Clarifying: BioLogos, Michael Ruse, and the Resurrection

**My original post on this subject was not as clear as I would have liked. I have expanded my post to reflect the topic more fully.**

As I have discussed before, BioLogos is dogmatic about evolution, but flexible about everything else. My point is that while BioLogos states that they believe there can be harmony between evolutionary science and Christianity, they believe that the evolutionary science is settled, and therefore the Scriptures must give way. Karl Giberson, formerly Vice President of BioLogos, wrote in an essay for BioLogos:

I am happy to concede that science does indeed trump religious truth about the natural world.

The problem with allowing “science to trump religious truth” is that eventually all of the central claims of Christianity are subject to being overridden by naturalism. For example, according to naturalism, dead men do not rise from the grave. The most central tenet of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Christ. According to “science,” Christ could not have risen from the dead.

Now, BioLogos believes in the “historical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” However, they appear to be more concerned with supporting their claim that evolutionary science and Christianity are compatible than with addressing how various scholars make them compatible.

For example, Michael Ruse has written a series of posts for BioLogos called “Accommodationist and Proud of it.” In the intro for the essay, BioLogos states:

Michael Ruse is an author and philosopher of biology well known for his works on the creationism and evolution debate. Though not a believer in God, he takes the position that Christianity and evolution are not incompatible.

So, even though Ruse is an atheist, what matters here is that he believes that evolution and Christianity are “not incompatible.” What is interesting is how Ruse believes evolution and Christianity are compatible. In his essay for BioLogos, Ruse says:

My first work in this area was Can a Darwinian be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion, in which I lay out in a fairly standard way what it is to be a Darwinian and then I go through the main claims of Christianity as they might be impacted by the science.

His book, Can a Darwinian be a Christian?, used to be listed as a recommended resource by BioLogos, although the link appears dead now. As he says, he addresses various claims of Christianity in his book. What does he say about the Resurrection?

[T]he supreme miracle of the resurrection is no law-breaking return from the dead. One can think Jesus in a trance, or more likely that he really was physically dead but that on and from the third day, a group of people, hitherto downcast, were filled with great joy and hope (96).

He goes on to say in his BioLogos essay:

What the Christian cannot do is encroach on the domain of science. That is why I offer no hope to the Creationist, because that position does clash with science. (Expectedly, I don’t have any time for those who would alter science to fit with Creationism.)

And then he concludes with:

Am I an Accommodationist? It all depends.

If it means thinking that the Christian religion is true, then I am not. If it means thinking that religion, and Christianity in particular, is a valid way of knowing, and that as such I should not criticize it, then I am not. I think religion is a delusion and that faith is chimerical.

I really do.

However, my form of Accommodationism says that science can only go so far and that after this if religion wants to take over, science as science cannot stop it. You can use other arguments, theological and philosophical, and this I myself would do. But these are not scientific arguments. Note the caveat that my Accommodationism allows only those aspects of religion that do not encroach illicitly on science. So Creationism is ruled out. (emphasis added)

So, BioLogos believes in the Resurrection. Michael Ruse does not. In his essay, Michael Ruse writes in support of BioLogos’ chief purpose which is:

exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith.

But this compatibility comes at what cost?

BioLogos, Evolution, and the Resurrection of Jesus

As I’ve noted before, BioLogos is dogmatic about evolution and flexible about everything else. What happens when that approach is applied to the Resurrection? Michael Ruse, a contributor at BioLogos, writes about how to reconcile evolution with Christianity. While he is not a believer, he does believe that evolution and Christianity are compatible. In his book, Darwinism and Its Discontents, Ruse discusses how the Resurrection of Christ can be reconciled with a naturalistic worldview:

The Christian believes that humans can be saved by the death of Christ on the Cross and his subsequent Resurrection. The Christian believes that this salvation will come after death — or at the Second Coming. On these matters, Darwinism is silent. But what about the Resurrection, and indeed all of the other miracles surrounding the Christian story? What about the feeding of the five thousand and Christ walking on water? What about the subsequent miracles of the Apostles, or the miracles supposedly still occurring — the marks the Catholic Church seeks for admission to sainthood? Some supposed miracles are by their very nature put beyond the bounds of science. The appearance of souls — whether it occurred just once and then was transmitted, or occurs for each individual — is something about which science can say nothing. The same is true of transubstantiation, the miracle that occurs in the Catholic mass, when the water and wine is turned into the body and blood of Christ. No amount of microscopic examination of the host is going to reveal red corpuscles. It is just not that sort of miracle.

But what about rising from the dead and turning water into wine? Darwinism is a scientific theory, and scientific theories exclude miracles — that is what they are all about, working through laws. There are two (traditional) approaches one can take. The first, stemming from Saint Augustine, interprets miracles for their spiritual meaning rather than seeing them as violations of law. Thus, to take the miracle at Cana (water into wine), the real miracle was not some jiggery pokery that was shortcutting the fermenting process, but the fact that the man throwing the party supplied his guests fully, even bringing out his very best wine when they had no reason to expect it. Jesus filled him with such love that he went against his usual nature. (Can any one of my readers deny having brought out the cheap plonk when the guests were well lubricated?) Even the miracle of the Resurrection can be treated this way. The real miracle was not some reversal of life-death processes, but that, on the third day, the disciples who were downcast and lonely suddenly felt a great lift and that life was meaningful for them — that Jesus had left a message and example that they wanted to promulgate. If some psychologist explains this in terms of mass hysteria or whatever, so be it. There will always be a natural explanation. This leaves the meaning of the event untouched. (Michael Ruse, Darwinism and Its Discontents, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 280)