FAITH JOURNEY BY LEADING SCIENTIST

Dr. Francis Collins is considered to be one of the most effective and ground-breaking scientists in the world. Collins graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. He earned his PhD in chemistry at Yale and then decided, for good measure, he would go to medical school at the University of North Carolina. From there, he returned to Yale and later, the University of Michigan. He is most noted for having been chosen to chair the Human Genome Project where, in 2003, he led an international collaboration of two thousand scientists in sequencing the human genome. More recently, he was appointed by President Obama to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Clearly, he is a prominent scientist, but what is perhaps even more interesting is his spiritual journey.

DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH

“As a scientist, I had always insisted on collecting rigorous data before drawing a conclusion. And yet, in matters of faith, I had never collected any data at all. I didn’t know what I had rejected. So, I decided that I should be a little better grounded in my atheism. I better find out what this is all about. So, I challenged a patient of mine who was a Methodist minister. And, after listening to my questions and realizing that I was not dealing with a very full deck of information, he suggested that I read the Gospel of John, which I did…I found the scripture to be interesting, puzzling, and not at all what I had thought faith was about… then I began to read C.S. Lewis and realized there was a great depth of thinking and reasoning that could be applied to the question of God.”

Lewis convinced Francis Collins that reason and faith go hand in hand, though faith has the added component of revelation—the Bible. Collins had previously believed that Jesus and the stories of the Bible were nothing more than mere myths. Again, as he studied the historical evidence, he was stunned at how well documented and how historically accurate the Bible is. He also saw a surprising fidelity of the transmission of the manuscripts that were passed down over the centuries. And, over time, Francis Collins, based on the accumulation of the evidence that he observed, concluded that God exists, and that Jesus is the Son of God.

He also concluded that most of the religious skeptics that he knew and that he meets today are just like he was. That is to say, they didn’t want to think about these things and never looked at any evidence, never drawing conclusions from the real evidence that was available.

This is what Dr. Dallas Willard, former professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, believed was a major problem with individuals who considered themselves to be agnostic or atheist. Willard found that so many of the students and scholars he encountered on campus and in the world were guilty of what he called “irresponsible disbelief.” These bright men and women would often choose to disbelieve in something without any significant commitment to an investigation of that disbelief by way of sound reasoning and careful examination of the evidence.

YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY IS AT STAKE

Are our worldviews merely philosophical speculations with no right or wrong answer and therefore with no consequences. No! One of them begins with the basic premise that God does not exist, the other with the premise that He does. They are therefore mutually exclusive therefore one is true and the other is not.

It is essential you know whether or not God exists as there is no third option. How we relate to God is the foundation for our thinking because it determines the way we view our world.

You need to make the right choice, as I pointed out in a recent post there are only two outcomes: eternal life offered as a free gift by your Creator or face the judgement of God and then the second death in the Lake of Fire.

Your choice of worldviews will shape how you live your life on earth. If you believe God exists then you will want to live your life according to His statutes but if not, then their are no restraints on how you live your life, only those imposed on you by society. You are the product of blind chance random mutations. There is no basis for good or evil, right or wrong. There is no hope of life after death. This is all there is so make the best of it. There are no answers to the big questions of life – why am I here , what is the meaning to life, what is my purpose, what is my ultimate destiny?2

Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox says it well: “What divides us is not science… but our worldviews. No one wants to base their life on a delusion but which is the delusion? Christianity or atheism?”

Sadly, I think most people are afraid to look reality in the eye because it may take them in a direction they do not want to go. It is probably one of the great flaws in human character. We stubbornly hold on to our beliefs because it is how we want life to be rather than how life should be as established by our Creator.

Dr. Francis Collins was Director of the Human Genome Project (ENCODE). Dr. Collins directed over 2000 scientists work on ENCODE. It was the most complex biological research project of all time. He has a powerful testimony on coming to faith in God.

The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Consortium is an ongoing international collaboration of research groups funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute

“As a graduate student in physical chemistry in the 1970s, I was an atheist, finding no reason to postulate the existence of any truths outside of mathematics, physics, and chemistry. But then I went to medical school, and encountered life and death issues at the bedsides of my patients. Challenged by one of those patients, who asked “What do you believe, doctor?”, I began searching for answers.

I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “Why does mathematics work, anyway?” “If the universe had a beginning, who created it?” “Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?” “Why do humans have a moral sense?” “What happens after we die?”

I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds. My earlier atheist’s assertion that “I know there is no God” emerged as the least defensible. As the British writer G.K. Chesterton famously remarked, “Atheism is the most daring of all dogmas, for it is the assertion of a universal negative.”

But reason alone cannot prove the existence of God. Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as with the mind. You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page. Ultimately, a leap of faith is required.

For me, that leap came in my 27th year, after a search to learn more about God’s character led me to the person of Jesus Christ. Here was a person with remarkably strong historical evidence of his life, who made astounding statements about loving your neighbor, and whose claims about being God’s son seemed to demand a decision about whether he was deluded or the real thing. After resisting for nearly two years, I found it impossible to go on living in such a state of uncertainty, and I became a follower of Jesus.

What about your journey? What worldview do you live out? Does it answer all of the difficult questions of life? When you become a follower of Jesus, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to be your counsellor, comforter and teacher. You will then know God exists and you are one of His children.