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  1. #1
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    An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Can a person be both? Francis S. Collins, director of the Human Genome Project thinks so. I happen to agree with him.


    -Y
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________
    The believer
    Francis Collins -- head of the Human Genome Project -- discusses his conversion to evangelical Christianity, why scientists do not need to be atheists, and what C.S. Lewis has to do with it.

    By Steve Paulson



    Aug. 7, 2006 | As the longtime head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins is one of America's most visible scientists. He holds impeccable scientific credentials -- a medical degree as well as a Ph.D. in physics -- and has established a distinguished track record as a gene hunter. He's also an evangelical Christian, someone who has no qualms about professing his belief in miracles or seeing God's hand behind all of creation. The cover of his new book illustrates this unusual mixture: The book's title, "The Language of God," is superimposed on a drawing of the double helix. "The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome," he writes. "He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory."

    Collins hopes to stake out the middle ground between Darwinian atheists and religious fundamentalists. "Both of these extremes don't stand up to logic, and yet they have occupied the stage," he told me. "We cannot let either side win." Unlike so many of those players most invested in this culture war, Collins sees no inherent conflict between science and religion. Yet his book is likely to alienate plenty of people on both sides of the debate. His frequent references to God's almighty power might be difficult for secular readers to swallow. And his scathing critique of both Young Earth creationism and intelligent design probably won't attract the hordes of readers buying Ann Coulter's latest diatribe against evolution.

    "The Language of God" offers an unusually personal look at a leading scientist's search for meaning. Collins recounts his own struggles with faith, as well as his daughter's rape by a man who broke into her apartment and held a knife to her throat. This trauma became a test of faith for Collins and a lesson in how suffering can lead to personal growth. His book also recaps his scientific triumphs, including his discovery of the long-sought gene that causes cystic fibrosis. And later, when he stood by Bill Clinton's side as the president announced that the mapping of the human genome was complete. It turns out that Collins worked with the president's speechwriter to help craft Clinton's religious spin on this scientific breakthrough. "Today," Clinton said, "we are learning the language in which God created life."

    I spoke with Collins by phone about various scientific and religious matters -- the existence of miracles, the mind of God, the ethics of stem cell research, and Collins' own conversion to Christianity at the age of 27.

    You've said you were once an "obnoxious atheist." What changed you? Why did you turn to religion?

    I became an atheist because as a graduate student studying quantum physics, life seemed to be reducible to second-order differential equations. Mathematics, chemistry and physics had it all. And I didn't see any need to go beyond that. Frankly, I was at a point in my young life where it was convenient for me to not have to deal with a God. I kind of liked being in charge myself. But then I went to medical school, and I watched people who were suffering from terrible diseases. And one of my patients, after telling me about her faith and how it supported her through her terrible heart pain, turned to me and said, "What about you? What do you believe?" And I stuttered and stammered and felt the color rise in my face, and said, "Well, I don't think I believe in anything." But it suddenly seemed like a very thin answer. And that was unsettling. I was a scientist who was supposed to draw conclusions from the evidence and I realized at that moment that I'd never really looked at the evidence for and against the possibility of God.

    In your book you describe this as a "thoroughly terrifying experience."

    It was. It was like my worldview was suddenly under attack. So I set about reading about the various world religions, but I didn't understand their concepts and their various dogmas. So I went down the street and met with a Methodist minister in this little town in North Carolina and asked him a number of blasphemous questions. And he smiled and answered a few them but said, "You know, I think you'd learn a lot if you'd read this book on my shelf. It was written by somebody who has traveled the same path -- a scholar who was an atheist at Oxford and tried to figure out whether there was truth or not to religion." The book was "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. And within the first three pages, I realized that my arguments against faith were those of a schoolboy.

    The rest of the article can be found here:
    http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/08/07/collins/

    More on Collins here:
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2192678&page=1
    Last edited by yossarian; 05-20-2007 at 08:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    The fact that he was convinced, by 'mere christianity' of all things, is disturbing.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by Godeskian
    The fact that he was convinced, by 'mere christianity' of all things, is disturbing.
    I don't think it was the book itself that "convinced" him to become a believer. It only illustrated for him the folly in his own arguments against faith.

