President Obama's nomination of Dr. Francis S. Collins to head the National Institutes of Health is an excellent choice, but it troubles some secularists who believe science should proceed unrestrained by any higher principles than what can be achieved in a laboratory.
The recent New York Times story announcing the president's selection of Dr. Collins ("who led the government's successful effort to sequence the human genome") reflects what would be considered bigotry or sexism if applied to someone because of his or her race or gender. Reporter Gardiner Harris writes that one of the objections to Dr. Collins (he names no objectors, which is the pattern of a smear) "is his very public embrace of religion. He wrote a book called 'The Language of God' and he has given many talks and interviews in which he described his conversion to Christianity as a 27-year-old medical student."
Ignored in the story is the long list of scientists who hold religious views similar to Dr. Collins. Do the secularists demand an oath of atheism before people are deemed respectable scientists? We have seen the results of non-faith carried to its extreme in the Nazi laboratory of Josef Mengele and other "scientists" unconstrained by a higher authority.
British scientists, part of a culture that is more secular than America's, recently announced the laboratory creation of human sperm. This must be welcome news to feminist Gloria Steinem, who once said a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Do we want scientists who are mini-gods and think that whatever can be done, should be done?
Suppose Dr. Collins was a practicing Muslim, or Jew? Would the secularists raise similar objections? Not likely.
Dr. Collins sees no conflict between science and faith. In 2007, he said this at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington: "...in the scientific community there is often an unwritten taboo about discussing one's spiritual leanings, so many assume that scientists are generally godless materialists. That's not actually true -- a recent survey found that 40 percent of working scientists believe in a God to whom one may pray in expectation of an answer. And that number has changed very little over the past century."
That appears to be a higher percentage than "godless" journalists who can't seem to find anyone who combines serious faith with an educated mind.