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John West on the tragedy of Francis Collins’s model of science and faith


Francis Collins recently resigned from National Institutes of Health, a position in which John West has earlier characterized his behavior as an appalling moral failure.

Now, West takes a stab at Collins’s model of science and faith:

In this article, I want to show how Collins’s current policies and views are part of a pattern reaching back many years. I also want to explore how his model for faith and science focuses less on integrating faith and science and more on accommodating faith to dominant materialistic modes of scientific thinking, existing power structures and cultural norms.

Collins’s handling of a major scandal at the NIH during his first term as NIH Director provides a good place to start.

Premature Babies as Guinea Pigs

The scandal involved disclosure of a multi-year experiment involving more than 1,300 premature infants funded by the NIH. As part of the experiment, premature infants were randomly assigned to receive higher or lower levels of oxygen. Those receiving lower levels of oxygen were more likely to die, while those receiving higher levels of oxygen had serious eye damage that could lead to blindness.

Parents were not informed of the possible increased risk of death for infants enrolled in the study, nor were most of them informed about a key part of the study’s design that would deprive their infants of individualized treatment: Researchers re-calibrated oxygen equipment used by infants in the study so it would generate false oxygen readings in order to prevent medical staff from adjusting oxygen levels based on the individual needs of the infants in their care.

Medical ethicists were appalled. “The word ‘unethical’ doesn’t even begin to describe the egregious and shocking deficiencies in the informed-consent process for this study,” said Michael Carome, MD, the director of the Health Research Group at the non-profit (and politically liberal) group Public Citizen.

John G. West, “The Tragedy of Francis Collins’s Model for Science-Faith Integration” at Evolution News and Science Today (October 18, 2021)

Collins was, West says, “chief among the defenders.” If you think that being an “evangelical” means Collins is pro-life, read West’s evidence otherwise.

And in the end?

Collins does talk about how science and faith are compatible, a truth with which I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, Collins often appears to achieve his reconciliation between science and faith by insisting that fellow Christians simply accept scientific claims they may find unpersuasive, unethical, or unscientific.

Perhaps that’s why Collins’s biggest target in science and faith discussions over the years hasn’t been atheists. It’s been fellow Christians who have yet to conform to the culture like he has.

John G. West, “The Tragedy of Francis Collins’s Model for Science-Faith Integration” at Evolution News and Science Today (October 18, 2021)

If Collins stands for “theistic evolution,” reading about it has made some of us feel better about atheistic evolution. At least the atheistic evolutionists don’t pretend that they think human beings have intrinsic value. You know where you are with them.

What a legacy. ):

West is the director of Human Zoos: America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism

You may also wish to read:

Francis Collins, well-known theistic evolutionist, resigns his position at NIH.
If either of these political/ethics matters are factors, his sudden resignation would send the stories down the news hole promptly and conveniently.

At Evolution News and Science Today:The Appalling Moral Failure of Francis Collins (A prominent theistic evolutionist) John G. West: The disclosures about the experiments followed Collins’s repeal earlier this year of restrictions on the use of aborted fetal tissue in NIH-funded research… researchers also sliced off skin from the scalp of the aborted babies and then grafted the fetal skin onto the mice. In the words of the scientists: “Full-thickness human fetal skin was processed via removal of excess fat tissues attached to the subcutaneous layer of the skin, then engrafted over the rib cage, where the mouse skin was previously excised.” The body parts used for these experiments were harvested from aborted human fetuses with a gestational age of 18-20 weeks. By that age, an unborn baby has brain waves and a beating heart. He can hear sounds and move his limbs and eyes …


Jonathan Wells reflects on the importance of “junk DNA” to Francis Collins’ Language of God. Wells: It’s not a moral failure to be mistaken about evidence that supposedly supports Darwinian evolution. But the title of Collins’s Language of God was deceptive from the start. And Collins has looked the other way as it has continued to deceive. I consider this one more moral failure of Francis Collins.


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