Collins on the Relationship Between Science and Faith

In my previous post, I was fascinated by an interview with a leading evangelical scientist (Sir John Houghton) who offered a way to reconcile science and faith, not favoring the way of “Intelligent Design.”

Also in the same week, I watched yet another leading evangelical scientist, Dr. Francis Collins, who led the effort to map the human genome, do the same on PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

Now, Collins and Houghton are very big fish in the scientific community. And we evangelicals can claim them as our own!

However, from watching these two world-renowned scientists speak, it seems that while the ID pundits of conservative evangelical Christianity are trying to make inroads in our school boards, that there are some very strong voices that are saying that these battles may cause more damage than good.

Collins has just released a new book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006), which he hopes will help bridge some of the gaps between faith and science.

Here’s an excerpt from PBS’ Bob Abernathy’s report on Dr. Collins:

ABERNETHY: Meanwhile, as grateful as Collins is for the healing his work will make possible, he's troubled by its contribution to the battle between some believers and most scientists over evolution -- what Collins calls the "flash point" between science and faith.

Dr. COLLINS: What I want to say about this I also want to say with great love and understanding for my fellow believers, who have a different view. But for me as a scientist, when I look at DNA -- our own, that of the human species -- the evidence that we are all descended from a common ancestor is overwhelming. Some might wish that not to be so. It is so. Does this conflict with Genesis 1 and 2? I don't believe it does.

ABERNETHY: The genetic code, says Collins, supports other evidence that human beings evolved from about 10,000 "founders" between 100-150,000 years ago, probably in East Africa.

Dr. COLLINS: One of my greatest heartaches is that at the present time serious believers, [who] believe that they have to defend a literal interpretation of Genesis in order to defend their faith, find themselves contradicting facts that God Almighty has given us the ability to discover.

ABERNETHY: For Collins, a supernatural God created human beings through the natural processes of evolution, and for religious believers to deny that is to invite ridicule of their faith.

ABERNETHY: But what about the theory of intelligent design, the argument dividing school boards around the country over whether life is so complex the theory of evolution can not explain it, thus there had to have been a designer?

Dr. COLLINS: Intelligent design, while a thoughtful, well-argued perspective, I do not think is taking us to the Promised Land. I think this will be an argument which ultimately will not do damage to science; it will do damage to faith. The problem is the examples that intelligent design puts forward we are learning a lot about. And the notion that those are examples of irreducible complexity is showing serious cracks.

Read the transcript or watch the show HERE


So, the questions that the insights of Houghton and Collins raise for us are these:

  1. Is the Intelligent Design battle really all that it is billed to be?
  2. Have we been guilty of listening to the side that we want to believe to the point of compromising our intellectual integrity?
  3. Are we evangelicals so enamored with William Paley’s 200-year old “Argument from Design” for the existence of God that we cannot accept the scientific community’s acceptance of some form of evolution?
  4. Have we been naïve in thinking that science (in the form of evolution) and faith (in the form of biblical Christianity) can never co-exist?

    Just asking…

1 comment:

Kent C. Williamson said...

In a previous post you mentioned "Graven Ideologies" by Bruce Ellis Benson, so I thought you might be interested in this...

Though it doesn't hit directly on the Intelligent Design debate it does fall under the "Creating God in Our Own Image" category...

While editing a section of the upcoming film Rebellion of Thought I included this quote from our interview with Bruce Ellis Benson regarding the concept of Christian Idolatry...

"...we affirm as Christians that God does exists, and that our conception of God is not purely a kind of idolatrous conception of God. Now of course, there it gets a little difficult, because as Christians, I assume that our conception of God is probably never completely pure, that is to say, our conception of God is never completely free from idolatry. It's very easy for the conception of "Jesus, Lord of my life," to morph into, to change into, "Jesus, who is the granter of my desires." That's not a very big step, as it turns out, and indeed I assume that many of us live, in a sort of practical way so that Jesus is the granter of our desires, first and foremost, rather than the Lord and Master of our lives."

What are your thoughts on this concept of Christian idolatry?

To learn more about the film check out the Rebellion of Thought Blog and/or www.PaladinPictures.com