7 Reasons Why BioLogos Is A Threat to Classical Christian Education

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Before getting into the thicket, let me briefly define my terms and say a few preliminary things about my concerns. First, by BioLogos I mean this particular project as an attempt to harmonize biological evolution and Christian faith. Second, while I believe that this attempt (however well-intentioned) is a threat to every form of Christian education, I am focusing on classical Christian education because that is where my labors have largely been. And third, nothing said here is intended to question the sincerity or niceness of any particular BioLogos brothers and sisters. I believe their vision is destructive, but if a destructive vision is being promulgated here by very nice people, it wouldn’t be the first time.

There are many places where I could launch this discussion, but I think I will start with the historicity of Adam and Eve.

“Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago. This conflicts with the traditional view that all humans descended from a single pair who lived about 10,000 years ago. While Genesis 2-3 speaks of the pair Adam and Eve, Genesis 4 refers to a larger population of humans interacting with Cain. One option is to view Adam and Eve as a historical pair living among many 10,000 years ago, chosen to represent the rest of humanity before God. Another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an allegory in which Adam and Eve symbolize the large group of ancestors who lived 150,000 years ago. Yet another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an “everyman” story, a parable of each person’s individual rejection of God. BioLogos does not take a particular view and encourages scholarly work on these questions.”

1. The first thing to notice is that while encouraging “scholarly work on these questions,” they are not subjecting their own options to any kind of rigorous or logical analysis. So genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand about 150,000 years ago? Now when walking upstream like this, one wonders why they stopped right where they decided to stop.

This is because we could also say that genetic evidence shows that humans descended from about a billion people 200 years ago. And when we greet the several thousand ancestors from 150,000 years ago one wonders (does one not?) whether they had parents, whether they had common ancestors. What possible reason could we have for tracing our human ancestry to its point of origin, but then stopping a few centuries short? I’ll bet with a little scholarly work on this question we could go upstream a little bit further. We might even get to meet our mother Eve and discover just how hairy her back was, and how good she was at picking nits from Adam’s scalp.

2. In attempting to reconcile evolutionary theory with biblical revelation, a false equivalence must first be assumed. Scripture is God’s perfect revelation to man, exquisitely designed for our capacities and condition. Evolutionary theory is not something we “know” in the same way. If someone were to say that their goal was to harmonize “Scripture” on the one hand, with phrenology on the other, we should stop them before the actual work of harmonizing begins. “You do know,” we should say, “that what we know about phrenology is not in the same category as what we know about the epistle to the Romans?” The same thing goes for Swedenborgian Ambien dreams.

If you appropriately assume the certainty of two bases of knowledge, then it is fully reasonable to seek to harmonize them. I am all for it, because all truth is God’s truth. I have no difficulty when someone seeks to harmonize the synoptic gospels with the fact a bowling ball dropped out of plane over the Pacific will fall at 9.8 meters per second squared. Harmonize away, and it won’t take long. But if you want to harmonize Scripture with your view that criminality is determined by bumps on the head with the Pauline view that it is caused by bumps on the heart, then there is an enormous problem. You are just assuming that you have equivalent truths that need harmonizing. But maybe you just have one glaring error that needs rejecting.

On this question, the Academy is a very large, self-authenticating plausibility structure, with the words Echo Chamber stenciled on the door. What you guys know in there is not the same thing as what we know out here. I do feel a need to harmonize what I know with what I know. I feel no need at all to harmonize what I know with what I don’t know.

3. Christian education is the process of teaching our covenant children how to think about the great questions — who are we? how did we get here? where are we going? These questions are woven tightly together, and you cannot radically restructure the one about how we got here without radically affecting all the other great questions. Attempting to do so will only result in the demolition of integrated Christian worldview thinking. But the reason our schools exist is to promote Christian worldview thinking on the part of our students.

4. An essential part of the task of Christian education is to give a biblical account of evil in the world, along with the resident evil that every believer has seen in his own heart. Where did that come from?

“The sciences of evolution and archaeology can provide some insight into these questions [of original sin] but are not equipped to answer them. These questions are theological, and over the centuries the church has considered many possible answers. Some of these options are consistent with the scientific evidence currently available.”

