Skip to comments.Obama’s Enlightened Choice (He chooses Francis Collins, an evangelical scientist as head of the NIH)
Posted on 07/11/2009 10:04:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
President Obama in an inspired move named Dr. Francis Collins head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Collins is one of the worlds leading scientists. He is a physician-geneticist known in part for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and for his leadership of the Human Genome Project. (Collins served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1993-2008.)
The New York Times reports, however, that a couple of objections have been raised to the choice of Dr. Collins. According to the Times:
The first is his very public embrace of religion. Dr. Collins, who was not raised with any religious training, wrote a book called The Language of God, and he has given many talks and interviews in which he has described his conversion to Christianity as a 27-year-old medical school intern. I came at this from a position of ignorance, he said. I came at it from an intellectual point of view. Religion and genetic research have long had a fraught relationship, and some in the field are uneasy about what they see as Dr. Collinss evangelism.
This is an example of the sometimes subtle and sometimes overt bias against people of religious faith. Collinss critics speak as if Obama had named the President of Westminster Theological Seminary as head of NIH instead of one of the worlds greatest scientific minds and a man of sterling scientific credentials. Dr. Collins being a person of faith and in particular, of the Christian faith seems to alarm some people in the scientific world, despite there being nothing in Colinss body of work that would cause anyone to think twice about how his faith might negatively impact his work at NIH. The mere fact that Collins embraced Christianity and is viewed as an evangelical is itself considered grounds for suspicion.
Fortunately, none of this will matter. Dr. Collins will provide outstanding leadership to the NIH. He will show that faith and reason are perfectly compatible. But this episode underscores the prejudices that have to be overcome. And those who think the world of science is free from such things ,ought to think again.
The world is redefining what it means to be “evangelical”. Brian McClaren is also considered to be an evangelical. So take with a healthy dose of skepticism. I doubt Obama would choose an in your face Christian and I doubt one would work for Obama.
Nice that he believes in God. Wonder if he also believes in paying his taxes?
Sorry, clown, it ain't gonna work.
My one and only question to this scientist?
Do you believe that life begins at conception?
(Or is it above your paygrade like Obortion Obama’s paygrade?)
Sorry, that turned into two questions!! LOL!
In an appendix to The Language of God, Francis Collins raises doubts about the insistence that the spiritual nature of a person is uniquely defined at the very moment of conception. He also defends so-called therapeutic human cloning, which places him at odds with the pro-life community as well as the United Nations policy on human cloning.
Exactly... now it's anyone who does not sacrifice newborns in satanic rituals during the hours of 12:00am - 4:00am.
SEE HERE :
Francis Collins: A Biography
By: David Klinghoffer
May 1, 2009
Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950, in Staunton, Virginia) is a physician and geneticist known for leading the Human Genome Project to its completion. In the debate about faith and evolution, he achieved prominence as a self-identified Evangelical Christian who finds evidence in science for Gods existence but rejects intelligent-design theory and embraces Darwinism. He has designated his version of theistic evolution BioLogos and has started a foundation and a website to promote his views on evolution. Outside of the evolution issue, Collins has defended so-called therapeutic human cloning and raised doubts about the view of the pro-life movement that human life begins at conception.
Collins stepped down as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute on August 1, 2008, to pursue other interests. In the month before the 2008 national election, he endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a newspaper op-ed piece (Virginian-Pilot, October 8, 2008) and subsequently was much talked about as a candidate to run the National Institutes of Health under the Obama Administration.
In his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006) and other writings and interviews, Collins has described the paths that led him from atheism to religious belief and from an impatience with messy biology and a preference for the pristine realms of physics and chemistry to a fascination with DNA, RNA, and gene-hunting.
Following college at the University of Virginia, he earned a Ph.D. at Yale in physical chemistry in 1974 where a course in biochemistry sparked his interest. He subsequently obtained a medical degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1977. Collins taught medicine and genetics at the University of Michigan, where he developed the gene-hunting method called positional cloning, until being selected to direct the Human Genome Project in 1993.
In the course of medical work, conversations with dying and other severely ill patients prompted him to explore faith, as did his reading of C.S. Lewiss Mere Christianity. He tells of a conversion experience upon viewing a particularly spectacular frozen waterfall when he was on a hike in the Cascade Mountains of western Washington State. He describes himself as kneeling in dewy grass at sunrise as he surrendered to Jesus Christ.
In The Language of God, Collins argues strongly for scientific evidence of intelligent design (though he doesnt call it that) in cosmology and human psychology. He adduces the fine-tuning of the universes physical constants at the Big Bang, and human moral instincts, as features of physical existence that defy purely material explanations. I cannot see how nature could have created itself, he writes. And In my view, DNA sequence alone will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God.
However, turning to biology and the evolution of life in its countless forms, he dismisses intelligent design as an argument from personal incredulity. He writes that a religious believer may coherently believe in life as having been specified by God, and in genetic language as a kind of communication from God, even though, as per Darwinian theory, the evolutionary process was entirely unguided. Collins reconciles the seeming contradiction of a specified yet unguided history of life by observing that God stands outside time and so is unlimited by the human temporal perspective.
From his writing, it seems unclear whether by specified he means that God actively determined lifes shapes and formsa supposition incompatible with Darwinismor whether he merely means that God foresaw the path life would take. If the latter, one might ask how God qualifies as lifes creator.
