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Concluding Thoughts on “Gracious Dialogue” with BioLogos

Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez, via Unsplash.

BioLogos, as you know, is a Christian group that seeks to persuade Christians of the merits of evolution. We’ve said quite a bit about the BioLogos response to Stephen Meyer’s Return of the God Hypothesis. There was a podcast with Meyer and BioLogos Vice President Jim Stump, and a review by biologist Darrel Falk. See our replies to Falk by Casey Luskin and Brian Miller, here, here, here, here, and here. Dr. Miller has called for a partial retraction of the review, which strangely only deals with a part of Meyer’s argument in the book, and not the newest or most novel parts.

The Right Word?

I just want to add a couple of things. The podcast itself was civil and substantive — why would it not be? Steve Meyer doesn’t get into shouting matches. They bill it as a “Gracious Dialogue.” Language like that always makes me uneasy — as when theistic evolutionists start talking about you as their “Christian brother,” how they’ve “prayed with” you, etc. By all means, pray with others, and consider them your brother, but why talk about it that way on a public stage? You may recall the Toronto debate with Meyer against theistic evolutionist Denis Lamoureux teaming up with atheist Lawrence Krauss. The debate frames the structure of Return of the God Hypothesis. Turning on the unctuousness was the signal that Lamoureux was creeping up from behind. At least with Krauss, the attack is always from the front.

Is “gracious” the right word for the interaction with Stump? It might be except for the move of presenting it as a “conversation and not a debate” but then, afterward, publishing Stump’s attempted rebuttals when Meyer is no longer available to respond. This is headlined as “A Guide to the Stephen Meyer Podcast Episode.” It’s not a “guide.” It’s an after-the-fact try at face-saving. Stump brings forward various objections including citing Dr. Falk, regarding developmental gene regulatory networks and how the review presents “very recent examples from the literature of how scientists are beginning to solve this puzzle.” No, sorry. Casey Luskin answers that in depth here, so I won’t go over it again.

Not a “Competitor”

What a peculiar thing, though. You invite someone for a “dialogue” and then, only once he’s left the building, do you start debating with him. Atheist Michael Shermer and agnostic Brian Keating both hosted Meyer for “dialogues” not “debates,” that were fascinating and friendly. They didn’t feel the need to publish rebuttals after Meyer was no longer there to answer them. Why is it the Christian group, which claims to offer “God’s Word. God’s World. Delivered to your inbox,” that engages in this behavior?

It’s like inviting a guest for a dinner party, letting him speak, and then only once he’s gone telling the remaining guests all the ways you think he’s full of baloney. Does a “gracious” host do that?

Stump observes, “intelligent design is a kind of competitor to BioLogos.” No, it’s not. ID is a “competitor” to neo-Darwinian theory, while most versions of theistic evolution, or “evolutionary creation,” seek to cloak Darwinism under a display of Christian piety. It has little scientific substance of its own. See the volume, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, if you need to be convinced.