Collins defends God

Francis Collins, director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, is known to be a fairly traditional sort of religious believer. Apparently he’s been working on a book to make the case for God, which will appear in the fall. If this news story is any indication, though, the book is going to be close to the “inspirational literature” genre in nature — lots of personal feelings and some very shoddy arguments. A shame, really.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • Sheldon

    Pasted from the linked article, my comment follows:

    “Among Collins’s most controversial beliefs is that of “theistic evolution”, which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further.

    “I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way,” he says. “

    How are these views really any different from Intelligent Design creationism? They are clearly contradictictory with the actual content of evolutionary theory.

    If a presumed God sets out create an organism, say a “man in his own image” then this is teleological and is not really different from intelligent design. It sees humans as the inevitable result and goal of evolution. One might then ask, why did God prefer modern Homo sapiens sapiens over the other now extinct hominids such as H.s. neanderthalensis?

    Key to Darwinian evolution is that variation is produced at random, and that traits are selected for, or against, by historically contingent environmental conditions. I see no way that you can defend natural selection as the process of evolution, and then turn and argue that it is the mechanism of a purposeful designer.

    This would be like arguing that God provokes some mutation in a particular individual, and then may tinker with various environmental variables to make a trait adaptive.

    This would take any real meaning out of the term “natural selection,” rendering it a only illusion because of supernatural intervention.

    The only view of god that is reconciliable with what we know of actual biological evolution is that of a Deist god who fine tuned the universe for life, and let natural processes take their course. Then this god, still imaginary as far as I am concerned, retired to watch his grand experiment without further intervention.

    If I am wrong in my reasoning, please anyone, explain to me where.