NIH's Dr. Francis Collins Feels Evolution and Religion Not Mutually Exclusive

NIH's Dr. Francis Collins Feels Evolution and Religion Not Mutually Exclusive

In a recent interview, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said that he didn’t think that there was necessarily any “discordance” between science – particularly the theory of evolution – and religion.

Collins was part of a discussion with HuffPost Live at Davos in which he noted that there is uneasiness over the theory of evolution in the US among some religious people, but that he doesn’t think there should be.

“For me, somebody who is a ‘show me the data’ kind of scientist, but also a believer [in God], I don’t see a discordance there. In fact it enriches my experience, each basically harmonized with the other. It gives you a view of life that is actually quite satisfying, and not in any way in conflict,” Collins said.

Collins went on to say that there is “uneasiness” over aspects of science, “particularly evolution,” because some religious people feel that science conflicts with their “sense of how we all came to be.” This conflict doesn’t need to exist, Collins said.

“But you know, if you are a believer in God, it’s hard to imagine that God would somehow put this incontrovertible evidence in front of us about our relationship to other living organisms and expect us to disbelieve it. I mean, that doesn’t make sense at all. So as soon as you kind of get over the anxiety about the whole thing, it actually adds to your sense of awe about this amazing universe that we live in, it doesn’t subtract from it at all.”

Like many other religious people, Collins is a believer in what is often called “theistic evolution,” the idea that God himself created the process of evolution. This idea holds that religion is not at all incompatible with the efforts of science to describe how life evolved on the Earth.

Collins isn’t alone. On its website, the National Center for Science Education recently re-posted a 1997 report that found that many scientists see God’s hand in evolution.