If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
What does it mean to be of one mind, when two minds hold vastly different views about a particular matter? Striving to live out the answer to that question, as I see it, has always been at the heart of the BioLogos project.
For me, the project began on November 28, 2006 when I met Francis Collins for dinner in a restaurant a few blocks from the White House. Although he had written the Foreword for my book, Coming to Peace with Science a couple of years earlier, it was our first time together. His own book, The Language of God, had been on best seller lists for six months and, with a Time Magazine cover story featuring a debate with Richard Dawkins just out, the BioLogos project was underway. As a biology professor at a wonderful, but relatively small Christian college, I felt out of my league in having dinner with the person who had just led the successful sequencing of the human genome, the largest life science project in history. Despite this vast gulf in our backgrounds, almost from the moment of our initial handshake, it seemed like we had been lifelong friends. We were of one mind and, I came to realize, it was the mind of Christ.
Soon afterward, I was invited back to the D.C. area for a small dinner that included Francis and a renowned evangelical leader. It was a fascinating introduction to the mind-of-Christ-spirit of the emerging BioLogos project. Francis was gently scolded by this much loved and respected sage of the evangelical world for his comments on human creation. Although he was glowingly acknowledged as a brilliant scientist, he was told in a not-so-subtle manner that he was not a theologian and that he should keep his thoughts about theological issues (like human creation through the evolutionary process) to himself. In theory, this could have been the spark that would ignite and make for an explosive evening. Instead for three hours I had the privilege of sitting there watching two individuals with very different opinions, discussing their differences frankly, while nonetheless remaining of one overarching mind. As we left the house that evening, and I observed the warm and loving farewells, I sensed that this sage of evangelicalism and Francis had been lifelong friends even though they had hardly been together before. There was a love between them. They had two very different minds and they thought in very different ways, but they were of one mindset. It was the mind of Christ.
Eight months later I, along with several others including Francis, was invited to Chicago to attend a meeting with leaders of the Intelligent Design community. The tone of the meeting was similar to the one I had experienced in the D.C. area. The discussion was frank, very frank, as the ramifications of the scientific data were carefully evaluated. However, what I remember most about those two days was not the strengths and weaknesses of a particular scientific argument. It was a moment when the discussion moved from the science to the personal. What has never left my memory is the sight of a leader of the ID movement breaking into tears as he talked about his calling to simply follow Jesus. With his eyes brimming with sincerity and his shoulders bent over in humility, I heartily believed him when said he would turn his back on ID in a second, if he ever sensed that this had become his agenda, rather than Christ’s. With our different minds, we were of one mindset. It was the mind of Christ.
By January of 2010, BioLogos as an organization had been formed and was running full steam. That month, Francis invited the old-earth-creationists, Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe to his home along with several of us from BioLogos. We ate together, we prayed together, and we talked very frankly about our different ways of understanding the Bible and the scientific data. This was the first of many meetings together, some of which also included Southern Baptist seminary professors. Not everything went perfectly smoothly, we’re human after all, but overall it was an amazingly fulfilling experience. Very different people, with very different views, but almost always we were of one mindset and again it was the mind of Christ.
As the years have gone by, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down, often over a meal, with scores of individuals who hold the young earth perspective, the old earth view, or subscribe to the ID way of thinking about the science. Over and over again, I have sensed a bond, not unlike what I sensed with Francis in that first meeting more than a decade ago. Two minds with vastly different perspectives about a matter of great importance can come together as one mind when it is the mind of Christ.
So, has the primary purpose of BioLogos been to develop a spirit of oneness in the midst of a diversity of opinion about how to understand the Bible and scientific data? Have we just been sitting around an imaginary campfire singing “Kum Ba Yah?” Hopefully nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve sought to understand each other as part of Christ’s body and to love each other as Christ loves the church, but BioLogos exists to convey a particular message of great importance. Science is a gift from God, and it conveys many truths, some with near certainty. One of those in the latter category is that living organisms, including humans, came about through the evolutionary process. This tells us nothing about teleology—the “why” of our existence. It tells us nothing about whether there is a “who,” central to all that exists. For this we turn to Scripture and in doing so there are a host of reasons for believing that faith in the God of Scripture is based on solid logic.
This is why BioLogos is needed. We are speaking into a world which has been told theism of any sort is a cultural remnant from our ancient and very naive past. A host of science books tell us that science has shown it is no longer rational to believe the tenets of Christianity. This is a deception of monumental significance. For example, Dawkins tells us there is “no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”He does this in a manner which implies that this is a scientifically-grounded conclusion. It isn’t and the alternative case needs to be fully developed and BioLogos is the place where this needs to be done. One of the finest science writers of all time, E.O. Wilson, concludes that humanity is “not predestined to reach any goal, nor are we answerable to any power but our own,” and he goes on to say that “only wisdom based on self-understanding, not piety, will save us.” We need to fully explain why this is a faith-based statement, not one grounded in scientific data. Finally, as we move deeper into the scary twenty-first century of A.I. and genetic engineering, everyone needs to know that when Henry Gee (Biology Senior Editor, Nature Magazine) declares, “There is nothing special about a human being, any more than there is something special about being a guinea pig, or a geranium,” he has left the realm of science and entered the world of personal whim.
Christians, in reflecting the mind of Christ, ought to have many insightful things to say about that which science does and does not tell us about creation. There is no room for superficiality here. Unfortunately though, the Christian mind can’t expect to be heard if it is seen as ignoring, or worse yet, misrepresenting what science really does say. Far too many Christians—however well-intentioned—have gained a reputation for doing just that.
There is much at stake and it is only as we live into the mind of Christ, that the BioLogos project will continue to thrive. Paul lays out our calling succinctly in his letter to the church at Colossae:
…Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:27b-29)
The century of biology is upon us. It will present huge challenges at the interface between science and faith—matters we’ve never thought about before. But because of “Christ in you,” we move forward in glorious hope—and that is a hope that will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) to give us the “Mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16).