The intersection between faith and science has been strained by many a conflicting divide over the years, as was my own journey born out of the 'take it literally' camp of Bible teaching which lead me as a naive, hair permed youth pastor, getting evicted from lessons teaching creationism along with my good friend - and former student at the school, Jonathan.
But a lot has changed over the past (I hesitate to write this next bit) three decades!
Today's world is very different to what it was when I was doing theology in the lecture room all those years ago and the gap between faith and science has narrowed by quite some margin. So when today, the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate (The Templeton Prize honors individuals who harness the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s purpose within it.) was handed to Francis Collins the reality of just how far things have progressed is clear.
Collins work is best known for his ground breaking achievement on the human genome and today, with scientists from around the world he is helping to drive the race behind a vaccine and the therapies for the treatment of Covid 19. In his prepared statement of the Templeton Prize he writes:
Why is there something instead of nothing? Is there a God? Does she or he care about me? What is the basis of morality? What is love? What is the meaning of life? Why is there so much suffering in this world? What happens after we die?
Those are profound questions. Yet I paid little attention to them during my first quarter-century on this planet. I was a committed materialist who found little use for anything that could not be addressed by scientific experimentation. But when I transitioned from quantum mechanics to medical school, I found these questions hard to ignore while sitting next to the beds of the sick and dying, and science wasn’t much use in tackling them. People of faith seemed to claim wisdom in that domain, but I assumed those insights were based on superstition and fundamental misunderstanding of nature. Seeking to dismiss the faith perspective, I was stunned to discover a rich vein of philosophical and theological thinking. Atheism, the denial of the possibility of anything that science couldn’t measure, emerged as the most irrational and impoverished worldview. And to my amazement, pointers to a Creator began to appear in all sorts of places, even including scientific observations about the universe. Most importantly, the person of Jesus emerged as the most profound truth-teller I had ever encountered, and called on me to make a decision about my own belief.
Collins decision about his own belief has been the constant driver of his life over many decades leading him to write 'The Language of God' in 2007 in which he puts forward his case for theistic evolution. He went onto to set up the organisation BioLogos which is the go to site for many of the world's top theologians and pastors such as John Ortberg, Tim Keller and N.T. Wright. The fact that Alpha international have now drawn the work of Collins into their course is testament to how much has changed in such a short time.
If you've not challenged your own ideas around origins in sometime; if you've dismissed faith because of science, or if you've got kids who are drifting away from faith because they can't reconcile it with the modern world, you deserve it to both yourself and them to check out the work of Collins - this sharp minded, humble hearted man with the Rolls Royce brain has caused quite a stir which is far from over yet.
You find further information about the Templeton Prize here - https://www.templetonprize.org/
Francis Collins work and collaboration at Bio Logos can be viewed here - https://biologos.org/