Helping Christians Reconcile God With Science
For many young Christians, the moment they first notice discrepancies in the Biblical tales they’ve faithfully studied is a rite of passage: e.g., if Adam and Eve were the first humans, and they had two sons — where did Cain’s wife come from? The revelation that everything in the Bible may not have happened exactly as written can be startling. And when the discovery comes along with scientific evidence of evolution and the actual age of planet Earth, it can prompt a full-blown spiritual crisis.
That’s where Francis Collins would like to step in. A renowned geneticist and former director of the Human Genome Project, Collins is also an evangelical Christian who was the keynote speaker at the 2007 National Prayer Breakfast, and he has spent years establishing the compatibility between science and religious belief. And this week he unveiled a new initiative to guide Christians through scientific questions while holding firm to their faith. (Finding God on YouTube)
After his best-selling The Language of God came out three years ago, Collins began receiving thousands of e-mails — primarily from other Evangelicals — asking questions about how to reconcile scriptural teachings with scientific evidence. “Many of these Christians have been taught that evolution is wrong,” Collins explains. “They go to college and get exposed to data, and then they’re thrust into personal crises of great intensity. If the church was wrong about the origins of life, was it wrong about everything? Some of them walk away from science or faith — or both.”
Collins, 59, who with his mustache and shock of gray hair looks like former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s cheerful twin, seems genuinely pained by the idea that science could be viewed as a threat to religion, or religion to science. And so he decided to gather a group of theologians and scientists to create the BioLogos Foundation in order to foster dialogue between the two sides. The name — combining bios (Greek for “life”) and logos (“the word”) — is also what Collins calls his blended theory of evolution and creation, an approach he hopes can replace intelligent design, which he derides as “not a scientific proposal” and “not good theology either.”
Through the Washington-based foundation, Collins says he and his colleagues hope to support scholarship that “takes seriously the claims of both faith and science.” Its online component, biologos.org, is designed to be a resource for skeptics and nonbelievers who are interested in religious arguments for God’s existence. But the primary audience for BioLogos is Collins’ own Evangelical community.
In his recent book, The Language of God, U.S. geneticist Francis Collins cites surveys showing that 40 percent of American scientists believe in God. Collins forcefully dismisses the pseudoscientific teachings of Christian zealots such as “intelligent design” or “creationism.” Like Pope Benedict XVI, he insists that Darwin’s theory of evolution is not at odds with the Christian faith.
Video: The Language of God: Intellectual Reflections of a Christian Geneticist
Presentation by Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Dr. Collins presents a case for harmony between faith in science and faith in God. He also shares about his personal intellectual and spiritual journey from agnosticism, to atheism, and to Christianity.
Followed by an interview conducted by Jasper Rine, Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development at UC Berkeley.
Followed by audience Q&A.