Dr. Francis Collins is a physician-geneticist and the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In his role at NIH, he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world. His landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project culminated in the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. Collins is the author of “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.” He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and his M.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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Coronavirus cases continue to surge as the first round of COVID vaccines makes its way to Americans. This medication has not only brought a sense of hope, but also many questions. Is it truly safe after such a quick timetable for development? Will it actually be effective and for how long? Are there ethical issues involved in the creation of the vaccines that Christians should know about?
In his role as director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins oversees the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world. He is also a committed Christian. In Today’s Conversation podcast, you’ll hear Dr. Collins and NAE President Walter Kim discuss:
- The integration of faith, science and health;
- How vaccines actually affect the body;
- The manufacturing process and ethics behind vaccinations; and
- What role pastors and Christians should play during the pandemic.
Read a Portion of the Transcript
Walter: Clearly you have thought a lot about the integration of faith and science and of course health. And we have a moment in time where those issue converge in matters of life and death. How do you think Christians should approach this health crisis?
Dr. Collins: Christians down through the centuries have been faced with a challenge of what is our calling in times of trouble. We can call upon God to help us, but sometimes God calls us to be part of the solution; that’s happened down through the centuries as well. In times of plague — and this is not the first one nor will it be the last — Christians have had a tradition of not running away from the challenge but running toward it saying, “What can I do?” I think that’s what we should be doing now. It’s different because usually when you’re a Christian and you’re called to run towards something that means you kind of gather together and here’s a circumstance where gathering together happens to be the wrong thing to do because of the danger of contagion.
We are called to act, to love our neighbors in other ways than what we are used to — helping the elderly couple down the street who can’t really get out to buy their groceries to go and do that for them and leave a bag at their doorstep for instance, volunteering at the food bank or simply being a listening ear for people who have lost a loved one, who are ill, who are isolated. All of those things we can do. What we can’t do is what we love to do, which is to gather together without putting everybody at risk. Again, Christians are called in our love for our neighbors to consider all of those things.
I’m reading my Bible this morning — reading in 1 John — and I ran across these verses in 1 John, Chapter 3: “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” That’s a pretty good calling to Christians, but the next verse, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Actions and in truth. That’s what I think Christians are now called to do and many are doing so. But it has been a confusing time for a lot of people trying to figure out how do I take those words and make them into something I can do that is faithful to God but that recognizes the reality of what we know, through knowledge God has given us to learn through science, about this particular COVID-19 and how can I do what needs to be done to keep other people safe and not be the next super spreader despite my good intentions of being a Christian reaching out to those in need.
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- Learn how you can help researchers prevent and treat COVID-19 at CombatCovid.HHS.gov
- Watch Trusted Voices on COVID-19 Vaccines: NAE President Walter Kim
- Check out Dr. Francis Collins’ books:
- Read the NAE resource, “When God & Science Meet: Surprising Areas of Agreement”
- Listen to related NAE podcasts:
Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Youth Theology Network.