Francis S. Collins, a physician and the geneticist behind the Human Genome Project, is the director of the National Institutes of Health. He is also founder of the BioLogos Foundation (biologos.org), a group that fosters discussions about the intersection of Christianity and science.
Are science and religion compatible?
I am privileged to be somebody who tries to understand nature using the tools of science. But it is also clear that there are some really important questions that science cannot really answer, such as: Why is there something instead of nothing? Why are we here? In those domains I have found that faith provides a better path to answers. I find it oddly anachronistic that in today’s culture there seems to be a widespread presumption that scientific and spiritual views are incompatible.
When people think of those views as incompatible, what is lost?
Science and faith can actually be mutually enriching and complementary once their proper domains are understood and respected. Extreme cartoons representing antagonistic perspectives on either end of the spectrum are often the ones that get attention, but most people live somewhere in the middle.
You’ve said that a blooming flower is not a miracle since we know how that happens. As a geneticist, you’ve studied human life at a fundamental level. Is there a miracle woven in there somewhere?
Oh, yes. At the most fundamental level, it’s a miracle that there’s a universe at all. It’s a miracle that it has order, fine-tuning that allows the possibility of complexity, and laws that follow precise mathematical formulas. Contemplating this, an open-minded observer is almost forced to conclude that there must be a “mind” behind all this. To me, that qualifies as a miracle, a profound truth that lies outside of scientific explanation.
Francis Collins feels that science and faith can be complementary. What do you think about the relationship between science and religion? Let us know—and also tell us who you'd like to see in 3 Questions—in the comments.