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Saturday, May 02, 2009

US genome mapper Francis Collins fronts new BioLogos theory, preferred to "theistic evolution"

Francis Collins, the US government's genome mapper, whose book The Language of God I reviewed here, has launched BioLogos, to advocate a sort of rebranded theistic evolution:

BioLogos is most similar to Theistic Evolution. Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with creation. Theism is different than deism, which is the belief in a distant, uninvolved creator who is often little more than the sum total of the laws of physics. (For more on God’s involvement with creation, see Questions 11 and 14 about Miracles and Divine Action.) Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is how God created life. Because the term evolution is sometimes associated with atheism, a better term for the belief in a God who chose to create the world by way of evolution is BioLogos. (For more about the definition of evolution, see Question 2 on What is Evolution?) BioLogos comes from the Greek words bios (life) and logos (word), referring to the gospel of John:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Just exactly why Collins is doing this, I am not sure. Giving a new name to "theistic evolution" is like putting ballroom slippers on a horse. It won't help either the slippers or the horse. But I am pretty sure which party will come out ahead.

Why try to rescue theistic evolution? It only ever got started because some people needed a religious belief that squares with the idea that God never intervenes. So you can believe, for all practical purposes, in a God who doesn't exist. That is the key reason theistic evolution is so commonly associated with atheism.

Whether God in fact intervenes at specific times is, in my view, an open question. It is commonly raised in the Catholic Church around the canonization of saints.

Collins offers a reasonably fair assessment of intelligent design theory, compared to many sources. He seems stuck on the idea that Darwinian evolution can actually create huge amounts of new information, which is obviously untrue, but - in my experience - if people need to believe that, well, ...

Of course, Pharyngula calls Collins's view creationism - but what would you expect?

Update: The odd thing is that I am a theistic evolutionist myself, in the true sense. That is, I do not doubt that, in principle, God could cause everything to unfold from the Big Bang. But - he need not have done so and has never been under any obligation to do so. The matter must be determined by evidence, and the typical "theistic evolutionist" or "BioLogist" doesn't seem much interested

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Young Earth Creationism: New book "storms" it?

When I was teaching a course a couple of years back on why there is an intelligent design controversy, I had to address young earth creationism (YEC) [= Earth and its life forms were created in 7 days, 144 hours].

I tried to make two points:

(1) There is no possible way that the Darwinian narrative of the history of life can be true, whether we accept NASA's dating of the age of the Earth or not.

(2) I was not lecturing on the topic of YEC in order to attack YECs, but simply to outline the different ways people approach the evidence.

Now, my own view is that YEC is an answer to a problem that doesn't really exist. but I have also said the same about theistic evolution [= There is really a God but nature does not provide any evidence, so it must be received on faith alone].

Anyway, I was glad to see that, in "Storming Young-Earth Creationism: But is Genesis 1 the" only text at issue?, Marcus R. Ross, a creationist paleontologist at Liberty University, takes on The Bible, Rocks and Time by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley (IVP Academic, September 2008):
Young-earth creationism is a complex system. YEC's conception of history includes not merely a six-rotational-day Creation, but also a young age of the earth, miraculous creation of plant and animal life, a commitment to a historical Adam and Eve, a historical Fall with universal spiritual and physical consequences, and a global catastrophe.
Personally, I am glad that these people can have a civil discussion (no murders, no planes flying into buildings, etc.)


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