Archive for Francis Collins–seeking harmony between science and faith

Posted in Evolution, religion, science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Those that have read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, will be familiar with the term “biologos”.  This is a word Collins coined to describe his perspective on evolution/science and religion as he is uncomfortable with the term “theistic evolution”. 

While I do own the aforementioned book and believe it is valuable (though more so for those of a religious persuasion that have difficulty accepting modern scientific truth), I don’t necessarily believe it was well-written.  I do applaud Collins for creating this new BioLogos Foundation, however, and hope the writing on this site will be an improvement.  The mission of the foundation, as stated on their website, is:

We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.

The BioLogos Foundation promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives.

This is certainly a mission I can agree with and support, thus far.

One part of the website addresses commonly asked questions regarding faith, science, and their compatability.  For example, one of the questions addressed on the site is, “How was the Genesis creation story interpreted before Darwin?” 

I have not browsed the site in its entirety, but it is one I have bookmarked with the intent of investigating further in the near future.  I encourage others to go check it out as well.


Ah, that lovable organization–the Discovery Institute

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Did I say “lovable”? Perhaps I meant something else.

In any case, I just came across this article by the Discovery Institute, written by Logan Gage, basically stating that genetic similarity is not evidence of common descent.

One of the worst parts of the article, in my opinion, is when the article misrepresents Francis Collins, author of The Language of God.

The article states:

As Francis Collins, head of the project which mapped the human genome, has written of DNA sequence similarities, “This evidence alone does not, of course, prove a common ancestor” because an intelligent cause can reuse successful design principles.

This quote can be found on page 134 of Collins’ book. Of course, what the DI article is not telling you is that Collins then states, “As we shall see, however, and as was foreshadowed above by the discussion of ‘silent’ mutations in protein-coding regions, the detailed study of genomes has rendered that interpretation virtually untenable–not only about all other living things, but also about ourselves.”

Collins then goes on to discuss the order of genes along human and mouse chromosomes, AREs (ancient repetititve elements), and more as evidence supporting common ancestry.

At the end of all (or at least, all the ones I have read) the DI’s articles on their site is this statement:

The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased. Evolution News & Views presents analysis of that coverage, as well as original reporting that accurately delivers information about the current state of the debate over Darwinian evolution. Click here to read more.

Ironic how they appear to be the champions of “accuracy”, shedding light on the “misreporting” surrounding evolution, yet are so clearly misleading in their own articles.

No…wait…not ironic. Just sad.

Francis Collins stepping down as head of Genome Institute

Posted in science with tags , , on June 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Francis Collins, who piloted the Human Genome Project and authored the book “The Language of God”, is stepping down as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Full article can be read here.

Why Ken Miller isn’t in “Expelled”–An Inconvenient Truth

Posted in Evolution, Expelled with tags , , , , , , , on April 11, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Why aren’t Christians who believe in evolution, like Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, in the film?

It’s simple.

That would have undercut the false dichotomy the film sets up–that only two views are acceptable. One must either entertain the idea of Intelligent Design or one must be an atheist who affirms evolution.

The associate producer of “Expelled” basically even said it himself. Go read the excellent synopsis from Higgaion. Go read it! Now!

When your whole schtick is to pit religious “design proponents” open to the supernatural against atheistic, philosophically materialist “Darwinists,” all those pesky scientists who simultaneously affirm evolutionary biology and a robust Christian faith become very, very inconvenient.

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No mention of religious evolutionists in “Expelled”

Posted in Evolution, Expelled with tags , , , , on March 29, 2008 by airtightnoodle

To answer my previous question in another blog, Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins do seem to be conspicuously absent from “Expelled”.  Kristine at “Amused Muse” saw a viewing of the movie, so I questioned her at her blog site.  Below is my question and her reply:

Kristine, since you’ve seen a screening, can you tell us if the movie included anything about Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, or the likes thereof?

No, certainly not. They wouldn’t want to be off message about how “most evolutionary biologists are atheists.” I’m not kidding, Stein says that. Another inaccuracy. They do make some passing remark that “liberal and mainstream theologians” are complicit with the Nazi/Commie atheist scientists. It’s just astounding!

