Biologist Darrel Falk: Torn Between Two Lovers (Biblical Literalists and Science-Oriented Atheists)

At a recent posting on the BioLogos website, the president of the BioLogos Foundation, Darrel Falk—who is both a Christian and a biologist—explains why he is not a young earth creationist:

[To be a young earth creationist] is to reject the richness of the fossil data; the millions of genetic fingerprints which point to the common ancestry of all life forms; the premises of nuclear physics which allow us to date minerals in multiple ways; the heart of astronomy which tells us how stars and galaxies are still being born; and the science of geology where we can relate events that are taking place now to ancient events from the deep past.

Naturally, fundamentalists are livid at him and his foundation for being soft on Darwinism. But they are now approaching ballistic over Adam and Eve. Falk, you see, questions the historicity of Adam and Eve. He doesn’t deny it, mind you, he just has opened up discussion about it at his website. As a result, below are two recent comments that Falk reports receiving from the Southern California-based Grace to You cult megachurch (headed by pastor John MacArthur). The first is from Phillip Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, complaining about the way that BioLogos discusses geology and Adam and Eve at its website:

If BioLogos is willing to throw away so much at the very foundations of our faith and at the very beginning of God’s revelation, I can’t imagine why they would want to keep up the pretense of being Christians at all. Selectively admiring the Bible’s moral teachings is not the same thing as actually believing the Bible.

Johnson also calls BioLogos a “Trojan Horse.” And here’s Travis Allen, who Falk describes as “Director of Internet Ministry at Grace to You”:

It’s time for Christians to return to the self-attesting authority of God’s Word and forsake the “vain babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so called.”

This ugly medieval dust-up over Adam and Eve’s literal existence (or not) has, in turn, gotten the attention of popular atheist websites. Jerry Coyne, for example, succinctly skewered BioLogos this way:

If BioLogos is really anxious, as it claims, to harmonize science with scripture, taking the scientific facts as paramount, they’d simply and flatly reject the existence of a historical Adam and Eve on the grounds of no evidence—just as they’d presumably reject the existence of unicorns, or the Loch Ness monster, or Santa Claus.

The reason they don’t jettison the whole Adam and Eve story is, as several commenters have pointed out here, because the historical existence of this pair plays a critical role in the Christian myth of sin and redemption.

For Falk’s part, he feels caught in the middle:

This has been an interesting week for The BioLogos Forum. From the atheist camp, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, and P.Z. Myers noticed Daniel Harrell’s essay, “Adam and Eve: Literal or Literary”, and had a few choice words for us. From the young earth creationist camp, Pastor John MacArthur’s team (see here and here) at Grace to You responded critically to our series on geological history.

When you’re trying to speak to both of two groups on opposite ends of the spectrum and trying to help each see there is middle ground, the forces tugging from opposite sides can be a little painful.

Indeed, it can be painful. But maybe it’s painful because the middle ground really isn’t all that reasonable itself, and the atheists and fundamentalists (at least on this issue) are right in their agreement: sometimes you really can’t have your cake and eat it too. And do you remember, Dr. Falk, what a mess Shakespeare’s Hamlet made of his indecision? Now it’s your turn. Will you avenge the murder of your father (however you interpret this question), or will you cut the culprit loose? Choose, professor, choose.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to Biologist Darrel Falk: Torn Between Two Lovers (Biblical Literalists and Science-Oriented Atheists)

  1. TomH says:

    I jettison the whole modernist evolution myth in the same way as I jettison the belief in unicorns. I consider modern biology, geology, and cosmology to be horribly confused about epistemology, so I diverge from Dr. Falk. But you already knew this.

    The things that one often finds in the middle of the road are moderates and dead skunks.

  2. As usual, I don’t have time to develop a considered reply. So I’ll just say thank you, and I’m glad that christians who DO NOT believe in “young earth creationism” are getting some airtime.

    Those other nutters have had too much publicity for too long.

    *disclaimer: I’m an open agnostic with a christian background*

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