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Swamidass distances himself from Christian evolution group

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S. Joshua Swamidass A friend who watches these things notes that genomic medicine prof (and ID foe) Joshua Swamidass hasn’t been active at BioLogos recently and doesn’t seem to be on their speakers’ list. The flies on the wall whisper that it relates to his willingness to entertain the idea of separate creation of Adam and Eve.

Recently, he took issue with BioLogos head Deb Haarsma’s comments

Haarsma:At BioLogos, our views on human origins are centered on essential biblical teachings about human identity and origins. We join all Christians in affirming that humans are made in the image of God, that humans have an elevated place in the created order, and that humans have a unique relationship with God. To this extent we are sure the leaders on this video would agree. However, we disagree that is it essential to believe God used a miracle to create a first pair; we instead argue that God used the natural mechanisms of evolution to create the first group of humans… Drawing a line that requires Christians to affirm a miraculous creation of Adam and Eve carries a significant risk of driving away those who might otherwise be drawn to the faith. We appeal to the Gospel Coalition to not frame the essentials of creation around the method God used to create humans, but around God’s purpose and intent for humans. God made us to know him, love him, and to bear his image in this world.

Swamidass:I am also an advocate of historical Adam theologians. There is absolutely zero evidence against Keller’s confession of the de novo creation of Adam and Eve “from the dust.” Entirely consistent with the genetic and archaeological evidence, Adam and Eve could have been specially created in a Garden and be ancestors of us all. This unequivocal scientific fact is an open secret among many BioLogos biologists, including many of those on the Board. Though he misrepresents my views, even @DennisVenema himself has endorsed this scientific fact in print (http://henrycenter.tiu.edu/2017/07/response-to-the-symposium-part-1/2 ). [Also here, with easier formatting. – ed.]

Like most internal disputes, this one has a long backstory. Swamidass and BioLogos’s Dennis Venema appear to have unfriended each other: Venema vs. Swamidass.

Swamidass is not saying that he believes that Adam and Eve were separately created but only that it cannot be disproven. One source points out that it is unusual for BioLogos folk to argue among themselves in public over such substantive issues. Usually, they just attack anything that moves in the ID community.

See also: Protein families are still improbably astonishing – retraction of Matlock and Swamidass paper in order?

Biologist Wayne Rossiter on Joshua Swamidass’s claim that entropy = information

and

BioLogos gravitating to full-on naturalism?

26 Replies to “Swamidass distances himself from Christian evolution group

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Ironical that this muddle-headed tack should be adopted by Biologos, and on such risible grounds, at the very time when scientific evidence for the truth of Christianity has become intellectually ineluctable ; while atheist ‘science’ has never ceased to be ‘flakey’, but, rather, has become more and more so. But perhaps that is at least part of the reason.

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    Wow NEWS,

    am I at a science site?

    Perhaps this post might be more appropriate at, ‘theologytoday.com’.

    So! What are the ID scientists up to at the moment? Besides considering the historical significance of Adam, and Steve; Heh:)

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    Haarsma says this:

    However, we disagree that is it essential to believe God used a miracle to create a first pair; we instead argue that God used the natural mechanisms of evolution to create the first group of humans… Drawing a line that requires Christians to affirm a miraculous creation of Adam and Eve carries a significant risk of driving away those who might otherwise be drawn to the faith. We appeal to the Gospel Coalition to not frame the essentials of creation around the method God used to create humans, but around God’s purpose and intent for humans.

    Why do they argue that an almighty, all wise, good and loving God would not use His mighty power to create humans? Why does she argue that He did not do that?

    Isn’t that a bit illogical?

    It would seem that the Biblical record fits better with the miraculous position. To argue the way she does, she has to turn important sections of the Bible into myth. Is that really what God is telling us?

    Is it science that determines what is myth and what is real in the Bible?

    Why would God use such a cruel, long, drawn out process like evolution to create mankind? Why would anyone argue that? It just doesn’t fit with who He reveals Himself to be and what He said that He did in Scripture in my view.

    It sure seems like she is using science to interpret God’s Word.

    At least Mr. Swamidass seems to be open to God using miraculous power in creation. Why would anyone NOT be open to this?

    The Biologos position makes no sense! (to me)

  4. 4
    rvb8 says:

    tjguy,

    well said. And I admire your honesty.

    The Christians who argue for evolution are indeed down playing the role of God. And Biologos, and many here at this site are complicit.

    Creationism relies on its founding text, the Bible, and those Christians who can’t accept that, are wishy-washy.

    Your plain statement of acceptance of Biblical litteralism, at this site of supposed science, is most welcome.

    I applaud your honesty, well done sir!

