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How is BioLogos different from Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism?

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In a Nutshell

We at BioLogos believe that God used the process of evolution to create all the life on earth today.  While we accept the science of evolution, we emphatically reject evolutionism.  Evolutionism is the atheistic worldview that says life developed without God and without purpose.  Instead, we agree with Christians who adhere to Intelligent Design and Creationism that the God of the Bible created the universe and all life.  Christians disagree, however, on how God created.  Young Earth Creationists believe that God created just 6,000 to 10,000 years ago and disagree with much of mainstream science. Supporters of Intelligent Design accept more of evolutionary science, but argue that some features of life are best explained by direct intervention by an intelligent agent rather than by God’s regular way of working through natural processes.  We at BioLogos agree with the modern scientific consensus on the age of the earth and evolutionary development of all species, seeing these as descriptions of how God created.  The term BioLogos comes from the Greek words bios (life) and logos (word), referring to the opening of the Gospel of John.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made.”

(Updated on March 1, 2012)

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In Detail

The BioLogos View

The BioLogos view holds that both Scripture and modern science reveal God’s truth, and that these truths are not in competition with one another. While there are varying views within the BioLogos community of how to reconcile the truths of science and Scripture on particular issues (for example with regards to a historical Adam1), we believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired and authoritative Word of God. BioLogos accepts the modern scientific consensus on the age of the earth and common ancestry, including the common ancestry of humans.

Evolutionism

While BioLogos accepts evolution, it emphatically rejects evolutionism, the atheistic worldview that so often accompanies the acceptance of biological evolution in public discourse. Proponents of evolutionism believe every aspect of life will one day be explained with evolutionary theory. In this way it is a subset of scientism, the broader view that the only real truth is that which can be discovered by science. These positions are commonly held by materialists (also called philosophical naturalists) who deny the existence of the supernatural.

The BioLogos view celebrates God as creator. It is sometimes called Theistic Evolution or Evolutionary Creation. Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with creation. Theism is different than deism, which is the belief in a distant, uninvolved creator who is often little more than the sum total of the laws of physics. Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is how God created life.

Because the term evolution is sometimes associated with atheism, a better term for the belief in a God who chose to create the world by way of evolution is BioLogos. BioLogos comes from the Greek words bios (life) and logos (word), referring to John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Intelligent Design

Contrary to some interpretations, Intelligent Design, or ID, makes no specific theological claims. Instead, proponents of ID argue that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection,"2 and that the existence of this intelligent cause is a testable scientific hypothesis. Furthermore, ID theorists attempt to show that intelligent causation is the best explanation for certain phenomena such as irreducibly complex systems (e.g. bacterial flagella) and the complex specified information in DNA.

Those who hold the BioLogos view also believe in intelligent causation. The universe and all that is in it has been created and is being sustained by God:

…in [Christ] all things in heaven and earth were created, things visible and invisible…all things were created through him and by him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:16,17 NRSV).

BioLogos differs from the ID movement in that we have no discomfort with mainstream science. Natural selection as described by Charles Darwin is not contrary to theism. Similarly, we are content to let modern evolutionary biology inform us about the mechanisms of creation with the full realization that all that has happened occurs through God’s activity. We celebrate creation as fully God’s. We marvel at its beauty and are in awe that we have the privilege of experiencing it.

BioLogos celebrates the reality of miracles, including the miracles of Scripture, but also those we experience in today’s world through answered prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. However, the demonstration of such supernatural activity in the history of the natural world is, we think, unlikely to be scientifically testable.

To summarize, BioLogos differs from the ID movement in three respects:

  1. We are skeptical about the ability of biological science to prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer (whom we take to be the God of the Bible), while ID advocates are confident.
  2. We find unconvincing those attempts by ID theorists to scientifically confirm God’s activity in natural history, while ID theorists believe they have sufficiently demonstrated it.
  3. We see no biblical reason to view natural processes (including natural selection) as having removed God from the process of creation. It is all God’s and it is all intelligently designed. Those in the ID movement for the most part reject some or all of the major conclusions of evolutionary theory.

