inerrancy/interpretation that would resove at least some of the science-religion issues?

6. Does biological evolution get God off the hook for natural evil and/or theologians off the hook for the doctrines of original sin and/or the imputation of Adam’s sin?


PNG - #82924

October 15th 2013

On 3, a recent series on another blog, TOF, pointed out here by Jon Garvey, was quite interesting (http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-table-of.html). The Catholic authorities were evidently quite clear in dealing with Galileo that they were willing to alter Biblical interpretations concerning movement of the earth if (and only if)  there was clear and decisive evidence of the physical fact of movement. A more elegant hypothesis and simpler computations were not seen as enough. Galileo’s problem was that he really had no decisive evidence that the earth moves. He thought he did, but the Cardinals were smart enough to see that he didn’t.


paul.bruggink1 - #82863

October 11th 2013

p.s.

7. What would have been a helpful and succinct way to respond to the following paragraph in Tim Challies’ blog entitled “Why I Am a Six-Day Creationist” of earlier today:

The third reason I am a six-day creationist is that I believe this is what science tells us. I believe science confirms a literal six-day creation and a young earth. I find the science demanding millions or billions of years less compelling than the science supporting a much less ancient universe. Even though so many people today scoff at even the suggestion that the world may be young, I find the old-earth science built upon very shaky and ever-shifting ground.”


Jesse Cadd - #82867

October 11th 2013

One thing I’ve noticed is the lack of any explicitly TE/EC apologetics material out there.  I’m a huge fan of ministries like Stand to Reason that unfortunately seem to feel like they have to defend ID tooth and nail and view Biologos/TE/EC viewpoints as the enemy.  One of the benefits of the EC viewpoint as I see it is that it removes a major issue from the apologetic conversation and clears the path for more productive dialogue.  However, whenever I look around the internet for apologetics ministries, I am unable to find any group that argues Christian apologetics from a TE/EC perspective.  I think that is sad, since it should be an advantage to such groups.  I’ve even heard it pointed out as an evidence of the negative effects that TE/EC can have on a person’s desire to engage in apologetics.  This makes no sense to me as it has energized me in recent years knowing I don’t have to waste a ton of energy “debunking” evolution science.  If anything TE/EC should fuel a greater drive to concentrate on what matters.

Of course, I’m not saying it should be part of Biologos’ mission to do this, but it would be nice if there are such groups out there to link up and provide some visibility for them.


glsi - #82880

October 12th 2013

How about standing up for science and address the NCSE and textbook publishing industry for their promotion of the supernatural belief in chemical evolution?


Matthew Winegar - #82896

October 14th 2013

“Resource Finder” is excellent for someone who knows what they are looking for to find articles on a resource, but could be overwhelming to someone who is just looking around.
 

“The Questions” section is a good idea for an overview of high level topics.  There should be more links within some of the short articles here (maybe in a ‘See Also’ type section).

 
I think there are two important polarized camps of people that Biologos needs to minister to.  The first group are people that have either left the faith or are considering leaving, feeling that modern science leaves no room for Christian faith.  These people have been influenced by what they hear from secular or Christian opponents of TE/EC (or both).  The second group are people that are not leaving the faith, but they feel that they have to reject modern science (and so help make up the Christian opponents to TE/EC above) because they think the Bible does not allow for it.  
 
I feel that the high level articles in “The Questions” section, could be organized into two “tracks” that focus on the concerns of each of these groups.  The track for the first group would start from, and focus primarily on Biblical interpretation, that will help reinforce their faith by allowing it to be reconciled with science.  The second group is a little more difficult, as there are more things needed in the track.  This track would need to focus on a high level overview of the current understanding of science, refutations of common YEC/ID arguments about the science, and last (but not least, this might need to be first), present Biblical interpretation (possibly the same as for the first group, but also possibly tailored to the different groups) that will accomodate science.  This track will be the most difficult to do, given the range of things that need to be present to make what would be a compelling argument to this audience.
 
There is a third group, the secular opponents of TE/EC (mentioned above, or non-believers generally).  I did not neglect this group, as it is important to share the Gospel with this group as well.  However, I think this group could be served by the first track as well.

PNG - #82908

October 14th 2013

This is a bit off-topic, but I noticed an unusual reference on another blog. It is to a paper that is actually directed at evolution skeptics. That’s something you don’t usually see - researchers usually ignore the societal controversies and focus on the current research problems that they are interested in. Actually, I suspect that the argument in the paper is too sophisticated for most of its intended audience to understand, but in any case, here it is:

Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Evolution from DNA Sequences http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0069924#pone.0069924-Roberts1


GJDS - #82923

October 15th 2013

The article title is correct but the link does not work. I found this interesting paper on:

 http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0069924

Looks like a useful read - I cannot help but make this comment from the abstract: Why are evolutionists always asking others for an althernative? I guess one answer is because of the many arguments in this area. Thanks for the refernece.


Chip - #82911

October 15th 2013

Hello Jim,

Addressing some of the issues raised in the comments section of the post shown below would be good.  Thanks. 

http://biologos.org/blog/stress-and-gods-built-in-neuro-sabbath


David Scott Lewis - #82925

October 15th 2013

Jim, how about a daily e-mail for each new daily blog post?  Now that Google Reader is defunct, I have to admit I’m not viewing RSS feeds very often.  (I have a Feedly account, but I rarely use it.)

This isn’t exactly content, but a means of content distribution, which might also be your responsibility.

Hope you can make this happen.


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