  5. 5
    Jammer says:

    Is there a reason why rvb8 hasn’t been banned yet? He can’t articulate his points, assuming he ever has any. He’s proven himself to be dishonest. He offers nothing positive.

    The only reason I could see for him being kept around is because he makes Darwinists look so bad. Is that it?

  6. 6
    Jon Garvey says:

    Haarsma (like Denis Venema and many of her critics here and elsewhere) confuse things by treating “creation” as a variety of “miracle”.

    But creation is actually a class of event by itself, and the primary claim of theism – it’s the bringing of something new into the universe from nothing. That’s so even when there is pre-existing material – for example, when God “created” Israel (de novo) from a bunch of wandering Arameans. What was newly created was nationhood. Creation does not require physical means, though it could be associated with physical changes (for example, making a man out of dust, or less poetically directing a set of genetic mutations towards a new end).

    If that kind of creation is disallowed, then you either have deism (like most theistic evolution today, sadly), where God created laws and matter once long ago and then sat back; or you turn God into a mere artisan, manufacturing things by manipulating what already exists in exactly the same way that some created scientist in a lab, or cook in a kitchen, would.

    But if you use the word “theism” (as in “theistic evolution), that ought to entail the concept of “creation” (as in “Evolutionary Creation“). If you stumble over the very possibility of unique creative acts by throwing the word “miracle” around, you’re actually either a “deistic evolutionist” or an “Evolutionary Manufacturist”.

    That, of course, is your privilege, but you can’t claim to be coherently resolving theism and science.

  7. 7
    rvb8 says:

    Jammer @5,

    ID hates Christian evolutionary supporters. The, ‘Clergy Letter Project’, being a case in point.

    tjguy @3 laid his religious cards squarely on the table; Biblical Litteralism.

    I applauded his honesty. This post was about someone I’ve never heard of, disagreeing about a theological point, with someone else I’ve never heard of. Now if that is relevant to a science web-site, explain to me how exactly?

    Now the fact that ID is a Judaeo/Christian, or generally religious concept, may up set you. And it may cause you to stomp and say, ‘we’re scientific too!’

    But that’s of no import, because you and your supporters are really Chrisitians playing at science.

    I think I haven’t been banned, because that poilcy was standard at UD from 2005 to around 2012, and gave poor results. As it stands, the handful of posters, and writers remaining, need every click they can get.

  8. 8

    To all onlookers here —

    The evidence confirming Intelligent Design is in and it’s massive. There is indeed a “mountain of evidence” and it conclusively confirms a creator, and totally demolishes the nonsense of evolution as the explanation for life on this planet.

    How you ask?

    It’s all around you and within you … all you have to do is examine the amazing functionality of your own body. It’s really that simple.

    Need some “technical” help in grasping this?

    Start taking a look at the amazing series from Dr. Howard Glicksman at https://evolutionnews.org/tag/the-designed-body/

    Any takers here?

  9. 9
    News says:

    Jammer at 5, rvb8 is, increasingly, the only type of strict, literal Darwinist one can get these days. The others are gradually making their way to a more reasonable point of view about the origin, nature, and history of life. Meanwhile, it really isn’t our business to make the older breed of Darwinist extinct.

    Never try to do what nature will do anyway, left to itself. Nature does it more comprehensively and with a surer touch.

    Incidentally, BioLogos’ internal affairs are only an occasional tour stop for us. But in some cases, they involve names that will be recognized by many of our readers, so we do stop briefly.

  10. 10
    asauber says:

    Did rvb8 evolve or devolve into the bitter nothin-better-to-do spammer that he proves himself to be every day?

    Andrew

  11. 11
    daveS says:

    Another outsider’s perspective:

    Biologos obviously is taking the risk of driving away those who balk at the notion of Adam and Eve being created through evolution. I can only conclude Biologos is not interested in reaching these people.

    OTOH, Swamidass’ point is silly: The bare proposition that Adam and Eve were created miraculously is all but unfalsifiable. If he qualified this proposition by giving dates, places, &c., perhaps then it would become a scientific question

  12. 12
    gooshy says:

    If I pointed out that “rvb8” is a perfectly acceptable leet spelling of “rube”, would I be the first? And would I get a prize?

  13. 13
    ET says:

    rvb8:

    Creationism relies on its founding text, the Bible, and those Christians who can’t accept that, are wishy-washy.

    And ID doesn’t rely on the Bible.

    Now the fact that ID is a Judaeo/Christian, or generally religious concept,…

    Only to the willfully ignorant, like you. Too bad you are too much of a coward to actually make a case and can only repeat your oft-refuted mantra like a little child throwing a tantrum.