    Although, I'd be interested to know why you'd think that. I'm assuming you've read the book yourself? The only reason I ask is that I've had conversations about it with several non-believers only to quickly find out that they either hadn't read it themselves (and had only read an article attempting to refute its logic) or they had read it and not understood its arguments.

    That said, I'm not sure I agree with the premise of the book. That is, making some sort of logical sense of Christianity. In a way, it misses the point. Faith isn't an excercise in logic; it's an excercise in letting go. I think Collins actually says in the other article something along the lines of "no one can be convinced to believe; ultimately, it takes a leap of faith."

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    A man can call himself anything or two of anything. But in my view, there really is no such thing as an evolutionist. Many like me, find the evidence for the theory of evolution to be the most plausible explanation of the origin and ascention of the species but religion and science are two completly different thought processes. One requires faith, the other evidence. Like asking if an apple can be an orange.
    The terminally stupid and certifiably insane.

  5. #5
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by yossarian
    I don't think it was the book itself that "convinced" him to become a believer. It only illustrated for him the folly in his own arguments against faith.
    I suppose that's a fair comment.

    Although, I'd be interested to know why you'd think that. I'm assuming you've read the book yourself?
    I have yes, I read it originally because it was a common book being cited by religious people in a 'If you'd only read this book you'd see the light' kind of way. Given that it was by far the most common such book being pushed in my directed I ended up reading it came away unimpressed. CS Lewis failed, imo to make a case for christianity that was compelling, and the fact that he did pepper his book with information that even he must have known was dubious if not outright false didn't help.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    A man can call himself anything or two of anything. But in my view, there really is no such thing as an evolutionist. Many like me, find the evidence for the theory of evolution to be the most plausible explanation of the origin and ascention of the species but religion and science are two completly different thought processes. One requires faith, the other evidence. Like asking if an apple can be an orange.
    Interesting choice of words! :)

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    A man can call himself anything or two of anything. But in my view, there really is no such thing as an evolutionist. Many like me, find the evidence for the theory of evolution to be the most plausible explanation of the origin and ascention of the species but religion and science are two completly different thought processes. One requires faith, the other evidence. Like asking if an apple can be an orange.

    I disagree, in one sense, with your comment regarding faith and evidence. I would argue that believing in a scientific theory also requires a kind of faith. Not all theories have held up over time, after all, so who is to say that one won't be replaced by another tomorrow? However, your degree of belief in that theory might be proportionate to the amount of evidence supporting it.

    Many people of religion also base their faith on evidence, to a certain extent, just a different kind of evidence than evolutionists. I understand what you're getting at, though.

    There is an ideological war of sorts going on between religion and evolution; a wholly unnecessary one, in my opinion. It was initiated by the religious, who claim that evolution can not possibly be involved in God's creation, due in large part to their literal interpretation of the seven day Adam and Eve story. Evolutionary theory, in and of itself, takes no particular stance one way or the other; it merely exists. But despite its inherent neutrality it has been touted by many atheists as “evidence” against the existence of God, which Collins, among others, believes couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Somewhere along the line, evolution was pigeonholed into an association with atheism, much like religion was pigeonholed into an association with conservatism. Only, in the latter’s case, evolution has been entirely abandoned by religion, so atheism isn’t really to blame.

    As a result, there is a perceived incompatibility between evolutionary theory and Christianity where I believe none need exist.

  8. #8
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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    I'm an evolutionist and a Christian. So what?
    Darwin was a Christian too (interesting how fundies always seem to overlook this.)

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by furbearingbrick
    I'm an evolutionist and a Christian. So what?
    Darwin was a Christian too (interesting how fundies always seem to overlook this.)
    Not his entire life; he eventually became an atheist for various reasons, one of which was a religious upbringing that taught a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Ah, so.
    As long as we're on the subject...
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CG/CG001.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/hope.html
    Fake quotes ahoy!!!

  11. #11
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by yossarian
    I would argue that believing in a scientific theory also requires a kind of faith.
    I keep hearing that, mostly from Christians. That it gets repeated often, does not make it true.

    Not all theories have held up over time, after all, so who is to say that one won't be replaced by another tomorrow?
    Because every theory that has replaced another has not only had to explain something new that the previous theory failed to, but it ALSO has to abide by all the facets of the previous theory that have withstood testing.

