At a recent scientific conference in New York City, a student asked
one of the scientists participating in a panel discussion on science and
religion a provocative question. “Can you be a good scientist and
also believe in God?” The scientist, a Nobel laureate, quickly
responded: “Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is
not only incompatible with good science, this kind of belief is damaging
to the well-being of the human race!” But disdain for religion is
far from universal among scientists. Francis Collins, who directs the U.S.
National Genome Research Institute and was head of the first team to map
the entire human genome, is an example of a highly visible and respected
scientist who also openly embraces a religious Christian faith. As
palliative care clinicians and researchers, we, as well as our patients,
are constantly confronted with this very dilemma: the age-old tension
between faith and reason, God and science.