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Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

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Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

4/5 (45 valutazioni)
288 pagine
4 ore
Jul 17, 2006


From Scribd: About the Book

Templeton Prize-winning author Francis S. Collins writes an instant bestseller in Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Through his novel, Collins sheds an insightful light on how a scientist like him can make sense of both science and religion.

Through Collins’ help, readers can better understand that the science behind evolution does not necessarily disprove God’s existence but merely displays an alternative method of creating.

Collins provides a stronger case for faith than anyone else has been able to make against it in the past. Together, science and religion make the world a more inspiring place than either can alone.

When looking at the scientific data and Genesis, you can see no actual conflict between evolution and Christianity. Unfortunately, it always tends to be the two extremists on both ends who capture most of the attention. Follow Collins as he takes you down a new, enlightened path that combines both religion and science into one harmonic world.

Jul 17, 2006

Informazioni sull'autore

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is a pioneer gene hunter. He spent fifteen years as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the international Human Genome Project to a successful completion. For his revolutionary contributions to genetic research he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, and the National Medal of Science in 2009. He is the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

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Language of God - Francis S. Collins

More Praise for The Language of God

"The Language of God is a powerful confession of belief from one of the world’s leading scientists. Refuting the tired stereotypes of hostility between science and religion, Francis Collins challenges his readers to find a unity of knowledge that encompasses both faith and reason. Faith, as he demonstrates, is not the enemy of scientific rationality, but its perfect complement. This powerful and personal testament from the Director of the Human Genome Project will surprise some, delight others, and will make a lasting contribution to the great culture of human understanding."

—Kenneth Miller, Brown University, author of Finding Darwin’s God

Francis S. Collins proves that there is a place for apologetics. He presents, in a surprisingly easy-to-read manner, scientific validation for a worldview in which God is not only present, but actively at work.

—Tony Campolo, Eastern University, author of Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid to Face

Francis Collins has written an extraordinary personal testimony about the compatibility of God and science. His explanation of DNA as God’s instruction book is persuasive. His explanation of his personal faith is compelling reading.

—Newt Gingrich

Timely and incisive. Collins shows how our understanding of evolution, far from standing in the way of faith, reveals a universe of ever greater ingenuity and subtlety.

—Paul Davies, author of The Fifth Miracle:

The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life

Dr. Collins, the leader of one of history’s greatest scientific achievements, is also a man of profound faith. In this superb book, he shares his deeply moving journey from militant atheism to a spiritual worldview, with a strong belief in the Creator. How he reconciles his faith with the discoveries of his science—told here with startling simplicity and clarity—is deeply inspiring. He brings reason and reconciliation to several issues that currently divide our culture. I could not put the book down.

—Dr. Armand Nicholi, author of The Question of God

A remarkable book, in which one of the world’s leading geneticists shares his passionate love of science and his story of personal faith. Compelling reading for anyone reflecting on the relation of science and faith.

—Alister E. McGrath, author of Dawkins’ God:

Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life

Dr. Francis S. Collins is making an enormous contribution toward helping people resolve their confusion over conflicts between science and faith. As a seeker after truth, Dr. Collins has discovered that faith and science are not only compatible but complementary. Dr. Collins is another ’pencil in the hand of God’ to bring understanding and reconciliation in a field of conflict.

—Douglas E. Coe, Washington, D.C.


A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 2006 by Francis S. Collins

All rights reserved,

including the right of reproduction

in whole or in part in any form.

FREE PRESS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Designed by Davina Mock

Figure 5.1 (right side) taken from Darwin by Niles Eldredge (W. W. Norton, New York, 2005). All other line drawings: Michael Hagelberg. Excerpt Chapter One from The Gap from A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Copyright © 1977, 1980 by Sheldon Vanauken. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Collins, Francis S.

The language of God: a scientist presents evidence for belief/Francis S. Collins.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. Religion and science. 2. Apologetics. I. Title.

BL 240.3 .C66 2006

215—dc22              2006045316

ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-9357-0

ISBN-10: 0-7432-9357-6

Visit us on the World Wide Web:

To my parents, who taught me to love learning.



