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July 15, 2009

Gerson: Francis Collins Signals Maturity for Evangelicalism

Christian groups took notice when President Obama chose evangelical scientist Francis Collins as the new head of the National Institutes on Health, despite some questions about his support for embryonic stem-cell research.

Michael Gerson writes for the Washington Post that his appointment signals that evangelicalism is growing up.

Collins's appointment says something good about the maturity of modern evangelicalism, which is starting to abandon some of its least productive debates with modernity. Criticisms of evolution, rooted in 19th-century controversies, have done little more than set up religious young people for entirely unnecessary crises of faith as they encounter scientific knowledge. In the running conflict of modern biology and evangelicalism, Collins is a peacemaker.

Gerson also writes that it signals maturity for President Obama. "In the process, Obama has affirmed something important: that anti-supernaturalism is not a litmus test at the highest levels of science," he writes.

If you want a few chuckles, take a look at this 2006 video where Stephen Colbert heckles Collins a little bit about science and faith.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Francis Collins
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Colbert asks, "Are you going to be the only Christian in hell?"


Let us be sure that this so called maturity is not worldly wisdom that is anthetical to true spiritual maturity and godly wisdom.
We need to be careful not become worldly in order to gain the world to Christ. This only results in the world gaining us to itself.

The issue is not whether or not an idea is popular or unpopular with the modern (and worldly) mind, the question is to know if the idea is biblical, if so we uphold it no matter the cost and ridicule while making sure that we do not go beyond what is written.
I am a young earth creationist (of exegetical and theological grounds), I do not crusade for what I see as a secondary doctrine (this is not part of the gospel per se), but I do not shy away when somebody asks me where I stand and how the doctrine fits in the overall history of salvation

What is next? a redefinition of sin (i.e. the homosexuality debate), a naturalistic or mythical explanation of miracles (which are equally offensive to the modern mind), abortion as viable method of birth control, religious plurality?
How far should we go for the world to consider us "mature" and equally worldly?

Guard against self-deception, each of you. If someone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become foolish so that he can become wise.
19 For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God. As it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness."
20 And again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."
(1Co 3:18-20 NET)

We have to be careful here. There is no scientific proof of evolution or creation. Evolution is just a theory, that has not been proven.

So, why should anybody accept evolution as gospel?

Collins does not "believe" evolution. He accepts the science that supports evolution including the input from the human genome project. Is it not amazing that scientists who are trained in evolution continue to make major advances in medical and biomedical fields if they are basing their work on a false theory? What major breakthroughs have come in the biomedical fields in the past 50 years from those who reject evolution? Grow up and stop this nonsense that makes many people see religious folk as ignorant.

I just happened to be reading "The language of God" when this news release came out.
I don't think most Evangelical Christians have a clue about what Mr. Collins believes or writes, and I also suspect most Evangelical Christians have never heard of, or know anything about the American Scientific Affiliation or who belongs to it, or what stance it takes.
In fact it would seem from the negative reaction that some so called "atheists" and some scientists don't know anything about it either.

Is it not strange that Alan M. quotes a scripture that could just as readily be applied to YEC or anyone else for that matter?

And "Bill" in saying that evolution is just a theory underscores a point that Mr. Collins makes in his book. Namely that the non-scientist, Christian, swallowing what the anti scientist "preachers" tell us without any knowledge of knowing the truth, simply do not understand what the sceintific community use of the word "theory" means.

I recommend every "evangelical" Christian read Mr. Collins book before they jump on any bandwagon and maybe, IF they have an open enough mind, they would come to agree that all truth is God's truth, and no one need fear applying their best studies in both fields of study, Science and Theology.

Gerson's approach to creationism is typical of liberals. Lacking substance, he takes every opportunity to denigrate something he knows nothing about.

Evengelicals should be happy to have Dr. Collins in such a position because he will bring real Christian values to an important position. But as Alan wrote, insults do not equal truth and Dr. Collins is wrong on the science of evolution, because there is no science to back it up.

