Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rational faith 5: Wrap up

While I was writing one of my previous posts, a resident I work with asked me what I was doing. I explained that I write a blog and that I was currently writing about science and religion. He recommended a recent article in Time magazine, so I had a look.

The article includes an interview with Francis Collins, the guy who headed the human genome project. Dr. Collins is actually sort of a hero of mine. I had the chance to meet him at the NIH a while back during a meeting for physician scientists. He was so approachable and happy, I just wish I had the opportunity to be his friend on an ongoing basis.

Anyway, I was happy to see him featured in an article in Time and taking a position similar to mine from the last several posts. Here are a few quotes from the article:

TIME: Dr. Collins, you believe that science is compatible with Christian faith.

COLLINS: Yes. God's existence is either true or not. But calling it a scientific question implies that the tools of science can provide the answer. From my perspective, God cannot be completely contained within nature, and therefore God's existence is outside of science's ability to really weigh in.


DAWKINS: I think that's the mother and father of all cop-outs. It's an honest scientific quest to discover where this apparent improbability comes from. Now Dr. Collins says, "Well, God did it. And God needs no explanation because God is outside all this." Well, what an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don't do that. Scientists say, "We're working on it. We're struggling to understand."


DAWKINS: ... It would be unseemly for me to enter in except to suggest that he'd save himself an awful lot of trouble if he just simply ceased to give them the time of day. Why bother with these clowns?

COLLINS: Richard, I think we don't do a service to dialogue between science and faith to characterize sincere people by calling them names. That inspires an even more dug-in position. Atheists sometimes come across as a bit arrogant in this regard, and characterizing faith as something only an idiot would attach themselves to is not likely to help your case.

Collins acknowledges what I believe as well: science is inadequate for answering questions about God. He shows that a brilliant scientist can believe in God and science simultaneously. And Dawkins demonstrates the disdain of certain non-believers who seem to not only disagree with the idea of religion, but resent it. I'll stop short of writing an extended review of his comments (and tone) in the article.

I did have a few more thoughts I wanted to put in this series, but I'm sick of it now. Some other time I'll post those other thoughts on their own. I may not have persuaded anybody that I'm not brainwashed, but it was a great exercise to really look inside myself and realize why I believe as firmly as I do in the gospel even while aware of so-called anti-Mormon points of view. I'm very happy with my current level of testimony and understanding and look forward to a life of learning and growing.

Index to series:
Rational faith 1: Science
Rational faith 2: Spirituality
Rational faith 3: Grand unifying theory
Rational faith 4: Creative calculus


Scot said...

You don’t strike me as the type to catch a stray South Park episode, L, :-) but this post brought to mind: Anyway, yeah, Dawkins can often be a Jerk.

I just read the article (well, most of it :-)) and, to be clear, where you’ve quoted Dawkins as calling someone “clowns”, he seems to be referring to Collins’ young earth creationist critics, not believers in general, and he's not saying Collins is an idiot, as Collins may seem to insinuate in his reply.

I agree with Collins here on name-calling but even he says these folks appear ridiculous, though in a much more roundabout and tactful way. That’s also not to say Dawkins hasn’t said worse :-).

I'm sick of it now

Me too. You catch Lost last night? ;-)

(also I responded below but it isn’t showing up on this page for me; you see it?)

-L- said...

Yeah, out of context I might have given the wrong impression about Collins' response. I just really liked what he said (and I haven't seen where he says they appear ridiculous--wrong perhaps, but not ridiculous).

Yeah, Lost was a good episode for scientists, didn't you think?

You have to reload the page to have new comments included in the feed. It takes time and a deliberate over-riding of the caching. I sometimes think the long page-loads and everything else means I ought to go back to normal old comments.