Let it not be said that belief in woo isn’t lucrative, even if you’re a scientist who abjures woo in his or her daily work. Yes, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and an ardent evangelical Christian converted from atheism by seeing a tripartite frozen waterfall (get it—the Trinity), was just awarded the 2020 Templeton Prize. Click on the screenshot to read the press release from the John Templeton Foundation.
As the Foundation states:
THE TEMPLETON PRIZE honors individuals whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.
And Collins’s achievements?
Geneticist and physician Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, who led the Human Genome Project to its successful completion in 2003 and throughout his career has advocated for the integration of faith and reason, was announced today as the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate.
Of course he wouldn’t get the Prize for just the Human Genome Project; it had to include his speeches, books, and proselytizing for Christianity and discussing God’s “purpose”. Craig Venter, another leader of the Human Genome Project, is an avowed atheist, and will get no dosh from Templeton. (He has plenty anyway.)
The prize? Designed deliberately to exceed the amount of the Nobel Prize, and given to only one individual, the Templeton Prize this year is $1.3 million.
From an interview about the prize in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Templeton Prize honors people for leadership in science and spirituality, among other areas. You have written about how both are important to you. How does your faith inform your pursuit of science?
I didn’t start out as a believer. I was an atheist when I was a grad student studying chemistry and physics. As a medical student, I realized my efforts to understand really deep questions about life and death were not really being helped that much by the reductionist form of science going on around me.
For me, science is both an incredibly exciting intellectual challenge and detective story, but it also is a way of understanding nature and appreciating God’s creation. I can’t really separate who I am as a scientist from who I am as a believer. They coexist quite comfortably together.
Yes, they coexist quite comfortably together in Collins’s own mind, but not in the minds of most other scientists, nor in any kind of scheme that requires good reasons for one’s beliefs.
More on this tomorrow .