-- Albert Einstein, "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium", 1941
The believerFrancis Collins -- head of the Human Genome Project -- discusses his conversion to evangelical Christianity, why scientists do not need to be atheists, and what C.S. Lewis has to do with it.
By Steve Paulson
Aug. 07, 2006 | As the longtime head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins is one of America's most visible scientists. He holds impeccable scientific credentials -- a medical degree as well as a Ph.D. in physics -- and has established a distinguished track record as a gene hunter. He's also an evangelical Christian, someone who has no qualms about professing his belief in miracles or seeing God's hand behind all of creation. The cover of his new book illustrates this unusual mixture: The book's title, "The Language of God," is superimposed on a drawing of the double helix. "The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome," he writes. "He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory."
Collins hopes to stake out the middle ground between Darwinian atheists and religious fundamentalists. "Both of these extremes don't stand up to logic, and yet they have occupied the stage," he told me. "We cannot let either side win." Unlike so many of those players most invested in this culture war, Collins sees no inherent conflict between science and religion. Yet his book is likely to alienate plenty of people on both sides of the debate. His frequent references to God's almighty power might be difficult for secular readers to swallow. And his scathing critique of both Young Earth creationism and intelligent design probably won't attract the hordes of readers buying Ann Coulter's latest diatribe against evolution.
"The Language of God" offers an unusually personal look at a leading scientist's search for meaning. Collins recounts his own struggles with faith, as well as his daughter's rape by a man who broke into her apartment and held a knife to her throat. This trauma became a test of faith for Collins and a lesson in how suffering can lead to personal growth. His book also recaps his scientific triumphs, including his discovery of the long-sought gene that causes cystic fibrosis. And later, when he stood by Bill Clinton's side as the president announced that the mapping of the human genome was complete. It turns out that Collins worked with the president's speechwriter to help craft Clinton's religious spin on this scientific breakthrough. "Today," Clinton said, "we are learning the language in which God created life."
I spoke with Collins by phone about various scientific and religious matters -- the existence of miracles, the mind of God, the ethics of stem cell research, and Collins' own conversion to Christianity at the age of 27.
Read the entire interview at : http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/08/07/collins/?source=newsletter Subscription Required