Cover Story
Krieg Barrie

Interpretive dance

Religion | The BioLogos Foundation is making a major, well-funded push to change the way Christians read Genesis and think about Adam and Eve

Issue: "Soft-sell slide," Nov. 29, 2014

Just a five-minute stroll from the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., sits the brown brick building that is home since last year to BioLogos, a foundation pushing churches and believers to embrace evolution, and in the process change how they read the Bible.

The brainchild of Francis Collins, who now heads the National Institutes of Health, BioLogos has taken in nearly $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.”

BioLogos president Deb Haarsma, former chair of Calvin’s physics and astronomy department, says churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science, and will help college students avoid a crisis of faith when biology professors argue for evolution. The BioLogos website states, “Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.”

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

But Stephen Meyer, a Discovery Institute leader of the intelligent design movement, told WORLD BioLogos leaders are using “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.”

The BioLogos website gives three options regarding the existence of Adam and Eve: “One option is to view Adam and Eve as a historical pair living among many 10,000 years ago, chosen to represent the rest of humanity before God.  Another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an allegory in which Adam and Eve symbolize the large group of ancestors who lived 150,000 years ago. Yet another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an ‘everyman’ story, a parable of each person’s individual rejection of God.”

BioLogos is now spending $3.6 million (primary funder: Templeton) on 37 projects in the United States and around the world, with grants ranging from $23,000 to $300,000. According to the BioLogos website, funds go to “projects that explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith.” Projects must not “reject the conclusions of mainstream science (e.g. old earth, common descent, etc.).” The requirement is not so stringent on the other side of the spectrum: Proposals cannot reject, but they can “helpfully inform … historic, creedal Christianity (e.g. historical Resurrection, high view of Scripture, etc.).”

The projects include:

  • A video series in Hawaii teaching evolution to Christian high-school students. Curricula for student groups or churches to “promote healthy dialogue on evolution and Christian faith.” Outreach initiatives to Catholics, Nazarenes, Vineyard churches, and Spanish and French speakers.
  • A grant to Gordon College biology professor Craig Story to have 19 pastors spend a week learning from evolution-affirming scientists about DNA, galaxies, and biological change in microbes. “No one had a major meltdown,” said Story. “It was just a really good week.” 
  • A grant to fund a speaking tour for Wheaton College Old Testament professor John Walton, allowing him to share his interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, which he says aren’t about the creation of the physical world. Walton sees Adam as a real person but one whom God did not literally make from the dust of the ground.
  • A grant to Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema to co-write a book about Adam and evolution. Venema said his chapters will show, using measurements of genetic diversity, that modern humans did not originate from a single Adam-and-Eve-like couple, but from a group of ancestors around 10,000 in size. That’s consistent with the BioLogos belief statement that “God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth.”

Eastern University biology professor David Wilcox is using a BioLogos grant to write a book about human origins models. He’s still weighing the options, but leans toward a model where Adam is the “chieftain” of a small, ancient tribe. One possibility for original sin, he says, is that it passed from Adam to his children via a process of enculturation and brain development. “We inherit sin, because we aren’t human unless we’re raised by other humans.”

Another BioLogos grant recipient, Oliver Crisp, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, says of Adam and Eve, “Maybe God implants in this pair a moral awareness and a likeness to God that was not present in other hominids.” Deb Haarsma says BioLogos does not have a set position on whether Adam and Eve were historical individuals or symbolic: “How sin entered the world, when and where it got started, these are questions that we’re researching and discussing.”

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Power campaigns

    The GOP is fighting to maintain control of Congress…

     

    Troubling ties

    Under the Clinton State Department, influence from big money…

    Advertisement