Why BioLogos?

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February 8, 2010 Tags: Lives of Faith

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

Why BioLogos?

Outside of my family and my personal relationship with God, there is nothing in recent years that has shaped me more profoundly than the Sunday School class I teach. It all began ten years ago, when I was asked to do a three week series on biology and faith. The attendees were septuagenarians and octogenarians, so they had grown up within or immediately following the era of the Scopes Trial. Most had given little thought to science; all had given much thought to religion. I talked about the evidence for evolution and why the fact of evolution created no spiritual crisis for me; indeed, I told them it significantly enriched my understanding of the nature of God. Even though this was a group of elderly lifelong evangelical Christians, the discussions went surprisingly well. They threw no blackboard erasures at me and they didn’t shout me down or have me ejected from the church. Indeed, to my amazement, they asked me back—they wanted me to be their teacher.

Since that time, I have presented almost 400 Sunday School lessons. Almost all are in my computer, and I look forward someday to getting old myself so I can go back and learn the lessons I have been teaching others. Interestingly, ever since that first three-week series, I have never again taught a whole lesson about science and faith. It quickly became apparent that this is not what they needed. When life is winding down—when your spouse has just died, or your lifelong companion has developed Alzheimer’s, when you spend Christmas alone because you have no family anymore, when your husband of fifty years is in the hospital with an amputated leg and unclear mind—you don’t need a Sunday School lesson on the relationship between science and religion. As you face the most difficult circumstances you have ever faced, what you need to know is that the hope that is laid out so clearly in the Bible, and is articulated so well through good biblical scholarship and wise theology, still rings true after all these years. You need to sing the theologically rich songs that so epitomized your spiritual life during earlier years, and you need to let those same songs enrich your life again now that you are old. You need to revisit the Bible stories that informed your youth and you need to see why they inform your old age even more. You need to be able to laugh. You need to love and you need to allow yourself to be loved as well.

Even though I was the teacher through all of this, I was the one who was being taught about faith. I was taught the beauty of Christian love and hope by watching my dear friend Elbert say good bye to his beloved Lois during her struggle with cancer. I was taught about Christian influence as I listened to a host of grandchildren talk about how they wanted to be just like their Grandpa. We knew him as Ron and we loved him, but they knew him as Grandpa and they wanted to be just like him. I was taught about peace that endures as I watched Hazel bear the loss of her lifelong partner carrying a gentle smile on her face, despite the loss she bore in her heart. I wonder how many times we have sung “How Great Thou Art” at our memorial services as we each celebrated God’s Presence in the midst of life’s ultimate crises.

I have never been more convinced that Christianity is based on real foundations than I have been by seeing it lived out in this community for the past ten years. The majority of the original class-members are gone now, but the group—past and present— continues to shape me deeply as I reflect on their well-lived lives. Paul expresses my sentiment exactly when, in speaking of a different Christian community, he wrote: “... Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

So the science/faith dialog has been virtually irrelevant within this Christian community that has played such an important role in my life. If I had brought it up in class, it would have distracted them from things that were much more important to them. Put simply: it just hasn’t mattered. So why, in another segment of my life, do I invest so much time and energy in the very thing that is almost irrelevant to the typical Christian? Why all these posts day after day on Genesis by scholars like Peter Enns, John Walton, Kenton Sparks, and Paul Seely? Why the very frank exchanges with Stephen Meyer? We are walking a fine line, Steve and I. He is simply a brother on this journey and our discussions would be futile if ever our exchanges eroded into something not characterized by mutual respect and even love. Why the frank dialog between John Walton and Vern Poythress? Why do I and many others like me put so much energy into this science/faith dialog if, for most Christians, it is virtually irrelevant to that which matters most in life?

