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BioLogos hopes to calm the fears of ignorant Christians about “evolution”

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In a podcast:

102. Reconciling Evolution | Part One

January 20, 2022

Though the theory of evolution has revolutionized the biological sciences, bringing the theory into the classroom still causes some fear and trembling—from teachers, students, parents. Last fall we spent some time with a group of people who have been researching how to teach evolution better, in a way that acknowledges the emotional and religious tensions that comes into the classroom and attempts to help students understand the science of evolution while retaining—even bolstering—their faith. In this episode we talk about the history of teaching evolution and introduce some of the research from the team.

A friend thinks that the whole Biologos approach is past its sellby date, writing to say,

This is the most tedious thing I’ve ever heard. Would probably be better informed listening to Jerry Coyne or PZ Myers. 100% of it was “waaahhhh – poor indoctrinated church people can’t really understand science until they get past their prejudices”. Then there’s the “every time you have an antibiotic there’s evolution at work!” Oh, and then there is the golden “questioning any part of science is the same as questioning science as a whole!” And then they end with, “we know that if you come to understand evolution, you will also eventually come to accept it.” This sort of stuff is insufferable. How do they still have podcast listeners?

What some of us find curious is that Christian evolutionists so seldom want to grasp the fact that the problem for most Christians is Darwinism, which is an explicitly materialist and naturalist theory of everything. The problem is not “evolution” as in antibiotics.

You may also wish to read: Michael Ruse lecture makes interesting admission re Darwinism and atheists, agnostics. Darwin’s theory, Ruse writes meant that ” the way was opened for sound non-belief, although almost always non-believers – agnostics and atheists – take their stance less on science and more on grounds of theology and philosophy.”

16 Replies to “BioLogos hopes to calm the fears of ignorant Christians about “evolution”

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    What happens when you use an antibiotic is just the bacteria’s immune system learning about the new threat and adapting. Now that the entire concept of immunity is officially CRIMETHINK, I guess we might as well call it evolution.

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    It is fascinating just how many people believe in something where there is no evidence to support it, like evolution. Speciation has never been witnessed by anyone, but completely ignored that is has never been seen.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    The solution: rewrite the first paragraph as

    Though the theory of genetics has revolutionized the biological sciences, bringing the theory into the classroom still causes some fear and trembling—from teachers, students, parents. Last fall we spent some time with a group of people who have been researching how to teach genetics better, in a way that acknowledges the emotional and religious tensions that comes into the classroom and attempts to help students understand the science of genetics while retaining—even bolstering—their faith. In this episode we talk about the history of teaching genetics and introduce some of the research from the team.

    Until ID gets rid of the DNA model in its thinking and acknowledges the fantastic achievement of Darwin for the science of genetics, it will continue to loose the fight in the Evolution debate and for good science.

    Darwinism is great but limited should be the mantra!!!

    Darwinian processes are self refuting in the Evolution debate but tremendous science in the field of genetics.

    Until then, ID will be seen as the theological and philosophical interpretation as opposed to the reality that it is the anti ID people who actually hold these attitudes as Ruse admits.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    Biologos is ignorant about evolution. There isn’t any scientific theory of evolution.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the Biologos claim of, “the theory of evolution has revolutionized the biological sciences,”

    No, that is a patently false claim. The theory of evolution most certainly has not ‘revolutionized the biological sciences’,, Far from it.

    “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, and physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”
    – Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, Boston Globe, Oct. 23, 2005

    “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”
    – Adam S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, Introduction to “Evolutionary Processes” – (2000).

    The biological sciences, far from being ‘revolutionized’ by Darwinian evolution, simply do not even need the presuppositions of Darwinian evolution. As the late Philip Skell noted, “I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.”

    “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.
    I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
    In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.,,,
    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”
    – Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. – Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – 2005

    To realize just how bad this is for the claim that Darwinian evolution is a science, (much less how bad it is for the claim that the “theory of evolution has revolutionized the biological sciences”), imagine 70 eminent physicists saying that they had no need of the theory of quantum mechanics, or of special relativity, or of general relativity, in order to do their research. You simply can’t do research into physics without reference to those theories. Yet Darwinian evolution is found to be a superfluous “narrative gloss” that provides ‘no discernible guidance’.

    That ‘superfluousness” of Darwin’s theory is certainly a damning indictment against the claim that Darwin’s theory is essential to biological science if there ever was one.

    Darwinian evolution simply does not even qualify as a science, much less has it “revolutionized the biological sciences”.

    And the main thing that prevents Darwin’s theory from ever being a real science, (instead of a being the superfluous ‘narrative gloss’ that it actually is), is the core randomness, (i.e. chance), postulate that lies at the teleological denying, (i.e. design denying), center of Darwin’s theory.

