Amen, brother. The appointment of Dr. Collins reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoon that ran few years back here. He may yet get some slings and arrows. Amanda Gefter of the New Scientist thinks that those might come from our reliable antagonists, the Discovery Institute. She writes:
Mr. Collins was mocked by Bill Maher in his movie Religulous, so perhaps Mr. Collins' appointment will generate suspicion among secularists. And because he's advocated "theistic evolution" -- the idea that God set in motion the laws of the universe, including natural selection -- there are some more fundamentalist Christians who may sniff at Mr. Collins.
But to me, Mr. Collins is not just a scientific leader, he's a Christian role model. He shows that being a believer doesn't mean checking your brain at the church door, that people of faith have just as much intellectual heft as seculars and, most important, how faith and science can happily co-exist.
I think it's interesting that the Discovery Institute – which has long argued that intelligent design qualifies as science – seems to have given up the game and acknowledged that their concerns are religious after all. It's equally interesting that the catalyst doesn't seem to be someone like Richard Dawkins pushing atheism, but Francis Collins pushing Christianity. Perhaps the Discovery folks realise that Dawkins's followers are never going to be swayed by intelligent design; Collins, however, might very well cut into their target audience of scientifically-curious evangelicals.Lets hope he does. The DI had a nondescript posting on the matter by Bruce Chapman. He writes:
But when the confirmation hearings take place I would not be surprised to hear some sharp questions about Dr. Collins' less known views on subjects that have not come out on his pulpit tours. He is, for example, a strong supporter of President Obama's program on embryonic stem cell research. The head of NIH doesn't have a lot to say about evolution, but he does have a lot to say about research matters in science on key social issues. Stem cells is only one of them.Doesn't have a lot to say about evolution? This is what he says about evolution:
"Suppose God chose to use the mechanism of evolution to create animals like us, knowing this process would lead to big-brained creatures with the capacity to think, ask questions about our own origins, discover the truth about the universe and discover pointers toward the One who provides meaning to life. Who are we to say that's not how we would have done it? If you believe that God is the creator, how could the truths about nature we discover through science be a threat to God? For many scientists who believe in God -- including me -- it's just the opposite. Everything we learn about the natural world only increases our awe of the God the creator....He says that a bunch of places. As Sandwalk points out, in The Language of God, Dr. Collins is crytal clear about it:
1. The universe came into being out of nothingness, approximately 14 billion years ago.How could you come to the conclusion that he doesn't say much about evolution? Mr. Chapman either Hasn't read Collins or is simply trying to downplay his views on evolution to point out his views on other controversial issues like Stem cell research. Either way, to state that he doesn't say much about evolution is simply false.
2. Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life.
3. While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, once life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long periods of time.
4. Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.
5. Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestor with the great apes.
6. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout our history.
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