    You haven’t been banned because you are the [perfect spokesperson to expose the vacuity and desperation of your position. And we thank you

  14. 14

    Everyone should know by now that rvb8 is a hater of all things theistic, especially Christianity. He is a mere debunker. Nevertheless, he is good to have around as an a/mat punching bag. He’s not the best and brightest of that faith-based philosophy, but he does make a good point every once in awhile.

  15. 15
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    rvb8’s straw man of this being a “science site” does not stand up well against the site’s description of itself in the “About” page above:

    Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins so that the actual content of these sciences has become corrupted. The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview, but that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins. At the same time, intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution — an alternative that is finding increasing theoretical and empirical support. Hence, ID needs to be vigorously developed as a scientific, intellectual, and cultural project.

    For someone as concerned about “quote mining” as is rvb8, you’d think he would have read the original context before mischaracterizing this site’s mission to help develop ID as “a scientific, intellectual and cultural project.”

    Reading makes us different from the apes.

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    > He’s not the best and brightest of that faith-based philosophy…

    Calling it faith-based lends entirely too much credence to a view that should have none.

  17. 17
    johnnyb says:

    Swamidass’s goal is peaceful coexistence of science and theology. An admirable goal, but he has for years mistaken capitulation with peace. This has worked well for him, because no one was going after *his* view of things. Now that they are, hopefully he will start to see the issue with his positioning.

    If you want peaceful coexistence, you have to have dialogue, not complete separation. A “dialog” involves multiple voices, each listening to each other. What Swamidass thought would solve it was to have partitioned voices that restricted what each one could talk about. However, no freedom-loving person likes to have the limits of their thinking demarcated by someone else. Thus, Swamidass’s “peace” actual is no peace, just coercion.

    What causes peace is not methodological naturalism (like Swamidass thinks), but a mutual respect for and pursuit of truth, and an honest discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of various positions. It means inter-disciplinary dialog, where multiple disciplines come together and see what they can borrow and help with from other disciplines. It does not mean drawing up impassible boundaries.

  18. 18
    johnnyb says:

    By the way, Swamidass and I had an exchange last year. I still think it is worthwhile to read:

    Swamidass’s Questions for Critics of Methodological Naturalism
    My Questions for Proponents of Methodological Naturalism
    My Response to Swamidass’s Questions, Pt. 1
    My Response to Swamidass’s Questions, Pt. 2

    All of these threads have really interesting conversations, and Swamidass himself responded in them as well.

  19. 19
    Origenes says:

    Johnnyb @18

    Good to reread — expecially your response to Swamidass’ questions part 2.

    Answering Autodidaktos you wrote that “there is a lot of evidence that the laws of physics are ‘open’. That is, state A might have a whole set of result states, not just one.”
    I would like to read about this. Can you point me in the right direction?

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    // follow-up #19//

    “Immediate experiences in themselves, however various and disparate they be, are logically incapable of contradicting each other. So let us see whether we cannot draw the correct, non-contradictory conclusion from the following two premises:

    (i) My body functions as a pure mechanism according to the Laws of Nature.
    (ii) Yet I know, by incontrovertible direct experience, that I am directing its motions, of which I foresee the effects, that may be fateful and all-important, in which case I feel and take full responsibility for them.

    The only possible inference from these two facts is, I think, that I — I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that has ever said or felt ‘I’ — am the person, if any, who controls the ‘motion of the atoms’ according to the Laws of Nature.”

    [Erwin Schrodinger]

  21. 21
    NotAfraidofScienceorScripture says:

    To tjguy,

    You misunderstand Dr. Swamidass’ theory. He believes in biological evolution as the way God put us here. He also believes, due to his interpretation of the 2nd Genesis origins account, in an historical Adam and Even, that were special creations. So he has them created around 6,000-10,000 years ago as genealogical, not genetic ancestors of modern humans. That means that there were already millions of humans on earth when Adam and Eve appeared, and through intermixing with the pre-Adamic humans, they became one of many genealogical ancestors of mankind.

    Question: Have you ever studied evolution on your own?
    I didn’t believe in it for the 1st 10 years of my Christian life, but then took a course called Evolutionary Biology to apply to medical school. I was stunned at how clear and abundant the evidence was and changed my mind on it. That was 20 years ago, and along with paleantologic and genetic evidence that I’ve since come across, that all go hand and hand, I find the evidence overwhelming and undeniable.

    Yes, God has the ability to create things miraculously. It just doesn’t seem that he did, according to studying His creation.

    There are horrible things happening in the wild today, with tigers ripping apart live animals, as there were throughout the history of animals on earth. It’s not all like that though. In the end, God can use whatever way he wants to create life and the diversity of life.

