Monthly Archives: March 2003

Genes and God: Contrasting Perspectives

London’s Telegraph had an unusually balanced article on how leading scientists think about God.

The occasion? The 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA.
The players? Watson & Crick (discoverers of DNA, both atheists) and Francis Collins (head of the Human Genome Project, devout Christian).

In Crick’s mind, “The god hypothesis is rather discredited.” Indeed, he says his distaste for religion was one of his prime motives in the work that led to the sensational 1953 discovery.

“I went into science because of these religious reasons, there’s no doubt about that. I asked myself what were the two things that appear inexplicable and are used to support religious beliefs: the difference between living and nonliving things, and the phenomenon of consciousness.”

And according to Watson, “Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely,” said Watson. “Only with the discovery of the double helix and the ensuing genetic revolution have we had grounds for thinking that the powers held traditionally to be the exclusive property of the gods might one day be ours.”

But Collins (who has succeeded Watson as head of the Human Genome Project), believes that religion and science “are nicely complementary and mutually supporting”, he said. As one example, his research to find the faulty gene responsible for cystic fibrosis provided scientific exhilaration and “a sense of awe at uncovering something that God knew before that we humans didn’t”.

“The tragedy is that many people believe that, if evolution is true, which it clearly is, then God can’t be true… God decided to create a species with whom he could have fellowship. Who are we to say that evolution was a dumb way to do it? It was an incredibly elegant way to do it.”

“Jim, who I know much better than Francis, avoids bringing this topic up when we are having a conversation.”

The article concludes with what I found to be a sadly amusing story of Crick’s antipathy to faith. You really ought to read the whole thing.

Just a Little Botox For the Site Header

I just redesigned the site header–if I did it correctly it should allow the page to load faster even though the header is larger and more complex.

Please let me know if you have any problems, because I’ve been doing some experimentation in Flash and I’m definitely at the beginning of the learning curve.

UPDATE: I’m getting some weird results from the individual entries–I’m hoping it’s just a cache problem. I’ll take a look at it again in the morning. Even if it’s doing what it seems to be doing it doesn’t make the site unuseable (just ugly).

Some Remarkable Stanford Alumni In The News

FYI: This has absolutely nothing to do with the war currently raging in Iraq. Go to if you want up-to-the-minute info.

I just ran across four Stanford alumni:

The President of Peru Alejandro Toledo is a Stanford grad who will be speaking at the 2003 Stanford graduation ceremonies. He has three degrees from Stanford: two masters and one doctorate. read all about it

CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan graduated in 1985. She’ll be covering the Oscars. read all about it

Two of Stanford’s own will be helping investigate the Columbia space shuttle explosion. Nobel laureate Douglas Osheroff and Sally Ride (who also helped investigate the Challenger disaster). read all about it

They were once students here just as the students Paula and I minister to today. Touch a student, touch the future. Touch the future, change the world…

The Luck of the Irish

As you are no doubt aware, yesterday was St. Patrick’s day. Coincidentally, we were in Dublin, CA talking with the missions board of Valley Christian Center.

Anyway, they blessed our socks off. Thanks so much to the the missions board, the church they represent, and to pastor Ray Noah!

And I didn’t even have to kiss the blarney stone (although I did wear green–I figured that in a town named Dublin with little shamrocks painted on every street sign it was probably a good idea to wear green lest I be pinched mercilessly).

Jesus — A Level 5 Leader

If you’ve never read anything by Jim Collins, he’s a former prof at Stanford who’s hit it big (huge would be a more accurate term) in the world of business writing. His two books Built to Last and Good to Great are devoured by business leaders hungry for an edge.

In the latter book, Collins talks about the cruciality of level 5 leadership. Level 5 leaders combine humility and strength in a surprisingly potent package. I found this excerpt from an interview with him fascinating:

I have absolutely no religious background at all, which gives me more confidence in the findings. If I had come from a strong religious background, I’d be more suspicious. After the book came out, I kept hearing people say to me, “There was this ultimate Level 5 leader who lived 2,000 years ago. The things he talked about in the Gospel have great compatibility with what you say.” Of course I had heard about Jesus, but as a result of finding out about Level 5, I was inspired to begin reading the New Testament to see for myself. read the whole interview