Well, I am very glad these some of these options are consistent (see Journal of Scholarly Handwaving, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 17-28), for if they were not consistent with biblical revelation, we would have to abandon them, right? Right? Where did everybody go?

How we came to be sinful is one of the bedrock questions, and students in our schools need something better than “scholars think stuff.” I dare say they do.

Everything comes down to a prohibited tree, and the fact that everyone who reads these words is descended from a man who reached out his hand to take that forbidden fruit. We are descended from our common father, and he represented us well when he defied what God had told him. That is why I find these stirrings in my heart, and that is why I need a Savior.

5. Then there is the matter of physical death. The Bible teaches that death came into the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12). Theistic evolution has to argue that Adam came into the world through death. In the biblical view, Adam is the father of death. In the other view, death is the father of Adam. The difference is a stark one.

BioLogos says this:

“The curse of Genesis 3 was that Adam and Eve, not the animals, should die for their disobedience. Therefore, animal death before the Fall is compatible with Christian doctrine.”

Note in the first place that this doesn’t even solve the presenting problem. If Adam and Eve were the first emerging humans from a crowd of primates, what is the sense of telling them that if they violated whatever our replacement was for the Forbidden Tree, they would surely die? “Die?” they might say. “Everybody dies. My parents just died last year.” Why is it a threat to go through something that has been the way of the world for millions of years already? Why didn’t God threaten them with having to eat breakfast tomorrow, just like always?

Secondly, note that this solution proves far too much. It does not just prove that animal death is “compatible with” biblical doctrine; it proves that animal death is a positive good. If the days of creation are referring to the millions of years of struggle, death, disease, decay, nature red in tooth and claw, then you have to account for the fact that an all-beneficent God looked down on those bloody millennia, and pronounced them all good. And then go get a knife, find a sentient creature, preferably a fluffy bunny for the sake of my illustrative point, and torture it to death. That monstrosity, according to the theology of BioLogos, need have no connection to human sin whatever. It provides no reason for thinking that our world is broken by sin. Fluffy bunnies have always died, man, many of them painfully. God called it good.

And this is why this inconsistency on this point, on suffering and death (natural evil), is tied in with inconsistency on the previous point about moral evil.

6. The clear tendency of the BioLogos outlook is to consider young earth creationism as the ultimate academic faux pas. Young earth creationists are not just in error, they are embarrassing. But students in our schools are being taught any number of embarrassing things — like marriage consisting of one man and one woman, for example. An essential part of our training is to show our students how scholarly tongue clucking is not an argument.

So learning how to resist the academic cool shame on this point is a most excellent exercise. And we can begin by making the arbiters of all intellectual rigor answer the most basic questions about their assertions on time and the age of earth. “You say that the universe is fourteen billion years old, give or take. Where is it that age? Is it the same age at the point where the Big Bang occurred as it is out at the edges? Are there any edges? What clock are you using? What Newtonian balcony are you standing on when you measure the age of the whole universe?”

7. The Lord Jesus spoke of Adam and Eve in a particular way, and His example is normative for all His followers. I must not only follow the Lord’s ethic on marriage, but if I am His disciple I have an obligation to accept His rationale for that ethic.

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4–6).

All these thoughts do need to be developed further, and so I believe that from time to time I shall attempt to do so.

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Rob Steele
Rob Steele
6 years ago

I’d be more interested in seeing you wrestle with Hugh Ross about the age of the universe. He seems to take the Bible more seriously than BioLogos and be more willing to defy worldly criticism.

John W
6 years ago

Hugh Ross has certainly influenced my thinking in this area I agree with what Doug is saying about Adam & Eve- if they were not specially created -both sinless and deathless – then the Gospel itself makes no sense. But not so sure whether animal suffering can be shown as not being a part of the original good creation. (The torturing of bunnies argument is not applicable since that would constitute purposeless suffering). But how does Doug deal with two passages which speak of the wisdom of God in creation (without mentioning the subsequent Fall) and seem to indicate predation… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

So why do you back away from “in the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die”?

That day = 900 years later?

Real death, biblically defined, is not “nature red in tooth and claw” but spiritual corruption.

You think Jesus’ physical death was the thing?

Wesley Sims
6 years ago

Eric Stampher,

Was Jesus’ resurrection a physical resurrection? Was a spiritual resurrection the marvel that the Jewish leaders pressured the guards to deny?