Creationism

BioLogos affirms that the earth and the universe were created. Creationism, however, generally refers to the belief that life on earth is a result of a direct flurry of supernatural intervention in a manner that is concordant with a highly literal view of Genesis 1-3. There are two main varieties of Creationists, those who believe the earth is young and those who believe it is old.

Young Earth Creationists (YECs) hold that the earth is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, a figure derived from the genealogies presented in the Bible. YECs believe the most faithful way to read Scripture is through the lens of a literal six-day creation as presented in the first chapter of Genesis, and they further believe that a literal worldwide flood as depicted in Genesis 6-9 is responsible for geological features of the earth and the fossil record. YECs also reject the common ancestry of all species, believing that life was created as it presently appears by supernatural action. They view “macro-evolution” (as distinct from within-kind or within-species “micro-evolution”) as incompatible with Scripture and some even argue that it is a direct threat to Christianity.

BioLogos disagrees with the YEC viewpoint. This view rejects the discoveries of almost every modern scientific discipline to arrive at its conclusions and overlooks the revelation of God’s work in creation as uncovered by science. We also maintain that the YEC viewpoint stems from a particular interpretation of Genesis that ignores the rich cultural and theological context in which it was written.

Old Earth Creationists (OECs) accept that the earth and universe are billions of years old, but maintain that these findings are in concordance with a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis (often by interpreting the days of creation as long periods of time, or by understanding large gaps between the days of creation). OECs hold that modern science tightly corresponds with biblical accounts and assume that God included modern scientific ideas in the Bible, sometimes through secret language that would have been lost on the original audiences. OECs do not accept macro-evolution and the common ancestry of all life forms.

BioLogos disagrees with the OEC viewpoint. While accepting the scientific consensus for an old earth, this view rejects the findings of modern genetics, paleontology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology and many other biological sub-disciplines that make little sense apart from macro-evolution and common ancestry. Furthermore, we believe that God chose to reveal himself within the worldview, culture, and language of the biblical authors.

Where Christians Agree

Despite these differences, all Christians agree that the God of the Bible is the creator of the heavens and the earth. We agree on the authority of the Bible, even though we disagree on the best interpretation of particular passages. We agree that God is continually active in his sovereign governance of the universe, even though we disagree on how much God acts through natural law versus miracles. We are unified in our rejection of evolutionism, even though we use different strategies to counteract it (some reject the science of evolution, while BioLogos rejects the atheistic spin put on the science). We agree on the fundamentals of our faith: that all people have sinned and that salvation comes only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We agree that the God of our salvation is the same God we see in the wonders of his creation. Whether we ponder the intricacy of DNA, the beauty of a dolphin, or the vastness of the Milky Way, we can lift our hearts together in praise to the divine Artist who made it all.

Next: Why should Christians consider evolutionary creation?

Further Reading

From BioLogos

  • Our “About Us” page, which lists what we believe, who we are, what we do, and why it matters (Webpage)
  • More questions and answers from BioLogos on topics raised above (Webpage)
  • Our Perspectives page, which lists individuals, organizations, and books associated with each of the major views referred to above (Webpage)
  • Giberson, Karl and Francis Collins. The Language of Science and Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011. (Book Info)
  • Louis, Ard. “How Does the BioLogos Model Need to Address Concerns Christians Have About the Implications of its Science?” BioLogos, 2010. (PDF)

Recommended External Resources

  • American Scientific Affiliation. General Statement on Creation. 2000. This is a clear short summary of the major views referred to above. (Webpage)
  • Haarsma, Deborah and Loren. Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2011. An even-handed book explaining the major views referred to above, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each. (Book Info)

Notes

  1. See answers to questions about The First Humans (Webpage), and an article by Denis Alexander, “How Does a BioLogos Model Need to Address the Theological Issues Associated with an Adam Who Was Not the Sole Genetic Progenitor of Humankind?” BioLogos, Dec 2010 (PDF)
  2. “Top Questions” The Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute (Webpage)