Is a Christian Scientist an oxymoron.

HT Joel for this clip.

Francis Collins is one of the worlds leading scientists; as a geneticist he discovered the cause of many human diseases and spear headed the Human Genome Project, which produced the first complete sequence of human DNA in 2003. He now serves as the Director of Health in the U.S.A

In this clip he talks about his own journey from being an Atheist and becoming a Christian, what that means for him as a Christian and a Scientist and how he reconciles and allows both to inform his faith. 

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Francis Collins, science and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Is a Christian Scientist an oxymoron.

  1. tildeb says:

    A few bits from Project Reason:

    The fact that some scientists do not detect any problem with religious faith merely proves that a juxtaposition of good ideas/methods and bad ones is possible. Is there a conflict between marriage and infidelity? The two regularly coincide. The fact that intellectual honesty can be confined to a ghetto—in a single brain, in an institution, in a culture, etc—does not mean that there isn’t a perfect contradiction between reason and faith, or between the worldview of science taken as a whole and those advanced by the world’s “great,” and greatly discrepant, religions.

    Here is how Collins, as a scientist and educator, currently summarizes his understanding of the universe for the general public (what follows are a series of slides, presented in order, from a lecture that Collins gave at the University of California, Berkeley in 2008):

    Slide 1
    Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.

    Slide 2
    God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings.

    Slide 3
    After evolution had prepared a sufficiently advanced “house” (the human brain), God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the Moral Law), with free will, and with an immortal soul.

    Slide 4
    We humans use our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.

    Slide 5
    If the Moral Law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?

    Is it really so difficult to perceive a conflict between Collins’ science and his religion? Just imagine how scientific it would seem if Collins, as a devout Hindu, informed his audience that Lord Brahma had created the universe and now sleeps; Lord Vishnu sustains it and tinkers with our DNA (in a way that respects the law of karma and rebirth); and Lord Shiva will eventually destroy it in a great conflagration.

    Would Collins have received the same treatment in Nature if he had argued for the compatibility between science and witchcraft, astrology, or Tarot cards? Not a chance. In fact, we can be confident that his scientific career would have terminated in an inferno of criticism.

    Collins argues that science makes belief in God “intensely plausible”—the Big Bang, the fine-tuning of Nature’s constants, the emergence of complex life, the effectiveness of mathematics, all suggest to him that a “loving, logical, and consistent” God exists; but when challenged with alternate (and far more plausible) accounts of these phenomena—or with evidence that suggests that God might be unloving, illogical, inconsistent, or, indeed, absent—Collins declares that God stands outside of Nature, and thus science cannot address the question of His existence at all. Similarly, Collins insists that our moral intuitions attest to God’s existence, to His perfectly moral character, and to His desire to have fellowship with every member of our species; but when our moral intuitions recoil at the casual destruction of innocent children by, say, tidal wave or earthquake, Collins assures us that our time-bound notions of good and evil can’t be trusted and that God’s will is a mystery.

    Collins has written that “science offers no answers to the most pressing questions of human existence” and that “the claims of atheistic materialism must be steadfastly resisted.” One can only hope that these convictions will not affect his judgment at the NIH. Understanding human wellbeing at the level of the brain might very well offer some “answers to the most pressing questions of human existence”—questions like, Why do we suffer? How can we achieve the deepest forms of happiness? Or, indeed, is it possible to love one’s neighbor as oneself? And wouldn’t any effort to explain human nature without reference to a soul, and to explain morality without reference to God, constitute “atheistic materialism”? Must we really entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who believes that understanding ourselves through science is impossible, while our resurrection from death is inevitable?

  2. Craig Benno says:

    Can science actually prove the philosophical existence of anything? Can you prove that you actually exist and are not a figment of a computer programmers imagination within a computer chip.. there comes a time where reasonable faith has to be exercised – even in the mundane things of life.

    • tildeb says:

      This is a complex issue to undertake. In a nutshell, what we have to do is agree on an epistemological base. Once we have this common base, then we can attempt to answer this question. And the short answer is no, we cannot ‘prove’ our existence to the satisfaction of certainty using science or any other method of inquiry. But what we can do is successfully compare apples with apples, so to speak. If one is going to argue that we cannot prove our existence using the scientific method then we cannot prove it any other way because we have removed all points of reference in the natural universe. But if we are willing to accept that our existence in reality is possible, then and only then can we begin to use touchstones as our points of reference, namely that we accept cause and effect can be linked within our universal template of what we have agreed is real. If what is real changes and we can link this change to the effect of some cause that is within the universe and revealed by some altered condition within the universe. When we attribute some change within our universe to something beyond our universe, then we have no means available to know anything whatsoever about it, and this is where the religious sense of ‘faith’ does us a tremendous disservice by pretending that it does have some kind of special access. This is identical in all ways to delusional thinking… attributions that offer us no way to determine if they are true because they are beyond the scope of what is knowable based on what is real.

      When you use the term ‘faith’ to try to describe the practical acceptance of what is real, you have to be careful not to muddy the waters of what you mean. If by faith you mean special access to answers that are unknowable in reality, then you are no longer talking about what is real. You are talking about what is unreal in the sense that it is beyond our universe where real things subject to cause and effect exist. If by ‘faith’ you mean a willingness to share an epistemology that reveals what is knowable within the ‘confines’ of our universe and call this ‘real,’ then you are using the term to mean confidence in a way of thinking that reveals a knowable relationship between knowable effects we can determine linked to knowable causes we can determine. The method of science is to reveal this linkage by means of some knowable mechanism within our universe that we can then claim to be just as real as the apples we are describing. In this sense, ‘faith’ in the first sense – the existence of causes beyond our universe – plays no part in this endeavor of scientific inquiry and explanation and, in fact, actively impedes it. Faith in the first sense plays no part in the actual location and the process of locating you keys, for example but claims of causes beyond our universe that intervene and cause effect within our universe regarding your keys inserts all kind of unknowable complications in knowing where they are and how they got to be there. Questioning whether the keys are real by suggesting one needs ‘faith’ to assume so is a contrary diversion from what is going on regarding your keys and finding their location. In other words, the introduction of faith into first establishing whether or not your keys are real is not a benefit but a hindrance in practical terms if your goal is find your keys that you already must assume exists if you want to lock your doors or start you car’s engine as you have done repeatedly in the past! The diversion is not helpful in this universe nor are issues of faith any benefit to coming to know what is real. This kind of faith is not reasonable at all but reason’s antithesis.

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