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Jerry Coyne on Francis Collins: Christians Should Be Seen, but Not Heard

Atheist Jerry Coyne has been "chewing over" the President's selection of Francis Collins as head of the National Institutes of Health. Collins, by consensus, is superbly qualified as a scientist and an administrator to run NIH. He's a distinguished geneticist and directed the Human Genome Project. He's also a Christian, and has no problem with publicly discussing his reasons and faith. For Coyne, that's the rub. Coyne begins his post by wanting to "give the guy a break," but his patience is quickly exhausted.


...[I] do want to emphasize again that the guy is deeply, deeply superstitious, to the point where, on his website BioLogos and his book The Language of God, he lets his faith contaminate his scientific views. So I can't help but be a bit worried.

So Coyne believes that faith "contaminates" science. About his own contamination of science with fundamentalist atheism Coyne seems oblivious. Coyne mentions two "reactions" to the problem of Collins' Christianity:

1. I expect Collins to resign from BioLogos if he wants to maintain any scientific credibility. Yes, the guy has every right to believe what he wants, but a director of the nation's most prestigious research foundation has to have some standards, and BioLogos is beyond the pale. Mixing science with faith as it does, it gives people the wrong view of what science is all about and gives his official imprimatur to essentially private beliefs. Certainly, private expressions of faith are absolutely fine, but Collins has chosen to make his views public, and discuss their relationship to science. Deism is one thing, but to find God in quantum uncertainty, or to see the evolution of humanoids as inevitable, are pollutions of science. I will continue to criticize BioLogos for their mush-brain-ness, and will include Collins's name if he's still associated with it.

What arrogance. Collins' membership in a perfectly mainstream Christian organization on his own time is no business whatsoever of Coyne's. BioLogos' goals are laudable; it seeks to show the obvious compatibility between Christianity and science (science arose as a consequence of the Judeo-Christian understanding of nature and of man's relation to it). Regrettably Collins did in fact resign from BioLogos, giving in to the atheist thought police who seek to quench any expression of the intimate link between Christian faith and modern science.

Coyne has a second "reaction":

2. Think about this: would a nonbelieving scientist who was as vociferous an atheist as Collins is a Christian have any chance to get the NIH spot? I don't think so. And a Scientologist who publicly espoused his belief in Xenu and thetans would be considered too much of a lunatic to have responsibility for the NIH. But of course Christianity is a publicly acceptable form of superstition, and Scientology is not.

Actually, the appointment as Presidential Science Advisor of vociferous eco-fundamentalist John Holdren, who has publicly endorsed serious consideration of crimes against humanity such as forced sterilizations and abortions, dissemination of contraceptives in public drinking water and staple foods, and licensure of women in order to have children, has been greeted by atheists such as Coyne (who presumably shares Holdren's nut-case views) with silence, and even approbation. And regarding Coyne's equation of Christianity with Scientology, a recent Baylor study shows that it is atheism that is most highly correlated with superstition and bizarre beliefs. The Wall Street Journal reported:

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians

Collins' public expression of deep Christian faith is much needed in our culture and particularly in science. We need the science, the ethics, and the sanity that Christianity has bequeathed to our culture. We need more public expression of sincere religious faith. The encroachment on our culture of fundamentalist atheism, to which the development of modern science owes nothing, is one of the most serious problems we face, as any acquaintance with Coyne's arrogant intolerance of Christianity and his silent complacency regarding Holdren's genocidal writings makes very clear.