f you follow the buzz in the blogosphere, I'm sure you have heard about The BioLogos Forum, with a slick website and blog that launched last year. Their stated goal is to "promote and celebrate the integration of science and Christian faith."
Well, about two weeks ago, Darrel Falk (president of The BioLogos Foundation) Fedexed me a copy of a letter he wrote to John MacArthur. It seems the staff at BioLogos had been reading a series of posts about Genesis and the biblical account of creation on the Grace to You blog and they were convinced MacArthur's critique of uniformitarianism missed the mark.
"Uniformitarianism does not dictate that the earth has never undergone catastrophes," Falk wrote. (He was refuting an assertion MacArthur had never made in the first place). "Rather," Falk continued, "it says that the same processes we see shaping the earth today have been at work since God created the world."
Falk's own shorthand definition of uniformitarianism strikes me as something no sober-minded, Bible-believing individual could possibly affirm. In fact, it sounds very much like a denial of practically everything the Bible says about creation.
Hear it once more: "The same processes we see shaping the earth today have been at work since God created the world."
Really? What about the curse? For that matter, what about days two through six of the creation process? And what about the flood?
I know, of course, that old-earthers like to fudge on the questions of whether all creation (or Eden only) was a perfect paradise; whether the six days are a chronological account of creation or merely some kind of poetic framework; whether the flood was a global or regional deluge, and whatnot. But regardless of what hermeneutical machinations one imposes on the text, I can't see how any reasonable personsomeone for whom words are in any sense truly meaningfulcould think it possible to reconcile the first nine chapters of Genesis with the bald assertion that "the same processes we see shaping the earth today have been at work since God created the world."
Anyway, Mr. Falk's letter to John MacArthur informed him that BioLogos was about to do a three-part response on the subject, defending uniformitarianism. So I figured I would wait and read what they have to say.
What a disappointment. It seems to me the whole BioLogos response is merely a drawn-out way of saying "Nuh-uh!" You can read their responses for yourself: here, here, and here.
In the first article, Stephen O. Moshier essentially argues that uniformitarianism itself has never really been uniform. He says the term "as it is used by geologists today [is different from] the 19th century definition." Supposedly, Dr. MacArthur did his readers a disservice by not chronicling the evolution of uniformitarian definitions.
That's fine, but utterly beside the point. Don't the curse and the flood still refute the uniformitarian presupposition? Biblical arguments are missing from Moshier's article (oddly titled "The Biblical Premise of Uniformitarianism").
Well, OK, biblical references are not entirely missing. I should mention Moshier's one lame appeal to the words of the sage in Ecclesiastes 1:9: "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun."
As if that disproved the Genesis account and settled the dispute on the side of the skeptics in 2 Peter 3:4.
And that was the entire series' best biblical argument. Parts 2 and 3 of the BioLogos response were devoid of any serious appeal to Scripture. Part 2 was an extended but facile attempt to equate uniformitarianism with the doctrine of divine Providenceas if the only alternative to uniformitarianism were a scenario where God always acts directly through miraculous or catastrophic acts. (The whole article makes no actual reference to the biblical text, except for one throwaway reference to Genesis 1, where God restedas if that "rest" established the legitimacy of uniformitarianism.)
Part 3, by Gregory Bennet, takes the bankrupt "providence" argument a step further, declaring that you can't reject uniformitarianism without also rejecting divine providence. But Bennet makes no argument to support that assertion, which is easily refuted by the mere fact that every biblical creationist who rejects uniformitarianism strongly affirms divine providence.
Oh, and that third blogpost made no argument from Scripture whatsoever. The only mentions of Scripture were offhand referencesone of which cited some miracles in the gospels. But Bennet never even seemed to notice that miracles by definition are extraordinary departures from the normal working of divine providencewhich is the very reason uniformitarians are naturally skeptical of the Bible's miracles, starting with creation! He actually shot his own argument in the foot in that paragraph.
The whole 3-part series never really dealt with the central argument biblical creationists are making: The biblical accounts of creation, the fall, the curse, and the flood surely mean something. They are irreconcilable with uniformitarianism, if you take Scripture seriously.
Moreover, the New Testament treats the account of Adam, the fall, the curse, and original sin as history (Romans 5:12-21). That's irreconcilable with uniformitarianism. People who insist that they are serious about both science and Scripture ought to be at least as interested in dealing with the biblical data as they are defending the presuppositions of their scientific theories.
BioLogos's low view of Scripture
The problem is that BioLogos clearly does not take scripture seriously, despite the claims of their PR department.
Some of the initial fanfare about BioLogos implied that the organization (though heavily funded by the John Templeton Foundation) is safely evangelical. Supposedly, they were set to offer a thoughtful defense of old-earth creationism without equivocating on the authority of Scripture and without compromising the essentials of the Christian faith.
Good luck, I thought when I read the early hype about BioLogos. Few old-earthers truly grasp how much their capitulation to evolutionary theory compromises when it comes to hamartiology, hermeneutics, biblical history, biblical anthropology, and the authority and reliability of the Scriptures. But it would be nice to see a conscientious effort from old-earthers to deal with Christian doctrine and the foundations of Christian faith seriously.
Instead, in every conflict that pits contemporary "scientific" skepticism against the historic faith of the church, BioLogos has defended the skeptical point of view. BioLogos's contributors consistently give preference to modern ideology over biblical revelation. Although the BioLogos PR machine relentlessly portrays the organization as equally committed to science and the Scriptures (and there's a lot of talk about "bridge-building" and reconciliation), the drift of the organization is decidedly just one way. That should be obvious to anyone who ignores the organization's own carefully-crafted PR and simply pays attention to what the BioLogos staff and contributors actually blog about.
For example, BioLogos is where Bruce Waltke posted a video declaring that denying evolution is cultish. (Waltke resigned his professorship at RTS in the ensuing controversy.)
Lately, BioLogos has consigned biblical inerrancy to the dustbin of outmoded ideas, alongside creation ex nihilo. They have been floating multiple alternatives to the historicity of Adam and Eve, viz.,
- Peter Enns: "The Adam story could be viewed symbolically as a story of Israel's beginnings, not as the story of humanity from ground zero."
- Alister McGrath (summarized in the words of the BioLogos editorial staff): "It makes even more sense to say that Adam and Eve are stereotypical figuresrepresent [sic] human potential as created by God but also with the capacity to go wrong."
- N. T. Wright: "I do think it matters that something like a primal pair getting it wrong did happen. But that doesn't mean I'm saying that therefore Genesis is kind of positivist, literal, clunky history over against myth. Far from it."