When Darwinists Tolerate Faith
Francis Collins gets tolerable coverage in the secular media for his brand of Christian faith. That’s not necessarily good.
In an interview in National Geographic titled “Why I’m a Man of Science – and Faith,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, stands tall and confident. Asked about the compatibility of science and faith, he shows that he stands in the middle:
Science and faith can actually be mutually enriching and complementary once their proper domains are understood and respected. Extreme cartoons representing antagonistic perspectives on either end of the spectrum are often the ones that get attention, but most people live somewhere in the middle.
Secularists are often wary about belief in miracles. The unnamed interviewer asks Collins about it.
You’ve said that a blooming flower is not a miracle since we know how that happens. As a geneticist, you’ve studied human life at a fundamental level. Is there a miracle woven in there somewhere? (bold in original)
Oh, yes. At the most fundamental level, it’s a miracle that there’s a universe at all. It’s a miracle that it has order, fine-tuning that allows the possibility of complexity, and laws that follow precise mathematical formulas. Contemplating this, an open-minded observer is almost forced to conclude that there must be a “mind” behind all this. To me, that qualifies as a miracle, a profound truth that lies outside of scientific explanation.
This interview did not get more specific about his beliefs. Collins no doubt believes that the “mind” is the Christian God; the statement almost makes him sound like an advocate of intelligent design. His answer, though, allows room for deism or theistic evolution. Collins’s god has no problem with undirected natural processes generating all the beauty and complexity of life. Where Collins and his partners at BioLogos insert God’s intervention is not well defined.
The Discovery Institute (a think tank on intelligent design) knows a lot more about Collins, having felt his opposition pressure. The BioLogos Institute, founded by Collins, has been an ardent foe of intelligent design. Casey Luskin, in a gentle but devastating way, “dismantled” the views of Francis Collins and his partner Karl Giberson in Evolution News & Views in 2012.
At World Magazine, Daniel James Devine recently showed how Collins and BioLogos have been on a campaign to get Christians to embrace evolution with his “soft sell” and “interpretive dance” around the real issues in Darwinian evolution: unguided natural processes and a belief that science must restrict itself to methodological naturalism. Consequently, Collins sees Adam and Eve not as the first humans, but as a pair of naturally-born beings that God somehow selected out of pre-existing hominids that had evolved by natural selection. Collins also interprets Genesis as an allegory, not a historical narrative. Science is treated as the primary truth that must interpret Scripture. Like the first domino, this compromise interpretation ripples down through the important Biblical doctrines about the sin, the fall, the curse, the person and work of Christ, and the reason for Christ’s sacrifice. Devine’s article generated numerous comments.
In secular media, ID is routinely despised. In a book review this week in Science Magazine, for instance, Crosbie Smith slandered ID, putting “intelligent design” in scare quotes and claiming that it “lies outside mainstream science and refuses to acknowledge methodological principles such as the uniformity of nature and the provisional character of scientific knowledge.” The secular scientific journals rarely, if ever, give an ID supporter an opportunity to respond to these kinds of attacks.
Since the book he reviews (Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science by Matthew Stanley) mentions James Clerk Maxwell—whose scientific reputation is enormous—it’s interesting that Smith even gets in a jab against the father of electromagnetism: “Stanley also tends to characterize Maxwell as ‘a fairly conservative evangelical’ without placing him in opposition to what the British historian Boyd Hilton calls the ‘extreme evangelicals,’ most of whom rejected uniformity in favor of arbitrary divine action and retribution.” In other words, at least Maxwell was not one of those distasteful fundamentalists.
Huxley, on the other hand, is honored as a well-behaved secularist in Smith’s characterization, because he embraced the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. Thus he gets the reviewer’s blessing for advancing “the transition from theistic to naturalistic science.” But what’s this about “Huxley’s church” in the book’s title? Oh, that “facetiously refers to the naturalistic canons widely enunciated in direct opposition to orthodox Christianity,” Smith explains, whereas, as most physicists know, “Maxwell’s demon” refers not a spiritual issue, but to a question of physics: i.e., “the physicist’s largely private struggle to elucidate the concept of irreversibility that stood at the core of the new second law of thermodynamics.”
It is hard to fathom how any true Christian could bask in the limelight of those who are committed to denying God’s creatorship. Jesus said in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
As one who fell under the wrath of Big Science’s intolerance for anything but 100% Darwinism, I would rather bear the reproach of Christ than be spoken well of by the Darwin Party. I’m sure Francis Collins is a gentleman, and there’s no question he is a scholar about genetics. But if he were to openly repudiate Darwinism, he would be thrown into the same den of lions as others of his stature who lost jobs, were denied tenure, or were otherwise mocked by the Establishment. The only way great scientists who are Biblical Christians or ID supporters can get by these days is to keep their mouths shut. Read Jerry Bergman’s Slaughter of the Dissidents for shocking true stories about those who paid the price for standing up to the Darwin bigots. Friendship with the Darwin Party is not an honor, any more than friendship with the Sanhedrin and Pharisees would have been for followers of Jesus. It’s hard to speak well of Collins when his institute joins forces with the persecutors. Choose you this day whom you will serve.