Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, is known as the geneticist behind the Human Genome Project as well as a man of faith. He is leading a Big Data to Knowledge initiative that proposes to track 1 million volunteers to better understand health and disease. And he is the founder of BioLogos Foundation, a group based in Grand Rapids that promotes discussions about Christianity and science.
Q: As a scientist and a person of faith, how does our growing understanding of human genetics affect your faith?
Collins: I was not a believer when I was a graduate student. I became a believer at age 27 after being challenged actually by a patient to explain my atheism and realizing I couldn’t.
That was point where I was just beginning to get into the field of genetics, and many people predicted my head would explode because it would not be possible to both study genetics and believe in God. I found them to be enormously complementary views
Science – of genetics and other things – teaches us a lot about the how – of exactly what biology is all about and how our bodies are put together and how disease happens and how we are related to other species. But it doesn’t teach us anything at all about why. And to me, the why questions are at least as interesting.
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