Monday, December 22, 2014

Concerns about BioLogos

Alice C. Linsley

Deborah Haarsma, the Director of BioLogos, is professor of Astronomy, and her husband, Loren Haarsma, teaches Physics at Calvin College in Michigan. The biology department of Calvin College issued this statement on May 7, 2010: "We teach evolutionary theory as the best scientific explanation for the dynamic diversity of life on Earth. . . . We teach biology from an evolutionary paradigm."

Neither Deborah nor Loren are biologists, though biologists serve on the BioLogos team. Neither are anthropologists, and as far as I can discover, no anthropologists serve on the BioLogos team. That is unfortunate since anthropology has much to contribute to the conversation about human origins.

I have some concerns about BioLogos, especially after talking with the Haarsmas two summers ago at the annual conference of the American Scientific Affiliation. Deborah and her husband believe in common ancestry of humans and apes. At the same time they claim to believe that the "Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God." Here we have contradiction. The Bible teaches that God created humans last and that from the beginning they were fully human. The anthropological evidence supports this view. Humans appeared suddenly and without antecedents about 4 million years ago. This is what would be expected from the Genesis creation accounts. Though these accounts should not be taken as scientific, those who consider the Bible as "the inspired and authoritative word of God" must regard the data provided here as reliable and truthful. The oldest human fossils show evidence of full humanity though the anatomical features are archaic, not modern. These very old remains indicate human dentition, oppositional thumbs, and erect posture. There is even evidence that these early humans butchered and controlled fire.

I had a long chat with Loren Haarsma about these ancient human fossils and he claimed that Lucy could not have been human because her brain cavity was so small. I was surprised by this response. It seems poorly informed. Lucy's brain cavity/skull was proportional to her body size, and the size of the brain is NOT an indicator of the complexity of thought. Complexity of thought develops out of a binary framework. It is obvious that binary systems lead to greater complexity of meaning and function than unary or monadic systems. After that conversation, I wrote these pieces:

I have supported BioLogos because I believe the conversation about human origins must include Christians who hold to Darwinian evolution. That said, there can be no doubt that their view of common ancestry does not align with the Genesis assertion of "kinds" fixed in their essence.

The Haarsmas and I are fellow members of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) which in recent years has provided a platform for the presentation of Darwinian theory as it might apply to the Bible. ASA gatherings are an appropriate place for such discussions and by no means is there agreement among the scientists on the question of human origins. Deborah and Loren are kind, intelligent, and committed people who love the Lord Jesus. This is another area where Christians do not agree. Perhaps the philosophical (not scientific) tension between Darwinian non-essentialism and Biblical essentialism will lead to even greater creativity of thought, just as the strings of a violin, when under tension, can produce beautiful music.


DManA said...

Seems to me the question comes down to, what was the raw material God used when He made man "in our own image'.

Dust? Or an already existing humanoid?

Alice Linsley said...

"Human" derived from humus. "Adam" related to odom/edom/dam, all words indicate the color red.

God used red earth.

Adam was said to be made of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7) and this narrative comes from Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors. The soil of the Nile Valley is red or reddish brown due to the high levels of chromic cambisols which produce a strong brown or red color.