Ten days ago I had an email message from one of my former students, who I will call John. He has a very special place in my heart. He overcame great adversity in his life and has become a first rate researcher in molecular biology. I played a small role in helping him to believe in himself and overcome challenges. I always knew he would succeed and I’m very proud of him. John has moved away so I haven’t seen him for a few years. Prior to that we sometimes talked about faith and I was inspired by his journey. I think he knows that I had personally hoped that some day he would replace me, teaching my Christian college biology courses and being a spiritual mentor himself to the next generation of our students. His email message to me indicated that he had visited the BioLogos website. In response to that message, I asked John if he would be willing to write a guest blog. Since he had overcome a lot on his journey towards faith, I felt he had an important story to tell and I wanted him to write about it. I suppose I’ll never forget his response so earth-shattering it was to me. “So do you want an agnostic to write for you?” he said. John has lost the most important thing in his life, and it happened, as I see it, because the Church (including myself) had not been able to adequately prepare him theologically and biblically for what he would learn as he delved deeply into biology—especially he tells me, the biology of the brain. The pieces no longer fit for John. My heart aches every time I think about it. Unless things change, John is not going to experience the rich life and the fulfillment that so characterizes the lives of those on the other side of my existence—my Sunday School class community. This is the reason for the long days and short nights that have come to characterize my life lately. I don’t want those who come to learn about science to be deprived of the richness that characterizes the Christian life. I write about this in a "White Paper we posted several months ago. A conduit must be constructed between the two sides. We can’t go on like this any longer.

Paul’s statement, to which I refer above—“Christ in you, the hope of glory”—comes from the first chapter of Colossians. Wanting all to know this hope, this hope of glory, Paul ends the chapter, with these words: “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” May this be true of each of us as well—there is much at stake.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/sadmonkey)


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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Gregory Arago - #4241

February 10th 2010

Do artists have ‘knowledge’? Do musicians have ‘knowledge’? Do sportsmen and sportswomen possess ‘knowledge’?

Why do you exclude all of these ‘realms’ or ‘spheres,’ Charlie?

I think we can safely and confidently conclude there are non-scientific types of knowledge, realms outside of ‘science’ that possess knowledge.

Are you such a ‘pure scientist’ to believe that ‘only science’ can give us knowledge? Doesn’t this scientism somehow degrade humanity & reduce us unnecessarily? Won’t you give other kinds of knowledge a chance, by picking up some literature or speaking to people or visiting a pastor or rabbi, asking what knowledge or wisdom consists of?

There’s little point ‘debating’ with me on the internet about real issues if it doesn’t make a difference in your attitudes and relations.

You will not convince me that ‘science is everything.’ I’ve been there. It isn’t.


Gregory Arago - #4245

February 10th 2010

For example, Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the main architects of the ‘modern synthesis’ of evolutionary biology said this, in “The Biology of Ultimate Concern”:

“My upbringing and education make me biased in favour of Christianity as the framework of the synthesis. I can, however, understand people who would prefer a different framework. What is important is that the outcome must be truly a synthesis. It must include science, but it cannot be science alone, and in this sense it cannot be ‘scientific.’ It must include art and aesthetics, but it cannot be aesthetics alone.” (1967: 109)


Charlie - #4252

February 10th 2010

music/art etc are created by humans. We’re not seeking answers to questions here.  Yes it’s knowledge, but it’s not seeking the unexplained.


Dr Andrew Wright - #55239

March 22nd 2011

Darrel

I just want to appreciate your contribution to this area.
I was at the Faraday Summer School at Cambridge UK in 2008 ( remember the instructions to get to Edinburgh?—I hope you got there). I read ‘Coming to peace with science’ several times in the next 2 years.
Your journey parallels mine in many ways, your talks at Cambridge were helpful and motivational. I have continued my readings in Science and Faith. There is the usual YEC opposition in our church, but your book and my experiences of Faraday summerschools have helped clarify my reasoning and built my confidence. I access Biologos frequently and have found local Science/ Faith lectures series such as The James Gregory series at St Andrew’s University (60 miles) and the Gifford series at Edinburgh University (15 miles) helpful.
may the Lord bless you and your wife


Lanenebraska - #55616

March 25th 2011

I agree with Dan, and will do my best to inform others as to your “faulty” conduits.
Ken Ham was right about Biologos.

Daniel Mann - #4081

February 8th 2010

Darrell,

While I applaud your desire to build a conduit – “A conduit must be constructed between the two sides [evolution and the Bible]. We can’t go on like this any longer” – I must add that there are conduits that will stand against the storms and those that won’t (Mat. 7:24-27).

