There is a peculiar American tendency to bifurcate public debates into two sides, one “pro-” and the other “anti-” (e.g., abortion, climate change, homosexuality). The science and religion debate is no exception. BioLogos has a helpful feature on their website that shows multiple constituencies with leading figures.
Which constituency best describes your view, and why?
The BioLogos position on origins sits partway between two fundamentalisms: on the “left” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett who are committed to the belief that the only reliable form of knowledge comes from science, and that alternate ways of knowing must be either rejected entirely or completely subordinated to science. On the “right” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of those who insist that reliable knowledge can only be found in an ultraliteral interpretation of the Bible, and that alternate ways of knowing must be completely subordinated to this way of reading the Bible.
BioLogos takes both the Bible and science seriously and believes that since God authored both, they must complement each other and be in harmony. We reject the two fundamentalisms mentioned above. Science is not the only way of knowing, but an ultraliteral interpretation of the Bible must also be rejected. To understand how BioLogos relates to other positions “in play” in our cultural conversation on origins, we have created the following categorical scheme into which most participants can be readily placed.
We have produced labels for the groups that help to show how they span the range of possible viewpoints. Our labels indicate what we think are the critical and defining characteristics of the group, rather than the name that the group has chosen for itself.
- YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISTS: Young earth creationists believe that a “natural” or “plain” reading of the English text of the Bible provides a completely accurate account of science. Any scientific ideas incompatible with this – no matter how well-established – must be rejected. BioLogos rejects this position because it denies the revelation of God in nature and the gift of science. Leading figures: Carl Baugh, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Henry M. Morris, Paul A. Nelson, Kurt Wise.
- STRONG CONCORDISTS (OLD EARTH): 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.
- INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Intelligent design (ID) proponents believe that much of modern science is wrong and must be rejected because of its naturalism. The term Intelligent Design, although appropriated by these science critics, is used in many ways and is embraced by the first 5 groups on this list. ID proponents highlight mysteries within science, arguing that science will never explain mysteries like what caused the Big Bang, or how life originated. They then argue that we must use non-scientific explanations like “Intelligent Design.” Favorite topics include the Cambrian explosion, complex structures, and the origin of biological information. BioLogos rejects such “god of the gaps” reasoning. Leading figures: Michael Behe, William A. Dembski, Phillip A. Johnson, Stephen C. Meyer.
- 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 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.
- LIBERAL CHRISTIANS: Liberal Christians encompass 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. Others have simply found ways to interpret those beliefs that may not be entirely appealing to evangelicals. BioLogos is more firmly rooted in the Bible than most that hold this position. Leading figures: Ian Barbour, Francisco Ayala, Phil Hefner, Arthur Peacock.
- NON-RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATIONISTS: Non-religious accommodationists do not necessarily have conventional religious beliefs of their own but do 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.
- ANTI-RELIGIOUS NON-ACCOMMODATIONISTS: 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.