    “It necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, and of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among many other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition – or the hope – that on this score our position is ever likely to be revised. There is no scientific concept, in any of the sciences, more destructive of anthropocentrism than this one.”
    – Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology

    Yet, as Murray Eden of MIT noted in a paper entitled, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory”, “the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    – Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    And indeed ‘the randomness postulate’, especially how Darwinists use the term ‘random chance,’ is ‘highly implausible’, ‘very irrational’ and therefore very unscientific.

    As Wolfgang (not even wrong), Pauli himself pointed out, “Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they (Darwinists) use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”

    Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science – Harald Atmanspacher
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”
    Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28)
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/234f/4989e039089fed5ac47c7d1a19b656c602e2.pdf

    To draw out just how ‘unscientific’ the randomness postulate actually is for Darwinists, claiming that something happened completely randomly, without any reference to a rigidly defined mathematical probability, (as Darwinists do), is, in effect, to claim that that ‘random event’ happened for no rhyme or reason whatsoever.

    In other words, there is no rational ‘scientific’ reason to ever be found for why the, supposedly, completely ‘random’ event happened.

    Yet, as Paul Davies pointed out, “the very essence of a scientific explanation of some phenomenon is that the world is ordered logically and that there are reasons things are as they are. If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality — the laws of physics — only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science.”

    Taking Science on Faith – By PAUL DAVIES – NOV. 24, 2007
    Excerpt: After all, the very essence of a scientific explanation of some phenomenon is that the world is ordered logically and that there are reasons things are as they are. If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality — the laws of physics — only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11.....avies.html

    In short, the randomness postulate of Darwinists ‘makes a mockery of science’ precisely because it claims that there is no rational reason to ever be found for why the, supposedly, completely ‘random’ event actually occurred.

    Moreover, besides undermining the rationality of science, the core ‘randomness postulate’ of Darwinists also undermines the rationality of our own minds as well, since the core randomness postulate of Darwinists also holds, (besides all of life being the result of, basically, completely random events), that all of our thoughts are also the result of “unforeseen and unintended’ random events.

    “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
    – C.S. Lewis

    “Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it…. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula … obeys the thought laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory—in other words, unless Reason is absolute—all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    – C.S. Lewis – “Is Theology Poetry,” in The Weight of Glory, 134–136.

    As Nancy Pearcey succinctly explained, “Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.”

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself
    Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, “If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones.” Thus “to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals …undermines confidence in the scientific method.”
    Just so. Science itself is at stake. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, writes that according to atheism, “the mind that does science … is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”
    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/03/why_evolutionar/

    Thus in conclusion, far from Darwin’s theory “revolutionizing the biological sciences” the fact of the matter is that Darwin’s theory, via its core ‘randomness postulate’, (in so far as that “implausible” postulate is taken seriously), undermines, not only biological science, but all of science altogether, as well as also undermining the rationality of our very own thoughts.

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: For Clark, thoughts merely appear out of matter, which has no properties, by the laws of physics, for generating thought. For Clark to assert that naturalistic matter as described by physics gives rise to the mind, without immateriality of any sort, is merely to assert magic.
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/

    In short, Darwin’s theory, via its core randomness postulate, is, pretty much, a direct attack on the core Judeo-Christian presuppositions that were, and still are, necessary and essential for us to even practice science in a rationally coherent manner in the first place.

    Stephen Meyer, (who has a PhD in the philosophy of science from Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s alma mater), in his recent book, “Return of the God hypothesis”, lists the three necessary Judeo-Christian presuppositions that lay at the founding of modern science in Medieval Christian Europe as such.

    “Science in its modern form arose in the Western civilization alone, among all the cultures of the world”, because only the Christian West possessed the necessary “intellectual presuppositions”.
    – Ian Barbour

    Presupposition 1: The contingency of nature
    “In 1277, the Etienne Tempier, the bishop of Paris, writing with support of Pope John XXI, condemned “necessarian theology” and 219 separate theses influenced by Greek philosophy about what God could and couldn’t do.”,,
    “The order in nature could have been otherwise (therefore) the job of the natural philosopher, (i.e. scientist), was not to ask what God must have done but (to ask) what God actually did.”

    Presupposition 2: The intelligibility of nature
    “Modern science was inspired by the conviction that the universe is the product of a rational mind who designed it to be understood and who (also) designed the human mind to understand it.” (i.e. human exceptionalism),
    “God created us in his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts”
    – Johannes Kepler

    Presupposition 3: Human Fallibility
    “Humans are vulnerable to self-deception, flights of fancy, and jumping to conclusions.”, (i.e. original sin), Scientists must therefore employ “systematic experimental methods.” (Francis Bacon’s inductive methodology)
    – Stephen Meyer on Intelligent Design and The Return of the God Hypothesis – Hoover Institution
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_8PPO-cAlA

    And again, to repeat C.S. Lewis, “unless Reason is absolute—all is in ruins.”

