"What I want to do is first to give you a snapshot of some of the new discoveries that for me as a physician-scientist studying the human genome are enormously exciting and provide a real glimpse into how life works," Collins said. "I'm also going to make the argument that, for me also as a believer, research in genetics is an occasion not just of scientific enjoyment, but an opportunity to appreciate the grandeur of God's creation, and in effect, to worship."
"I'm not trying to say that there's something inherently religious" in the DNA image, Collins emphasized. "But, I think it is emblematic of the potential here of the topic to both interest people and to make them unsettled. Can you, in fact, admire both of these [images]? Can you do it at the same time? Is there an inherent problem in having both a scientific world view and a spiritual world view?"
My first thought was Spirograph. But I guess that's one of the few reasons I wasn't picked for director of NIH.
So what was Collins' point? That it's obvious just by looking around to see God's signature in all things? Or did he just want to show how silly his mind can be at times? Describing his journey to faith, Collins recounts:
As an undergraduate, Collins said, he considered himself an agnostic; as a graduate student in chemistry, he was an atheist. But as he began to appreciate biology as "beautiful stuff that made sense," and later, genomics, he also began to struggle with questions of faith. Then, in his third year of medical school, as he visited with an elderly patient who was facing death, Collins said, he experienced a crisis of faith as she asked him, "What do you believe, doctor?"It's as if the problems suddenly became too big with no immediate answers at hand. He took the easy way out. He read the last page of the book without slogging through the whole thing. He copied off someone else's paper. He peeked at the answer to the puzzle. He took the Christian shortcut.
Despite his appointment, Collins has not shirked from publicly expressing his faith. He has gained more notoriety today for his glass half-full of faith and half-full of science than he has for his work on the Human Genome Project. Still, it's surprising to find him singing the praises of design on air. Caution to the listener: it's a scientist singing - and it sounds exactly like that. (Trivia - Collins' guitar is emblazoned with both a DNA helix, and the Christian fish.)
I have to wonder - what would Collins make of Dog Butt Jesus? Would he say it's "emblematic of the potential" to hold two contradictory views and "admire the image" as well as the concept it represents? Or would his sciency disposition kick in and compel him to say, "It's just a dog's ass!"