27 July 2009

Politics, Science & Religion

No doubt the three domains in the title are inter-related. Here is a piece by Sam Harris published in the New York Times on the nomination of Francis Collins to be the next director of National Institutes of Health. Harris' concluding paragraph sums up his worry and motivation of writing the article:
Francis Collins is an accomplished scientist and a man who is sincere in his beliefs. And that is precisely what makes me so uncomfortable about his nomination. Must we really entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who sincerely believes that a scientific understanding of human nature is impossible?

To me, it is interesting to learn how a Scientist may reconcile Science with god. Here is how Harris describes Collins' thought process:
Dr. Collins has written that science makes belief in God “intensely plausible” — the Big Bang, the fine-tuning of nature’s constants, the emergence of complex life, the effectiveness of mathematics, all suggest the existence of a “loving, logical and consistent” God....Dr. Collins ... insists that at some moment in the development of our species God inserted crucial components — including an immortal soul, free will, the moral law, spiritual hunger, genuine altruism, etc.

The difficulty for me is to reconcile the "loving, logical and consistent" claim of a Christian god who would be ready to suspend/disrupt the working logical and consistent order of the Universe to prayers in order to exhibit "loving". More importantly, if human is the purpose of the creation of the Universe - hence deserves the full attention of god - why Earth is NOT at the centre of the Universe. The almighty god would have created a Universe where Earth would be at the centre.

I share the concerns Harris has. This Collins would be put in a position of huge political power and tremendous among of resources. Would he be able to exercise judgement without bias due to his religious is questionable.

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