BioLogos and Theistic Evolution: Selling the Product
Take their treatment of young-earth creationism (YEC). The overwhelming impression Giberson and Collins leave is that YEC is essentially a 20th-century phenomenon and that thoughtful Christians since the early church have left open the possibility that Genesis could legitimately be interpreted as allowing more than a few thousand years for the age of the earth and universe. Thus they cite Origen, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas as making room for a much older earth than suggested by a literalist reading of Genesis. But all three were young-earth creationists, accepting that the earth was only a few thousand years old.
Origen, for instance, puzzled over how light could be created on day one of creation week but the sun not be created till day four. Yet in his polemic against Celsus, who held that the world was eternal, Origen argued that the earth was not eternal but had been created a few thousand years earlier. Augustine and Aquinas likewise held to an earth a few thousand years old. Aquinas even held that the earth was created in six literal 24-hour days and that the human body was created directly by God without any mediating instrumentality (thus ruling out evolution). For the details, see chapter five of my book The End of Christianity, where I show that the young-earth position was universally accepted by Christians through the Reformation (yes, Luther and Calvin were also young-earth creationists). Note that my views on cosmology and geology are substantially the same as that of Giberson and Collins (in fact, we are on the same page when it comes to cosmological fine-tuning as a pointer to the divine), so I find the young-earth position just as problematic scientifically as they do. But their revisionist history paints a false picture.
As another instance of misdirection by Giberson and Collins in the interest of selling BioLogos, take their citations of Michael Ruse. I've known Michael for twenty years, we've co-edited an anthology on design and Darwin for Cambridge University Press, and we've had multiple formal debates at universities. We regard each other as friends. Trying to enlist Ruse in support of their position, Giberson and Collins repeatedly refer to him as an "agnostic" and recommend his book Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? in their annotated bibliography: "Fair and balanced, this volume defends the compatibility of evolution and faith" (223). Yet in that volume, Ruse writes "Darwinism is a theory committed to the ubiquity of law" (94). This seems right. Darwin, for instance, in a letter to Charles Lyle wrote: "I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent."
So what does this mean for faith? Ruse continues, "Even the supreme miracle of the resurrection requires no law-breaking return from the dead. One can think of Jesus in a trance, or more likely that he really was physically dead but that on and from the third day a group of people, hitherto downcast, were filled with great joy and hope . . ." (Ruse, 96). This is not, I submit, what ought to be meant by "the compatibility of Christianity and faith." The only Christianity that Ruse sees as compatible with Darwinism is an anemic liberalism gutted of all genuine miracles. Also, I've never heard Ruse call himself an "agnostic." He does, openly, call himself an "atheist."
A mathematician and philosopher, William A. Dembski is Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he also directs its Center for Cultural Engagement. He is Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle and Senior Research Scientist with the Evolutionary Informatics Lab.