    To replace evolution, you'd not only have to posit an alternate theory that explains all the existing evidence, but you'd also have to have that alternate theory take on board all the evolutionary evidence that has withstood testing. And there is a lot of that.

    Many people of religion also base their faith on evidence, to a certain extent, just a different kind of evidence than evolutionists.
    That's a tremendous oversimplification. Religious faith stands in direct opposition many different fields of science, from geology and physics to astrophysics to biology. It is not simply an issue between 'religion and evolution'

    But despite its inherent neutrality it has been touted by many atheists as “evidence” against the existence of God
    It has also, despite it's inherent neutrality, been used to attack atheists visciously.

    Only, in the latter’s case, evolution has been entirely abandoned by religion, so atheism isn’t really to blame.
    I disagree. Many Christians have found a comfortable balance between their faith in God and the evidence presented for evolution.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Because every theory that has replaced another has not only had to explain something new that the previous theory failed to, but it ALSO has to abide by all the facets of the previous theory that have withstood testing.

    To replace evolution, you'd not only have to posit an alternate theory that explains all the existing evidence, but you'd also have to have that alternate theory take on board all the evolutionary evidence that has withstood testing. And there is a lot of that.
    I went on to say, "However, your degree of belief in that theory might be proportionate to the amount of evidence supporting it." (And I agree, there is a lot of that.) In other words, the less evidence there is in support of a theory, the less likely a person is to believe it is correct as a whole. I don't disagree with any particular point you make above. I was only making a loose comparison between believing in a theory (based on empirical evidence) and believing in God. Both require a degree of belief, albeit based on different types of evidence. (I used “belief” and “faith” interchangeably, perhaps incorrectly.)

    When I said “many people of religion also base their faith on evidence” I should have been more specific and qualified it as “experiential” or “personal” evidence. While I would agree that yes, there is a major difference between the two types of beliefs (religious and scientific) I would also note that Christians weigh personal experience (which you would probably argue away as irrational delusions that come from man’s innate longing for meaning or a higher power) as heavily as someone else might weigh scientific evidence.

    Christians should not try to prove they’re right through science. It implies that faith isn’t sufficient, which flies in the face of the main theme of the Bible. This doesn’t stop them from doing it, however.



    That's a tremendous oversimplification. Religious faith stands in direct opposition many different fields of science, from geology and physics to astrophysics to biology. It is not simply an issue between 'religion and evolution'
    Let’s narrow the discussion down to Christianity. I’m not as familiar with other religions, so I don't want to assume too much.

    Are you referring to the fundamentalists who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, take every word of the Old Testament literally and go on archeological digs to find Noah’s Ark?

    I'm not one of those people.



    It has also, despite it's inherent neutrality, been used to attack atheists visciously.
    I certainly won’t argue with you there. The Religious Right, for example, have used it as one of their biggest platforms from which to attack atheists. Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the late Jerry Fallwell, men who purport to be the representations of modern day Christianity in America, have collectively had more of a negative impact on its image than anything else in this country’s history. They do not represent Christianity. Their mingling of faith and politics runs counter to the spirit of the very scriptures they claim to crusade for.



    I disagree. Many Christians have found a comfortable balance between their faith in God and the evidence presented for evolution.
    Yes. I’m one of them. Again, I was referring to the Religious Right, who have waged an unprovoked war with evolution and spread the myth that faith and evolutionary science are incompatible.

    I didn’t mean to get into a scientific argument with you. Notwithstanding the fact that I’m completely outgunned in this department, (this is becoming increasingly obvious as we go along :D), it is largely irrelevant when it comes to my purpose for posting this thread.

    It was meant primarily for those who, as I stated above, believe that Christianity and Evolution are mutually exclusive. My only point here is: they don't have to be.
    Last edited by yossarian; 05-21-2007 at 03:19 AM.

  13. #13
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by yossarian
    Let’s narrow the discussion down to Christianity. I’m not as familiar with other religions, so I don't want to assume too much.
    That's certainly a valid point, but my statement stands. Much of what is considered factual by Christians because of Biblical accounts is not merely unlikely, but scientifically impossible. And it ranges much farther afield than the issue of whether we evolved or not.

