Monday, October 25, 2010

Origins: What Are Your Options?

The logo for the BioLogos Foundation                           Image via Wikipedia
This post will give you the lay-of-the-land.

Excerpted from BioLogos with some amendments and commentary.

1. You can be a Young Earth Creationist (YEC).
Young earth creationists believe that a “natural” or “plain” reading of the English text of the Bible provides a completely accurate account of science [what really happened]. Any scientific ideas incompatible with this – no matter how well-established – must be rejected.
Leading figures: Carl Baugh, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Henry M. Morris, Paul A. Nelson, Kurt Wise.

A very conservative interpretation of the Bible informs the YEC's attitude towards the evolving claims of the historical sciences.

2. Or a Strong (Old-Earth) Concordist.
Strong concordists, of which old-earth creationists are the best example, believe that God placed modern scientific ideas in the Bible, sometimes using secret language that could not be understood by the original audience and even the actual writers of the texts. BioLogos rejects this viewpoint because we believe that God worked within the worldview, culture and language of the Biblical authors and since they would not have known, for example, about heliocentricity or the Big Bang, we do not think that God encoded those ideas in the scripture.
Leading figures: Hugh Ross, Gerald Schroeder.

3. Or an advocate of Intelligent Design.

The BioLogos definition was unusable. Here's mine: Nature bears the scientifically detectible earmarks of intelligent design. An abductive application of the scientific evidence leads to the conclusion of an intelligent agent.
Favorite topics include the Cambrian explosion, complex structures, and the origin of biological information. Leading figures: Michael Behe, William A. Dembski, Phillip A. Johnson, Stephen C. Meyer.
The BioLogos description of ID is really bad. So bad, it may be why they did their post in the first place!  Do I detect traces of intelligent emnity?

Also, some YECs align with ID.

4. You can align with BioLogos.
BioLogos takes both the Bible and science seriously, and seeks a harmony between them that respects the truth of each. By using appropriate biblical and theological scholarship [note the absence of the qualifier "appropriate science"] BioLogos believes that the apparent conflicts that lead some to reject science and others to reject the Bible can be avoided.
Leading figures: Francis Collins, Alister McGrath, Kenneth Miller, John Polkinghorne, Denis Alexander, John D. Barrow, Simon Conway-Morris, Ted Davis, Rodney Holder, Howard Van Till, Timothy Keller, Denis Lamoureaux, Ernest Lucas, John Schloss.

5. You can be a Liberal Christian.
Liberal Christians encompasses a diversity of thinkers who have reinterpreted many of the traditional Christian ideas in ways that sometimes disconnect them from their history. Some in this category attach little to no significance to belief in the authority of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, or the reality of miracles.
Leading figures: Ian Barbour, Francisco Ayala, Phil Hefner, Arthur Peacock.

6. You can be a Non-Religious Accommodationist.
Non-religious accommodationists... believe [or at least claim to believe] that personal religious beliefs—variations of Christianity in particular— are compatible with belief in scientific explanations of origins.
Leading figures: Stephen Jay Gould, Michael Schermer, Ron Numbers, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott.

7. Or, an Anti-Religious Non-Accommodationist.
Anti-religious non- accommodationists believe  that religious and scientific beliefs compete with each other in such a way that only one can be true, which they believe is science. An important part of their agenda is to show that there are scientific explanations for religious phenomena.
Leading figures: Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Vic Stenger, Steven Weinberg, Edward O. Wilson.

So, there you have it.

Note that the Biologos camp believe in intelligent design (as do positions one through five in one way or another). The difference between position 3 and 4 is that the BioLogos camp insist that intelligent design is not detectable through the methods of science, whereas the ID camp insist that it is, the irony being, the ID camp have a higher view of science as an epistemological tool than the science-oriented BioLogos crowd!

Another way of sifting through the options is to consider one's attitude towards science. Positions 1 and 3 view modern science as defective or deficient in some way -- biased, limited, etc. Positions 4 through 7 all accept current science without reservation and adjust their theology accordingly.  Not sure about position 2, but I think they would say there is a radical alignment between the Bible and science when the Bible is properly interpreted.

For the full BioLogos article, with its bad definition of Intelligent Design but good links to all the persons mentioned, go here.

For a critique of BioLogos' mischaracterization of ID, go to Evolution News & Views, here.

No comments:

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"