Science and Faith in Pandemic Times

Francis Collins had a conversation Monday night with Jim Stump and Deb Haarsma of BioLogos. For those who don’t know, Francis Collins is the Director of the National Institutes of Health, following on a successful career as head of the human genome project at NIH, and before that as a professor at the University of Michigan where he and his team identified the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis as well as a number of other genes responsible for a range of diseases. He was appointed director of NIH by Barack Obama in 2009 and selected to continue in this role by Donald Trump in 2017. His experience and leadership is a true blessing in this current crisis.

Francis Collins is also a Christian, convinced that science and Christian faith are fully compatible. His 2006 book The Language of God outlining his story of coming to faith and his approach to science and faith (especially evolution) helped many Christians and encouraged others  others to take a more outspoken stand in the discussion of science and faith.  I read his book straight through within a day of purchase and very shortly after the initial release. Of course, one book was not sufficient to answer all the questions people had, and Collins started to receive regular requests for more. With Karl Giberson, Collins published a followup The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions to address some of the most commonly asked questions. BioLogos was founded in 2009, shortly before Collins was selected to head the NIH, to explore the answers to questions of science and Christian faith and to invite “the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith.” It is an ongoing task.

For those who missed the live stream interview, the whole was recorded and is available at YouTube ( I encourage you to watch, it is well worth the time.

In the interview Francis refers to the NIH Director’s Blog he writes on a regular basis. This is also a great source of information on COVID-19 and the ongoing scientific efforts to tackle the problem, identifying treatments and preventative measures as well as developing safe and effective vaccines. This is a wartime effort. Among other things, Collins has addressed conspiracy theories and the suggestion that the virus was designed through human intervention. Study of the RNA code demonstrates a natural origin (Genomic Study Points to Natural Origin of COVID-19). But he also gets down to a personal level at times – both in the interview above and in the blog. His post on April 7 addresses the stress, anxiety and grief that many of us experience in this time of rapid change and isolation.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Josh. 1:9

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This post is also visible at Jesus Creed now at Christianity Today.

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