Robert
6 years ago

I do hope you will continue writing on this subject. It has been explored in great detail by others, but not yet with this kind of entertaining wit.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

Animal death is a positive good. The alternative is vegetarianism.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Hi Wesley!

Yes indeed — Jesus’ physical body rose from physical “death” or sleep (another term Jesus Himself uses for that state.

And yes indeed — the spiritual resurrection was the resurrection the pharisees most hated to have folks experience.

Physical death & resurrection will be for all folks, good & bad.

Reuben K.
Reuben K.
6 years ago

Let me here beat the inevitable hurricane of excrement to the punch by sharing a tad bit of wisdom that I have been granted by God in spite of my engagement in the last hurricane of excrement that surrounded this topic on this blog: When speaking of life and death before and after the fall, be careful that you are using the correct definitions. That is to say, if you spin a rationally flawless, (superficially) Biblically consistent theological argument about the place of life and death before and after the fall, but you assume, from the start, naturalistic definitions of… Read more »

Drew
Drew
6 years ago

I think Doug raises some good points about the tendency towards intellectual arrogance in the academy, but it seems to me that presuppositionalist young earth creationists do plenty of “hand waving” too. Perhaps they would say that this is exactly how epistemology works, but I think they could a little better than that.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Reuben — I think that Doug is targetting more sentient life forms.

“Red in tooth & claw” is his picture of the devil’s horrific aim.

Joshua
Joshua
6 years ago

Doug,

Do you think that a danger in accepting an evolutionary perspective on the origins of life is that it replaces the death of Jesus Christ as the source and hope for humanities eternal life with the death and striving of ourselves as the source and hope for humanities life? Or in other words, does the human race’s hope change to when we trust our death and works to move humanity forward in the evolutionary process as opposed to trusting in Jesus’ death and work to bring us into eternal life with him?

Wesley Sims
6 years ago

Eric, And yes indeed — the spiritual resurrection was the resurrection the pharisees most hated to have folks experience. Well, except that’s not what the Jewish leaders wanted the guards to lie about. 11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole [His spirit?] away while we were asleep.’ 14 And… Read more »

Aaron Snell
6 years ago

Doug, “If the days of creation are referring to the millions of years of struggle, death, disease, decay, nature red in tooth and claw, then you have to account for the fact that an all-beneficent God looked down on those bloody millennia, and pronounced them all good.” But He did and does pronounce it good. Psalm 104: 21 The young lions roar after their prey And seek their food from God… …27 They all wait for You To give them their food in due season. 28 You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are… Read more »

John
John
6 years ago

I, too, am curious about animal death pre-fall. I think everyone can acknowledge that eschatological realities will not include animal death (lion with the lamb, etc), but to assume that was a pre-fall condition is difficult given the language of psalm 104. However, I do not recall other animals being GIVEN for food (to man or other animals) before the fall according to Genesis. This is particularly interesting given the reality that eschatology precedes soteriology, right?

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Why not adopt the simple, obvious solution that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are poetry not intended to be taken literally? If you do insist that Genesis 1 is intended to be taken literally, you have the huge problem of the stars being placed inside the earth’s firmament, which is simply wrong.

And I don’t think a special creation for Adam and Eve is necessary to Christian doctrine. Whether by special creation or millions of years of evolution, humans are qualitatively different from other animals. What difference does it make how they got to be different?

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Earlier or later, creation is always pretty “special.”

Evolution should never claim to create, only modify what’s already at some point been put there.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

The pre-fall condition included darkness, formlessness, and awful void, entropy & most importantly, the threat of imminent sin with immediate destruction of hope.

B Martin
B Martin
6 years ago

Thank you for posting this, especially how it relates to classical Christian education. One of the reasons we teach logic is to show students what a smokescreen evolutionary theories truly are.

