In July of 2009, President Obama announced the nomination of renowned geneticist Francis Collins (Head of the Human Genome Project) to be the new director of the National Institutes of Health.
This nomination was soon met with a serious backlash of resistance. Not from Congress (Collins was unanimously confirmed) – but from the scientific community. A number of scientists and pundits publicly questioned whether Collin’s devout religious faith should disqualify him from the position. Some expressed open concern that an outspoken evangelical Christian might not be the right person to fill what many consider to be the nation’s most visible job in science.
Their objection was not on the basis of qualifications, but on the firm belief that science and faith are incompatible – and that science, alone, is the only true way to understand our world and our universe. For many in the scientific community, Collin’s belief in God would somehow give the wrong impression to our country and to the world.
Science, it seems, has no room for faith.
Most people, when they reject creationism (or God), turn to science as the main reason for their objection. “After all, if the majority of scientists are telling us that evolution is a fact, who are we to argue with the experts. There’s no need to ‘think it through’ for ourselves when highly qualified and intelligent people have studied all the issues for us.”
It is this prevailing view that becomes the substantial barrier to anyone who desires to look at the data and come to an informed conclusion.
It is a curious fact that once something becomes accepted as fact – it is rarely, if ever, questioned. This is the strange dichotomy of origins science. It is true that most scientists accept evolutionary theory as a fact – but it is also true that very few scientists have actually researched the data for themselves.
In a real sense, what is mutually accepted is also mutually assumed.
This was the case for biochemist Michael Behe. In his education, he accepted evolutionary theory as fact, because that was what the textbooks and professors were saying.
But as a student in biochemistry, he would come across tremendously complex biological systems and pause to wonder how it was possible for evolution to come up with what he was seeing. But he always assumed that somebody in science must know… and moved on.
Then, while doing post-doctorate work on DNA (and realizing all the intricate components which needed to come together for life to emerge) he began to become skeptical that life could have happened by accident.
Spurred on by his desire to truly know what he believed, he began intensive research “in search of the detailed Darwinian explanations he had always assumed were there. Time after time, he found scientists describing complex, interlocking biological systems and basically saying, ‘Isn’t it wonderful how natural selection put this together?’ The how was always missing.”*
As a biochemist, Behe was perfectly suited to investigate the evidence for the source of living things. He turned his attention to researching the microscopic world of the cell – to discover whether life is better explained by evolutionary means or by an Intelligent Agent at work.
Endeavoring to leave all preconceptions behind, Behe poured over the molecular evidence and summarized all of his conclusions in the book, Darwin’s Black Box (which National Review deemed one of the most important non-fiction books of the century).
As a scientist, Behe did what scientists are supposed to do – not assume facts (because everyone else accepts them) but to research and verify, question and discover. And in the case of Michael Behe, what he discovered was that “facts” in support of evolutionary theory were few and far between. But because every field of science had assumed every other field had discovered the truth – few scientists even bothered to “check the facts.”
Behe did. And the scientific facts led him to become one of the foremost voices in the Intelligent Design movement.
Science of the 21st Century (especially here in America) is quite often a closed system where any challenge to the evolutionary status quo is met with contempt and derision. Modern science has become NOT a search for truth (wherever the evidence may lead) but a search for materialistic explanations for everything.
This is not science in the truest sense. It is ideology (belief!)… which uses facets of science to support its dogma.
Behe commented on this: “The purpose of science… is to find out how things got here and how they work. Science should be the search for truth, not merely the search for materialistic explanations.”*
Men like Collins and Behe came to faith, not because of faith but because of science. They are scientists at heart, and by calling, but have discovered that science and faith are not at odds – but rather support one another in mankind’s enduring quest to know who we are and how we got here.
* Quoted from an interview with Michael Behe in the book: The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel (highly recommended!)
In interest of full disclosure, Francis Collins is a believer in Jesus Christ, but he is not a creationist. He is known as a Theistic Evolutionist (basically, God created… by means of evolution). How he came from being a self-described “obnoxious atheist” to faith in Christ is well worth reading. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/voices/collins.html) He speaks all over the country about the harmony of science and faith – which is his own life’s story.