Francis Collins appointed to head NIH

Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, evangelical Christian, and author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, has been selected by President Obama to lead the National Institutes Of Health.

Chris Wilson has an excellent article at Slate, discussing whether Collins would set anything aside as being beyond the reach of science:

In practice, Collins views almost every hole in evolutionary theory as one that can and will ultimately be filled by further investigation. But he does peg one aspect of human behavior as “unsolvable” by science: the tendency toward altruism, even at great personal risk and for the benefit of perfect strangers. (He calls this the “Moral Law.”) In his book, Collins writes that “this Moral Law shone its bright white light into the recesses of my childish atheism, and demanded a serious consideration of its origin. Was this God looking back at me?” He decided that it was.

But if these mysteries are solved, they won’t threaten Collins’ faith:

…to fully account for the full-blown version of altruism that we see in human beings is, I think, a fascinating and challenging and difficult problem for the evolutionary biologists. And I don’t believe they’ve solved it. And I think it’s unlikely that they will. If they do, would my faith be shaken? No.

That may be, but I can’t see how his predispositions wouldn’t have some effect on his priorities: Why waste resources on problems you’ve deemed “unsolvable”?

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