francis collins

in a weird way related to the article i posted yesterday is a nytimes editorial by sam harris (one of the athiest hipster writers) critiquing the nomination of francis collins to head nih. there are a few ways one could read collins’ nomination and his beliefs on the relationship between faith and science (or lack thereof. it’s complicated, something like they can be fully compatible because in certain ways, they’re totally unrelated and don’t need to be). 

1) regardless of those beliefs, collins is a top notch scientist/public intellectual/human genome wizard who is abundantly qualified to head the nih

2) collins’ religious beliefs are so prominent and inextricably tied to his persona as a scientist (which would only be amplified as the head of a huge public agency like the nih) that his nomination is problematic.

thinking of yesterday’s article (my mind is fuzzy; the movers are coming TODAY. to take all of my stuff and drop it in a black hole…and somehow it’s going to reappear in ohio…) i wonder if harris views collins as acting/talking like a theologian (as defined by the chronicle article) when he really needs to be acting/talking like a scientist. or maybe harris feels that he can’t distinguish the theologian part of collins from the collins the scientist, while collins is confident in his ability to distinguish between his roles as public theologian and super scientist.

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