    Are you referring to the fundamentalists who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, take every word of the Old Testament literally and go on archeological digs to find Noah’s Ark?
    No, because people like that, are truly delusionel, and there is no point in trying to engage them in conversation about facts, especially as you head out of the biological sciences and into the phsycial sciences, and yet they still manage to deny everything that doesn't fit their worldview.

    To almost quote someone famous, you can't change the laws of physics, except that for young earth creationists, God must have done so, repeatedly.

    It was meant primarily for those who, as I stated above, believe that Christianity and Evolution are mutually exclusive. My only point here is: they don't have to be.
    I agree with you. If you take God to be the original catalyst for abiogenesis, and ignore most of Genesis, then Christianity and evolution can quite comfortably live together.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by yossarian
    I disagree, in one sense, with your comment regarding faith and evidence. I would argue that believing in a scientific theory also requires a kind of faith.
    Indeed. BELIEVING in a scientific theory would require faith. But scientists don't BELIEVE in theories. The faithful never seem to be able to get this. Take evolution. Scientists don't BELIEVE in evolution. Scientists have studied and tested the evidence and have concluded that evolution is the most plausible explanation of the ascention of the species. We don't believe anything. Some things are simply plausible, and some things like religion, which does require faith and belief, seem irrational and delusional.
    Not all theories have held up over time, after all, so who is to say that one won't be replaced by another tomorrow? However, your degree of belief in that theory might be proportionate to the amount of evidence supporting it.
    Nope. Because any theory might not hold up over time it remains a theory which is why science does not BELIEVE in it. That would require faith, which of course we have none of.
    Many people of religion also base their faith on evidence, to a certain extent, just a different kind of evidence than evolutionists. I understand what you're getting at, though.
    The trouble with that statement is, what the faithful call evidence, we call testimony and science, unlike the courts, rejects testimony as a basis to form conclusions.
    There is an ideological war of sorts going on between religion and evolution; a wholly unnecessary one, in my opinion. It was initiated by the religious, who claim that evolution can not possibly be involved in God's creation, due in large part to their literal interpretation of the seven day Adam and Eve story. Evolutionary theory, in and of itself, takes no particular stance one way or the other; it merely exists. But despite its inherent neutrality it has been touted by many atheists as “evidence” against the existence of God, which Collins, among others, believes couldn’t be further from the truth.
    If you're in an ideological war about evolution then you're fighting yourselves because science has no desire to argue the feasibility of religious beliefs. You see, there is simply no evidence that the faithful have been able to provide that can withstand the scrutiny of scientific testing by scientific methods. I don't know which athiests you are talking about when you say they use evolution as evidence against religion but not this athiest. There is no such thing as evidence against something. Only in support of something is their evidence. For instance, I don't think there is a santa clause, but I have no evidence to proove it. Same with religion, there simply is no evidence one way or the other so we discard it as a basis for anything other than a belief based on faith with nothing to support it's validity.
    Somewhere along the line, evolution was pigeonholed into an association with atheism, much like religion was pigeonholed into an association with conservatism. Only, in the latter’s case, evolution has been entirely abandoned by religion, so atheism isn’t really to blame.
    Well if this is all true, I've not found the pigeonholes.
    As a result, there is a perceived incompatibility between evolutionary theory and Christianity where I believe none need exist.
    I understand you believe that.
    The terminally stupid and certifiably insane.

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    plausibilty and evidence and courtrooms!?is not the court-room the abode of a king!?a prince or princess!?and to "court" is it not to WOO/seduce the intended!?do you mince/use words to make them suit your BENT/intent!?implying ignorance of their TRUE MEANING BY/to THE PEONS!?you do this in your OWN willing ignorance 1 hopes/assumes!?(depending on bent!?)hehe!!.....just askn...
    Last edited by lexx; 05-21-2007 at 10:08 AM.
    i do not endorse/recommend any advertising on scam.com associated with my name /posts or otherwise. thank you

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    Re: An Evolutionist and a Christian

    Quote Originally Posted by furbearingbrick
    I'm an evolutionist and a Christian. So what?
    Darwin was a Christian too (interesting how fundies always seem to overlook this.)
    Please define "Christian", and do you believe that Jesus lied?

    Allow me to ask you this (presuming you have some assemblance of maturity)

    if you were to die tonight, how would you know you would go to heaven, and why?

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