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Francis Collins talks about his beliefs

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , on March 18, 2008 by airtightnoodle

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Ben Stein should be “Expelled”

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by airtightnoodle

I’ve always thought Ben Stein was an ok guy.  He’s intelligent, witty (in just about the driest way ever), and how can you not love a guy that gives you a line worth repeating?  “Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?” 

So I’m a bit shocked at his recent foray into the world of Michael Moore-esque film-making. 

Expelled” is a film made by Stein set to hit theaters in April 2008.  The site features several trailers, a blog (with comments by Stein among others), an interview about the film with Bill O’Reilly, and lots of resources for students and teachers (you, too, can host your own evolution/intelligent design debate at your school!). 

 Naturally, I haven’t seen the film yet since it won’t hit theaters until April.  However, my interested is piqued already, and I see some things on the site worth mentioning.

The main premise of the film appears to be unveiling the sinister attacks of “Big Science” on scientists who dare to “go against the grain”, so to speak.  Of course, what this is referring to is scientists who believe, or at least believe in the possibility of, intelligent design rather than evolution.  According to what has been unveiled so far at the site, the rest of the scientific community has attacked, discredited, shamed, humiliated, and basically ex-communicated any scientists who even slightly question evolutionary theory or appear to be even slightly religious.  Stein would apparently have us believe that evolutionary scientists are afraid of the truth, or afraid of being questioned, or afraid of the slight chance that they might be wrong about a theory they have invested so heavily in.  Based on what I’ve seen at the site, he would have us believe that all scientists are anti-religious and that science is suppressing religion. 

This leaves me wondering where Stein’s mention of Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller is in all of this.  These are not minor names in biology by any means.

For those unaware, Francis Collins was basically the leader of the Human Genome projectfor a number of years.  He happens to be a Christian who accepts evolution whole-heartedly.  Similarly, Kenneth Miller is a practicing Catholic who has been very involved in defending evolutionary theory; he works at Brown University. 

To my knowledge, neither one of these men has been shunned or treated as an outcast. 

Both Miller and Collins have written books espousing their views.  Miller’s book, Finding Darwin’s God, is an absolute must-read.  It is particularly well-written and has one of the best explanations of evolution I have read.  This book also addresses all of the major dissenting ideas and includes commentary about the popular Philip Johnson novel Darwin on Trialand Michael Behe’s popular book, Darwin’s Black Box.  Collins’ book, The Language of God, is an entertaining read, but seems to be geared more toward the general population rather than those deeply interested in the scientific nuances of evolution.  

Are many scientists anti-religion?  Yes, I believe many are, and you can find plenty of them saying so quite openly.  Are some religious scientists afraid of “coming out of the closet” and espousing their religious beliefs publicly?  Probably.  Yet I am certain you can find the same dilemma in any domain, be it business, science, health-care, education, etc.  In any case, if science is doing religion a disservice, in my opinion religion is certainly doing the same to science in many ways.  For example, states trying to bring creationism or intelligent design into the state standards for science education confuses students about the nature of science.  Presenting science alongside religion within the science curriculum hinders students’ efforts to grasp the nature of science versus faith–a disservice to both science and religion.  “Expelled” looks like it is trying to undermine science…science, which is responsible for virtually all of our sinful modern-day conveniences (like electricity) and modern health-care (Do you really need that azithromycin to treat your pneumonia?  Let’s just see how your immune system fares against it first, shall we?).  Evil, evil science.

If anyone reading has had the privilege to see a screening of “Expelled”, please comment and let us know if these two scientists (Collins and Miller) are interviewed, or even mentioned.  After viewing the trailers, I have a feeling that Stein’s arguments in the movie against evolution will be more of the same old, same old.  It is improbable, some organelles/cells/organs/organisms are too complex to have evolved randomly, yada yada yada.  All of these have been addressed already–and quite competently–by Miller in “Finding Darwin’s God” (seriously, you have to read it!).

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