In the previous installation of this column, I discussed the fact that Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist who ever lived, believed that the Universe is the product of a supreme designer, a fact that negates the recent slurry of atheistic books and articles asserting that any belief in a creator is inherently unscientific. A contemporary scientist who shares Einstein's belief in a creator - but who, unlike Einstein, is a devout practicer of his faith - is Dr. Francis Collins, who in 2000 made headlines and was publicly honored by Pres. Bill Clinton for mapping the entire human genome. He once wrote, "The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory" (Horgan 2007: 33).
In an interview that appeared in the February 2007 issue of National Geographic, Dr. Collins affirmed not only his belief in a creator, but his belief in miracles as well. When asked the following question: "As a scientist who looks for natural explanations of things and demands evidence, how can you also believe in miracles, like the resurrection?" Collins answered:
I don't have a problem with the concept that miracles might occasionally occur at moments of great significance, where there is a message being transmitted to us by God Almighty. But as a scientist I set my standards for miracles very high (ibid.).
Collins was also questioned on the concept of genetic determinism, a logical offshoot of atheists' belief that humans, lacking a soul and a creator, are merely slaves to whatever characteristics their genes have evolved to give them. Collins responded that you don"t need religion or philosophy, but science, to refute this claim:
[G]enetic determinism...implies that we are helpless marionettes being controlled by strings made of double helices. That is so far away from what we know scientifically! Heredity does have an influence not only over medical risks but also over certain behaviors and personality traits. But look at identical twins, who have exactly the same DNA but often don't behave alike or think alike. They show the importance of learning and experience - and free will. I think we all, whether we are religious or not, recognize that free will is a reality (ibid., 36).
Dr. Collins' views, of course, do not prove scientifically that there is a God. Rather, they show the wrongness of the recent avalanche of atheist claims that it is impossible to believe in God and be a legitimate, accomplished scientist. If belief in God were the impediment to scientific progress that atheists like Richard Dawkins claim, then Francis Collins would never have been able to accomplish the very scientific breakthroughs that have made one of today's leading scientists.
Recommended Resources for Further Study
Horgan, J. 2007. "Francis Collins: The Scientist As Believer." National Geographic 211, no. 2.