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October 6, 2009

Religious Commitment as a Sign of Mild Dementia?

The New York Times writes about science and faith in a profile of the new National Institutes of Health head Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

franciscollins.jpg

Collins resigned in August from from the BioLogos Foundation, the foundation he started as a way to reconcile faith and science. At the time, he noted concerns people had about his outspoken faith. Here's The Times' take:

First, there is the God issue. Dr. Collins believes in him. Passionately. And he preaches about his belief in churches and a best-selling book. For some presidential appointees, that might not be a problem, but many scientists view such outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia.

And the Wall Street Journal strikes back:

It seems unlikely that scientists think religious commitment is literally a symptom of dementia. What the Times is really saying is that "many scientists"--how many is not specified--are prejudiced against religious people. It's one of the few prejudices the Times would discuss so glibly.

This is the second time that The New York Times' Gardiner Harris has outlined concerns about Collins's faith. In July, The Times published an op-ed from Sam Harris criticizing Collins's appointment.

Francis Collins is an accomplished scientist and a man who is sincere in his beliefs. And that is precisely what makes me so uncomfortable about his nomination. Must we really entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who sincerely believes that a scientific understanding of human nature is impossible?

Collins's appointment received both praise and criticism from conservative Christian groups after his appointment.

Comments

As a fellow Scientist I guess I'm demented too!!!

We are all supposed to be Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

We are all supposed to be reading the same bible and the one and same Holy Spirit is supposed to be making its truths plain to us.

We are all supposed to be serving the same God ...

Yet you look around and you can't help but wonder if God is truly real or if this isn't indeed some sort of dementia.

Other than the fact that Jesus died and rose again. Is there anything else that we as a Christian body agree on?

A conflict of interests is apparent.

"Other than the fact that Jesus died and rose again. Is there anything else that we as a Christian body agree on?"

Is there anything else that we as a Christian body NEED to agree on?

His atoning death and resurrection are the core of our faith.

It's true, we don't NEED to agree on everything. But as far as public policy goes, we ought to agree that abortion--in which little babies, at least those aborted in the third month or later, are torn limb from limb--should be illegal. Not just "discouraged" or "reduced." We should agree that where it is legal, women should be talked out of getting abortions. and as far as public policy goes, it is wrong to use the threat of aborting a baby as leverage to get more government funding of programs x, y, or z.

Religious faith must never, ever preclude one from serving in public office - any public office. This is a historical tenant of American democracy - affirmed by believers and nonbelievers alike. I can understand Dawkins' discomfort with such a notion, but I hope it is merely discomfort and not outright opposition. Conversely, I would not be particularly comfortable with an atheist holding office, but I would not be opposed solely because of his or her atheism. Despite the divide on the issue of faith between myself (a professing Christian) and someone like Dawkins, I would hope that we would be united on the principle of freedom.

Whatever you believe as a Christian, you learned it from the Bible; either from reading it yourself or someone telling you. Sola Sciptura is more than just a slogan. It is the only sure basis of our faith and the only hope we have of unity in Christ. "Sanctify them by Your Truth. Your Word is Truth." Church leaders may want to divide us for their own purposes but as long as we agree that Scripture will guide us we have a hope of unity. God is, God has spoken and His Word is clear. If we don't all march to the same drummer, it is not the fault of the drummer. We are all a little deaf.

Devil is a liar. I think that the christians and moralist repub getting off the plane did not have a plan. Low amount of sincere. Evil attracted. Noah and the ark. Ninaveh. Gov took mail for years so i protested the local had ex mean follow and try to be friend. I had protested the gov. Arab and or muslim pres. And whites against true christians and supporters.Evidence- good guys did give me any money. Parents stopped after crook at famil and social told about my trying to. About dad. Doctors are mean. I think labotamy done by evil groups cause anti christianity.(0s-09.) Suspected crooked agents and their groups in cities?Suspected elecom A lot do not like christian supremacy christian power. In . Well thanks. Watchout. Outspoken. Faith in holiness ideas.psa99:9-outside pray. Secrurity teams. Col 3:11. 1 corinth 14:26. Balme the devil not Great Lord GOD. Amen!! Smuggle.

Well, I don't know about those scientists who believe religious belief is a sign of dementia, but I know I've worked hard as a Christian to get where I am today!.... Where am I? And who are those people giving me the metamusil?

Sincere Christians who are scientists, according to NY Times opinion writer Gardiner Harris, not only should make you uneasy, but they suffer from mild dementia - and a "many scientists" think so too!
Well done Wall Street Journal for lambasting such astonishing prejudice from "all the news that's fit to print."

I don't think it's just scientists. Have you taken a look at birthers and tea baggers.

Are you really arguing that these people are sane?

I don't claim to be very knowledgeable about Science, but Anyone who has read Francis Collins' book would see that he strongly supports evolution.
As an Evangelical Christian this is practially apostacy, but refreshingly so, since, as he points out, the Bible truly allows much room for disagreement on many scientific issues that Christians have declared to be black and white in the past, and appeared foolish when scientific proof has shown them to be wrong.

How ironic that the Times would consider him to be too extreme!
If only they realized how far off the mainstream they actually are.

Someone at the NY Times should at least read his book.