Francis Collins – Q Conference – Session 3

Session 3 with Francis Collins was a little more controversial.  Again, we sat in round tables of 10 so whispers were easy to hear.  Not to insult your intelligence, but in case you don’t know, Dr. Collins is the chairman of the Genome Project, author of The Language of God, a devout believer, debates Richard Dawkins on NPR regularly, but does not hold to conservative Christian views of origins.  Frankly, he wasn’t very specific of his position.  One of his points was to leave the audience unsettled with theirs. 

He discussed how science and faith are not enemies stating, “Regardless of what we have heard from the atheistic horsemen, we do not have to choose between the two.” 

I was proud of that because I’ve been teaching my students that for years.  In fact, back when I was in 4th grade and heard of the Big Bang Theory and how that threatened the teaching of Creation, I immediately asked the teacher, “Why couldn’t God create the big bang …” The budding theistic evolutionist trajectory was quickly squashed when I entered youth group.  Today, I am certain that God is sovereign and that not even Francis Collins can figure it out.

Back to Collins, he showed 2 pictures – one of spiritual (stained glass window) and the other – DNA view along its axis which resembled each other.  Cool although the skeptic in me couldn’t help but think this was a little gimmicky for a world class intellectual.  Fortunately the next slide was not Jesus in the nucleus but his point was to segue how the spiritual world and the material one intersect.  It got everyone’s attention.

Collins was not raised in a religious home, his parents did not criticize religion but did not promote it.  He was an agnostic throughout college and then in med school, he was touched by the faith of those in hospital beds.  A woman asked him what did he believe and he did not have an answer, he researched it, found CS Lewis and continued his journey. 

The most unsettling moment (and this would come up in various conversations I had with people) was when he showed a slide of the human chromosome and the chimpanzee’s.  I am paraphrasing but he said the key difference was with the one part in the middle that has  a something mysterious in it while the chimp has two parts but not this particular thing (sorry I didn’t get what it was he said) inside it.  It’s here where they split.  He said something to the effect of it is possible that they had been the same until a certain point in time when God pre-ordained/pre-programmed/pre-something or other to split and create a new species.  Again, this was the unsettling moment.  He mentioned in passing literal meanings of Genesis 1, quoted Augustine, and Chesterton, and asserted his faith in the Almighty God.

Again, each Q speaker only had 18 minutes and his “big point” was, “science and Religion are not incompatible … God cannot be threatened.”  Some attendees were as upset as if he had just slapped their wives and ran out the door.  As for me, maybe their view deserved it.  So the possible lessons are don’t marry your theology or don’t marry an ugly wife, or be smarter then Francis Collins or maybe keep your theology open-handed and maybe your wife won’t get slapped by Dr. Collins.

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