The evolution/creation debate is a scientific debate, and anyone who knows the science understands that evolution has no evidence to support it. Christians should stand for the truth in every area of life regardless of the attitude of elitists. The elites of Jerusalem tried the same thing with Jesus. They tried to humiliate him and succeeded in making him very unpopular.

When will theistic-evolutionists understand that friendship with the world (embracing evolution) is enmity with God/

Roger says: "The evolution/creation debate is a scientific debate, and anyone who knows the science understands that evolution has no evidence to support it."

This is absolute, utter nonsense.

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" - this little aphorism succinctly sums up the evidence for evolution - all of it. Again and again in biology we encounter wonders, puzzles, and downright counter-intuitive facts that make absolutely no sense unless one applies an evolutionary perspective.

Why do the neurons feeding into our optic nerve in *front* of, rather than behind, our retinas, thereby giving us a blind spot?

Why does our spermatic cord thread in a convoluted way around our pelvis, increasing the risk of hernia?

Why is cancer such a hard disease to fight?

Why do we get infected with the flu over and over again?

How do bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics?

All of these mysteries have relatively straightforward evolutionary explanations, but otherwise one is left with "because" as the explanation. That is not science, that is indeed the complete opposite of science.

Having read Dr. Collins' book a few months ago, I feel I have a better understanding of evolutionary theory and the way it is viewed by science.

Science will continue to view evolution as the best explanation of the data until a better explanation comes along, with "better" meaning "providing a more accurate means of description and prediction." There are plenty of devout Christians in the sciences who trust evolutionary theory because, in their field of study, it works. Young-earth creationism, intelligent design, and other alternatives do not work as well, and so they aren't deemed useful in the wider scientific world. Faith may be idealistic, but science is pragmatic.

A major source of discord in this debate is the fact that both sides overstep their bounds. "Science" is no longer science when it proposes that morality be abolished, and Christianity is no longer doing Gods work when it insists that man ignore the evidence of his senses. Science is, in the end, a means of understanding the natural world. Our faith is the means by which we draw close to God and learn to do His will.

And yes, I know that all creation is God's, and I'm certainly not saying we should keep our faith inside the church building. I also know, though, that the scientific method is a better tool than theology when it comes to studying the physical world. A hammer is a fine tool, better than any other at driving nails, but you can't saw a board with it, and only a fool would try. (cont. below)

(cont. from above)
We would do well to remember that "the heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." (Ps. 19.1, ESV) If there appears to be a conflict between His Word and His creation, then it's likely that our understanding of one or the other is flawed.

I don't believe naturalistic evolution is the final word, but neither do I believe that every jot and tittle of Scripture must be interpreted literally. This doesn't diminish my view of Scripture as infallible and all-sufficient for salvation, but merely recognizes that it wasn't written to be a 21st-century science text. To say that "denying" a single portion of Scripture invalidates the whole is to fall into the trap of those who love to point out the "contradictions" in God's Word. Surely we're smarter than that? Surely we have more faith than that?

I can't recall where I read it, but a quote comes to mind: "I don't believe that at judgment God will ask us how He made the world. I do believe, though, that He will ask us what we did with it."

God bless us all, and help us to remember that faith isn't shutting our eyes to things we don't agree with, but but rather trust in and obedience to Him who made the universe and all in it.

Obviously, evolution is not gospel. But neither is creation. To say that the 7 day creation period is literal seems silly. There are many things in the Bible that are clearly meant to be interpreted metaphorically. Like the bowls in revelation. Remember, a second is like a thousand years to God. When Genesis says the earth was created in 7 days, that could easily be interpreted to mean 7 periods, which could last millions or even billions of years each. Personally, I'm not sure I share Collins' beliefs in darwinian evolution, but not because they're not compatible with the gospel, just because they don't make rational sense to me. There's no reason to believe man is related to pigs, except that we share some DNA. We're both living creatures, and both mammals, obviously we're going to share at least some DNA, that doesn't mean we evolved from the same predecessor. What makes much more sense is that the animals were created, and have adapted to meet various living requirements, but not that they've evolved so far as to become new creatures. If that were the case, there would be alot of worthless, sterile, and odd links between the species, which haven't been discovered.