A New Theology of Celebration

By Collins, Francis S. | Science & Spirit, September-October 2007 | Go to article overview

A New Theology of Celebration


Collins, Francis S., Science & Spirit


I have often been accused of being optimistic. In the early days of the Human Genome Project, some very wise people predicted that this audacious project would end in failure. But as the leader of the effort from 1993 until its conclusion in 2003 (ahead of schedule and under budget, no less), I never doubted that the best and brightest minds that were recruited to work on this historic project would prevail. And they did.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

So my faith in the ability of science to answer questions about nature paid off. But that is not the most important area where faith is part of my life. After spending my young years as an atheist, I became convinced through reading the logical arguments of C.S. Lewis and the words of the Bible that belief in God was more plausible than atheism. After two years of struggle, I became a Christian at age twenty-seven. Since then, my faith in God has been the rock on which I stand, a means to answer critical questions on which science remains silent: What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? Do our concepts of right and wrong have any real foundation? What happens after we die?

As one of a large number of scientists who believe in God, I find it deeply troubling to watch the escalating culture wars between science and faith, especially in America. A spate of angry books by atheists, many of them using the compelling evidence of Darwin's theory of evolution as a rhetorical club over the heads of believers, argues that atheism is the only rational choice for a thinking person. Some go so far as to label religious faith as the root of all evil and insinuate that parents who teach their children about religion are committing child abuse.

Partially in response to these attacks, believers, especially evangelical Christians, have targeted evolution as godless and incompatible with the truths of the Bible. Many Americans see Earth as less than 10,000 years old, a "young Earth" belief that clashes with mountains of data from cosmology, physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, anthropology, biology, and genetics. Intelligent Design, which proposes that evolution is insufficient to account for complexity, enjoys wide support in the church despite rejection in the scientific community.

What a sad situation. Are we not all seeking the truth? That is what God calls us to. It seems unlikely that God, the author of all creation, is threatened by what science is teaching us about the awesome complexity and grandeur of His creation. …

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