Many of us struggle with the controversy between science and religion. As one who argues that science and religion are not compatible (with minor exceptions), I try hard to understand the views of my opponents. One of the greatest challenges is to understand why Francis Collins sees his position as an argument in favor of compatibility.
Here's a video of a talk he gave last October at The Veritas Forum in California. All of it is really interesting but the punchline comes at 50 minutes when he gives a short summary of his beliefs.
[First Slide] Almighty God, who is not limited in space and time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.Collins goes on to describe this view as "Theistic Evolution." It could also be called the "New Creationism."
[Second Slide] God's plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that plan included human beings.
[Third Slide] After evolution, in the fullness of time, had prepared a sufficiently advanced neurological "house" (the brain), God gifted humanity with free will and with a soul. Thus humans received a special status, "made in God's image."
[Fourth Slide] We humans used our free will to disobey God, leading to our realization of being in violation of the Moral Law. Thus we were estranged from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.
That's it. A very simple but, I think, entirely compatible view that does no violence either to faith or to science. And puts them in a harmonious position ...
I can think of six, perfectly scientific, questions that could be asked.
- Is there any evidence of purposeful "fine tuning"?
- Is there any evidence that humans were inevitable?
- Is there any evidence of a Moral Law?
- Is there any evidence of a soul?
- Is there any evidence that humans have something called "free will" that other species lack?
- Is there any evidence that such a personal God exists?