Contortionism

I’ve just watched that BioLogos video of a pastor at a Florida church explaining – in a rather photogenic, sonorous, and otherwise superficially convincing way – why one has to be very careful about…everything. I say superficially convincing because he doesn’t look or talk like a hayseed or a loon; he looks like any insurance executive or motivational speaker or real estate agent. Yet what he says is pitiful. It’s all about the anxious contortions one has to perform in order not to upset any apple carts or frighten any horses or insert any cats among any pigeons. It’s very fretful, close work, because on the one hand you don’t want to upset these, but on the other hand you also don’t want to worry those, and yet again you don’t want to look like a fool to the others. In short you want to square the circle, so it’s very tricky, and actually all you can do is put on your most sonorous voice and talk very slowly as if you’re thinking hard and hope nobody notices those four corners poking out of the circle.

It’s sad that grown-up non-stupid people feel obliged to do this kind of thing. It’s sad that it’s what’s expected of them, it’s sad that BioLogos treats them as somehow exemplary. It’s sad that they waste a perfectly functional intelligence this way.

I have the same thought reading Darrell Falk’s BioLogos post for today. He has the same problem (of course – they all do, in the nature of the case – that problem is what BioLogos is about) and he betrays it in his words.

The BioLogos Foundation exists in order that the Church, especially the Evangelical Church, can come to peace with the scientific data which shows unequivocally that the universe is very old and that all of life, including humankind, has been created through a gradual process that has been taking place over the past few billion years. BioLogos exists to show that this fact (and it is a fact), need not, indeed must not, affect our relationship with God, which comes about through Jesus Christ, and is experienced by the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence.

Emphasis added. The church is not at peace with the scientific data, BioLogos exists to help it get there. Well why is the church not at peace with the scientific data? Obviously, because they suspect that the data get things right and the church does not get things right. That’s what “peace” means in this context: not worrying that the data get things right and the church gets things wrong.

To an outsider, this is obviously a foolish endeavor. When there’s a conflict between scientific data and a story, it just seems kind of futile to struggle to manipulate things in such a way that one can go on taking the story as true despite its conflict with the scientific data. To an insider, however, it’s all-important. But that’s what’s so sad – people frittering away their talents and energy on this sort of futility.

Falk is caught between (as he explains it) Dawkins and the selfish gene, and Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler doesn’t have this anxiety problem, he just dismisses Dawkins and BioLogos. But Falk has it in spades. We can’t help him, because

We at BioLogos believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked on this earth 2,000 years ago in order to show humankind how to live life to the full.

But we would if we could.

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