Faith & Science

14 Jan

This morning I attended the annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast. It’s officially the last time members of the General Assembly are allowed to possess cultery until Sine Die, which this year is expected to come towards the end of February.

It’s always a grand event, and this year was no exception. The Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General all share the head table, and members of the General Assembly and assorted supporters, lobbyists and others fill the ballroom at the Richmond Convention Center.

For whatever reason, the program seemed a little less stuffy this year, and didn’t seem to drag on endlessly as it has in years past.

While it’s not technically a time for laughter, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling garnered the biggest chuckle. In the introduction of Governor Kaine, Bolling referred to speculation in 2008 that first thought Kaine to be a Vice Presidential contender, then speculation that he might join President Obama’s cabinet. Bolling looked directly at Kaine and said “I was pulling for you Governor.”

The speaker this year was Dr. Francis S. Collins, the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and the author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Collins shared his belief that faith and science do not exist in contradiction. In fact he went so far as to say that believers should embrace science as it teaches us about God’s design. And that makes sense. It’s laughable to believe that we’ve evolved to this state without the influence of a creator, or master designer.

As Collins has previously said, “I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way.”

It seems simple. But it never is.

Collins also said that it’s not true that the majority of scientists reject the notion of a supreme being. On the contrary, he said that some 40% of scientists believe in God. That’s encouraging.

Collins ended with the sharing of this hymn. Sung to the tune Hyfrydol, these words were written in 1994 by Rev. Thomas H. Troeger.

Praise the source of faith and learning that has sparked and stoked the mind
With a passion for discerning how the world has been designed.
Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
Keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray.

God of wisdom, we acknowledge that our science and our art
And the breadth of human knowledge only partial truth impart.
Far beyond our calculation lies a depth we cannot sound
Where Your purpose for creation and the pulse of life are found.

As two currents in a river fight each other’s undertow
Till converging they deliver one coherent steady flow,
Blend O God our faith and learning till they carve a single course
Till they join as one, returning praise and thanks to You, their Source.

Copyright 1994 Oxford University Press

As is tradition, the Governor offers closing remarks in response to the speaker. Governor Kaine took the opportunity to continue the theme of the morning speaking of harmony. He referenced the beautiful sounds of the Norfolk State University Spartan Chorale who provided music for the morning. He spoke of how voices can sing together a melody, but the more beautiful sounds come as voices sing different notes.

The Governor expressed a hope that, while members of the General Assembly and the Administration may not always agree, that they may “sing” together in harmony for the greater purpose of leading the Commonwealth.

It’s an excellent sentiment and one we can all aspire to.

But I did notice that, by the end of the event, the waitstaff had cleared the silverware.


One Response to “Faith & Science”


  1. Wenesday Morning Reading - July 15, 2009

    […] As we reported in January, Dr. Collins spoke at this year’s Commonwealth Prayer […]

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