Part One: The Chasm Between Science and Faith

One From Atheism to Belief

Two The War of the Worldviews

Part Two: The Great Questions of Human Existence

Three The Origins of the Universe

Four Life on Earth: Of Microbes and Man

Five Deciphering God’s Instruction Book:

The Lessons of the Human Genome

Part Three: Faith in Science, Faith in God

Six Genesis, Galileo, and Darwin

Seven Option 1: Atheism and Agnosticism

(When Science Trumps Faith)

Eight Option 2: Creationism

(When Faith Trumps Science)

Nine Option 3: Intelligent Design

(When Science Needs Divine Help)

Ten Option 4: BioLogos

(Science and Faith in Harmony)

Eleven Truth Seekers

Appendix: The Moral Practice of Science and Medicine: Bioethics





ON A WARM SUMMER DAY just six months into the new millennium, humankind crossed a bridge into a momentous new era. An announcement beamed around the world, highlighted in virtually all major newspapers, trumpeted that the first draft of the human genome, our own instruction book, had been assembled.

The human genome consists of all the DNA of our species, the hereditary code of life. This newly revealed text was 3 billion letters long, and written in a strange and cryptographic four-letter code. Such is the amazing complexity of the information carried within each cell of the human body, that a live reading of that code at a rate of one letter per second would take thirty-one years, even if reading continued day and night. Printing these letters out in regular font size on normal bond paper and binding them all together would result in a tower the height of the Washington Monument. For the first time on that summer morning this amazing script, carrying within it all of the instructions for building a human being, was available to the world.

As the leader of the international Human Genome Project, which had labored mightily over more than a decade to reveal this DNA sequence, I stood beside President Bill Clinton in the East Room of the White House, along with Craig Venter, the leader of a competing private sector enterprise. Prime Minister Tony Blair was connected to the event by satellite, and celebrations were occurring simultaneously in many parts of the world.

Clinton’s speech began by comparing this human sequence map to the map that Meriwether Lewis had unfolded in front of President Thomas Jefferson in that very room nearly two hundred years earlier. Clinton said, Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind. But the part of his speech that most attracted public attention jumped from the scientific perspective to the spiritual. Today, he said, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.

Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact I had worked closely with the president’s speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement, and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph. When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: It’s a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.

What was going on here? Why would a president and a scientist, charged with announcing a milestone in biology and medicine, feel compelled to invoke a connection with God? Aren’t the scientific and spiritual worldviews antithetical, or shouldn’t they at least avoid appearing in the East Room together? What were the reasons for invoking God in these two speeches? Was this poetry? Hypocrisy? A cynical attempt to curry favor from believers, or to disarm those who might criticize this study of the human genome as reducing humankind to machinery? No. Not for me. Quite the contrary, for me the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.

Many will be puzzled by these sentiments, assuming that a rigorous scientist could not also be a serious believer in a transcendent God. This book aims to dispel that notion, by arguing that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science.

This potential synthesis of the scientific and spiritual worldviews is assumed by many in modern times to be an impossibility, rather like trying to force the two poles of a magnet together into the same spot. Despite that impression, however, many Americans seem interested in incorporating the validity of both of these worldviews into their daily lives. Recent polls confirm that 93 percent of Americans profess some form of belief in God; yet most of them also drive cars, use electricity, and pay attention to weather reports, apparently assuming that the science undergirding these phenomena is generally trustworthy.

And what about spiritual belief amongst scientists? This is actually more prevalent than many realize. In 1916, researchers asked biologists, physicists, and mathematicians whether they believed in a God who actively communicates with humankind and to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer. About 40 percent answered in the affirmative. In 1997, the same survey was repeated verbatim—and to the surprise of the researchers, the percentage remained very nearly the same.

So perhaps the battle between science and religion is not as polarized as it seems? Unfortunately, the evidence of potential harmony is often overshadowed by the high-decibel pronouncements of those who occupy the poles of the debate. Bombs are definitely being thrown from both sides. For example, essentially discrediting the spiritual beliefs of 40 percent of his colleagues as sentimental nonsense, the prominent evolutionist Richard Dawkins has emerged as the leading spokesperson for the point of view that a belief in evolution demands atheism. Among his many eye-popping statements: Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence…. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.¹

On the other side, certain religious fundamentalists attack science as dangerous and untrustworthy, and point to a literal interpretation of sacred texts as the only reliable means of discerning scientific truth. Among this community, comments from the late Henry Morris, a leader of the creationist movement, stand out: Evolution’s lie permeates and dominates modern thought in every field. That being the case, it follows inevitably that evolutionary thought is basically responsible for the lethally ominous political developments, and the chaotic moral and social disintegrations that have been accelerating everywhere…. When science and the Bible differ, science has obviously misinterpreted its data.²

This rising cacophony of antagonistic voices leaves many sincere observers confused and disheartened. Reasonable people conclude that they are forced to choose between these two unappetizing extremes, neither of which offers much comfort. Disillusioned by the stridency of both perspectives, many choose to reject both the trustworthiness of scientific conclusions and the value of organized religion, slipping instead into various forms of antiscientific thinking, shallow spirituality, or simple apathy. Others decide to accept the value of both science and spirit, but compartmentalize these parts of their spiritual and material existence to avoid any uneasiness about apparent conflicts. Along these lines, the late biologist Stephen Jay Gould advocated that science and faith should occupy separate, non-overlapping magisteria. But this, too, is potentially unsatisfying. It inspires internal conflict, and deprives people of the chance to embrace either science or spirit in a fully realized way.