    Quote and Verse:

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”
    https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html

    John 1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

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  7. 7
    martin_r says:

    BobRyan

    It is fascinating just how many people believe in something where there is no evidence to support it

    i am not surprised that laymen like Seversky & Co. buy this … What is more disturbing / shocking, that so many well educated smart people support this very absurd theory …. this theory might have been convincing in 19th century, but today? It is crazy absurd …

  8. 8
    Belfast says:

    @Gerry. @3,
    Your re-write is hopelessly misinformed. Darwin knew from nothing about genetics.
    In fact, genetics basically tells us what mankind already knew – tall parents have tall sons and daughters, good milk producers are selected for herd improvement, etc. Genetics, the science, knows nothing of Darwinism and is of immense worth. Genetics paved the path to Crispr, Darwinism is a stab in the dark that goes nowhere.
    To claim that religiously minded tremble at the mention of genetics is a bizarre dream.
    Shouting ‘Evolution’ when antibiotic resistance is mentioned is a dumb as shouting, ‘SHAZAM !’

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Your re-write is hopelessly misinformed.

    No. It’s right on.

    Nobody would use the rewrite where I just changed the word evolution for genetics. It was made to make a point by being absurd.

    Darwin discovered the mechanism for genetics. He knew nothing about genes. In fact Mendel’s paper was in his possession but unread. Darwin knew about breeding which is why he emphasized it. He knew there was some mechanism that caused changes. And he hit the jackpot with natural selection.

    You miss the whole point of the post. The ID movement is wasting its time discussing Darwin or atheism. Give him his due. Claim he is the father of genetics. I am well aware of the history. That will help to get rid of his discovery as useful for Evolution.

    ID needs to change the discussion away from DNA. One way to do. this is to emphasize that Darwin found something very useful about DNA. Every time an article/OP gets published assuming DNA is central to the discussion, it clouds the issue and implies the deep time mechanism might actually work.

    But DNA has nothing to do with Evolution.

    Aside: Dembski once had me banned from this site because I criticized his discussion at a university. He tried to get into the weeds of evolution by dismissing Darwin as irrelevant.

    The problem is that everyone on the planet knows about natural selection and know it works. So trying to dismiss Darwin is trying to dismiss the obvious. It is a waste of time. Instead give him credit for his discovery and then turn the discussion on his supporters to show why it is relevant.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Zweston at 6 thanks for the link. Robert Carter, and especially John Sanford, are both wrecking balls when it comes to dismantling the ‘just-so’ stories of evolution.

  11. 11
    Belfast says:

    Darwin and genetics are as mismatched as a billiard ball and a fountain pen; not even the fervid Darwinist Wikipedia includes your imagined contribution of Darwin to genetics in its article on genetics. He gets no mention.
    Genetics fits a definition of science because it contains a quality of predictability. Natural selection, whatever that means today, begins with a supposed random unpredictable mutation.
    The only thing predictable about Darwinism is that whenever some advance in science is made, Darwinistas chant that’s exactly what evolution predicts.
    Darwin “the father of genetics” ??? Not even the Marx brothers could come up with a joke like that.

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    Darwin “the father of genetics” ??? Not even the Marx brothers could come up with a joke like that.

    Except that it is essentially true.

    Genetics and micro evolution are essentially the same thing. (Small changes in the genome over time) What Darwin discusses in his book are things like pigeon breeding which is genetics/micro evolution. Or changes in the DNA/genes over generations.

    What Darwin got wrong is that micro evolution turns into macro evolution over time. It is wrong for at least two reasons.

    First, it is based on DNA and Evolution is not due to changes in DNA.

    Second, all the micro evolution changes in the world will not produce new proteins.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Mendell is the father of genetics. The modern synthesis took Darwin’s ideas and blended them with Mendell’s genetics.

  14. 14
    BobRyan says:

    It is not surprising that smart people can be gullible Darwin. All it takes is to convince them something is too difficult for them to really understand and give an appearance of certainty. If smart people are convinced they cannot understand something, they simply accept others are even less prepared to understand. A lot of answers from criticism comes down to people just not understanding evolution. It is those who swear by Darwin that have no idea what it is.

    Eugenics had a lot of smart people supporting the idea throughout much of the world. Eugenics was a terrible farce on science that did nothing to advance anything other than strengthen their own superiority based on nothing other than race.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, it is Mendel who founded modern genetics, especially through his studies of the garden pea. However, his work was largely overlooked at the time. KF

  16. 16
    jerry says:

    it is Mendel who founded modern genetics, especially

    Do you believe I am not aware of Mendel and what he did?

    I mentioned him above.

    Darwinian evolution is micro evolution or modern genetics. Give him credit. It does not mean that others didn’t help.

    You fail to understand what I am trying to say.

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