February 11, 2011 / Mediation, Uncategorized
In 1991, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the disturbing psycho thriller, The …
October 16, 2011
Evangelical attitudes on evolution are two-sided: all polls show a fat majority for total rejection, about 65%, but a little over a quarter of US evangelicals affirm the statement that “humans and other living things have evolved over time” (a recent Pew Forum survey). Evangelicals who accept evolution, the basic organizing principle of modern biology, are therefore a far from endangered species: in fact, there are about 19 million of them (i.e., 25% of the evangelical 26.3% of 300 million Americans), about the same as the 18.4 million or so Americans who tell Gallup that they believe in no God or universal spirit. Going by the Pew survey, only 83% of “seculars” believe in evolution, so that’s, uh . . . calculator . . . about 15 million people in the USA who believe in no God and also accept evolution. Significantly less than the 19 million evolution-accepting evangelical Christians.
For me, that’s an eyebrow-raiser. You’re more likely to meet an evolution-accepting evangelical Christian on a typical American street than to meet an evolution-accepting atheist or agnostic.
It should come as absolutely no surprise, then — though I admit that it does, for me — to find an excellent site devoted to the harmonizing of Christianity and evolution that is run by evangelicals, the BioLogos Forum. BioLogos has the distinction of having been founded by Francis Collins, once chief of the Human Genome Project and presently head of the National Institutes of Health. (He has also been appointed to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Benedict XVI.) Collins converted from atheism to evangelical Christianity in his twenties, and his appointment to head the NIH raised fears among atheists, and perhaps some others, because of his open religiosity — including his role in BioLogos. Those fears have not, so far as I know, been realized.
Collins has apparently stepped down from active involvement in BioLogos while holding federal office, but BioLogos soldiers on. It offers a wide range of materials, theological and otherwise, including uncompromised, crystal-clear explanations of aspects of evolutionary biology (e.g., here). It is painstakingly polite, even offering space to a young-Earth creationist to make his case and ask for a little charity on all sides.
The BioLogos people have got to be some of the politest on the planet, yet even their Buddha-like calm — I know they will not object to the comparison — has not preserved them from the wrath of Answers in Genesis, which has posted a 20-minute video, “The Anti-Biblical Teachings of BioLogos,” by prominent creationist Ken Ham. Well, it’s easier to ask for charity on all sides than to find it. At least the BioLogos response seems impressively even-tempered.
BioLogos offers much food for thought, and I’ll be dining there in future posts. In the meantime, check ’em out: http://biologos.org/.
Larry Gilman started growing up in West Orange, New Jersey, in 1962. Since the fifth grade he’s lived in other parts of New Jersey, in Chicago, and in Vermont, where he and his wife now hunker in the hills. He was trained as an electrical engineer but has since opted for a life of freelance writing and editing. He is Episcopalian.