So here is the central question of this book: In this modern era of cosmology, evolution, and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews? I answer with a resounding yes! In my view, there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us. Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul—and the mind must find a way to embrace both realms.

I will argue that these perspectives not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience. Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence. But science is powerless to answer questions such as Why did the universe come into being? What is the meaning of human existence? What happens after we die? One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen. The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.

The consideration of such weighty matters can be unsettling. Whether we call it by name or not, all of us have arrived at a certain worldview. It helps us make sense of the world around us, provides us with an ethical framework, and guides our decisions about the future. Anyone who tinkers with that worldview should not do it lightly. A book that proposes to challenge something so fundamental may inspire more uneasiness than comfort. But we humans seem to possess a deep-seated longing to find the truth, even though that longing is easily suppressed by the mundane details of daily life. Those distractions combine with a desire to avoid considering our own mortality, so that days, weeks, months, or even years can easily pass where no serious consideration is given to the eternal questions of human existence. This book is only a small antidote to that circumstance, but will perhaps provide an opportunity for self-reflection, and a desire to look deeper.

First, I should explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.

Part One

The Chasm Between Science and Faith

Chapter One

From Atheism to Belief

MY EARLY LIFE WAS UNCONVENTIONAL in many ways, but as the son of freethinkers, I had an upbringing that was quite conventionally modern in its attitude toward faith—it just wasn’t very important.

I was raised on a dirt farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The farm had no running water, and few other physical amenities. Yet these things were more than compensated for by the stimulating mix of experiences and opportunities that were available to me in the remarkable culture of ideas created by my parents.

They had met in graduate school at Yale in 1931, and had taken their community organizing skills and love of music to the experimental community of Arthurdale, West Virginia, where they worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in attempting to reinvigorate a downtrodden mining community in the depths of the Great Depression.

But other advisers in the Roosevelt administration had other ideas, and the funding soon dried up. The ultimate dismantling of the Arthurdale community on the basis of backbiting Washington politics left my parents with a lifelong suspicion of the government. They moved on to academic life at Elon College in Burlington, North Carolina. There, presented with the wild and beautiful folk culture of the rural South, my father became a folksong collector, traveling through the hills and hollows and convincing reticent North Carolinians to sing into his Presto recorder. Those recordings, along with an even larger set from Alan Lomax, make up a significant fraction of the Library of Congress collection of American folksongs.

When World War II arrived, such musical endeavors were forced to take a backseat to more urgent matters of national defense, and my father went to work helping to build bombers for the war effort, ultimately ending up as a supervisor in an aircraft factory in Long Island.

At the end of the war, my parents concluded that the high-pressure life of business was not for them. Being ahead of their time, they did the sixties thing in the 1940s: they moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, bought a ninety-five-acre farm, and set about trying to create a simple agricultural lifestyle without use of farm machinery. Discovering after only a few months that this was not going to feed their two adolescent sons (and soon another brother and I would arrive), my father landed a job teaching drama at the local women’s college. He recruited male actors from the local town, and together these college students and local tradesmen found the production of plays was great fun. Faced with complaints about the long and boring hiatus in the summer, my father and mother founded a summer theater in a grove of oak trees above our farmhouse. The Oak Grove Theater continues in uninterrupted and delightful operation more than fifty years later.

I was born into this happy mix of pastoral beauty, hard farmwork, summer theater, and music, and thrived in it. As the youngest of four boys, I could not get into too many scrapes that were not already familiar to my parents. I grew up with the general sense that you had to be responsible for your own behavior and your choices, as no one else was going to step in and take care of them for you.

Like my older brothers, I was home-schooled by my mother, a remarkably talented teacher. Those early years conferred on me the priceless gift of the joy of learning. While my mother had no organized class schedule or lesson plans, she was incredibly perceptive in identifying topics that would intrigue a young mind, pursuing them with great intensity to a natural stopping point, and then switching to something new and equally exciting. Learning was never something you did because you had to, it was something you did because you loved it.

