Francis Collins, chief of the National Institutes of Health, has expressed his distaste for how atheists view Christians in science fields at a USA Today editorial board meeting this week.
The “avowed” evangelical Christian commented on complaints many researchers have made about him being a man of faith and the head of a scientific agency. He stated he has concerns that well-known researchers proposing that a belief in evolution and a belief in God cannot coincide might negatively affect the opinions of people not familiar with science.
“There are a lot of scientists, I’m one of them, who believe this is a ‘middle ground’ between science and faith,” Collins said, reiterating that accepting evolution does not require the denial of religious views.
However, opponents continue to doubt Collins’ ability to properly execute his position.
“Collins is an advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs, and it is responsible for the scientific community to ask him how these beliefs will affect his administration,” Harvard researcher Stephen Pinker said in a written statement.
Collins responded to the criticism stating that “angry atheists are out there using science as a club to hit believers over the head.”
Recently, Collins expressed support of a ruling that will allow the continuation of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, a moral issue that many Christians oppose, but one that Collins feels is morally sound if it benefits the greater good.
A 2009 Pew Research Center poll concluded that 51 percent of scientists either believe in God or a higher power, indicating that Collins is not alone in his stance of a “middle ground.”
“I’m quite happy, and comfortable in my middle ground,” Collins said.