Collins has a new book coming out, titled Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. It’s the same old drivel: CS Lewis, old chestnuts re-roasted on a dying fire, nature and science somehow testifying to the truth of faith, moral law, fine-tuning, the Big Bang, etc. Jerry Coyne says it just right:
Enough is enough.Â Collins is director of the NIH, and is using his office to argue publicly that scientific evidence—the Big Bang, the “Moral Law” and so forth—points to the existence of a God.Â That is blurring the lines between faith and science: exactly what I hoped he would not do when he took his new job.
And to those who say that he has the right to publish this sort of stuff, well, yes he does.Â He has the legal right.Â But it’s not judicious to argue publicly, as the most important scientist in the US, that there is scientific evidence for God.Â Imagine, for example, the outcry that would ensue if Collins were an atheist and, as NIH director, published a collection of atheistic essays along the lines of Christopher Hitchens’s The Portable Atheist, but also arguing that scientific evidence proved that there was no God.Â He would, of course, promptly be canned as NIH director.
Or imagine if Collins were a Scientologist, arguing that the evidence pointed to the existence of Xenu and ancient “body-thetans” that still plague humans today. Or a Muslim, arguing that evidence pointed to the existence of Allah, and of Mohamed as his divine prophet.Â Or if he published a book showing how scientific evidence pointed to the efficacy of astrology, or witchcraft.Â People would think he was nuts.
Collins gets away with this kind of stuff only because, in America, Christianity is a socially sanctioned superstition.Â He’s the chief government scientist, but he won’t stop conflating science and faith.Â He had his chance, and he blew it.Â He should step down.
I note that one of the ways the book is being promoted is by touting the credentials of its editor as “the Director of the National Institutes of Health.” Atheists are often told that they are “harming the cause” by being outspoken with their ideas, that it is impolitic for science educators to be forthright about their godlessness, that we should emphasize the compatibility of science and religion (even when we think it is false) — and we’re also told that this is part of the virtue of scientific objectivity, since we can’t possibly disprove the existence of a god. I should like to see some of those same people and organizations (like, say, the Colgate Twins or the NCSE) to come out and similarly deplore this promotion of medieval nonsense by a supposed scholar of good science.
They won’t. It’s never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity. It’s always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.