Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Francis Collins: "The Language of God"

Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the human genome project, appeared this morning on the Diane Rehm Show. The archived broadcast usually appears about an hour after the show ends at noon. I'll post the link when I have it. [EDIT - Here's the Windows Media Player Link, and Here's the Real Audio Link to this segment of today's show.]

I only tuned in midway through, just about the time Dr. Collins was talking about his personal faith. He is apparently a "born-again" Christian.

Some of his comments at first sounded like he was a literal Bible type Christian, and I have to say I was expecting an ID endorsement at any moment.

As usual, Diane cut right to the chase.

She asked specifically about evolution, about literal interpretation of the Bible, about creationism, and about ID.

Dr. Collins was pretty unequivocal in his ringing endorsement of evolution, and was very clear but polite in dismissing Intelligent Design, as well as literal interpretations of the Bible.

His bottom-line comment on ID was "Intelligent Design I think is headed for a discrediting on the scientific basis, and in the process I fear that those who support it may also be discredited." (This comment begins about 26:40 into the interview.)

I also found another point of his rather interesting, involving "the soul". He pointed out, in reference to embryonic stem cell research, that science can't tell us when the soul enters the body, or even if there is such a thing. He mentioned twins, specifically. His point was that if one believes in souls, and if one grants that identical twins each have their own soul, then a soul must enter the body sometime after conception, and after the embryo splits in two.

I had never really thought about this before, but it makes for a fascinating thought. Personally, I think there is something more than electrical impulses which make up that which is "me". However, it's always seemed silly to me to insist that "I" entered my body before it developed a brain. It just seems that a body without a brain isn't really terribly useful. If indeed "I" were to be choosing a body to hop into, I think "I" would have enough sense to jump into one that "I" was sure was functional at some level. One that at least had someplace for "me" to go, and one that had a pretty good chance of at least making it out of the birth canal. Call me selfish, but I really don't relish the idea of dying, much less dying before living.

Yeah, it's one of them "Arguments From Incredulity". What's your point?

Here's the Amazon link for his new book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief which has just been released.

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