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World Magazine Examines BioLogos Efforts to Win Christians Over to a Darwinist Account of Human Origins

v29_n24.jpgThe hard-hitting Christian news magazine World has a cover package out now on efforts by the BioLogos Foundation to win over Christian believers to an of embrace Darwinian evolution, in particular on the question of human origins. Coming from a journalistic outlet with a sizable impact in the world of Evangelical Christians and beyond, this issue of World is worth reading.

Founded by Francis Collins, BioLogos has a strong relationship with the Templeton Foundation, a partnership of which I think it's fair to say that World is skeptical:

Templeton grants often reflect the eclectic theology of its founder, John Templeton, who tried to meld aspects of Christianity with Eastern religions. An attendee at one Templeton seminar on evolution, Michael Brooks, described in New Scientist "the Templeton version of religion. A stripped-down, vague and woolly notion that there is something 'other' out there."

BioLogos has received "$9 million from the Templeton Foundation and millions more from other donors. BioLogos in turn offers grants to church, parachurch, and academic leaders and organizations that promote 'evolutionary creation.'"

For explaining the development of life and the emergence of homo sapiens, World finds it notable that BioLogos seems to exclude the theory of intelligent design from the available alternatives. Reporter Daniel James Devine compares the views of BioLogos Advisory Council member Denis Alexander with Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer.

Dr. Alexander says he

prefers the view that hominins evolved until about 200,000 years ago, at which time a population of anatomically modern humans began to emerge in Africa. The population contained around 10,000 reproductively active individuals. Alexander said he did not think Adam and Eve were "genetic progenitors of the whole human race," but "spiritual founders of God's new family."

Obviously there is both scientific and spiritual significance to the question of our origins. Dr. Meyer responds that Alexander's view

is not based on evidence, but on a speculative field called theoretical population genetics, [which] assumes but does not establish that humans and lower primates share a common ancestor and that all gene differences between humans and other primates are the result of random mutations.

As for the religious implications, Meyer told World that BioLogos offers

an unsubstantiated and controversial claim to urge pastors and theologians to jettison a straightforward reading of Genesis about the human race arising from one man and one woman. They think "the science" requires such a reinterpretation, but apart from speculative models that make numerous question-begging assumptions, the science does no such thing.

Regarding BioLogos, Discovery Institute vice president John West adds: "I don't see them getting more clear about what it is they actually believe." World asked Dr. West:

Were the first human beings created morally good? Or did they evolve as fundamentally selfish? The latter option would seem opposed to a traditional understanding of the fall, said West: "If you deny that, then when you say Jesus is your Savior -- saving you from what? From His own botched creation?"

Also quoted, Discovery Institute's William Dembski, who commented that Alexander's position on origins "[gives] up too much that is essential in the biblical understanding of creation and the fall."

Meanwhile, World reporter Warren Cole Smith attended an "all-expenses paid" BioLogos-organized and Templeton-funded meeting at the Harvard Club in New York City, aimed at "Christian thought leaders" and promoting "an evolutionary understanding of God's creation."

Reports Smith, "BioLogos is spending $513,000 of Templeton funds for [such] meetings in 2013, 2014, and 2015." The reporter noted who wasn't there. "Strikingly absent from the conference were leaders of the Intelligent Design movement such as Stephen Meyer or William Dembski."

Smith wondered what if "BioLogos and Templeton had allowed a wider range of views at the conference"?

Being a non-Christian, I withhold comment. I trust thoughtful Christians are able to consider the scientific evidence for themselves, on both sides of the evolution question, and reach an intellectually and spiritually mature conclusion.

Seeking food for thought and a counterpoint to BioLogos, Christians, Jews, and others should consider picking up two important and accessible books from Discovery Institute Press: God and Evolution, edited by Jay Richards -- a World Magazine Book of the Year -- and Science and Human Origins, by Douglas Axe, Ann Gauger, and Casey Luskin.

I'm on Twitter. Find me @d_klinghoffer.