04 July 2010

Biologos: Useless, but well funded, nonsense.

Biologos, brainchild of the Christ smitten Frances Collins, seeks to demonstrate that science and faith are not only compatable but integral to each other. Their mission statement is a useful guide that illustrates the character of the organization. I will not be surprising anyone when I say that I think this mission statement reveals a deeply flawed research program to serve its odd goals. The goals being to preserve the conclusions of an ancient, parochial religion (and only a very specific religion at that, Christianity), as well as justify their very specific and minority faith based perspectives, all of which are simply untenable after nearly five hundred years of scientific advancements.

The essence of the Biologos argument is simply to parade well creditialled people who hold positions for which they have no evidence in an effort to make the whole process seem intellecutally justifiable and respectable. For instance nearly everyone at Biologos believes in a literally ressurected Jesus. They seem to think that this position is perfectly compatible with science. It is not. There isn't a shred of historical evidence for it, and we can be generally quite confident in the fact that people as a general rule do not return from the dead. So what must a conscientious science minded person think? Can a scientific mind hold the resurrection story consistent with the known facts? Or must such a mind hold that the story is simply wrong, a statistically, physiologically unlikely event, and historically unsubstantiated one to boot? It seems that the facts, as currently known must make us incredibly skeptical of the position. At Biologos they have made the wedding of credulousness with intelligence an industry.

From the Biologos mission statement:
The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians, many of whom are professional scientists, biblical scholars, philosophers, theologians, pastors, and educators, who are concerned about the long history of disharmony between the findings of science and large sectors of the Christian faith. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We also believe that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation. Founded by Dr. Francis Collins, BioLogos addresses the escalating culture war between science and faith, promoting dialog and exploring the harmony between the two. We are committed to helping the church – and students, in particular – develop worldviews that embrace both of these complex belief structures, and that allow science and faith to co-exist peacefully.

BioLogos represents the harmony of science and faith. It addresses the central themes of science and religion and emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life. To communicate this message to the general public and add to the ongoing dialog, The BioLogos Foundation created The BioLogos Forum at www.biologos.org.

Funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Forum is a reliable source of scholarly thought on contemporary issues in science and faith. It highlights the compatibility of modern science with traditional Christian beliefs. The BioLogos Forum features responses to a myriad of questions received by Collins, author of "The Language of God", Karl Giberson, author of "Saving Darwin", and Darrel Falk, author of "Coming to Peace With Science" since the publication of their books.

The bold face indicates every thing that is wrong with Biologos. The fundemental flaw is procedeing from the a priori conclusion, and then assuming the facts favor the conclusion. Oodles of ink is then spilled in the service of dubious, obscurantist, and always baseless, but very shifty, pontifications about what God means when he says X in his inspired word. They already believe the bible is the word of God, and everything they do after is an effort to bolster that position. If there is a more intellectually dishonest pursuit, I've not yet read or heard of it. The whole endeavor reminds me of Michael Shermers trenchent observation about smart people. That observation was the smart people are very good at coming up with reasons for continuing to believe things they were taught for dumb reasons.

Here is a sampling of the Biologos content.
"Are we more than just bodies?" Yes according to Biologos. No evidence for this conclusion is provided.

"The Danger of Preaching Genesis." Should it be suggested that Genesis is a metaphor, or is best viewed as a metaphor? No, at least not from the pulpit because it might be too much for the poor uneducated masses that would then ask questions about other bits of doctrine. ("one must avoid being dismissive or derisive of those who do hold to a literalist view of Genesis because for some, reconsidering the traditional creation narrative introduces questions to which they are unsure of how to respond. Many with this viewpoint feel that if Genesis can’t be understood in straightforward terms, then we cannot know how to read the story of the Resurrection—as a historical account, or simply as a metaphor? Questions like this have the potential to cause them to wonder if they must now question the whole truth of Scripture." It would be hard to beat that for condescension.)

"Miracles and Science Part 1 and Part 2."
Here Biologos blogger, Ard Louis endeavors to justify his belief in a literal interpretation of biblical miracles with science. What comes out is a very nearly miraculous demonstration of compartmentalization. Very nearly but not quite. It essentially seems to say that since science cannot know everything, it is quite okay to hold positions that have no evidence to support them, and that holding said positions is perfectly rational even though it may be unscientific.

"Adam and Eve, literal, or literary?" This article on the place of Adam and Eve and their place in the modern age, replete with links to several other essays on the same topic, is a stunning example of how those at Biologos are really unconcerned with reconciling faith and science, and more about giving each other the space to believe the preposterous. From this essay we get this gem,
Whether specially created or specially selected, humans constitute an interruption in the evolutionary process. Before people showed up, evolution’s potential pathways were invisible. But once humans appear, human volition entered with it. The human capacity to choose replaced randomness with intentionality. We have developed enough mastery over our environment (Genesis 1:28) that natural selection, in the strict Darwinian sense, no longer really applies to us.

To which one might respond (as indeed Christopher Hitchens sometimes does), "What can be advanced without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

If you are unfamiliar with Biologos, clicking on the title of this entry will take you, with speed, to the tedium, confusion, and hubris that reigns in every almost every article.

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