Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why Must We Choose Between Our Mind and Our Soul? .....

With the help of President Obama's nominee to be director of the National Institutes of Health, maybe we won't have to.

Francis Collins is a scientist renowned for his work in mapping the human genome, a project that has been described as "the biological equivalent of the Apollo space program." As a pioneering 'gene hunter,' he helped identify the genetic markers for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease and adult-onset diabetes.

Collins is also a theist ... more than that, he is an evangelical Christian who openly declares his faith, sings hymns while playing the guitar, and believes in, according to
this column from the Washington Post's Michael Gerson, "a realm of morality and metaphysics that involves not physical proof but probability based on evidence."

In
this post at edweek.org's 'Curriculum Matters' blog, Sean Cavanaugh wonders, "how might Collins, in this new public role, shape the public’s thinking — and that of teachers, parents, and students — on the relationship between faith and science?"

"Truth can be found in scientific exploration and religious exploration; It's all God's truth," Collins said in
this 2007 article from the Daily News-Record's David Reynolds. "Some people are saying you have to pick one or the other. I would say that would be an impoverished outcome."

Collins' life and career - and his nomination by President Obama - addresses a point that I have considered before ... the concept of science VERSUS religion, and how extremists in BOTH fields seek to build an insurmountable wall between the two. Can one be a man of science and a man of faith, committed to the integrity of both, and the honorable devotion to and practice of both? I think so.

So does Francis Collins ... and that's a good thing for all of us.