Trying to Figure Out Francis Collins

From Justin Barnard at Public Discourse:

Many are pointing to Obama’s pick of an Evangelical to head the National Institutes of Health as a sign of the president's willingness to reach out to those with differing viewpoints. But his pick holds conflicted views about the human embryo and will oversee a department that, under new rules, is outsourcing the destruction of human life.

On July 8th, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Francis Collins as head of the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a world-class geneticist, Collins also has gained notoriety for his public profile as an unapologetic evangelical Christian. In 2006, Collins published, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In addition to offering various scientific arguments for the existence of God, the book also makes a case for the compatibility of Christian faith and science based on a model that Collins termed “BioLogos.” (Incidentally, Collins’s conception of Biologos bears a striking resemblance to Steven Jay Gould’s earlier articulation of NOMA—“non-overlapping magisteria.”) Since then, Collins has lauched a major philosophy of science education initiative through his BioLogos Foundation. The BioLogos Foundation promotes “the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives.” Even a cursory review of the foundation’s website reveals Collins’s uncompromising commitment to evangelicalism’s characteristic Biblicism and to the truth of the Christian faith.

This is precisely what makes Collins’s likely appointment to be head of the NIH so troubling. Just prior to the announcement about Collins, the NIH published its final guidelines for the use of federal funds in human embryonic stem cell research. While the Dickey Amendment prohibits NIH funds from being used to derive stems cells from human embryos (hence destroying them), the newly published guidelines do permit the use of federal tax dollars for research on stem cell lines already derived from human embryos, provided that (within the restrictions outlined in the guidelines) the embryos have already been destroyed. In effect, the new guidelines provide an incentive to private research entities to obtain so-called
“leftover” embryos from fertility clinics and derive stem cell lines from them in order to obtain NIH research dollars to study the derived lines.

Given his professed faith, one might naturally wonder how Collins can, in good conscience, oversee a government agency that is effectively outsourcing the destruction of human life. At a recent event sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Collins was asked about the new NIH guidelines.
Read the entire article HERE.