Francis Sellers Collins (Staunton, 14 april 1950) is een Amerikaans arts en geneticus.
Tussen 1993 en 2008 was Collins directeur van het National Human Genome Research Institute. Hij werd in 2009 directeur van de Natonal Institutes of Health.
By graduate school, Collins considered himself an atheist. However, a conversation with a hospital patient led him to question his lack of religious views, and he investigated various faiths. He familiarized himself with the evidence for and against God in cosmology, and on the recommendation of a Methodist minister used Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis as a foundation to develop his religious views. He believes that people cannot be converted to Christianity by reason and argument alone, and that the final stage of conversion entails a “leap of faith”. After several years of deliberation, he finally converted to Christianity during a trip to the Cascade Mountains, where he describes a striking image of a frozen waterfall as removing his final resistance, resulting in his conversion the following morning. He has described himself as a “serious Christian”.
In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins wrote that scientific discoveries were an “opportunity to worship” and that he rejected both Young Earth creationism and intelligent design. His own belief, he wrote, was theistic evolution or evolutionary creation, which he preferred to call BioLogos. He wrote that one can “think of DNA as an instructional script, a software program, sitting in the nucleus of the cell”. He appeared in December 2006 on The Colbert Report television show and in a March 2007 Fresh Air radio interview to discuss this book. In an interview with D. J. Grothe on the Point of Inquiry podcast, he said that the overall aim of the book was to show that “one can be intellectually in a rigorous position and argue that science and faith can be compatible”, and that he was prompted to write the book because “most people are seeking a possible harmony between these worldviews [science and faith], and it seems rather sad that we hear so little about this possibility. Collins said he had been a Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Episcopalian, emphasizing that denominational differences were not essential to him. He recalled that, growing up, he participated in the choir of an Episcopal church.
Collins is a critic of intelligent design, and for this reason he was not asked to participate in the 2008 documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Walt Ruloff, a producer for the film, claimed that by rejecting intelligent design, Collins was “toeing the party line”, a claim which Collins called “just ludicrous”. In an interview he stated that “intelligent design is headed for collapse in the not too distant future” and that “science class ought to be about science, and opening the door to religious perspectives in that setting is a big mistake.” In 2007, Collins founded the BioLogos Foundation to “contribute to the public voice that represents the harmony of science and faith”. He served as the foundation’s president until he was confirmed as director of the NIH. Collins has also spoken at the Veritas Forum on the relationship between science and religion and the existence of God.
Christopher Hitchens referred to Francis Collins as “one of the greatest living Americans” and stated that Collins was one of the most devout believers he had ever met. He further stated that Collins was sequencing the genome of the cancer that would ultimately claim Hitchens’s life, and that their friendship despite their differing opinion on religion was an example of the greatest armed truce in modern times.