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BioLogos Criticism: Atheists Welcome

Introduction

Many people in the church today view the creation issue as a side issue. They do not want to talk about it as they deem it “too controversial.” What these well-meaning people do not understand is that Genesis impacts every area of doctrine. If you reject the biblical account of Genesis, or attempt to allegorize it, you no longer have a foundation for the rest of the Bible. Thus, any view, from theistic evolution to the gap theory, that attempts to allegorize Genesis undermines the rest of Scripture and opens the door to all manner of godless behavior and ideas.

BioLogos Criticism: Theistic Evolution and the Bible

One of the most prominent theistic evolutionary organizations is BioLogos. This organization “invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.”1 As many would see evolution as incompatible with Christianity, they make sure to state that they “embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible.” Explicitly, they deeply desire dialogue with those on the other side of the aisle, maintaining a commitment to “strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views” (emphases theirs). On the surface, these latter two claims seem commendable. Closer examination of BioLogos’ practice, however, tells a different story.

The BioLogos statement of faith, available on their website, contains a mere eleven points, with no Scriptural citations for any of the points. Of those points, four would be affirmed, at least in part, by all evangelicals. The remaining seven deal with evolution, natural law, and science, and would be disputed by large swaths of the evangelical church.2 There are a few notable absences, even for a parachurch organization attempting to reach across a wide denominational divide. Another BioLogos criticism is that there is no affirmation of Christ’s imminent return, for example. Nor is there an affirmation of the Trinity, the virgin birth, the inerrancy of Scripture, or the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death. BioLogos also makes no public denunciation of societal woes such as abortion and sexual sin. This is in stark contrast to most evangelical doctrinal statements. Many evangelicals base their doctrinal statement at least loosely on the Westminster Confession of Faith. While this confession makes no statement about abortion or homosexual behavior (since they were not society-wide issues in the 1600s when it was written), it does take a stand on the Trinity, virgin birth, Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice, Christ’s imminent return, and biblical inerrancy. The Westminster Confession also is loaded with Scripture passages to back up its confessions, statements, and claims.3

Genuine Dialogue? Another BioLogos Criticism

BioLogos’ commitment to “strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views”4 is a noble goal. Many apologetics conversations, particularly online, become quite heated. Perhaps it was with this end in mind that BioLogos recently published a short guide for online interactions. Other than a few needless cheap shots at young earth creationists as more-or-less deluded fools who need to be set straight, the article is not bad in regards to recommendations for common courtesy. Another problem with the article rests with its author, a well-known internet atheist.5

There are Christian content creators who engage on the same platforms and agree with BioLogos’ positions and who would have been equally qualified to write the article.

Exactly why BioLogos felt it appropriate to tap an atheist to write an article on proper internet conduct is unclear, especially when this is not a specialized topic. There are Christian content creators who engage on the same platforms and agree with BioLogos’ positions and who would have been equally qualified to write the article. More concerning is the past behavior of this atheist—on the very topic he writes about for BioLogos. And this is not the first association with BioLogos and this particular atheist. On his own platform, he featured Biologos prominently back in 2018 and in the same piece called Answers in Genesis founder and CEO Ken Ham a deliberate, manipulative liar who is profiteering from the Answers in Genesis ministries. His statement said, in part, “Ken Ham also uses a lot of what we call half-truths and they’re extremely well-crafted half-truths.”6 This is the typical atheist smear tactic with no foundation in fact except for personal disagreement. And using a term like half-truths implies intentional deceit. One would be hard pressed to pin Ken with saying something other than what he truly believes. I doubt many people would consider this “gracious dialogue.”

Would BioLogos endorse this behavior? Dennis Venema, a geneticist who works regularly with BioLogos, published a book on the existence of Adam and ignored the entire body of work done by creation scientists, with the exception of one who said what Venema wanted to hear—that there is good scientific evidence for evolution.7 Venema’s commendation about this individual read as follows: he was “just being honest about the state [volume] of the evidence for evolution.”8 By implication, Venema is calling all other creationists liars. His book remains on the recommended reading list on the BioLogos website.

Ken Ham hasn’t been the only target of BioLogos’ accusations of dishonesty. Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, a resident geneticist at Answers in Genesis, has been a target as well: “The BioLogos managing editor, Brad Kramer, wrote an article summarizing an invited, public exchange that I [Jeanson] had with Darrel Falk at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. On the BioLogos Forum, Kramer’s post generated over one hundred comments, and Kramer moderated the comments and interacted with them. One of the commenters described me as ‘dishonest’ and claimed that my scientific work ‘borders on fraud’ and ‘can be harmful to society.’ Yet Kramer never interacted with him or corrected him. Why not?”9 Why does BioLogos permit smear tactics against young-earth creationists?

