As our regular readers 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. In fact, it’s as fundamental to biology as 2 + 2 = 4 is to mathematics, or as E = mc² is to physics. 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—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, for the most part their work has failed to leave the ivory tower thereby creating a vacuum within the church. Well-meaning public figures have moved into this vacuum to proclaim that much is at stake if Christians ever yield to mainstream science. These public figures preach that scriptural authority, Christian theology, and Christian morals and values will all collapse if believers accommodate their thinking to the discoveries of what they term “man’s historical science.”
We at BioLogos are convinced that the Bible is the Word of God and that God created through a gradual, evolutionary process. But we don’t have all the answers. That’s why we regularly convene meetings of evangelical thought leaders and host the BioLogos 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 that God is engaged in creation through evolution? In what manner?
- How do we reconcile hominid evolution with creation, the Fall, sin, the 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 some of the questions that might be addressed with the $3.5 million that will be awarded through the program. A broader list of topics and much more information is available in the Request for Proposals (RFP).
How will we ensure that this program is relevant for the church and doesn’t just stay in that ivory tower? First, preference will be given to proposals with high translational potential—the 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 all recipients will write material for a popular audience in the form of blogs on the BioLogos site. 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 also 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.
If you are a scholar, church leader, or the representative of a parachurch organization, please consider submitting a pre-proposal. The deadline for pre-proposal submissions is June 15, 2012. Together, we can bring about change for the good of the church.