Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Language of God by Fancis S. Collins

Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project, which successfully mapped the human genome in 2000. I remember seeing this press conference live when it happened, and remember hearing what I assumed was religious rhetoric coming from those speaking. No scientists at this high of a level could believe in God, could they? It is this line of thinking that Collins looks to correct with his book, The Language of God.

Collins was not raised in a religious family. His parents sent him to church as a kid, but only so he could learn to sing in a choir. At some point he decided that he was an atheist, a view which he espoused through his college years. There came a time, however, when he felt that he needed to give God another look. He points to the writer, C. S. Lewis as an important influence on his thought processes during this time. And it is clear to see Lewis’ imprint on Collins’ way of thinking and even his writing style. He quotes heavily from Lewis and other religious writers through his book. Collins acknowledges this toward the end of the book, saying, “Few if any original theological concepts are portrayed within these pages.”

Collins basic argument: a strong belief in science does not preclude a belief in God, or vice versa. He makes no claim that science can prove there is a God, but neither can it prove that God does not exist. He argues that there are certain questions that science simply cannot answer, such as, ‘Why are we here?’, ‘How did we get here?’, and ‘What is the meaning of life?’.

By far the most interesting section of the book was the discussion of evolution, and description of BioLogos, which Collins jokingly refers to as “crevolution”. BioLogos is the belief that evolution is the process the God devised to create life on earth. It is interesting and worth thinking about, and Collins does a good job addressing questions that might arise from such a belief.

The appendix, “The Moral Practice of Science and Medicine: Bioethics”, is worth reading. Collins tackles issues, such as stem cell research, cloning, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In this section, and the rest of the book, Collins does a great job of explaining complex scientific theories and experiments. He is by no means a great writer, but neither is he a bad one. Regardless, it is the subject matter that makes The Language of God what it is, not Collins’ writing.

My review of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis


Nihil Novum said...

I picked up this book once. It was fairly light.

Carlton said...

You humor escapes me.