Only Atheists Need Apply 07/20/2009 July 20, 2009 — He’s a Christian, yes, but he is also a leading American scientist and a harsh critic of intelligent design. He supports research on embryonic stem cells and upholds Darwin’s theory of evolution completely. That’s not enough to get Francis Collins off the hook with the scientific establishment. Both Nature and Science expressed “serious misgivings” with his nomination as head of the National Institutes of Health, even though as the able administrator of the Human Genome Project his scientific credentials have been exceptional. Collins is open about his evangelical Christian faith, but his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, “describes ... how he reconciles this with the science of evolution.”4 He used Templeton Prize funds to start the BioLogos institute that discusses issues of faith and science. His theistic-evolutionary views have drawn criticism from leaders in the intelligent design movement for embracing Darwinism from start to finish and scrambling Biblical theology.1 Collins’s view of theistic evolution leaves little room for God as an intelligent designer. He remains at odds with intelligent design leaders. In addition, he will be stepping down from BioLogos for his NIH term. Leading Darwinists remain hostile in spite of all of these things. Here are criticisms from Nature last week.2
NIH nominee draws scrutiny: Francis Collins is likely to face funding challenges – and criticism of his Christian evangelism.
There are also concerns about whether Collins’s very public expressions of his evangelical Christian faith will affect his job.
Steven Pinker, a psychologist at Harvard University, says he has “serious misgivings” about the nomination. “Collins is an advocate of profoundly anti-science beliefs, and it is reasonable for the scientific community to ask him how these beliefs will affect his administration of the NIH and his efforts on behalf of the scientific enterprise.”
Here are criticisms in Science magazine last week.3,4
Although few would disagree with a White House press notice saying that Collins’s work “has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease,” Collins does have critics. Some question his support of “big biology” in the genome project portfolio—with timetables and planned targets—and some are concerned about his outspoken Christian faith. He raised eyebrows, for example, when he recently launched a Web site, BioLogos, expanding on his 2006 book explaining how he reconciles his faith with the science of evolution.
Although many scientists say geneticist Francis Collins will make a superb director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not everyone is celebrating.
A discussion about whether Collins’s very public religious views will influence his leadership of NIH played out on blogs early this spring and again in the past week. There seems to be little evidence for such worries, but they persist.
Richard Dawkins, the biologist and prominent antireligionist, feuded with Collins for mixing science and faith.
This spring, Collins raised hackles again when he and several other scientists launched a foundation and Web site, BioLogos, which claims that it “emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life.”
One prominent critic, Paul Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who runs the anticreationist blog Pharyngula, faults Collins for suggesting that altruism cannot be explained by evolution and instead came from God. “Collins has got some big gaps in his understanding of the field of evolutionary biology,” Myers says. In comments this spring on Pharyngula, others fretted that Collins’s beliefs could influence his decisions on topics such as stem cells and sex research.
Jocelyn Kaiser, who wrote the two Science articles, might argue that she ended with quotes praising Collins and discounting the worries of the naysayers. But her title, “Questions About the Language of God,” and the prominence she gave to the criticisms of Collins (all from prominent atheists), leaves a strong bitter taste of “serious misgivings” about Collins – or anyone in science who espouses Christian faith, no matter how accommodating to Darwinism it might be.
1. See, for instance David Klinghoffer’s blog entries for June 22 and July 8. His views have also been criticized on Evolution News & Views here for refusing to dialogue with the ID movement, and here because he “handles Darwinism’s universal acid like baby formula.” 2. “NIH nominee draws scrutiny,” Nature News, Published online 15 July 2009, Nature 460, 310-311 (2009), doi:10.1038/460310a. 3. Jocelyn Kaiser, “White House Taps Former Genome Chief Francis Collins as NIH Director,” Science, 17 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5938, pp. 250-251, DOI: 10.1126/science.325_250a. 4. Jocelyn Kaiser, “Questions About the Language of God,” Science, 17 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5938, p. 250, DOI: 10.1126/science.325_250b.
It doesn’t matter that Collins’s theology is incoherent, incompatible with the Bible, and that he would prefer the companionship of Ken Miller and Eugenie Scott over that of Phillip Johnson or William Dembski. Theistic evolutionists like Collins are unclean. They are not secular enough. They don’t understand science. Any remnant of Christian faith is a profession of “profoundly anti-science beliefs.” People like this leave room for God (even eensy weensy teeny tiny corners in their world view for God to get involved). That’s not atheistic enough. The critics that Nature and Science quoted sound like a Who’s Who of God-haters: Dawkins the campaigning atheist, and Myers the foul-mouthed blasphemer among them. Eugenie Scott and the NCSE will probably treat Collins like a useful idiot. He can help their propaganda campaign with his charade about 100% pure Darwinism being compatible with religion (for those who need a crutch). The Darwin-Only Darwin-Only DODOs show their colors as leftists. You can spot a leftist by two traits: (1) they are intolerant while avowing tolerance, and (2) they are irrational while avowing rationalism.. They portray themselves as the sole spokespersons for a magic word that commands instant respect, whether or not their beliefs or actions have anything to do with it. That magic word is science. For a dose of historical reality, browse our online book.