    Science can’t explain a lot of things, but if the evidence is clear, like it is in evolution, then we can use it to help us to interpret certain passages of scripture, like Gallileo’s findings did back in the day.

    It’s not just evolution that challenge traditional renderings of the origins accounts. It’s also, for example, geology, cosmology and population genetics.

    Biologos is open to God using miraculous power as He pleases, like He did to create this awesome creation we call the universe. They also believe in the miracles that God performed in all of the redemptive acts in the old and new testaments. It’s just that they feel, and I agree with them, that studying nature has revealed that God used gradual processes, built into His creation, for galaxies, stars, planets and simple, then complex, then self-conscious and intelligent life to form.

  22. 22
    Barry Arrington says:

    NotAfraid:

    The sad thing is that even as many secular researchers abandon the Darwinian narrative, folks like you cling to it. You have been duped. I get it. The whole “evolution” debate is confusing. You were taught that the evidence for “evolution” is overwhelming and you give us some examples of that evidence. But the examples you give are evidence for “evolution” meaning change in the biosphere over time, which everyone believes in, including ID proponents and YECs. It is most certainly not evidence for the Darwinian mechanism to explain that change.

    Notafraid, ask yourself this question. When pressed to demonstrate evidence for their actual mechanism they almost always point to peppered moths — a case where dark and light moths existed both before and after the experiment — i.e., a case where there was ZERO evolution.

    Do you think that is powerful evidence?

  23. 23
    NotAfraidofScienceorScripture says:

    Hi Barry,

    I don’t see myself, “clinging” to anything and have not been, “duped” by anyone – I only believe what the study of God’s creation is telling us. And nobody taught me that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, that word is not used in the classroom. I find that it is after studying for it 20 years now and seeing how evidence from genomes, fossils and inherited cellular biological structures fit together to show common descent. Dr. Swamidass puts it this way, “evolution may be false, but God sure did make nature seem like common descent is true” (paraphrase).

    We are discovering that there is a lot more to evolution than what was known in the 19th century, such as transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, niche construction, evolutionary development (“evo-devo”), genetic drift and draft, horizontal evolution and epistasis, to name a few. That many secular scientists are abandoning the, “Darwinian narrative”, as you put it, is in itself a false narrative. The vast majority of scientists, including bible believers, hold to the overall Darwinian paradigm.

    Barry, I’m not sure how well you understand biological evolution. For one, I’ve never heard anyone mention the study you referenced to provide evidence for a mechanism of evolution – and there are actually many mechanisms, as I noted above. But the Kettlewell experiment didn’t set out to prove or disprove evolution, it was only to see if bird-predation was based on the different colors of the moths. If anything, it showed that the moths seem to have evolved different colors in different environments for protective purposes.

    That’s what anti-evolution leaders do, they’ll pick out one tiny line of evidence, say the evolution of the folding abilities of proteins, dispute it (incorrectly in this case, as is usual in my findings) and say, “see, the whole theory is wrong!” You can’t do that with a theory with so many paths that lead to its conclusions.

    Finally, there is nothing to be sad about. I’m the same bible-believing Jesus-follower I ever was. And whether this world came about through evolution from the Big Bang until now or not, I still am amazed at God’s creation in all its beauty, complexity and variety!

  24. 24
    aap says:

    Notafraid
    I have a couple of questions for you, the first is Biblical or theological and the second is scientific.
    1. Is it true that you believe that GOD created all life through a naturalistic evolutionary – goo-to-you – process and therefore also believe that through this very same evolutionary process that GOD has created every disease, form of violence and all suffering and death that afflicts the living world and humanity and that GOD views all of this suffering and death as being very good? Do you believe that GOD continues to create new ways of bringing suffering and death into our world since you believe that evolution continues to create new diseases in our world.
    2. Since you are unafraid and have such great wisdom in understanding the evolutionary process that has produced all of the wonders of life in our world, could you please explain to us bumpkins the scientific explanation, and by scientific I mean based on experimentation and observation and not vague assumptions and theoretical just so stories, how a single cell comprised of trillions of molecules, all of which are choreographed in precise detail in an irreducibly complex genetic and epigenetic computerized like system beyond anything that any scientist could accomplish, came into existence and then evolved into all of the irreducibly complex life systems including human life.

  25. 25
    ET says:

    NotAfraidofScienceorScripture,

    There isn’t a scientific theory of evolution. Also Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution so please stop with the equivocation already.

  26. 26
    aap says:

    Notafraid
    So you cannot explain how evolution works, and run away from the implications of what evolution really means in terms of the goodness and love of GOD. That is par for the course for most theistic evolutionists.

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