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Deborah Haarsma
 on September 24, 2020

Congratulations to Francis Collins, Templeton Prize Recipient!

BioLogos President Deb Haarsma congratulates founder Francis Collins on being awarded the Templeton Prize.



My name is Deborah Haarsma. I’m an astronomer and President of BioLogos.

I am thrilled to congratulate Dr. Francis Collins on receiving the Templeton Prize.

Francis is well deserving. He’s a world class scientist, devout Christian, caring doctor, and public servant.  I’m honored to call him a friend. We both love science and math, like second order differential equations.  And we both love God. When Francis steps into the lab or I observe galaxies with a telescope, it’s not just science, it’s worship of the Creator.

And we both love music – he and Diane hold these great music nights in their home, packing in friends and colleagues to sing old gospel songs. Plus, Francis is just cool – he rides a motorcycle, he sings with opera stars, he banters with Stephen Colbert on late night TV.

But I want to focus on the impact Francis has had on others. Think of the many patients who have been healed because of his genomics research. Think of the countless lives that will be saved by the coming COVID vaccine. And think of all those whose hearts and minds have been changed on science and faith.

People like Marcus. Marcus is a young man who grew up in church, learning to love the Bible and hearing the Genesis account of origins. But in science class Marcus felt like he was hearing the polar opposite – an ancient universe and evolving life. He wondered “If the scientific account of creation is true, does that mean God is false?”

He tried asking his pastor about it, but sadly the pastor dismissed his questions. In school, his science teachers weren’t any better – they mocked the Bible and said the church was out of touch with science. Both sides told Marcus there was a conflict and he would have to choose. He questioned over and over whether God really existed.

But then, Marcus went online and discovered the work of Francis Collins. And for the first time, Marcus saw a prominent scientist who was also a believer.

Marcus was not alone in his struggle. The 90s and 2000s saw a rise in conflict. The young earth creationist movement was shouting “the Bible is right and science is wrong”.  Militant atheists like Richard Dawkins were shouting “science is right and the Bible is wrong.”

In stepped Francis Collins. His life shattered preconceptions on both sides. He has outstanding scientific credentials AND a powerful testimony of coming to faith from atheism. He certainly isn’t the only believing scientist, but his book Language of God brought his story to a huge audience.

And that story is powerful – research confirms that it changes hearts and minds. Sociologists Chris SHY-tle and Elaine Ecklund surveyed people who didn’t know Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins. They found that those who read about Dawkins for the first time did not change their perspective, but those who read about Francis Collins for the first time did. They became more likely to agree that science and religion CAN coexist.

When the book came out, Francis had a tidal wave of questions from readers, and he was deeply moved by letters from young people like Marcus. Francis founded BioLogos to be a place where people could bring those questions and learn from Christian leaders in science and theology.

When BioLogos was founded, I was thrilled. For years I had longed for an organization that would actively promote great science AND biblical faith!  BioLogos is now over 11 years old. With generous support from the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton Religion Trust, and many other funders, we are reaching over a million people a year, through our website, social media, podcast, and events. We even have a homeschool curriculum coming.

With the pandemic the topics are changing, the headlines are now all about masks and vaccines.  But that underlying question is still there – can  Christian faith fit with the findings of modern science? The answer is YES. During the pandemic, Francis Collins has been able to speak to Christians as a trusted figure because of his faith.  And this time, BioLogos is already here – online and with many resources explaining COVID science in the context of Christian faith.  For Marcus, our website was a place to dig in and learn, finally resolving his questions. He wrote “BioLogos transformed my understanding of science and God.”

None of this would have been possible without Francis Collins.

Congratulations, Francis. Your life has changed the lives of countless others.