Faith was not an important part of my childhood. I was vaguely aware of the concept of God, but my own interactions with Him were limited to occasional childish moments of bargaining about something that I really wanted Him to do for me. For instance, I remember making a contract with God (at about age nine) that if He would prevent the rainout of a Saturday night theater performance and music party that I was particularly excited about, then I would promise never to smoke cigarettes. Sure enough, the rains held off, and I never took up the habit. Earlier, when I was five, my parents decided to send me and my next oldest brother to become members of the boys choir at the local Episcopal church. They made it clear that it would be a great way to learn music, but that the theology should not be taken too seriously. I followed those instructions, learning the glories of harmony and counterpoint but letting the theological concepts being preached from the pulpit wash over me without leaving any discernible residue.

When I was ten, we moved in town to be with my ailing grandmother, and I entered the public schools. At fourteen, my eyes were opened to the wonderfully exciting and powerful methods of science. Inspired by a charismatic chemistry teacher who could write the same information on the blackboard with both hands simultaneously, I discovered for the first time the intense satisfaction of the ordered nature of the universe. The fact that all matter was constructed of atoms and molecules that followed mathematical principles was an unexpected revelation, and the ability to use the tools of science to discover new things about nature struck me at once as something of which I wanted to be a part. With the enthusiasm of a new convert, I decided my goal in life would be to become a chemist. Never mind that I knew relatively little about the other sciences, this first puppy love seemed life-changing.

In contrast, my encounters with biology left me completely cold. At least as perceived by my teenage mind, the fundamentals of biology seemed to have more to do with rote learning of mindless facts than elucidation of principles. I really wasn’t that interested

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  • (5/5)
    Excellent book. Although I have my disagreements with Collins on some of the things discussed in the book, it is an excellent window into how a scientist, who is also a Christian, is able to come to terms with both science and religion.
  • (4/5)
    The relationship between evolution and Christianity is so often framed antagonistically; it's refreshing to read a perspective that promotes harmony between the two. This book is an engaging and pragmatic introduction of theistic evolution; I'd like follow it up with more research, especially about some theological perspectives through an evolutionary lense.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. I had a lot of issues trying to reconcile faith and science after a course I had taken on evolution with a professor who tried his hardest to convert people away from religion. After reading this book I can understand that evolution does not DISPROVE the existence of God, just shows a different method of "creating."
  • (4/5)
    Well written and very thoughtful! Celebration of God and science.
  • (5/5)
    I am not 100% convinced either way on the age of the universe or exactly how God created it. However, I am 100% convinced that God created the universe and everything in it and that science is NOT and never was at odds with that. It was awesome to finally read something rational, instead of the non sequitur old "Big Bang/Evolution; therefore there is no God," or the equally ridiculous old "God planted a bunch of red herring scientific evidence just to confuse us." This guy uses science to make a stronger case for faith than anybody else ever did to make a case against it. Far from being mutually incompatible, science and faith together make the universe a hundredfold more amazing and awe-inspiring than either does alone. I don't know if everything Collins believes is correct, but finally somebody is making some sense! Thanks, brother!
  • (5/5)
    I thought this book was excellent.

    Francis Collins clearly explains how evolution and Christianity are not incompatible with each other. Coming as it does from such an esteemed scientist, this is a very well thought out and well argued position, although some of the very science-y stuff did make it necessary to reread certain parts!

    Collins is also right in that it's only really those who have extreme views on either side of this debate who get the attention. Looking at the scientific data and Genesis, you can see that there really is no conflict between evolution and Christianity, but there is a lot of rhetoric and straw men flung about by fundamentalists on either side.