Ian Perry
Ian Perry
6 years ago

I often enjoy reading this blog, however one frustration is the lack of sustained interaction with either science or with Christians critiquing Young Earth Creationism. There is lengthy interaction with atheist writers, and some cases in which a chapter is discussed (part of a work on other things) that deals with objections to YEC from Christians, but I don’t recall any chapter by chapter discussions of books (there may have been one which was almost, but not quite there) which focused on the YEC issue. Likewise, I get the impression from the books listed here or present at the linked… Read more »

Geoff
Geoff
6 years ago

They aren’t in favor of Old-Earth Creationism or Intelligent Design either.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Eric Stampher, evolution, even that which rejects God altogether, doesn’t claim to create, but simply to modify what is already there. It just starts the modification with simpler ingredients: Hydrogen becomes heavier elements, which then become macro-molecules, which eventually become living organisms. I don’t know any evolutionist who would claim that something comes from nothing; that would be magic, and evolutionists do not, as a rule, believe in magic either. The basic elements of the universe have always existed, and simply get re-arranged over time.

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
6 years ago

“The basic elements of the universe have always existed”

Wait, what? According to what cosmology? You think the fundamental thing is … things?

Luke
Luke
6 years ago

The title of this post was a bit too strait forward for this blog. Should have gone with “Swedenborgian Ambien Dreams” ;)

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Eric — you hold that things always existed, but also the laws of logic too, right? And goodness and badness, too?

Jeff
6 years ago

How shall we understand Ro 8:19ff? For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. When did this subjection happen? What did the pre-futile world look like? Was is… Read more »

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Eric, the laws of logic are nothing more than a description of how things work. So yes, assuming there was someone with the necessary brainpower to notice and to describe it, there have probably always been ways that the universe works.

Whether the specific detailss of those laws have changed over time, I can’t say. I don’t know what preceded the big bang. The math and physics may have been completely different in a pre-big-bang universe. Or they may have been exactly the same as they are now. Don’t know, but would love to be able to find out.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

And I would say that goodness and badness were meaningless concepts in a universe in which no organism with the necessary brainpower to notice or care about ethics had as yet evolved.

Ellen
Ellen
6 years ago

Regarding Hugh Ross, I would recommend Jonathan Safarti’s book ‘Refuting Compromise’.

“With his usual brilliant clarity, Jonathan Sarfati, author of the best-selling ‘Refuting Evolution’ (Vols. 1 and 2) has produced a comprehensive and resounding refutation of the position of ‘progressive creationist’ Hugh Ross, whose views are causing massive confusion about science and the Bible. The most powerful theological and scientific defence of a straightforward view of Genesis creation ever written.”

http://creation.com is the place to go searching to answer so many questions raised here.

David R
David R
6 years ago

To all those claiming animals died pre-fall and that they ate prey for food, I present Genesis 1:29-30: And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. Animals did not die pre-fall. They… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Eric — did you mean: how you perceive them to work?

I mean — your stuck inside your own brain, aren’t you?
On what basis do you conclude that your perceptions are anything more than hallucinations, for example?

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

David — and to think that no bacteria were needed to digest those fruits!

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Redness — your thinking = biochemical neuron firing, right?
That physiological “way things are” thinking or occurrence has no ultimate meaning, does it?
No purpose.
No goodness.
No real value, does it?

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Eric — what you say is that what you say is not meaningful or important, right?

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Eric Stampher, be careful in leaping to all those conclusions (none of which necessarily follow from any of my premises, by the way). If you miss, you might fall to your death. And I would miss you. And since you think that my missing you would be meaningless, it would be a waste of neural activity on my part that could be more pleasantly spent reading a good book. Just in passing, you didn’t actually respond to any of my questions in my original post. Isn’t the entire evolution/creation debate resolved by recognizing that Genesis 1-11 is poetry rather than… Read more »

Clint
6 years ago

Doug, I think you may be interested in what Dr. Greg Boyd has to say in article below about the theology of natural evil if animal death occurred before the Fall (even though I agree with you in your critique of him about Elijah). It applies to what you said in your points 5 and 6. I’ve quoted a relevant part from it below, where he mentions the views of commentator, John Sailhamer. Sailhamer’s views, incidentally, is someone whose views John Piper and his Desiring God ministry has pointed to as something worth looking into on questions about Genesis. Strange… Read more »

Clint
6 years ago

Also, I didn’t realize Boyd’s article also had 7 “reasons” in the title. Ha.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Redulous —
If it were poetry, then you’d be right.
I read it as more of a mix, though: poetic musing by the Creator on what & why He did.