Reviewers of his book who are sympathetic to intelligent design have questioned Collinss exception of certain fields from the strictures he applies in line with methodological materialism in other fields.
He invokes certain methodological principles to rule intelligent design out of court in biology, he has already violated those rules in his design arguments in cosmology and physics, writes Logan Gage in the American Spectator. Collins cannot consistently employ design logic in physics and cosmology and then say that such logic is invalid in the biological realm. In biology, Collins should have retained the sound logic and high standards of critical judgment he used to skewer the cosmological prophets of scientific materialism. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.
While frequently expressing impatience with intelligent design, his writing and other comments suggest that Collins probably is not familiar with the variety of detailed arguments for ID. Thus he criticizes biochemist Michael Behes argument for intelligent design from the irreducible complexity of cellular features like the bacterial flagellum. Collins addresses his criticism to Behes 1996 book, Darwins Black Box, but ignores responses Behe has offered since then to the precise objections that Collins makes.
Collins criticizes intelligent design for placing God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world. But intelligent design advocates respond that ID focuses entirely on positive scientific evidence of a designers creative activity in nature.
More to the point, these critics note that Collins himself (and Darwinists in general) resort to an of the gaps argumentwhat biologist Jonathan Wells calls Darwin of the gaps. Much of Collinss case for Darwinian evolution is based on so-called junk DNA. This is the part of the genome that does not appear to code for the production of proteins. In mammals, the vast majority of DNA has been dismissed as junk.
Junk DNA, according to Darwinists like Collins, gives evidence of common descentthe idea that all life, including human life, branches off from a common evolutionary tree. As life evolved, according to this view, garbled, useless genetic information accumulated and has remained fixedlike dirt swept under a carpeteven as mammals, for example, diversified from a common ancestor.
But the argument from junk DNAalso called ancient repetitive elements (AREs) depends on the premise that no function will ever be discovered for AREs. Collinss faith in Darwinian theory would be severely hamstrung if the premise were shown to be wrong. It is a faith based on gaps in scientific knowledge. Hence, Darwin of the gaps.
In fact, functionality has repeatedly been discovered for AREs previously assumed to be junk. This genetic information does not code for proteins but it does do other useful things, like gene regulation. Since 2006, such discoveries have been coming regularly from researchers in the United States, Australia, Japan and elsewhere.
In his defense of Darwinian evolution and common descent, Collins also lays great stress on evolutionary trees developed from the computer analysis of DNA data. Critics note, however, that he leaves out of his case the fact that such analyses have produced greatly varying results, contradicting one another and also contradicting phylogenies developed from other sources of data, notably morphologyinformation about the shape and structure of organisms. In the case of whales, for instance, DNA and morphological analysis by different evolutionary scientists have seemed to show the creature is descended from a hyena-like animal, or something like a hippopotamus, or maybe an animal more like a raccoon.
Collins presents other evidence for Darwinian evolution, but critics point out this evidence supports only non-controversial and relatively trivial microevolution rather than evolution that is assumed to have produced the diversity of speciesmacroevolution. As an example of evolution at work, Collins offers the stickleback fish. This tiny creature comes in marine (saltwater) and freshwater varieties. The marine fish are furnished with a kind of armor-plating which their freshwater relations lack.
But the stickleback fish is all one species, whether armored or not, and therefore a classic instance of microevolutionevolution within a species. Collins assumes, as Darwin did, that scientists may reasonably extrapolate from micro- to macroevolution. But critics note that the assumption takes for granted exactly what Darwinian theorists wish to prove in the first place.
In any event, since Collinss book was published, researchers at the University of British Columbia have shown that the sticklebacks armor or lack thereof illustrates not the gain but the loss of a function. The freshwater fish is afflicted by a mutant gene that inhibits production of the armor. The gene is much more common among the freshwater variety, who apparently get by more easily with it, and therefore without the armor, than the marine variety could do. So the stickleback story represents a case not of macroevolution, not even of microevolution, but more accurately of micro-devolutiona far cry from the Darwinian evolution that is actually at issue.
Collins writes: It is not hard to see how the difference between freshwater and saltwater sticklebacks could be extended to generate all kinds of fish. But in light of the above, his critics from the ID side argue that it is harder to see how this fish provides any support for the major claims of Darwinian theory at all.
Collinss view has stirred applause from some evolution advocates, who wish to present theistic faith and Darwinian faith as compatible, but scorn from others. The biologist and popular Darwinist blogger PZ Myers mocks Collinss position as, I believe because I believe, and because Im a famous scientist, my faith must be scientific! Writes Myers, Collins is in the pseudo-rationalist branch of liberal Christianity, possessing no credibility and no greater rational foundation than the raving mad branches of fundamentalism.
Biologist and Darwinian atheist bestseller Richard Dawkins has criticized Collinss position, for stopping short of full materialism, as the mother and father of all cop-outs.
Collins has received less attention for his views on various bioethical issues. In an appendix to The Language of God, he raises doubts about the insistence that the spiritual nature of a person is uniquely defined at the very moment of conception. He also defends so-called therapeutic human cloning, which places him at odds with the pro-life community as well as the United Nations policy on human cloning.