Monday, May 11, 2009

Francis Collins and an Evolving Faith

Kathleen Parker of the Wichita Eagle has a profile of Francis Collins. She writes:
Collins, an evangelical Christian who was home-schooled until sixth grade, wants to raise the level of discourse about science and faith, and help fundamentalists -- both in science and religion -- see that the two can coexist. To that end, he created the BioLogos Foundation and last month launched a Web site -- -- to advance an alternative to the extreme views that tend to dominate the debate.

Yes, he asserted to a room full of journalists, one can believe in both God and science. In fact, says Collins, the latter does more to prove the existence of a creator than not.

This doesn't mean that Collins falls in line with those promoting creation science or, more recently, intelligent design. He merely insists that belief in God doesn't preclude acceptance of evolution.

Though his own beliefs are firm, Collins understands doubt, skepticism and even atheism. He was once an atheist himself, believing only in what science could prove. As a medical student, however, he stumbled upon questions to which science had no answers. In treating dying patients, he also began to wonder how he would approach his own death. Not with as much peace as his patients of faith did, he supposed.
Part of the profile addresses an area that I find troubling—when ICR trained students get ahold of the real deal:
Collins said that many creationist-trained young people suffer an intense identity crisis when they leave home for college, only to discover that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Talk about messing with your mind.

Collins said he hears from dozens of young people so afflicted. Most susceptible to crisis are children who have been home-schooled or who have attended Christian schools. Of all religious groups and denominations, evangelical Protestants are the most reluctant to embrace evolution. Their objections haven't changed much since Billy Sunday first articulated them almost 100 years ago, and revolve around the fear that acceptance of evolution negates God.
I have long thought that if young earth creationists really got what they wanted, to have creationism taught in public schools, there would be a massive push-back in the form of science teachers exposing the young earth "evidence" for what it is and that this would lead to many people going away from the faith. Glenn Morton is, perhaps, one of the best-known cases of an ICR student who almost broke with the faith. His story is a must-read. The world needs more people like Francis Collins.

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