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The most sobering moment for attendees of the Biologos "Theology of Celebration" conference in New York City, March 20–22, came when David Kinnaman of Barna Research presented findings on what U.S. Protestant pastors believe about creation. More than half profess a 6-day, 24-hour creation of life. Fewer than one in five, on the other hand, follow Biologos in affirming an evolutionary process as God's method of creation.

Knowing that they are in a minority among Protestants did not limit the gathering's enthusiasm. About 60 participants came by special invitation, with the proviso that their names would not be publicized without permission. This was intended to encourage open conversation on sensitive topics. Attending were such luminaries as N. T. Wright, Alister McGrath, John Ortberg, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Os Guinness, Joel Hunter, and Andy Crouch. Prominent scientists included Ian Hutchinson of MIT and Jennifer Wiseman, senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. Forty-one pastors and parachurch leaders participated.

Two previous meetings had focused primarily on scientific evidence for the evolutionary process, and on interpretations of the biblical Adam. This year's program centered on concerns for the church—especially for young people who feel torn between science and the Bible.

Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach young earth creationism (YEC), participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said.

Participants seemed particularly appreciative of Westmont College's Jeffrey Schloss, who presented an elegant overview of evidence for evolution and closed with a critique of ideological evolutionists who make evolution into a universal explanation. Wheaton College Old Testament professor John Walton was also greatly appreciated for his new understandings of Genesis 1–2, interpreting it as the inauguration of the earth as God's temple.

Biologos was founded in 2007 by Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, after his book The Language of God elicited thousands of email questions. Collins was soon named director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and had to drop out of leadership, though he has maintained an active interest and attended the New York meetings. Under the leadership of Darrel Falk, a biologist at Point Loma Nazarene University, Biologos has launched a wide variety of initiatives to improve understanding between Christianity and science.


Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today earlier covered Biologos's work to convince evangelicals on evolution in the June 2011 cover story, "The Search for the Historical Adam" and in interviews with founder Francis Collins.

See more articles on creation and evolution on our Origins page.

Biologos posted Keller's "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople" earlier this month.

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