Lutando por Francis Collins: um cientista evolucionista, mas teísta

quarta-feira, setembro 30, 2009

Lisa Miller
Fighting for Francis
Faith, reason, and the NIH nominee.
Published Jul 30, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Aug 17, 2009

I do not believe that the Christian faith of Dr. Francis Collins, recently nominated to run the National Institutes of Health, disqualifies him from that job. The only questions that need be asked of Collins are these: Is he a good enough scientist? And will he be a passionate and relentless advocate for science and scientific research?

President Obama announced the nomination on July 8, but the objections from the scientific community have coalesced slowly. The flash point is religion. Collins is a "born again" geneticist with a stellar résumé who has recently made his name by offering himself up as living proof that a rational person can also believe in God. His 2006 book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, made him a celebrity in "faith versus reason" circles, and in the wake of its success, he has traveled the country dueling with atheists, explaining how, as he puts it in that book, "there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us." In opinion pieces, scientists Sam Harris and Steven Pinker express strong reservations about the ascension of Collins to this office. Pinker fretted about the symbolism of allowing such a vocal believer to represent U.S. science; in The New York Times, Harris worried that a man who believes that human morality is God-given might be disinclined to pursue neuroscientific research into the nature of the human mind.

In America, religion is not a litmus test. Few would argue that, on the merits, Collins does not deserve this promotion. In 1989 Collins discovered the gene for cystic fibrosis, and in 1993 he became the director of the NIH center that would eventually sequence the entire human genome. Indeed, the critique most often leveled at Collins by the scientific community—apart from his public religiosity—is that he is too much of a geneticist and biased in favor of Big Science. On a blog, anthropologist Kenneth M. Weiss complained recently that as Human Genome Project director, Collins "directly or indirectly intimidated other NIH agencies to get into the genome game … That did, and still does, co-opt funds that could be used for other things instead." The concern of some scientists, in other words, has nothing to do with religion. It's that his view of legitimate science doesn't extend to them.

What distinguishes Collins from other scientists, then, is not that he believes—about half of American scientists believe in God or something like God—but that he does it so publicly. He has made his belief part of his shtik. I was at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2007 when Collins, as a guest of President George W. Bush, whipped out his acoustic guitar and, before thousands, sang a little hymn—an event that promised to devolve into a sideshow (in a blog at the time I compared him to "a wacky -nursery-school teacher"), but that Collins pulled off, somehow, through massive personal charisma. My own misgivings relate not to his religiosity but to my suspicion of people who wear religion too outwardly, especially when that posture would seem to serve their own professional ends. Collins was an established scientist but hardly a household name before he "came out" so prominently as a Christian believer, and it's certainly no accident that Team Obama chose him (and not, say, an atheist) to lead the way through forthcoming battles over stem cells and cloning. NIH director is a scientific appointment, to be sure, but it's also a political one, and Collins's evangelicalism works to (his and) Obama's advantage. What better way to disarm the opposition than to install a member of that opposition as the general of your army?

Read more here/Leia mais aqui.


Enquanto isso em Pindorama, Marcelo 'Béria' Leita, da Folha de São Paulo, neo-ateu pós-moderno, chique e perfumado a la Dawkins, 'crucifica' a Senadora Marina Leite por suas posições ideológicas.

Vade retro, Béria tupiniquim!