Monday, May 11, 2009

Can fundamentalist Christians evolve?

Staunton native Francis Collins, author of The Language of God and founder of The BioLogos Foundation, believes fundamentalist Christians can evolve to not only accept modern scientific principles, but that journey itself will also strengthen their faith. On the other side of the debate, Collins believes atheists are wrong to simply reject the teachings of various faiths. The mission of The BioLogos Foundation
". . . addresses the core themes of science and religion, and emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with what science has discovered about the origins of the universe and life."
Collins is an accomplished scientist. He is a physician and geneticist who directed the National Institutes of Health's Human Genome Project. His work is noted for discovering disease genes - advances that have made, and will continue to make possible dramatic advances in health and disease treatment. Collins is also a evangelical Christian. As his medical career progressed, he realized that there are some questions, such as death and dying, for which science didn't give him all the answers.
I'm neither a scientist nor a religious person. I do believe that science provides the keys to human advancement, even human survival on planet Earth. The scientific method and inquiry is nudging us to understanding truths about life, our environment, indeed the universe. On matters of faith I am a skeptic. But, I am also intrigued by the essential role religion plays in the lives of friends and family. I believe firmly in freedom of religion and that religion and government should occupy separate spheres.
The dialogue about the compatibility of science and faith that Collins and The BioLogos Foundation are helping to initiate will help to bridge the gulf between the two sides. While Collins wants to help atheists and skeptics understand some truths about faith, he seems to understand the greater challenge is to help fundamentalist educators and families understand that evolution and other scientific facts in no way undermine their faith in God.
Wherever you stand, whatever you believe, this is a conversation worth having - without all the shouting that has too often characterized it. Columnist Kathleen Parker recently commented on Collins' work in Evolving Faith. How about starting your own conversation in your family, among your friends, in your church. Unless we all evolve, we'll diminish the great promise of human potential.

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