Your conduit rests upon the shifting, failing sands of the theory of evolution. Furthermore, in order to build this conduit, you’ve had to bring the Bible into sync with Darwin, something that has caused you to dismiss the physical/historical teachings of the Bible, against the affirmations of the NT.

I think that there are better conduits to be built – those that will attempt to bring the science of the origins of life into harmony with the Bible, instead of the other way around (2 Cor. 10:4-5).


Troy Parrish - #55833

March 27th 2011

I wish to make several observations.  The first observation is that there is no real unbiased science. Every individual, scientist or not, approaches his world with some preconceived notions, beliefs and constructs that will influence his interpretation of the data presented to him.  To imply that science and scientist have only the agenda of seeking truth is to imply a very clear falsehood.  As a professional who has spent several decades in the world of social science I know that it is impossible for individuals to escape their bias completely and as a casual observer it is also clear that scientists can have very explicit agendas in their research outside of the discovery of truth.

The second observation is that the realm of the supernatural is going to be, by definition, outside the reach of science.  Science is, or it should be, concerned with the understanding of the world around us.  The supernatural is around us but transcends us and is not amenable to scientific explanation. To state otherwise is to reduce the supernatural to something less than it actually is.  I believe this is a significant weakness in science, the desire to reduce everything into research-able components.

My final observation is that the established science of yesterday is no the science of today. The established science of today will not be the science of tomorrow. I believe the post (Daniel) referring to the shifting and failing sands of evolution gets at this very point.  We who acknowledge the unchanging, eternal nature of God’s Word cannot seek to harmonize science with Scripture by making Scripture shift to fit with science, we must acknowledge that our bias will be to always harmonize science so that it conforms with Scripture.


Donnell Duncan - #56215

March 31st 2011

Dr Falk,

This article really moved me. I saw you speak live at “The Vibrant Dance Between Faith and Science” symposium in Austin, Texas last year. However, I had no idea of your heart behind this issue until reading this blog. I share in your desire to bridge the gap between faith and science. In my own way, I do the same with my team in Atlanta, GA.

God bless you for the work you do. My position on Theistic Evolution is different from yours but that’s not what this is about. If it can draw people to see God in science and eventually lead them to the cross then it’s fine by me. We all want to serve God and we all want to see people’s lives touched by His love. Science is just a tool to do so.

This is not about you, me or science but it’s about establishing God’s Kingdom in the earth so we’re on the same team regardless of our specific scientific positions. One day, each of us will have to stand before God to give account of what we did during our time on the earth. Maybe it’s just my imagination but I want to be in the crowd cheering when you receive your crowns for the lives you’ve touched.

Bless you brother. Go hard for The Kingdom.


Nancy Miller Latimer - #63200

July 9th 2011

As a scientist for the last 27 years and one who was late to accept the truth of the Christian faith, I have experienced firsthand the effects of the faith vs. science polarization—in the scientific community, in the faith community, and most personally in my own family.  My two sons identify Christianity with an arrogant ignorance of science.  The Language of Science and Faith is a wonderful resource for both of them.  The challenge is getting them to read the book and check out the great resources on BioLogos. 

The mission of BioLogos is to provide a path of scientific and theological integrity to the God of the Bible.  It is a wonderful ministry to those who believe they must leave their brains outside the Church doors, like my sons.   There are those that try to discredit the BioLogos mission because they believe in Intelligent Design or a literal Genesis creation interpretation.  However, if we take the Great Commission seriously and follow the example of the apostle Paul, we will reach out to those like my two sons with a website exactly like this one.  As Darrel mentions, in the long run (think death bed), will one’s beliefs on evolution and the Big Bang theory really matter?  Those beliefs will matter ONLY to the extent that the science behind the theories has been an impediment to a relationship with Jesus Christ and the meaning that His death and resurrection has given to a life whose meaning is driven by the values of this world.  We need not choose.  I highly recommend the book.

BioLogos, keep up the good work.  Many well-intentioned and highly vocal Christian proponents against evolution would have us believe that if we do not accept a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story then the tenants of our Christian faith fall like dominoes.  This is not the case.  I wish more people would take the time to read the book and check out the wonderful resources on your website to understand how the BioLogos position supports God working through nature in His creation.


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