I never grow tired of hearing testimonies about how a person came to faith in Christ. Especially, when it’s a scientist with the stature of Dr. Francis Collins. For those of you who have not heard of Francis Collins, he is highly esteemed geneticist and physician. Here are some of his credentials.
“Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. is the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). On August 17, 2009 he was sworn in as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” (Taken from Human Genome Project website). As the former director of NHGRI, he was “noted for his discoveries of disease genes.” (Wikipedia).
I have included a video clip here where Collins takes us on his two-year journey from atheism to follower of Christ. He explains that his upbringing was agnostic (or indifferent) which he switched to atheism in college. This all argues against the notion that people’s belief in God is just culturally driven. Collins conversion represents a significant counter-cultural decision.
Collins talks about being given a book by Oxford scholar, C.S. Lewis (“Mere Christianity”). He talks about how this book began to unravel his view of the incompatibility of reason and faith.
“I had imagined that faith and reason were at opposite poles. And here was this deep intellectual who is convincing me quickly, page by page, that actually, reason and faith go hand in hand. Though faith has the added component of revelation.” (@ 9:50)
As he says, it was only the beginning of a long reluctant journey to faith. His first milestone was that atheism would not be for him.
“I began to realize that the evidence for the existence of God, while not proof, was actually pretty interesting. And it certainly made me realize that atheism would no longer be, for me, an acceptable choice and it was the least rational of the options.” (@10:20)
If you want to hear about the specific pointers that led him to faith, you can start the video here. These are the headings that Collins calls interesting pointers to God:
- There is something instead of nothing
- “The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” (Wigner)
- The Big Bang
- The precise tuning of physical constants in the universe
Collins makes some fascinating explanations of these points. Well worth watching. But, as he points out, we’ve only gotten as far as “Einstein’s mathematical god.” A deist god but not necessarily a theist God.
He then goes on to make C.S. Lewis’s philosophical moral argument for the meaning of the universe. He also brilliantly covers the usual arguments against this claim. One such claim being evolutionary altruism, to which he responds that it does not explain the most profound examples of intuitive moral law and human nobility in radical self-sacrificing altruism (@19:10).
I would say that one of the most radical demonstrations of self-sacrificial altruism was Christ on the cross. While God was our enemy, He willingly let us brutally kill Him and continue to reject Him. Yet, because of God’s self-giving, other-centered love, He freed us from our bondage and sin (John 3:16-17; Rom.5:10; Col.1:21).
Collins summarizes his description of this reluctant two-year journey to faith with an quote from Immanuel Kant.
“Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them: the starry heavens without and the Moral Law within.” (Immanuel Kant)
I couldn’t agree more.
Collins finishes by talking about his exploring all the world religions and explaining why he gave his heart to Christ. Here’s the video clip.
I love how he presents the evidence and leaves it up to the viewer to decide. Because the bottom line is, no amount of evidence is going to convince you about God if your heart is not open. In that sense, it is a leap of faith. But it is also not an unreasonable leap of faith.
It really comes down to an an issue of the heart.
8 In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Rom.10:8-10 NLT)
Here’s a full lecture video where Collins starts with his research on the Human Genome Project and how it was indeed compatible with his faith. It’s a fascinating explanation (“The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief“).