Hello friends –
This morning, USA Today ran my opinion piece in which I announce my endorsement of a new book that attempts to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with science. I want to take a moment to explain why I have done this and to ask for your understanding and support.
I certainly do not believe in the Adam and Eve story. However, I also acknowledge that many people do, including many whom I care deeply about. This belief is as important to them as anything else in their lives, meaning that, up until now, they’ve had little choice but to deny and resist the scientific claim that Adam and Eve are impossible. Once someone starts down the road of denying scientific evidence that conflicts with their deeply held beliefs, it’s a short trip toward denying other scientific truths that are uncomfortable or inconvenient. This hurts us all. Profoundly. We are facing urgent problems, from climate change to vaccination, that only aggressive public policies guided by sound science can solve.
What Josh Swamidass has done in his new book on Adam and Eve is provide a way for people to reconcile dearly held Bible beliefs with what evolutionary biology has shown us unequivocally, that humans are descended from a long line of evolutionary ancestry going back billions of years. This effort has already sent ripples through the evangelical community. Theologians as prominent as William Lane Craig are watching closely. I see a real chance that we could be on the cusp of a cultural cease-fire on the matter of evolution, with science being the ultimate winner. (I’ll cover the scientific details of Swamidass’s argument in a future blog post, for those who are interested.)
Some in the secular community will not see the value of this effort and feel that the only way forward is to draw people out of religion altogether. I have no quarrel with that per se, but I also see mountains of evidence that that approach works with some (it did for me!), but not for most. For now, the threat that science denial poses to our shared existence is too great to be idealogical rigid. I feel that we should do everything we can, an all-of-the-above approach, to bring people together in support of science. That’s what the Genealogical Adam and Eve is all about. I support it because I’ve already seen it work in a community called Peaceful Science where former Young Earth Creationists are making peace with modern science, guided by professional scientists, philosophers, and even theologians who are committed to defending and explaining scientific principles and evidence. Most people don’t really WANT to be resistant to science. This new look at Adam and Eve helps them see that they don’t have to be. That is a win for science. (And a win for religion, too, if you ask me.)
I took the decision to endorse this book after a great deal of difficult reflection and I am feeling quite vulnerable (if you didn’t pick up on that). I am publicly “coming out” to my friends and family as non-religious, while simultaneously drawing fire from the non-religious community. I hope the latter isn’t actually the case. Some of you may disagree with what I am doing, but hopefully you can understand that I am doing it because I think it has real value, for all of us, in finding a way forward from the old battles that we simply cannot afford any longer. This may work or it may not, but, for now, I’m choosing to support the pursuit of common ground through… “Peaceful Science.”
If any of you want to join me in this “new way,” consider joining the Peaceful Science community and participating in the forum. Add you expertise, ask your questions, and probe the evidence with us. When it comes to the grand questions of life, we’ll never really know who is “right” anyway, but when we share our perspectives with mutual respect and understanding… we not only gain invaluable insight and find common ground, we have a lot of fun doing it. Join us!