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.
“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.