The Templeton Foundation awarded its $1.3 million annual prize to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. The late John Templeton, an investor, banker, and philanthropist, established the award in 1973 to honor those whose work leads to new insights about religion through science. In his bestselling 2006 book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins argued faith can inspire scientific discovery. He has continued to speak about the topic since becoming NIH director in 2009.
When he was younger, Collins said he was “a committed materialist who found little use for anything that could not be addressed by scientific experimentation,” he wrote for the Templeton Foundation. But as a medical student, he came to see atheism as an irrational worldview: “And to my amazement, pointers to a Creator began to appear in all sorts of places, even including scientific observations about the universe.”
But some Christians question how Collins, who started the BioLogos Foundation to explore Christianity and science, chooses to reconcile the two.
“We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God,” the organization’s website says. But Collins fervently believes in evolution and has described the first two chapters of Genesis are merely poetry or myth.
He also has clashed with pro-life advocates. Two years ago, Collins spoke in favor of research using tissue from aborted babies. “If something can be done with these tissues that might save somebody’s life downstream, perhaps that’s a better choice than discarding them,” he told reporters in 2018, according to Science Magazine. —J.B.