2009-07-27 Science Is in the Details
- when: 2009-07-27
- author: Sam Harris
- source: New York Times
- topics: Francis Collins science religion vs. science
- link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/opinion/27harris.html?pagewanted=all
- title: Science Is in the Details
- summary: “...it is important that we understand Dr. Collins and his faith as they relate to scientific inquiry.”
President Obama has nominated Francis Collins to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health. It would seem a brilliant choice. Dr. Collins's credentials are impeccable: he is a physical chemist, a medical geneticist and the former head of the Human Genome Project. He is also, by his own account, living proof that there is no conflict between science and religion. In 2006, he published The Language of God, in which he claimed to demonstrate "a consistent and profoundly satisfying harmony" between 21st-century science and evangelical Christianity.
Dr. Collins is regularly praised by secular scientists for what he is not: he is not a "young earth creationist," nor is he a proponent of "intelligent design." Given the state of the evidence for evolution, these are both very good things for a scientist not to be.
But as director of the institutes, Dr. Collins will have more responsibility for biomedical and health-related research than any person on earth, controlling an annual budget of more than $30 billion. He will also be one of the foremost representatives of science in the United States. For this reason, it is important that we understand Dr. Collins and his faith as they relate to scientific inquiry.
A longer, rewritten version of this essay is available here:
- 2009-08-05 The Strange Case of Francis Collins</let>