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A Long Talk With Anthony Fauci’s Boss About the Pandemic, Vaccines, and Faith
photo above: National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
WN: So much could be said that is positive about the article. As to the first two items in the title, I have excerpted a little on that. As to Dr. Collins’ embrace of Christian faith, there is as well an excerpt. Please also see my Easter Song, Keith Green, and Reflections on the Resurrection for more about Dr. Collins in light of Easter faith.
What’s your broad assessment of the American response to this pandemic — spanning federal government, state governments, local governments, and just us as a society?
I think, for the most part, Americans have been willing to sacrifice a lot to try to address this issue. I think most Americans have understood that’s not just for themselves; it’s for other people around them, because we can’t really put a stop to such a rapidly infectious pandemic unless we all take responsibility for that. The consequences have been quite severe for people who have lost their livelihood. The economic strain that has happened to many families has been totally unexpected and incredibly painful.
I especially look at the way in which this disease has hit underserved populations that were already suffering from health disparities and have now been hit even harder by COVID-19. I’m particularly thinking of African-Americans and Hispanics, but also anybody who’s in a lower socioeconomic state and can’t afford to sequester themselves at home because they’ve got to be out there in order to put food on the table. Those folks have been hit very hard.
I think for the most part Americans have been willing to say, “We’ve got to do everything we can to try to protect the vulnerable people around us.” I am concerned, however, that the willingness to sustain this individual behavior seems to have been slipping a bit and maybe, in some instances, has been encouraged as if we’re now past this pandemic. We are not past this now. In fact, when you see what’s happening just in the last week or so, it’s clear that we are at risk for a surge of more cases and ultimately more serious consequences as people have gotten more relaxed. I think most Americans are still being careful, but it doesn’t take a huge proportion of those being careless to give the virus its chance. We may be tired of COVID-19, but the virus doesn’t care. It’s out there, and 90 percent of Americans haven’t yet developed any immunity to it and are still totally vulnerable. The chance of having major consequences is just as significant as it was back in February.
Again, I think most Americans have been appropriately sacrificial, but it’s time to renew our attention to how you need to wear a mask because you might be the person who has the virus and is spreading it around without realizing it. That mask is not for you. That’s for everybody around you. If you care about your neighbors, your family, the people that you encounter in the store — wear that mask. Social distancing is an important part of this, not gathering indoors — especially without masks — packed together. That’s the worst thing you can do right now.
We Americans tend to be pioneers in individual behavior, but this is a time for individuals to moderate their behavior.
Yeah, this has unfortunately emerged as a new front in the culture war. As someone who is both an acclaimed scientist and a public Christian, what’s your perspective on the pandemic as a cultural issue? Do you see any clear way around that?
It’s one of the great tragedies of this current moment that scientifically based public-health measures have somehow been captured as cultural or political phenomena. Your chance of spreading the coronavirus to a vulnerable person has nothing to do with what culture you come from or what political party you belong to. Your responsibility is to try to prevent that from happening to vulnerable people around you. But our country’s polarization is so extreme that it even seems to extend into a place like this — where it absolutely doesn’t belong. That is really troubling because it’s putting people at risk who shouldn’t be.
You have worked, in your capacity as a scientist, to fund a fair amount of brain research, and you’ve also written a book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Before taking over at NIH, you started a foundation called BioLogos, which makes the case for a harmony between science and Christianity. What’s your perspective, at this point in your career, on what consciousness is?
That’s the big question in all of neuroscience. In terms of the scientific basis of consciousness, we really don’t have a clue. In terms of the spiritual significance, obviously it’s pretty important that we human beings seem to be special in our awareness of ourselves and our ability to imagine what other people are feeling at a given moment. All that is part of consciousness. I was an atheist when I entered medical school. I was a Christian when I left — and it was much driven by this experience of trying to integrate the reductionist aspects of science into the much more fundamental issues I saw my patients wrestling with, like is there a God and does God care about me and what happens after I die?
Those are uncomfortable questions for an atheist 23-year-old, but ultimately they became totally compelling and required some investigation and some answers. Ultimately, out of that, it came to me that it makes a lot more sense to believe in God than to deny God’s existence. A scientist isn’t supposed to make assertions that you would call universal negatives, because you can never have enough evidence to do that, and yet that’s what atheism calls you to do.
I surprised myself as I began to look at the pros and cons of belief versus nonbelief — that actually through science there seem to be a fair number of pointers, not proofs, but pointers toward the idea of a creator and a creator who was not only interested in creating something out of nothing, but also in having that something ultimately give rise to creatures with big brains who would have consciousness, who would have self-awareness, and who would have curiosity not just about nature, but also about who they are and what kind of spiritual creatures they might be.
It took me a couple of years to get through those many thickets of intellectual debate, but it led me then at that point in my life to see science and spirituality as not in conflict but actually quite compatible, quite harmonious, quite self- and co-reinforcing. People said my head was going to explode, that it would not be possible to both study genetics and read the Bible. I’ve never found a problem with this at all, despite the way in which some scientists have caricatured faith to make it seem incompatible. Most of those caricatures don’t resemble my faith.
Similarly, the way that some people have caricatured science as a threat to God, that doesn’t resemble the science that I’m doing. It’s been a terrible, I think, consequence of our last century or so that this polarization has been accepted as inevitable when I see it not at all in that light. There are many interesting scientific questions that tap into the kind of area that you’re asking about, like what is the neuroscientific basis of consciousness? What is the neuroscientific basis of a spiritual experience? If there is such a neuroscientific basis, does that make this spiritual experience less meaningful or more so? Those are fun conversations to have.
Please click on: Dr. Francis Collins
There is also this heartwarming interview with Dr. Fauci . . . DELETED! On September 10, 2020, we read:
Speaking with Fox News’ John Roberts, Fauci denied that he ever heard the president “distort” the threat of the coronavirus and maintained that Trump’s presentations to the public were largely in line with discussions he’d had with medical experts. When asked whether he ever felt Trump was downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, Fauci said no.
- Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.↩
- It continued:
‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.” The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed. It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.↩
- Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.↩
-  The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.↩
- A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
In June , the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.↩