    Hopefully this intelligent and well argued book will go some way to showing that science is not at war with religion, and in fact they can and do complement each other.
  • (4/5)
    I picked this book up because I thought it would be interesting to read about the religious views of the head of the Human Genome Project. What does someone who has his scientific credentials think about God and spirituality? Some of the reviews attempt to attack perceived fallacies in his arguments and prove him “wrong,” but I was less interested in that than I was getting inside his head and listening to his personal story, whether I agreed with him or not. The Language of God is a well-written, easily-read rumination on the conflict between science and religion and why the author (along with many in the scientific community) feels this conflict doesn’t need to exist. Despite arguing from a believer’s point of view, Collins spends quite a bit of time shooting down creationism, Biblical literalism, and Intelligent Design. He advises against using God to “fill in the gaps” in current scientific knowledge and instead encourages believers to base their faith on something more stable. He points to history to illustrate that current arguments that require a literal reading of the Genesis are relatively new and that pre-Darwin religious thinkers didn’t hold the same views that current conservative religious folks do.The only downside from my point of view is that Collins is Christian; I feel like I've spent enough time reading about how people arrived at their faith in Jesus. I'd love to read something written from the perspective of someone who became just about anything else, just for the sake of hearing some different experiences. To Collins' credit, though, in the few times he discusses the Bible, he refers to the original Hebrew. He also acknowledges several times that although his exploration of his personal beliefs brought him to Christianity, that every person will find what is right for them. A strike against him, though, is his use of the phrase "Judeo-Christian" several times, especially in reference to religious texts. That phrase needs to be disposed of and never used by anyone ever again.The book ends with an appendix detailing some current bioethics concerns, and while it's interesting (especially since a bioethics class I took with Lori Andrews was one of my more interesting law school classes), I'm a little puzzled about its placement in this book.
  • (1/5)
    God and science... yes. God and evolution... no. Science and evolution... no. Poison is poison and since this book still pushes the evolution lie, it's still poison. The biblical account of creation and evolution are completely incompatible with each other. But, some heretics continue to try and twist the true meaning of Genesis 1 and 2.
  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    More and more,if you are willing to open your eyes, you will be confronted with those who have differing views and beliefs than your own. The temptation is great to simply dismiss any idea or worldview that seems contrary to the one you already hold. My brother characterizes, and to a degree caricatures, the typical Christian response to contrary ideas as that of a petulant child putting his fingers in his ears and repeating, “I CAN'T HEAR YOU” to drown out the sound of anything that might question what is held so dearly.

    As a Christian,who deals with many Christians, it is hard to not acquiesce to his diagnosis. So often, those who should be genuinely searching out truth wherever it lies (seeing as how all truth is God's truth) will allow ourselves to remain ignorant out of fear that our beliefs will come crashing down and our God with them. If this fear is not present,then the possibility of ever having to admit some degree of error in our interpretation of the Bible or of the world or of our self is more than our pride can stand.
    Labels abound. If you believe in health care for all or government based social services then you are a “communist”. If you believe that some of the Bible is not to be taken literally, you're a “liberal” who does not believe the Bible. If you preach grace you are “antinomian” and if you preach responsibility and fidelity, you are a “legalist”. The word “heretic” gets thrown around on anyone not conforming to “the Bible” which would be more accurately and honesty communicated as “my interpretation of the Bible”.

    All these labels do in most cases is perpetuate ignorance and division, making it more convenient and efficient for us as we sit in God's seat of judgment on any who might not submit themselves to what we “know” as truth. Enter Francis Collins. Talk about a guy getting it from all angles. Collins was the head of the Human Genome Project, the scientific research to map out the human genome. The work done under his leadership has led to us have a genetic map of human beings. The benefit of this in the war against disease and defect is incapable of being overstated. The work God has done through this man and his leadership is amazing.

    And therein lies the reason he receives such criticism. Collins, a biologist, stood in the Oval Office with then President Clinton and nodded approvingly when President Clinton remarked that we could now see the “language of God” used in creation. How a professional biologist could hold to an “inherently unscientific” belief in God and approve of such theistic speak offended many in the biological community. That a committed Christian could believed in the “inherently atheistic” doctrine of evolution, offended many in the Christian community.

    That is the backdrop for the book, The Language of God by Francis Collins. Collins work is one part biography, one part scientific treatise and one part apologetic. Collins spends time going over his life, and his own path from atheism, to agnosticism, and finally to his firm belief in the theism of Biblical Christianity. The biographical aspects of the book are all centered on how he has related his lifelong love of science with his lifelong struggle with faith,and it is quite engrossing.

    Even as the biographical aspects of the book focus on Collins' own personal path, the way he presents it is overtly apologetic. He constantly goes over how he was convinced of the truth of theism and eventually the Christian truth claim, not simply recounting the fact that he was convinced. The way the apologetic is intertwined with the biographical narrative reminds one of reading C.S. Lewis when he deals with the same subject. Based on the references to and quotes from Lewis, this may not have been intentional but certainly it is without shock that some of Lewis' writing style was adopted by Collins.

    The apologetic nature of the book is not limited solely to a defense of the Christian faith. The idea of this book is how to rectify a belief in current scientific trends and the Christian faith. In doing so, Collins argues that Darwinian Evolution is true and that it is NOT contrary to the Christian faith. With so much teaching for and evidence of evolution, Collins' devotes a chapter to each of the possible responses to evolution. These chapters are Atheism and Agnosticism (When Science Trumps Faith), Creationism (When Faith Trumps Science), Intelligent Design (When Science Needs Divine Help),and BioLogos (Faith and Science in Harmony). Collins is basically fair in his assessment of the opposing views, but throughout the chapters it is clear that he is building to what he holds as truth by dismantling what he holds as false(or even silly). Collins closes with pleas to believers to not abandon science and scientists to not abandon faith.
    As I read the book I had to remind myself that Collins is not a theologian, he is a biologist. His interpretation of some Christian doctrines is off what he seems to hold as essential is debated amongst Christians. Some of the history he cites is incorrect and the citations could have been more thorough, especially on some instances where no citation was given. Also, there were times where Collins began speaking exclusively to his peers, losing the reader with limited scientific knowledge in the process.

