'God Is Not Threatened by Our Scientific Adventures'

A genome researcher explains how he reconciles science with his deep Christian faith.

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I would say that I understand that and I'm sympathetic with how jarring that realization can be. I would say that the stance that some believers take, which is simply to reject evolution, is also to reject the information that God has given us, the ability to understand. I believe God did intend, in giving us intelligence, to give us the opportunity to investigate and appreciate the wonders of His creation. He is not threatened by our scientific adventures.

The answer to that sense of concern about randomness and chaos is to try to think beyond our own human limitations of time and space.

If God is real, and I believe he is, then he is outside of nature. He is, therefore, not limited by the laws of nature in the way that we are. He's not limited by time. In the very moment of that flash in which the universe was created, an unimaginable burst of energy, God also had the plan of how that would coalesce into stars and galaxies, planets, and how life would arrive on a small planet near the outer rim of a spiral galaxy. And ultimately, over hundreds of millions of years, give rise to creatures with intelligence and in whom he could infuse this search for him and this knowledge of good and evil. And all of that happened in his mind in the blink of an eye. While it may seem to us that this whole process has the risk of randomness and, therefore, an unpredictable outcome, that was not the case for God.

What is something else you've learned from all your work with DNA that you think reveals something about God or spirituality?

Well, as a scientist who's also a believer, the chance to uncover the incredible intricacies of God's creation is an occasion of worship. To be able to look, for the first time in human history, at all three billion letters of the human DNA--which I think of as God's language--it gives us just a tiny glimpse into the amazing creative power of his mind. Every discovery that we now make in science [is], for me, a chance to worship him in a broader sense, to appreciate just in a small bit the amazing grandeur of his creation. It also helps me appreciate though that as a scientist, there are limits to the kinds of questions that science can answer. And that's where I have to turn to God and seek his answers.

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The Limitations of Science
Science will tell me a lot about how things work. It will not tell me why we are all here, what the purpose is in life or what happens after we die. For that, I need my faith. And I'm grateful to be able to draw upon both of those ways of knowing in order to have a full appreciation of the wonderful gift of life that we've been given.

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Interview with Francis Collins
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