So — in your world, is poetry more than just materially constructed humanoids doing what material biochemical humanoids sometimes do?

Surely there’s nothing more than stuff just being stuff, right?

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Eric, you obviously don’t believe my views are meaningless or lead to meaninglessness or you wouldn’t be responding. The problem with ascribing any literalness to Genesis 1 at all is that there’s so much of it that’s simply wrong if taken literally. In addition to the problem I’ve already identified — there are no stars inside earth’s firmament — you start off having light and darkness divided from one another, but with no source for the light. You then have the earth being made ahead of the sun, which is flat out wrong. Speaking of flat, stretching the firmament out… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago

I have stopped allowing my children to watch the Weather Channel. They were subjected to an atheistic materialistic interpretation of the creation of snow. According to the corrupted minds of the men and women at the Weather Channel, snow comes from the freezing of droplets of rain in the atmosphere that then falls to Earth. This is an obvious contradiction to Job 38:22 which clearly states that God keeps snow in heavenly storehouses. Oh sure, I could try to understand this as metaphor but then I must also reject the infallibility of scripture as well as the virgin birth and… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago

God could obviously have given the ancient Hebrews a science book but he didn’t. They wouldn’t have understood it and it would have been a burden to lug around the desert for thousands of years. The Bible is a lot of things but it is a mistake to read it as a science book. The Bible I read is also not presuppositional. It says “look at the evidence, look at the evidence, look at the evidence.” Creation science is cartoony and ridiculous. If you are going to reject science (by science I mean the application of human reason to the… Read more »

Matthew Hoover
Matthew Hoover
6 years ago

Here is a good refutation of Sailhamer’s view. See four articles linked at http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/category/biblical-chronology/

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

@Barnabas Thank you for your illustrations; I think they fairly convey the prevailing criticisms of YEC. In “The Devils Delusion Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions” David Berlinski relays Richard Feynman’s remark that quantum electrodynamics’ control over the natural world is so accurate that in measuring the distance from New York to LA theory and experiment diverge by less than the width of the human hair. Where then are the field equations showing the age of the universe is 5000 years old? They do not exist*. In these fields, Christianity only has a tenuous hold and if I where an atheist,… Read more »

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

Animals did not die pre-fall. They did not kill their food pre-fall. They ate plants. God gave plants for food AND IT WAS SO.

So you’re a vegetarian then?

David R
David R
6 years ago

“So you’re a vegetarian then?” So you do not engage the text posted, which is telling. I will respond to this claim with more Scripture, but I dont have a lot of faith that it will be engaged either. Geneses 9:1-3 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand… Read more »

Robert Sadler
Robert Sadler
8 days ago
Reply to  David R

You’re absolutely correct. Those who throw pseudo-intellectual comments at you fail to understand that God is infinitely sovereign in this little universe that He spoke into being.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

David — do you have a similar passage like Genesis 9 for animal permission to go omnivore?

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Redrick,

Of course light was created the very first! — and that without suns.
The light we really need can’t be provided by a stupid old sun.
Suns are for signs and symbols, pointing to God Himself.

But every scientist knows that suns give of light rather than corn flakes only because … well they don’t know why — scientifically speaking, they just do.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

So after the flood God gave Noah and man animals to eat. So I am not a vegetarian the same reason Noah was not a vegetarian after the flood. This would be fine, except the whole “animals didn’t die” argument is predicated on the no-death state being “good”, implying that the death state is not good. If it is not good, then there isn’t much argument for taking part in it, much the same way sinfulness being the norm doesn’t mean you can just go willy-nilly with the sinning and it’s all good. So either the interpretation is wrong and… Read more »

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Eric Stampher, a good rule of thumb is that if you’re imputing arguments to your opponents that make them look like complete blithering idiots, chances are very good that you’re setting up a straw man. No scientist is so stupid as to not know why the sun emits light rather than corn flakes.

You still haven’t told me how many stars are inside earth’s firmament.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Redmund —
Actually, no scientist claims to know why the sun puts out light.
We claim to know that the radiant waves come forth.
Why those waves come out, we just observe and quantify and then say that for some reason that produces light.

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
6 years ago

Regarding fermamentation:

Genesis 1 is showing the firmament as the sky — from the ground on earth way on up to all that holds the last star.