    While this book is far from perfect, it is a great read. It would benefit anyone involved in the evolution debate(that would be anyone who has any religious, secular or scientific interest....everyone) to read this book and consider the arguments made and data presented

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (2/5)
    A lot of Dr. Collins book is simply C.S. Lewis replayed through the filter of genetic science. The appendix, a discussion of bioethics, also struck me as fairly flat and not that helpful. It is more profitable to read CS Lewis.
  • (2/5)
    Honestly... not that impressed. His last chapter on medical ethics was the most engaging. The others just seemed... forced. I love, however, his desire to to help the scientific community see that faith is not incompatible with intelligence.
  • (5/5)
    Collins does a magnificent job of explaining that science and faith are not the natural nemeses of each other that many in America have come to believe (thank you politics). His personal journey as an atheist believer and scientist to a Christian believer and scientist is inspiring. He was strongly influenced by another atheist-to-Christian convert - C.S. Lewis - and references to Lewis abound in The Language of God.
  • (4/5)
    Not a bad book, a well renowned scientist who is a Christian presents his argument for the existence of God and how it reconciles with science. Pretty good stuff. He is a old earth, God inspired evolutionist or something like that. I did not agree with everything he said but his position is well thought out.
  • (5/5)
    Current-day proponents of the New Atheism like to push the idea that atheism is the only rational belief, and believers are weak-minded non-thinkers who hide from science. This just simply isn't so. Some very accomplished scientists in many different fields are believers.Here's one. Francis Collins is a devout believer and distinguished scientist (he is the head of the Human Genome Project) with a questioning mind and a reverence for reason ... and for the merger of science and religion. From the cover flap, "In short, Dr. Collins provides a satisfying solution for the dilemma that haunts everyone who believes in God and respects science. Faith in God and faith in science can be harmonious--combined into one worldview. The God that he believes in is a God who can listen to prayers and cares about our souls. The biological science he has advanced is compatible with such a God. For Collins, science does not conflict with the Bible, science enhances it."That's a pretty intriguing claim, and it aroused my curiosity. In this book, Collins wrestles with questions like "What came before the big bang?" and "How did life originate?" I should set things in perspective before continuing; Collins is not promoting some flaky version of pseudo-science. He's for real. He praises Darwin and admits that no serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution. "The relatedness of all species through the mechanism of evolution is such a profound foundation for the understanding of all biology that it is difficult to imagine how one would study life without it." A lot of effort is spent explaining "biological truth," and in a chapter titled Deciphering God's Instruction Book, Collins introduces--no, not the Bible--the lessons of the human genome.Still, Collins respects the Bible. He dives into the debate about what Genesis really says, and why we have contradicting versions of the creation in the Bible if this poetic and allegorical writing was really meant to be read literally. Young Earth Creationism just simply isn't compatible with modern science; neither, really, is the trendy Intelligent Design explanation. Thankfully, Collins finds an ultra-literal interpretation of Genesis unnecessary. Collins proposes a solution for compatibility, which he calls BioLogos. He finds harmony between science and religion in "theistic evolution."Finally, having dispensed with our concerns regarding the science-versus-religion conflict, he brings up the crux of the matter. Regardless of where else we are to read the Bible nonliterally, evidence supports the fantastic story of a unique individual, Jesus, who lived, died, ... and rose from the dead! Collins leans a bit on C. S. Lewis as he builds toward the climax: he, a rational scientist, logically concludes that the Jesus story is true and literal. God came down to earth in the form of a person. Wow!While not convincing enough in itself, and leaving many other questions about the believability of the Christian God unanswered, I do highly recommend this book! It will never turn a nonbeliever into a believer, but it will definitely refine the faith of believers, helping them to overcome the dogmatism of outdated theology. Besides, it's a fun, educational read!
  • (3/5)
    Collins' treatise telling his personal journey of faith and bringing his scientific perspective to the philosophical wars regarding evolution and creation. Collins robustly argues for the theistic evolutionist perspective, going after both the materialist and creationist perspectives. His scientific credentials are impressive and he does well at explaining the scientific difficulties on the two sides around him.His theological credentials, however, are much more fundamentally flawed. His reliance on Augustine and C.S. Lewis is quite apparent. When he presents his theistic evolutionist (or, in his terms, BioLogos) position, he attempts to swat away theological objections, but is rather unsatisfying. His comparisons between adherence to Genesis 1-2 literally and the idea of the earth as the center of the universe are not precise enough for his purposes, and while he points to Augustine's view of the passage, does not otherwise clarify that allegorical/spiritual interpretation of the OT was the consistent method of most of the patristics. In the end, it's evident that Collins accepts the scientific perspective and then attempts to reconcile his theology to it, rather than the other way around.Collins' demonstration that even if evolution were true that such would not disprove God is quite powerful and necessary. The book does suffer, however, from a comparative poverty of strong theology and theological reflection. A good part of the reason that theistic evolution gets so much resistance from the faith community is precisely this: high on science, low on theology or theological justification.
