|By: Jim Virkler; ©2011|
The BioLogos Foundation has burst on the scene, self-described as “the leading organization dedicated to the task of showing that the natural sciences and Christianity can co-exist in a manner that is mutually supportive—each enriching the other, in a harmonious relationship.” The Foundation is also one of the leading, high profile advocates of theistic evolution. Francis S. Collins was the moving force for BioLogos’ formal launch in 2009, inspired by the intense interest generated by his 2006 publication of The Language of God (A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief). It was supported by a grant from the Templeton Foundation. Collins had become famous for spearheading The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003. It mapped the entire array of genes of the human genome from a physical and functional standpoint, marking one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time.
The peaceful co-existence and harmonious mutual enrichment of the spheres of science and faith is a noble, exciting objective. BioLogos deserves praise for pursuing this mission. I am energized by such a lofty goal and saddened by the perception of conflict between science and Christian faith. Many church leaders and church members have refrained from using science as a formal apologetic tool. Some even shy away from using object lessons from the world of science, thinking that by avoiding these subjects they could be more faithful to scripture only, an approach they deem safer and less controversial. As a former science educator, sometimes I may have overplayed my devotion to the apologetic force of science. The campaign at this level is not without risks.
What could be the objection to an organization such as BioLogos, whose stated goals have been articulated so brilliantly by its leaders? Francis S. Collins, having claimed evangelical Christianity as his personal belief system, has wielded enormous influence among some members of that community, if not in the wider community of Christians and in the secular world. As a prominent scientist, he wields enormous power in spreading his beliefs, but not without risk. Professional athletes who use their forum of fame to promote their faith run a similar risk: their fame could corrupt the substance of their message. They could even promote a false message. The doctrines promoted by people of high achievement sometimes bear little relationship to the truth of their message. This is illustrated by the fascination of the public with what celebrities do and say.
Francis S. Collins has earned the right to be a spokesman for science. Science, as an all-inclusive term, however, is one of the most misunderstood subjects in our society. If someone asked me how I view science, I would preface my answer by saying my personal career as a science educator was entirely satisfying. Then I would say that as a Christian, I view the findings of science to be powerfully supportive of my theology: Creation sings the glory of the Creator. My added caveat, nonetheless, may surprise my listeners, perhaps not seeming to play tunes from the same musical manuscript: Like any human enterprise, the practice of science is often impelled by the subjectivity of its practitioners; it is often overly driven by philosophical considerations; its conclusions may be channeled by a personal or group agenda; its findings are often filtered through the worldview of the scientists; its pronouncements are overly driven by consensus.
BioLogos Forum is one of the most high profile organizations promoting theistic evolution. Their brand of theistic evolution may be described as “extreme Darwinism” or the “strong evolutionary hypothesis.” Briefly reviewed, that means every creature, including humans, descended from common ancestors through naturalistic processes. Transcendent creation events (the miraculous origin of a species, including humans) or intelligent design as an explanation of the natural order is not part of the BioLogos organizational belief. Man himself descended from the simplest LUCA (last universal common ancestor) following the origin of life about 3.8 billion years ago. The life origins process BioLogos describes is a naturalistic process, and does not differ from the processes described by naturalistic, secular scientists in any respect.
In previous posts I have explained the naturalistic foundations of any belief in evolution, whether totally naturalistic or included under the banner of theism. In upcoming posts I will further review why I feel theistic evolution, and indeed, any evolution, is dubious science, even though it is embraced by virtually the entire scientific community. I will explain why numerous findings of secular science support a creationist perspective: sudden and unexplained appearances of diverse forms and features at a vast new level of complexity, with no antecedents in the fossil record. There is no satisfactory gradualist, evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon, so prevalent in the fossil record. These facts provide a prominent caution signal as we consider the claims of evolution under the banner of science.