BioLogos’ “Vision for Change”

In March, Dr. Tim Keller hosted BioLogos’ third Theology of Celebration workshop at the Harvard Club in New York City. Unlike the previous workshops, this workship did not conclude with a statement but with an “urgent desire to bring about change.” What needs to change? The sentiment at the workshop was that the church is in danger because so many pastors believe or even accept the possibility that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Apparently, young earth creationism is the new “great evangelical disaster.”

While BioLogos states that they value “gracious dialogue with those who hold other views,” in their articles and interviews, they often seem quite dismissive or even hostile towards those who disagree, especially proponents of Young Earth Creation (YEC) and Intelligent Design (ID). They are especially distressed that despite all the “evidence” in favor of evolution so many evangelicals are still clinging to literalistic interpretations of Genesis.

BioLogos defines Young Earth Creationists (YEC) as denying “the revelation of God in nature and the gift of science.” Dr. Karl Giberson, formerly VP of BioLogos, believes that Young Earth Creationists represent an “intellectually impoverished parallel culture” that drives the “best and brightest evangelicals out of the church”:

Survey results recently reported by Christianity Today clarify once again the sober truth that evangelicals are not making much progress in accepting well-established mainstream scientific ideas about origins. Particularly disturbing is the finding that only 27 percent of evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” with the statement that the earth is 6,000 years old. A higher number “strongly agree” that the earth is just 6,000 years old, a conclusion refuted by mountains of evidence. Seven in 10 evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” that “God used evolution to create people.” …

The dismissive and even hostile approach to science taken by evangelical leaders like Ken Ham accounts for the Barna finding above. In the name of protecting Christianity from a secularism perceived as corrosive to the faith, the creationists are unwittingly driving the best and brightest evangelicals out of the church — or at least into the arms of the compromising Episcopalians, whom they despise. What remains after their exodus is an even more intellectually impoverished parallel culture, with even fewer resources to think about complex issues.

According to BioLogos, it’s not just the YEC that deny “science.” In an interview between Dr. Karl Giberson and Dr. Francis Collins, they dismiss the idea that proponents of Intelligent Design are conducting research:

Karl Giberson: What do you think of this project that the Discovery Institute has launched, with a laboratory where they want to do genuine scientific research, with their own in-house scientists? That’s a very strange development.

Francis Collins: It is very hard for me to imagine what they will do. Science by its very nature ought to be unfettered by any particular perspective on what these right answers are supposed to be. And yet here you are setting up this scientific circumstance that has as its goal to support intelligent design theory. That is counter to the way that science has to be conducted. And furthermore, as everybody has pointed out, intelligent design has this major fundamental flaw. It has no predictive value that anyone can discern. And it has no scientific strategy to demonstrate the correctness of its position because it’s implying divine supernatural intervention, which by definition science isn’t really able to establish. It’s the wrong set of tools.

So, rather than viewing those who disagree as “partners in the conversation,” proponents of YEC and ID are seen as barriers to the BioLogos goal of harmonizing evolutionary science and Christianity. As Dr. Falk wrote:

Should we try to convince all of the non-scientifically inclined evangelicals to cease believing that Adam and Eve are the first human beings? That would almost certainly be futile at this time—there is no point in trying. Besides it could harm their faith. What the church can, and in my opinion must do, however, is to make it clear that there are two ways in which evangelicals view this story. One is historical, the other, allegorical. To publicly acknowledge that and to make it clear that the latter view does not in any way disengage an evangelical from their faith would be of considerable significance. Let’s allow both views to co-exist in evangelicalism for now. I am convinced that we can eliminate the barrier by simply admitting that there are many deeply committed Christians who believe that many elements of the story of Adam and Eve is not historical. I think we need to tell our children that at a young age and I think we need to show them why there are committed Christians on both sides. It also would be good to show them why the historicity of Adam and Eve is not foundational to faith. (emphasis added)

Dr. Tim Keller, host of the most recent BioLogos Theology of Celebration workshop, said that it’s “the job of pastors” to develop a BioLogos narrative to combat YEC:

Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach young earth creationism (YEC), participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. “We have arguments, but they have a narrative,” noted Tim Keller. Both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is “the job of pastors,” Keller said.

Along those lines, BioLogos has recently announced a new grants program, Vision for Change, to focus on ways pastors and other church leaders can help their congregations learn to accept the “truth of evolution”:

As our regular readers well 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; it is as fundamental to biology as 2 + 2 = 4 is to mathematics or as E = mc2 is to physics. If these basic truths were found to be false, entire disciplines would collapse. 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 itself—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, their work has mostly failed to leave the ivory tower, creating a vacuum in the church. Well-meaning public figures have moved into the vacuum to proclaim that much is at stake if Christians ever yield to mainstream science. These figures preach that scriptural authority, Christian theology, and Christian morals and values will all collapse if believers accommodate their thinking to the discoveries of “man’s historical science.”

It’s time for things to change.

Why is it time for things to change? Because BioLogos believes that if the church doesn’t begin to accept evolution as fact and work to reconcile this “truth” with the Bible, then the church will lose its relevance and impact on the culture. It may even drive believers from the church. In light of the March meeting in NYC and these other statements, it appears very clearly that Biologos has an agenda. Dr. Falk sums it up this way:

We in the BioLogos community urge the Church not to surrender the evangelicalism tent to American fundamentalism. There is far too much at stake. …

We’ll exist within the tent together for awhile. Eventually, I think even the fundamentalists will come to see that they need to allow science books in their library and fundamentalism will undergo its own evolution.

Biologos may want to dialogue for a while, but what they really want is to enshrine evolution as a new dogma for evangelicals.

3 thoughts on “BioLogos’ “Vision for Change”

  1. sedgegrass says:

    Reading this gave me a sinking feeling in my gut. Not anger, not fired up to do something, just that cold feeling one gets when a terrible diagnosis has been delivered for a loved one. If Biologos were even one step removed from the PCA, I would feel somewhat better. But, knowing the influence that Dr. Keller has over so many young church planters in the PCA and his affiliation with this kind of activist philosophy, is beyond troubling.

    The picture painted is a desertion of the church by the true intellectuals, which will result in a type of mutated inbreeding of backwoods, fundamentalist cousins. Makes me want to swig moonshine and holler some.

  2. GLW Johnson says:

    This is exactly the tack that Charles Briggs took back in the late 19th century regarding Higher criticism. He gestured in his barnburner ‘Whither? A Theological Question for the Times'(Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889)that he had no deserve to exclude the opponents of Higher Criticism from the Church ( he mentions by name A.A. Hodge and B.B. Warfield) saying after all, that he was a broad churchman. But this was a ruse, as time would soon tell. He soon turned vicious in his attack on nyone who would dare question the ‘assured ‘ results of Higher criticism ( he sounds much like Peter Enns in this regard- especially in his open hostilty to the Westminster Confession doctrine of Creation demanding that the Confession be overhauled in light of Darwin’s insights. All who oposed him were in fact not real scholars. I have documented this in my chapetr in the book ‘B.B.Warfield: Essays in His Life and Thought’ (P&R 2007)

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