  • (4/5)
    A statement of belief as much as discourse on science, The Language of God is a worthwhile read for those interested in religion and science, and their interface. Neither subject is treated in-depth. But, while Collins is not a theologian, he is one of the world’s best scientists. In fact, not only is a Yale educated chemist and medical doctor who headed the Human Genome Project. And this project was successful beyond expectation in that in just a few years, it managed to give us the complete map of our human DNA. Collins is interesting in that he is yet another example of an atheist turned theist. As C.S. Lewis (whom Collins draws on extensively for his theology), who came to God through reading, reflection, and logic, or like Howard Storm, who required a near-death experience to be pulled from the abyss of atheism, Collins is a Christian. Thus, he believes in the presence and transcendence of a creator God who is personal, concerned about we his created, and will interfere in our affairs if necessary, and possibly when beseeched to through prayer. But neither is does he believe all passages of the Bible are to be interpreted literally. He notes that no less a scholar and Christian than St. Augustine also did not argue for such a position with regards to scripture, and saw positive danger to faith were such a view to be taken. Collins does not subscribe to Intelligent Design. He finds that arguments that, for example, the amazingly complex flagellum of the bacteria, are not impossible to explain through the processes of genetic mutation and natural selection. And, Collins does indeed believe in evolution as a ‘theory’ which has been substantiated time and time again in both the lab and in the fossil record. Rather, he subscribes to what he terms BioLogos. As Collins sees it, God does not need to specially interfere with evolution to make His plan work out. Rather, He authored the processes which over time, while probabilistic, give rise to such amazing creatures as garden spiders, kitty cats, chimpanzees, and ultimately, even creatures who understand the Moral Law and within them have a desire to seek True North – that is, He who created them and this miraculous Universe.
  • (4/5)
    We used this book as an initial read for a new science/religion study group formed in our Mainline Protestant church. Personally, I found some of the arguments in the book weak, but I think it served our new group exceptionally well as a basic introduction to science/religion issues in our modern day. And, though I didn't agree with some of the Bible interpretations of the author [more literal than I interpret it], I did find it very refreshing to see a book like this written by an Evangelical Protestant. I do recommend this book strongly as a very readable and worthwhile introduction. Since reading this, I have gone on to read several books by philosopher of science and historian Michael Ruse who, given his background, goes into more depth in dealing with philosophical and historical aspects of the relationship between science and religion. But, I still give Collins' book very high marks. It was very well worth reading and discussing in our group.
  • (3/5)
    I liked learning about how one scientist came to terms with the ongoing science vs. faith debate. His chapters breaking down the arguments for and against evolution, creationism, intelligent design, along with the stories in his appendix are the best part of this very interesting account. Collins proposes a fourth model of understanding as well - biologos, an approach that for him makes the most sense.
  • (3/5)
    Somehow, this book delivered what I wanted, without my knowing or expecting it. I am personally more interested in the debate between theology and science than I am in either of the two, and that is pretty much what this book delivers, a lot of debate.The author will nominate several arguments. Most of them you have already heard before. He will tell you that certain thing you have heard are false, and other aren't.He tells you how faith and religion can co-exists peaceful. And this is probably the missed point. Collins suggests a religion crafted in science, which is nothing too shocking.But in it, and this is what I enjoyed, he details many of the points and counter points we hear in the debates of this subject. And he informs us on his opinion, based on the facts he has, of how accurate these notions are.I would like to bring up one point that, in following arguments along these lines I have noticed. Science requires as much faith as, well, faith. A lay person who chooses to believe science whole-heartedly and discard religion can more than likely not prove evolution or genetic theory if they were forced to. They probably have not read Darwin's books, nor gone out and done the research for any of the things they claim to believe. Which makes it is as faith based as any other religion. The books change, is all.