Coyne Defends Francis Collins

@swamidass should add his voice in defending Francis Collins.

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I think it could be hard for various Christians to stand with Collins as it could potentially alienate them from their present or potential supporters/followers/etc. It’s also much easier to rally Christians around a simple black and white/culture war idea than a more nuanced position like Collins anyways. Thanks for sharing the blog post, though I fear it could just serve as more ammo for those who just see compromising Christians the same as atheists anyways.

So Deb Haarsma and Biologos is just going to sit back and let their founder and outstanding Director of the NIH get savagely attacked by the Evangelical Christians? What a bunch of hypocrites and cowards.

I’m 100% convinced that Francis Collins can defend himself. What precisely would you have any of us do? These are complex and nuanced questions too. I am all for engaging them, and I do, but not without entering the complexity. A my team their team based approach is not going to work on this one.

That being said, I’m very impressed by Coyne’s support of Miller and Collins. He is something of a fireball, but I’m coming to learn he is far more thoughtful and careful than most people give him credit. I’m glad to know this about him.

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You as a friend and admirer of Dr. Collins, an MD, a scientist in research of genetic diseases, and with soapbox called Peaceful Science could and should write a statement of support for Collins. And send that statement to the Evangelical Christians who are calling for Collins to be fired for his work in NIH research policy.

Not true in the Trump Administration. Dr. Collins is under attack from Evangelical Christians led by the anti-evolution Vice President Pence.

Lol okay. Believe it or not, they too are constantly getting attacked by fellow Christians. Don’t you know that’s what we do? Shoot each other in the feet in the name of God.

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So Deb Haarsma, who just sat in Francis Collins’ Dining Room having tea while Jim Stump interviewed him, is NOT going to make a statement in support of Collins? What a coward. She is the President of Biologos, making a $133,000 salary from the organization that Dr. Collins founded and she is worried about how it looks to Evangelical Christians who she is trying to reach?

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Righto. Because I also usually interrupt people as they are discussing challenges of gene editing about how much certain others don’t like them.

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It would be a drop in the ocean. Give us time. In a year or two we will have, you know, an actual “audience.” People will know who we are and what we stand for, and we will have capacity to convene real expertise and bridge gaps on questions like this.

Chasing a car before we are ready to catch it will undermine us more than you know. Give us time @patrick.


Watch how Dr. Collins is being treated by Evangelical Christians inside the Trump Administration. Learn from it. It may come in handy some day.

Beagle Lady has brought this up at Biologos. Does she realize it is the same atheists (Coyne) who are now supporting Dr. Collins, while the President of the organization he founded to reach Evangelical Christians is remains quiet as a mouse.

Well as a pro-lifer its the persuasive intellectual conclusion that peoples souls are sent into the material world at conception So these experiments from killed children are immoral.
Everybody always firing people for a less then perfect opinion on your issue seems unwise.
The Pro-lifers should be asdvocating for the overthrow of Roe vs Wade. A false absurd dictate to stop democratic action on thev people making their laws.
This Trump dude should be pushed to only select top Judges that free the people.
The case should be made to the people why roe is wrong. close but still not ready for prime time.
its the liberal left that demand obedience to its conclusions and fires folks by the tens/hundreds of thousands. 9actually origin blogs/forums censor/fire a lot too as i count them including biologos)
it might be just deserts for this Collins guy to be stopped because of a opinion because he did that to many on biologos.
Yet pro-lifers should do the important things. This fetal experiment, however ghoulish as we see it, is chump change.

An interesting article I read one time made the claim:

Evangelical opposition to abortion was crafted by political operatives as a way to co-opt the Christian church into the Republican party in order to save it from extinction after its landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson in 1964

If that’s true or at least partially true, then the present conservative outcry against Collins is perhaps little more than part of a larger carefully crafted political narrative for the sake of gaining power/control.


Roe v. Wade was a bad decision because it took more power away from the states and made a one-size-fits-all policy. This mindset just makes conservatives think their goal should be to get abortion banned nationwide. Both sides are wrong. They need to quit vying for power and let states decide regarding abortion.

Now, abortion is a serious issue — one in which I’ve always believed neither side gave due credit to the valid arguments of the other. And I am a pro-choice advocate (up until the fetus is viable outside the womb) who nevertheless believes Roe was wrongly decided, giving a police power to the federal government that the Constitution denies the federal government."

Unlike Crane, I’m pro-life but agree that abortion should be a state issue, not a federal one.

I’m nervous about posting the above comment. If a million comments emerge in response, I apologize. I was trying to provide a little counter-commentary to @pevaquark. I will not debate abortion or the constitution right now.

I think this topic should close. I will make a brief observation though.

Research using fetal tissue may or may not be ethical, depending on one’s ethical criteria and the precise details of what type of fetal tissue research is being discussed. It is worth remember than George W. Bush was the president that first lifted the moratorium on using fetal tissue in federally funded research, and he did so with the support of many religious leaders, many of whom were anti-abortion. Why? If you do not know that story, you are missing some very important things.

If we collapse this down to being pro-choice or anti-life, you are making a large error. Many who oppose abortion have no problem with fetal tissue research of certain sorts. If you make this about being pro-choice, you are going to alienate people who would not in principle have reason to oppose your position, at least in part.

Right now, in a polarized environment, it is important to avoid “bundling” of issues, linking positions on different topics into a joint platform. That process stifles real thought and dialogue. It prevents new ways forward from forming and growing.

As for Collins, I’m sure he will survive this. He is a good politician, and for all their raging, he is the most sympathetic candidate imaginable at the NIH. It is not as if there is a more acceptable and qualified candidate waiting in the wings. A lot of noise, but I do not see much there there.