I’m just finishing my third year of official involvement with BioLogos. As I’ve participated in our online community and represented BioLogos in person at various venues, I’ve noticed four particular areas of theological concern that Christians often have when considering evolution in light of their faith:
- What do we do about the Bible’s depictions of Adam and Eve?
- If we share ancestry with other life, what about human uniqueness and the image of God?
- Doesn’t evolution make the problem of evil more difficult?
- If science can explain the development of life, is God’s action consigned to starting things off and then watching from a distance?
These are the “Big Four” in my mind, though of course they are connected to lots of other issues. BioLogos hopes to continue to be a place where thoughtful people can engage in dialogue as we seek to understand God’s Word and world, and as we work out our salvation (with fear and trembling!)
The BioLogos blogs have devoted a lot of space to the topic of Adam and Eve. We don’t pretend to have solved the issue to the satisfaction of everyone, but I think there has been some helpful discussion and fruitful suggestions pointing the way forward. Today we launch a major new series on divine action, with the intention of spurring further dialogue on this important topic. By way of introduction, let me attempt to frame the discussion affirming the following two claims:
- Evolution is the best scientific description for how human beings developed.
- God intentionally created human beings.
I think both of these claims are true (and they are consistent with the official BioLogos belief statement). But it is one thing to affirm them, and another thing entirely to show how they are consistent with each other. The attempt to do so is one of the ways we are ushered into what philosophers call the problem of divine action. We’re going to feature posts on the topic for a couple of days per week for the next six or seven weeks. Here too, I doubt this will result in the adoption of an official BioLogos position on the topic, but perhaps it will help us to see some things more clearly and understand the range of defensible views.
Last summer, I met Sarah Lane Ritchie at a conference on the topic of personal action (which, if you accept that God is a person, is the broader topic of which divine action is a part). She is a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh, working on this topic. We’ve worked together to curate the posts and will help to moderate the discussion. I asked if she would write an introduction to the topic in the form of a couple of posts that lay out the problem and the potential solutions. Those will run tomorrow and the next day. Then starting next week, there will be posts from Alvin Plantinga, Robert Russell, Christopher Knight, Amos Yong, and Thomas Jay Oord. We don’t claim this to be an exhaustive discussion, but we think it is a pretty good start.
By way of warning…doing justice to this question takes us into some pretty deep metaphysical waters. Our contributors have done their best to make their ideas accessible to a general audience, but undoubtedly some of these posts will get a black diamond from our blog difficulty rating system. Hard questions usually have complex and nuanced answers. I hope that you’ll join us on this thinking adventure.