Gracious Dialogue about Evolution
On Thursday, October 3, an audience in Atlanta witnessed a rare sight: Christians sharing the stage and affirming each other’s faith even while they disagreed about evolution. Three biologists spoke at the event: Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe, BioLogos Senior Scholar Jeff Schloss, and former BioLogos President Darrel Falk. Deb Haarsma (President of BioLogos) and Hugh Ross (President of Reasons to Believe) were also in attendance at the event, sponsored by the apologetics group Aréopagus and held at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Georgia.
The evening was nothing like a strident debate. Each speaker opened with prayer or comments about the importance of Christ’s call to unity in the church. The speakers clearly explained their differing views of the scientific evidence (particularly the genetics of human origins), while noting the many areas of agreement and acknowledging challenges facing their own position. Even more interesting is what they didn’t do – there were no accusations of compromised faith, no snide remarks about each other’s intelligence. They called each other brothers in Christ, and actually meant it.
An event like this doesn’t happen overnight. For BioLogos, this continues a commitment to dialogue with those who hold other positions, including a web conversation held with Southern Baptist leaders in 2012; see interview with Ken Keathley elsewhere in this newsletter. Leaders of BioLogos have met with leaders of Reasons to Believe in several conversations over the last few years, initially in private conversation but more recently in public exchanges (check out audio recordings of a similar event held this past March in Maryland). In the process, each group has been sharpened in its ability to address concerns and avoid overstatements. We have deepened in mutual respect and become friends.
That respect and friendship were clearly in evidence as the speakers stood together on stage to answer audience questions at the end of the evening. By creating an atmosphere of humility and graciousness, Christian young people were free to ask honest questions about evolution without fear that the integrity of their faith hinged on science. Non-believers could see models of faith that take science seriously and experienced the fragrance of Christ in the gracious interactions between the speakers.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Prov 27:17 (NIV)
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35 (NIV)