I mentioned earlier my delight that the GMU Provost was willing to put his good name behind Francis Collins book tour: GMU Provost hosts The Language of God.
Well, the talk happened and it was amazing! Francis Collins gave his Christian testimony tonight pretty much along the lines of his book. He recounted his conversion from atheism to the Christian faith. He referred to the Design argument and the creation of the cosmos. The word “Design” kept slipping out of his mouth.
He said the cosmological argument points to God, but it cannot establish Him as personal. For that Collins appealed to the moral conscience which we find in men. He recounted that evolution cannot explain altruism and so many things about what makes us human. He said group selection and kin selection fails to explain these qualities. He concluded these facets of human beings pointed us to the Creator.
From his book:
The Big Bang cries out for a divine explanation. It forces the conclusion that nature had a defined beginning. I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that.
If the Law of Human Nature cannot be explained away as cultural artifact or evolutionary by-product, then how can we account for its presence? There is truly something unusual going on here. To quote Lewis, “If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe–no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves. Surely this ought to arouse our suspicions?”
Encountering this argument at age twenty-six, I was stunned by it’s logic. Here, hiding in my own heart as familiar as anything in daily experience, but now emerging for the first time as a clarifying principle, this Moral Law shone its bright white light into the recesses of my childish atheism, and demanded a serious consideration of its origin. Was this God looking back at me?
Then during the very brief Q&A I managed only one question. I introduced myself and said, “Thank you Dr. Collins for your courage in writing your book. Here is a gift from the IDEA club and a friend from the Discovery Institute who wanted you to have it. It is the Privileged Planet DvD.”
Collins smiled, and said, “I already have it, but I’d be delighted to have another copy.”
I said, “I have a comment and question. I have been monitoring the demographics at universities. About 1/3 of the biology majors accept intelligent design. Even here at George Mason, at least 3 creationists were awarded PhD’s in biology. Do you see this could be a problem that in the future that there could be so many scientists that accept ID?”
Collins said, “I accept intelligent design in that God created the universe…”. But he said he doesn’t accept ID for biology. Let me quote his book as it echoes what he said in response to me:
The perceived gaps in evolution that ID intended to fill with God are instead being filled by advances in science. By forcing this limited, narrow view of God’s role, Intelligent Design is ironically on a path toward doing considerable damage to faith.
The sincerity of the proponents of Intelligent Design can hardly be questioned….If believers have attached their last vestiges of hope that God could finda a place in human existence through ID theory, and that theory collapses, what happens to faith?
He really seemed worried that IDers would someday be disappointed. But I really think he gives too much credit to the Darwinian community for having succeeded in demonstrating ID false.
Collins’ anti-ID arguments are laid out in his book. He recommended a book by one of our UD visitors, Darrel Falk. Falk’s book was Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology (Paperback).
He seemed genuinely distressed that so many accept ID. Collins said, “I have no axe to grind. I accept Intelligent Design for the universe. If ID is true for biology I would embrace it. But I caution everyone out there that I think it has cracks and it will be overturned scientifically.” I did not sense that he was inimical to IDers, but that for what ever reason, he thought the problem of Irreducible Complexity has been solved!
He then mentioned Bill, “I greatly respect William Dembsk for what he said….” Let me quote Collin’s book specifically for what he praised Bill for:
From my perspective as a geneticist, a biologist, and a believer in God, this movement [the ID movement] deserves serious consideration…ID could be tought of ironically as the rebellious love child of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.
William Dembski, the leading mathematical modeler of the ID movement, deservers credit for emphasizing the overarching importance of seeking out the real truth: “Intelligent Design must not become a noble lie for vanquishing views we find unacceptable (history is full of noble lies that ended in disgrace). Rather, Intelligent Design needs to convince us of its truth on its scientific merits.” Dembski is absolutely correct in that assertion, and yet his own statement portends the ultimate demise of ID
A sober evaluation of current scientific information would have to conclude that this outcome [the demise of ID] is already at hand.
It might have been easy for many IDers in the audience to have turned red with a bit of rage over that portion of Collins talk, but I felt none of that. I simply saw a great scientist mistaken about an issue, and he got so much of the rest right. I mean, Hector Avalos wanted to punish Guillermo Gonzalez for the very things Collins was saying that night, but here at GMU, Collins was welcomed and heralded as a great scientist, and there was no shame whatsoever for him to share his deeply personal views. I would gladly welcome Collins into the ID community as a real and sincere critic. I do not view him as “the enemy”. I am confident Collins isn’t out to destroy ID. I think he is willing to see ID succeed. He does not have a vested interest in seeing ID fail.
He signed my copy of his book, “best wishes to Salvador Cordova and the IDEA club”. He cringed a bit when Caroline Crocker and I were getting our books signed as I pointed out the three of us were actually all together in the same Coral Ridge Hour TV series (see: Crocker and SissonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s TV appearance helps launch a half-million dollar pro-Design campaign). I told him I was sorry over what happened in that he was not made aware of the complete content of the TV series. I thanked him for his visit, and said, “God bless you, Dr. Collins”.
The one news item I gleaned is that he debated Dawkins 2 weeks ago, and he was speculating whether Time magazine would cover the discussion. [imho, Dawkins doesn’t hold a candle to Collins as a scientist]. He also indicated he was being severely criticized for writing his book.
But I really don’t think he’s getting that much flak. I would bet the NCSE would have been thrilled at the reconciliation of Christianity and Darwinism which Collins offered this evening. I would not be surprised if the evolutionary community has been giving their whole-hearted blessings to such overtly Christian messages as long as Darwin’s theory is treated as fact. No kidding, I really think the AAAS, NCSE, and the evolutionary community are so desperate to fight ID they’d hire Christian pastors and Evangelists to spread the news that “Darwin loves you (and has a wonderful plan for your life)!”. Lest any one doubt my claim, see: NCSE faith project director. They would gladly concede a little ground to Christianity if it will keep Darwinism intact. I mean, look at the NCSE website and how much they try to promote themselves as Christ-friendly Darwinists of late. Eugenie gets her anti-ID book endorsed by a pastor. Remember, it was Eugenie who said that in the game of selling evolution, “One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists”.
Here is the irony. If someone from the Discovery Institute spoke, the talk would be characterized as an fundamentalist plot to spread the Christian faith. If a pro-Darwin scientist speaks about Jesus Christ, they are applauded for helping people of faith warm toward the “science” of Darwinism. Such speakers will be given a free-pass to share the Gospel. Is their any complaint from Barbara Forrest about Collins helping to spread the Christian faith? Has there been an ounce of outrage in the blogsphere of Collins sharing the Gospel on college campuses? Maybe only a little, but not much.