Dr. Francis Collins

Background

The Language of God: A Believer Looks at the Human Genome

by Dr. Francis Collins

Delivered Friday, April 11, 2008 in Brown Chapel

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With the completion of the genetic instruction book for human beings and almost 600 other species, this is an unparalleled time in the history of scientific achievement. Society’s view of life will likely never be the same. We will come to understand life’s processes in ways that will reshape medicine forever, but the potential to change the way our lives are lived runs much deeper than this. Present achievements are opening up opportunities which could do much to alleviate human pain and suffering, but they also could take us down paths that lead to grave consequences. So far we are only dimly aware of the nature of the choices with which we will be confronted and of the wisdom that will be required in making those choices.

The national director of the human genome project is an evangelical Christian, Dr. Francis Collins. His book, The Language of God, became a best seller in just over one year. At a time when science and the Christian faith seem to many to say vastly different things about life’s origins and history, Dr. Collins is noted as a spokesperson for the position that both, science and Christian faith, are united. Each informs the other. Each points in the same direction. Each can lead to the God of creation. Science and faith, even evangelical faith, he believes, can exist in harmony.

On April 11th, 2008 on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, Dr. Collins engaged the San Diego community with the topic, “The Language of God:  A Believer Looks at the Human Genome.”

One week later, at the First United Methodist church in Mission Valley, there was a follow-up all day seminar sponsored by the San Diego School of Christian Studies. The seminar focused on means of bringing about a healing in the current chasm between science and faith as it relates to creation itself.

For further information on the evening spent with Dr. Collins, contact Dr. Darrel Falk, Professor of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University at dfalk@pointloma.edu.

Dr. Francis Collins is the Director of the National Institutes of Health, a White House appointment.  He has been the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Educated at the University of Virginia (B.S.), Yale (PhD in Physical Chemistry), and the University of North Carolina (M.D.), Dr. Collins began his academic career at the University of Michigan. There he received national recognition as a master at developing effective tools for identifying and characterizing defective genes. Most noteworthy were his discoveries of the genes for Cystic Fibrosis and Huntington’s disease. In 1993, he was tapped to succeed Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, as the head of the National Human Genome Research Institute. His task in that post was to lead the effort to sequence the entire human genome, the most massive project in the history of biology. The culminating moment came in the East Room of the White House on June 26, 2000 when President Bill Clinton (with Dr. Collins on his left and Dr. Craig Venter of Celera Genomics on his right) strode to the lectern with the announcement that this was a “day for the ages”.  Since that announcement of the completion of the sequencing of the human genome, Dr. Collins has continued to lead the effort to understand the organization and function of the genome. Indeed, Science Magazine declared these advances (led in no small part by Dr. Collins) to be the scientific breakthrough of the year 2007. Dr. Collins is well-known for his stance as a Christian. His book, The Language of God, has been a best seller and his debate with well-known atheist, Dr. Richard Dawkins was the cover story, God vs Science in Time Magazine on November 6, 2006. Dr. Collins and his wife, Diane, a genetic counselor, live in the D.C. area.