Francis Collins named new head of NIH


This announcement was a long-time coming. I actually spoke with Dr. Collins several months ago to invite him to PSU to speak on science and religion and he declined. He did not say way (“taking some time”) but I had a pretty strong hunch, as did anyone else following this nomination process.

I read the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education articles with interest to see if and in what way they mentioned Collins’ faith. CHE waited until well down into the story and then tackled it head on.

Reactions from university associations did not touch on Dr. Collins’s publicly expressed religious views, including his 2007 book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, and his founding of the BioLogos Foundation, which promotes “harmony between” science and faith.

A spokesman for one of the groups said officials weren’t available to discuss the matter. But Mr. Lively said he saw no problem with Dr. Collins’s attempts to find common ground between science and religion, and believed it might actually help him on Capitol Hill.

“He’s clearly a believer, but he’s certainly not a closet creationist,” Mr. Lively said.

IHE mentions it in the third paragraph of the article but did not suggest any potential conflict.

Collins has also been influential for his writings on the link between science and religion, most notably writing a book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press).

I have great respect for Collins as a scientist and a person of faith and I look forward to seeing the development of NIH under his watch. His biggest challenge right now will not be scientific or religious, it will be administrative as they try and sort through the thousands of grant applications associated with the stimulus package.

 

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