Francis Collins was on Fresh Air this afternoon, and I listened. I was not bedazzled. Collins seems like a very nice fellow and he sounds sincere, but sweet jebus, what a load of tedious platitudes.
He made excuses for religion and how it can be accommodated by science, but wasn’t convincing to anyone who thinks at all beyond the superficial. Terry Gross tried to draw him out on why he believes, but we only got the same old tiresome nonsense. He claims that science is only valid in investigating nature, and that it is inappropriate for examining ideas beyond nature … which begs the question of whether there is anything beyond nature. We also hear that science and spirit are complementary and different tools, but of course we aren’t told how the tool of spirit is applied to anything. We’re told that the intricacy and complexity of the human genome instills a sense of awe, and that it represents a glimpse of God’s creative genius — again, begging the question. When asked whether it was appropriate for Clinton to bring up God in the announcement of completion of the human genome project, he answered that it was, because a majority of citizens believe in a god, and the public announcement ought to reflection on its meaning in a larger sense.
There were a few comments that were simply ludicrous. He tried to justify faith as valid with a Bible definition, citing something from Hebrews: “Faith is the evidence of things not seen”. He seemed impressed that it uses the word “evidence”; it’s a non sequitur. Telling us that the god-soaked authors of the Bible thought faith was a kind of evidence is not convincing that it actually is evidence.
Oh, and when he tried to explain what “evidence” supports his version of theistic evolution, all he had to offer were the old canards from his book, the “knowledge of right and wrong” and fine-tuning of the universe. Ho hum.
So, drivel and fallacies. It was not a rewarding listening experience.
Collins has done good science, but I don’t think the existence of good scientists who also believe in God is any kind of refutation of the existence of a conflict between science and religion. I’m sure there are also a lot of great athletes in wheelchairs, but that doesn’t mean paralysis and amputations don’t conflict with performance. Only the religious seem to find their handicap an object of praise and glorification and veneration, rather than an obstacle to overcome.
You can also find some comments on both the Dawkins and Collins interviews at Arbitrary Marks.