April 4, 2007
Francis Collin’s DNA for faith
It’s been almost a year since Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, wrote The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Today, a little late on the story, CNN.com posted this commentary from Collins that begins, “I am a scientist and a believer, and I find no conflict between those world views.”
Collins is not alone among scientists—just a dramatic minority. Several polls have found about 40 percent of scientists believe in God—but only 10 percent of those elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
“It never seemed to me there was a contradiction. ... They are both different ways of knowing about the world,’’ Kenneth R. Miller, a prominent biology professor at Brown University and author ofFinding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution
, told me last fall for a story about Moorpark College’s Year of Science and Religion. “Science is the best method we have, the only method we have to understand the nature of the material world, how it works, what the history of this planet has been like. And what religion tells us is the meaning of our place in that world. It’s different sides of the same coin.’‘
Miller’s name comes up in a book I’m currently reading calledMonkey Girl
by Los Angeles Magazine writer Edward Humes. Centered around the 2005 Dover school board debacle, Humes tries to separate myth from fact when it comes to the tenants of evolution, and science from faith when it comes to the origin of species.
Miller, Collins and most other God-fearing scientists have little in common with the Dover board members who decided every student should be taught the gaps in evolutionary theory and be given a supplementary text called Of Pandas and People. Dover was a case study for the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank pushing Intelligent Design, which critics called Creation in new clothes. Dover science teachers, vehemently opposed toOf Pandas
, wanted to use a text book written by Miller.Monkey Girl
is a good, fair book, a crash course in the histories of evolutionary theory, creation science and the to-the-grave opinions that separate their polarized faithful. Here is what Collins had to say about evolution in an interview seven years ago with PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly:
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