Q. Is it enough to have peaceful dialogue with such folks, or do they need to be shown the error of their ways in a kinder gentler approach?
A. Dialogue or show people the error of their ways? This is a false dichotomy. All of us, including me, need to be shown the error of our ways. It is only in true dialogue, across real disagreements, that we have any hope that any of us can do better. The most important dialogue brings us to disagreements that matter. So, we should expect that the most needed dialogue will increase conflict in the short term. Surfacing conflict is worth the cost though because true peace requires us to reckon with our conflicts, to find understanding across disagreements. As substituted to the difficulties of real dialogue, we too often settle for trite banality or merely polite and non-interacting monologues. In this mindset, anything that surfaces conflict is a threat to peace, and is to be avoided. Peacemaking demands more courage of us than this.
I find it notable that both BioLogos and Answers in Genesis have, largely, dodged meaningful dialogue with Christian scientists that think differently than them. This is one of the ways they protect themselves from criticism and reform. Real dialogue is risky. We do not know where the conversation might go. Our mistakes might be exposed. But dialogue is our only chance to make progress together. So, for me, dialogue is worth the risk. Being right on these particulars, however, is not enough. We also need to be trusted.
BioLogos has never pushed back on overreach by scientists. Whether it’s evolution, climate change, or COVID vaccines, why would anyone who suspects scientific overreach trust BioLogos? This is the core question they have always faced, and it will continue to loom over them going forward. This is why the response to these mistakes on Adam and Eve matter so much. Science is difficult to get right, even when we try our hardest. No one should harshly judge evolutionary creationists for the initial mistakes. Their response, however, matters. Had BioLogos transparently corrected the mistakes, and apologized for them, they would be above reproach. I would, most likely, still be working with them now.
In the end, evolutionary creation is not going to work for many evangelicals. it is now clear that the Church needs other ways to engage with mainstream science. That’s okay though. There are other ways to take hold of evolutionary science.
Evolution does not demand grand revisions of traditional Christian commitments and theology. Instead, it might be calling us to return to our historical roots, where we might be rewarded with a more coherent orthodoxy.