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At the Following Christ Conference this last December Francis Collins announced his coming BioLogos website and foundation.  I was not at the conference, but several who were  mentioned it in comments on various posts on this blog, so I’ve been watching for it.  Yesterday the long anticipated site launched and can be found at The BioLogos Foundation. The site is worth a good and careful look. It is well designed with much information and more to come I’m sure.

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But that is not all … Collins and his associates have also launched a beliefnet blog Science and the Sacred – with a cool masthead (although not quite as nice as the Jesus Creed).

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And this leads us to the important question for the day:

Have I been put out of business? Is there any need to continue the science and faith discussion here on the Jesus Creed?

There are a couple of interesting things to note about BioLogos and Science and the Sacred.

The Core Team at BioLogos is composed of Darrel Falk, Karl Giberson, and Francis Collins.  We have discussed all three of their major books on this blog – most recently “Saving Darwin” by Giberson, the most edgy book of the bunch. Francis Collins is an impressive scientist – with a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and an MD, he has made a career exploring the genetic causes of disease, first at the University of Michigan, and later at NIH where he also directed the human genome project. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine (for those who are not in science this means that he is a “two sport” hall-of-famer in the business). As an interesting aside – when he was at Michigan he attended for a while the same church I currently attend. He left Michigan shortly after I joined the faculty (a coincidence I’m sure).

Building Bridges. One of the projects of the BioLogos foundation is to build bridges between working scientists and the evangelical Christian church. As a working scientist, a professor, and an evangelical Christian – this is an effort I certainly support.  The conflict running both directions is intense. With this goal in mind they are organizing invitation-only workshops with key
evangelical opinion leaders, in order to explore ways to help the
larger evangelical community become comfortable with contemporary
scientific perspectives on origins. The first such workshop is
scheduled for the fall of 2009, and is co-sponsored by Rev. Tim Keller. Invitations have been extended to 15
leading scientists, 15 leading theologians, and 15 leading pastors (Information obtained from the BioLogos website).

Having given Dan Kimball and the Origins network a hard time about  the lack of women –  I feel it only fair to do the same here – the only woman involved to-date is Diane Baker, Dr. Collins’s wife.  Will the foundation – and even more importantly the workshops – involve both male and female voices? Knowing the statistics on all three groups (pastors, scientists, and theologians), especially combined with the nebulous term “leading” and the qualifier “evangelical”, I am rather doubtful. And that is a pity.

Asking and answering – or at least working through – frequently asked questions. The site currently has essays discussing 33 questions concerning science, theology and the historicity of Genesis and the death of Romans. Not surprisingly there is substantial overlap with issues we have discussed, are discussing, and will discuss here.

Concerning Adam, Eve and the Fall:

Another view sees human-like creatures evolving as the scientific
evidence indicates. But at a certain point in history, it is possible
that God bestowed special spiritual gifts on those who had developed
the necessary characteristics. This historical event would endow the
recipients with the Image of God. (See Question 18 about The Image of God.) We can say that Homo divinus was therefore created from Homo sapiens.
With these spiritual gifts came the ability to know and experience evil
— an opportunity that was grasped with tragic consequences that have
carried through the history of Homo divinus.
This view can fit whether the humans in question constitute a group
or a specific male-female pair. In the case of a group, we can imagine
God interacts with all members of the group and essentially initiates
the relationship that exists today. If the initiative is with a single
human couple, then that relationship can spread to and through their
offspring as that subset of the existing population comes to dominate. In these two cases, humans exercised their free will and caused the
Fall. The connection of the Fall with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and
Evil suggests that Homo divinus exercised their moral
consciousness by choosing to live independently, rather than by God’s
instruction. The Genesis narrative provides a vivid description of
their consequent alienation from God.
These accounts can be fit together with the genetic evidence of all
species’ relatedness and a larger initial population of humans. They
also keep Adam — whether an individual or illustration of a group — as
representative of all humanity.

This is along the lines of my current thinking – although I waver at times on the importance of the Fall as an historical event.

On the question I raised on Tuesday in the post on Darwin and the Bible: What role could God have in evolution?

We still seek to understand God’s involvement in the world. BioLogos
readily affirms that the creator can act outside the created physical
laws. However, we must not say that miraculous events outside the laws
of nature are the only instances of God’s involvement.(See Question 13 about God-of-the-Gaps Theology).
For this reason, BioLogos requires no miraculous events in its account
of God’s creative process, except for the origins of the natural laws
guiding the process. Instead, BioLogos states that “once life arose,
the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the
development of biological diversity and complexity,” and “humans are
part of this process.” Moreover, “once evolution got under way, no
special supernatural intervention was required.”

So how is BioLogos reconciled with a theistic, interactive God
instead of the disinterested God of deism? Is it rational to believe
that God had any involvement in the Darwinian history of the world?

BioLogos does not seek a concept of a God who is involved at certain times and who only observes at other times. In harmony with theism, BioLogos affirms a God who is at all times involved, yet who still allows a degree of freedom to the creation.

{But both quantum physics and Darwinian evolution are inherently probabilistic with randomness built in – thus there is an intrinsic unpredictability in nature} It is thus perfectly possible that God might influence the creation in subtle ways that are unrecognizable to scientific observation. In this way, modern science opens the door to divine action without the need for law breaking miracles. Given the impossibility of absolute prediction or explanation, the laws of nature no longer preclude God’s action in the world. Our perception of the world opens once again to the possibility of divine interaction.

Does this make sense to you? Is it possible to reconcile Christian theism with evolutionary creation?

Well, there is much more to digest on the site – with more to come I am sure. No definitive answers, but a process of putting forth ideas and championing a robust Christian faith that remains true to historic orthodoxy, evangelical commitment, and the realities of the world we see around us.

I will end with Question 12 (for many Question 1) Can scientific and scriptural truth be reconciled?

Dr. Collins thinks it can. I think it can. So lets work on asking the right questions and finding the way. And in case you were wondering – I certainly intend to continue posting on Jesus Creed. Science and the Sacred offers another forum to tackle important
questions.  I look forward to the interaction.

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.

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