Religious folk hold a variety of differing views on whether God used evolution in the creation process and if so, how it was used. My personal take on the issue is that of Old Earth Creationism, a view held by Gerald Schroeder and Hugh Ross, who have shared a platform together.
Both are extremely knowledgeable about both Biblical interpretation and the scientific evidence on how we got here. I recommend viewing as many lectures as possible from both of them. There are also those who believe that all life evolved from a single-celled life form and yet believe that there is good reason to believe that divine intervention was involved. Many of these people fall under the Intelligent Design camp, such as William Dembski and Michael Behe. ID is compatible with universal common descent, and hence can be a type of theistic evolution.
The Odd One Out
There is this one group, BioLogos which rejects any inference to divine design behind the evolutionary process. The model holds to mainstream, secular science regarding the origin and diversity of life, and yet posits God as a metaphysical topping. This approach has drawn the ire of Young-Earth creationist groups:
Old Earth Creationist groups:
The Intelligent Design community:
And even atheists:
The best explanation as to why both creationists (of all stripes) and the secularist crowd despise BioLogos comes from creation.com.
Albert Mohler summarizes the issue beautifully:
The BioLogos approach to the issue is now clear. They want to discredit evangelical objections to evolution and to convince the evangelical public that an acceptance of evolution is a means of furthering the gospel. They have leveled their guns at the Intelligent Design movement, at young earth creationism, and against virtually all resistance to the embrace of evolution.As one Christian blogger noted, the effect is virtually the opposite:
By your compromise, (A) you are not winning them over, but (B) are signalling to them that they are winning you over. They will simply wait you out, until you continue in your process of jettisoning everything the world hates about you as a Christian.And yet Jerry Coyne disagrees with BioLogos as well. First, one commenter at the BioLogos blog cuts through the smoke and gets to the heart of the problem:
Why has there not been eve one BioLogos column in the past 6 years that directly tackles the question of God's involvement in the evolutionary process? If BioLogos is not interested in producing an account of God's role in evolution that is compatible with the orthodox Christian faith, it has no raison d'etre. The question of how God is involved in the evolutionary process is absolutely central, and more so than any subsidiary question about genomes or fossils. BioLogos has failed to respond to every challenge it has received on that question.Coyne agrees and then offers this brilliant insight:
All that Templeton money, all those electrons expended in the service of accommodation, and what does BioLogos have to show for it? Have they offered a consensus view on how God works through evolution? (For example, does God make mutations? And why all those extinct species?) Have they brought even one evangelical and creationist Christian around to evolution? In terms of converts per dollar, I suspect that Richard Dawkins is infinitely more efficient than BioLogos.Slifkin, Stump, Enns
The reason BioLogos won’t succeed is because they have no consensus view to offer evangelicals: just an array of speculative and untestable options which are in various degrees unpalatable to everyone. Templeton should stop throwing money down this empty well.
It's a similar issue with Nathan Slifkin, also known as the Zoo Rabbi. If the goal of these organizations were simply to express a worldview that holds to faith in the Bible and to theistic evolution, that would not be especially problematic. Dinesh D'Souza, for example, is a staunch theistic evolutionist and also a defender of the Christian worldview against secularism.
The question is: why would any of this matter to an Old-Earth Creationist who deals with Jewish apologetics issues? The dirty little secret among these theistic evolution think tanks is that most of them are opposed to apologetics. Not just apologetics against evolution. Apologetics in its entirety.
Let me explain. I have spent a good teal of time in the past year conversing with theistic evolutionists in general and with BioLogos in particular. One conversation with their content director, James Stump was particularly enlightening. I asked about Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. Stump said he would be teaching about it at Bethel College in the coming semester, and arguing that evolution is indeed compatible with naturalism. When I asked why, he said that it certainly does seem that we are material beings who evolved through natural selection. I then asked about arguments for the existence of God, which he rejects as well. I then asked about what arguments he would use to show that the Christian worldview is rationally superior to atheism. He said that there are none. Atheism is fully a rational and defensible worldview.
Remember that this is James Stump, a self-professed Evangelical Christian who teaches philosophy at Bethel College, an Evangelical Christian university. He is also an editor for Philosophia Christi, the trade journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. In his speech to the EPS, he told the group how he resented the heat which came down on him from the parents of his students. He also complained about the leaders of Bethel College pushing him out of teaching and into a more administrative role, wondering why this is the case.
Another representative of this movement is Peter Enns, who was a Vice President at BioLogos. Enns holds a particularly skeptical position toward the historicity of the Exodus, the invasion of Israel, and the historical reliability of the Tanakh in general. He also calls himself an Evangelical Christian. However, his biggest complaint about Evangelicals is that they allow their theology to influence their view of history. In other words, if secular scholarship holds a certain position on an issue like the historicity of Adam, the Exodus, the Davidic Kingdom, and the like, Christians must accept that view and adjust their theology accordingly.
In fact, as Dr. Mark Sprinkle of BioLogos states their position: "our theology is descriptive, not prescriptive; it is our collective and halting attempt to describe in coherent terms what we know of God by what we have seen of His acts and what we have read in His Word." This is to say that their theology must not, in advance, influence what they believe actually happened in history. That is what it means to be descriptive and not prescriptive.
Would You Hire a BioLogos Lawyer?
Imagine that your son was arrested on charges of murder, theft, battery, and sexual assault on a minor. At the trial, the prosecution gives arguments and evidence that your son is in fact guilty. When it is your side's turn to present evidence, your son's attorney gives the following speech:
I do believe that my client is innocent, but I do not think we can demonstrate them (or discount them) empirically. There are things we are to believe, but they cannot be shown on empirical grounds to be more true. Whether my client committed these crimes is a grand mystery and not open to empirical support.
There are some things, of course, that are open to some sort of empirical support, such as: was my client raised in a good home? was my client guilty of crimes other than the ones that the prosecution is charging?
In other words, some things can be tested and potentially verified through empirical means, but some things cannot. The core of my case cannot be tested that way, in my opinion, and showing empirically that my witnesses spoke of the past in a more story-like than historicisitic way does not in any way neuter the core.
So, how do we "know" my client is innocent? In an evidentialist sense, we don't. But a "knowing" that accesses the whole being--such as the defendant's families understand--is what you call metaphysical, and I would call mystical, i.e., is trans-rational (not anti-rational).
Can I demonstrate empirically that my client is innocent? On some levels, I would say yes, but on a most meaningful level, that my client's innocence is Truth, we demonstrate to others as my client and his family tell us to--die, serve, love, embody his goodness in all we do. Against such things there is no argument.
This is nearly a verbatim quote from a chat I had with one of the BioLogos folk. The only difference is that instead of the client's innocence, it is the truth of the Christian worldview. Apologists are called to defend the Biblical view in the same way that attorneys are called to defend a set of facts. I hope you would not spend your hard-earned cash on a lawyer who would not even try to argue your son's innocence. So why would anyone who holds to a Biblical worldview do anything to help such an organization?