Another member of the BioLogos community, Joel Duff, raises even more questions about the kind of gracious dialogue that BioLogos claims to seek. Unlike many of his colleagues, Duff has at least a very basic understanding of what creationists actually believe. However, his understanding does not keep him from misrepresenting creations’ beliefs. Consider this sentence from an article written in 2016, which Dr. Jeanson has extensively refuted: “By acknowledging that speciation happens by God-ordained natural mechanisms, young earth creationists are, unwittingly, one step closer to recognizing that the mechanisms of evolution can be an amazingly powerful force for creation.”10 Duff has managed to misrepresent both creationists and evolutionists in one sentence. It does not necessarily follow from accepting today’s demonstrated natural selection, mutations, and genetic drift that molecules-to-man evolution happened in the past. Nor are the mechanisms of natural selection, mutations, and genetic drift enough for evolution to occur.

It gets even worse on Duff’s personal blog, which BioLogos kindly provides links to.11 In a recent article, Duff takes aim at Ken Ham: “By not having a good understanding of the evidence, Ken Ham preserves some form of plausible ignorance and can make his claims with a clean conscious [sic].”12 Effectively, he is claiming that Ham is either unwilling or unable to understand the truth so that he can lie with a clear conscience. “If AiG scientists are going to present an alternative viewpoint to conventional theories then they must understand those secular theories very well to be able to both test their own ideas and to present their arguments in an effective way. . . . As a result [aforementioned creationist Duff likes] doesn’t make silly statements and gross over-generalizations as many YEC writers are prone to do.” This statement is presented without any examples. Duff is cavalierly calling most creationists, including dozens of professional scientists, uninformed and accusing them of misrepresenting facts. Will BioLogos refuse to publish Duff in future?

But, Atheism?

the only group that showed a long-term gain was believers in atheistic evolution . . . What is there for Christians to celebrate in these statistics?

When BioLogos “invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation,” what harmony are they inviting them to? In 2017, their president, Deborah Haarsma, published an article cheering that Christianity had become more accepting of their theistic evolution perspective. While this was true for a three-year period that she cited, what she ignored in the article was the implications of the long-term data. In the same Gallup poll she cited, which she kindly provided a graph for, the only group that showed a long-term gain was believers in atheistic evolution, up ten percent from the early 1980s to when the poll was taken in 2017.13 What is there for Christians to celebrate in these statistics?

BioLogos has also given platform to people whose evangelical status is questionable. N.T. Wright is a fine example of this. He has written and spoken for BioLogos a number of times, including at their annual conferences. His most recent article on their site, published in October 2018, accused evangelicals of having too low a view of Scripture. However, it is Wright himself who has a low view of the Scripture. He draws the analogy to a play, whose final act had been lost, and rather than rewrite the final act, the actors were given permission to write their own final act. Wright uses this analogy to say that we are in such a final act and that the Bible is not the root guiding principle of the Christian or authoritative in the sense most evangelicals understand it.14

However, there is a more serious problem with Wright’s theology. In 1997 he published a book entitled What St. Paul Really Said, which espoused a radical reinterpretation of the books of Paul in the New Testament. Wright argues that everyone from the reformers on to the present has misunderstood what Paul wrote in Scripture about justification by grace through faith.

“Justification” in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God. It was about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people. In Sanders’ terms, it was not so much about “getting in,” or indeed about “staying in,” as about “how you could tell who was in.” In standard Christian theological language, it wasn’t so much about soteriology as about ecclesiology; not so much about salvation as about the church.15

In other words, justification is not a necessary part of salvation, nor is it even related to salvation. What does this mean? Dr. Phil Johnson, of Grace to You, commented, “That’s why I reject the New Perspective on Paul: because it’s not a new perspective at all, but a recycling and repackaging of several serious errors that have already proved their spiritual bankruptcy. May God raise up men who will take the Word of God and the problem of sin seriously, and refute this error for the heresy I am convinced it is.”16 Why does BioLogos give a platform to Wright?

Strange Bedfellows

Many of us were taught this phrase as children: “Actions speak louder than words.” Our parents used it to explain that just because something was said did not make it true. BioLogos has proved an excellent example of this axiom. While branding themselves as peacemakers between science and religion who are interested in having a conversation over ideas, they permit and sponsor personal attacks on creationists, while embracing atheists, heretical views and those who espouse them. Perhaps BioLogos should reevaluate its priorities.

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