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book twice. It fascinated me that an important scientist could give such a devout testimony of faith in Christ. It is a testimony to the fact that more and more modern day Christians are trying to link their faith to the physical world around them. C.S.Lewis was a ground breaker in this regard and Collins mentions Lewis' influence. After the description of his conversion to faith in Christ, the author goes into what will be a very controversial subjects for most Christians. He opposes 'young earth creationism' and promotes a concept called 'biogenesis'. This is similar to what has often been called 'theistic evolution'. The author sites C.S.Lewis and B.B. Warfield as being leading Christian thinkers who have been sympathetic to his view. If you want to hold on to you belief in young earth creation, you may not want to read this book. On the other hand, many modern Christians are coming to the conclusion that the truth of God must be communicated to others in the physical world - the place where they live and will be converted to faith.
  • (5/5)
    Creationists might be a little disturbed by his conclusions about evolution, especially when paired with his solid evangelical stance on the authority of scripture. Not only does Collins elucidate the wonders of modern genetics but he brings the whole thing back to his faith in a touching way.
  • (4/5)
    A paradigm between Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics
  • (4/5)
    I actually picked this book up after listening to an exhausting interview with Dawkins. This book does a very good job of pointing out why Dawkins arguments don't work, in much better words than I could. The author also does a wonderful job of pointing out why some Christians (and others) should stop pretending science isn't true.Weaker parts of the book include his argument for why you too should believe in Jesus, but of course that part is going to be less persuasive as it is based on his faith and not on emperical evidence. I wish we heard more voices like this in 'debates' on faith v religion.
  • (2/5)
    I found this to be a very disappointing book.Collins describes how,having been brought up as an athiest and trained as a medical researcher, he gradually became convinced of the existence of God and ended up as a Christian.Being eager to know how as an atheist and a scientist he had yet come to believe in God, I was intrigued to know why this should be. Although I have no reason to doubt Collin's sincerity I found his explanation weak and unconvincing and the whole book to be very lightweight and almost patronising in its approach to the subject of science and religion.If there is a God,and Collins totally failed to convince me of this,I would certainly not take issue with him on his scientific arguments for the creation of the universe or of life itself.I simply felt that that the book, at least for me, was a total waste of time in that I gained nothing from it. Perhaps this is my own fault. However I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anybody who had religious doubts involving science and was seeking spiritual reassurance.The only redeeming feature of the book were the personal anecdotes.
  • (1/5)
    Having gotten through Sam Harris, Daniel Dennent, and Richard Dawkins, I thought I'd give the other side a look. I picked up Huston Smith's Why Religion Matters and put it down after only a chapter or two: entirely too ignorant of science to be meaningful. I've just put down Francis Collins's The Language of God. Though I got as far as chapter four, I really ended all meaningful interaction with the book on page 67 where I read the following: The big Bang cries out for a divine explanation. It forces the conclusion that nature had a defined beginning. I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that.Coming from the head of the genome project, the absurd logic here defies all understanding! All this and, by extension, the rest of the book, really says is this: I can't understanding X, Y, or Z, so I guess there must be a God! Needless to say, I won't waste anymore time with Collins.
  • (4/5)
    The Language of God is an extraordinary treatise for thinking Christians. It breaks through the medieval clutter of today's Fundamentalism and firmly establishes God's proper place in the ordered universe. Collins is a scientist and an evangelical Christian without apology. Or rather, this book is an apologetic for those trying to avoid checking their brains at the church house door.
  • (4/5)
    Well, whaddaya know? I liked this book.In the interest of full disclosure, this statement comes from a solidly rationalist/materialist worldview. So I didn’t expect that I was going to like the book, but went in with an open mind, and was rewarded.Not in the way you’re probably thinking. The theology in this book is all fluffy C.S. Lewis-isms, which didn’t have any effect on me the two times I read “Mere Christianity” and so didn’t gain any traction here, either.Beyond slight lapses into dreamy proselytizing, though, the rest of this book was spot on. As a matter of fact, in general terms, I think it’s exactly the sort of book that science needs in these times. Collins does a great job explaining the complexity of life, current science, evolution, and cosmology. He comes down solidly against Creationism and Intelligent Design, with an impassioned plea to his evangelical brethren to, ahem, cut it out.I think Collins is doing a great service to religion and science by neatly, politely, and rationally sorting through this debate without rancor. He does, I think, manage to carve out a place where the devoutly faithful can accept science within their worldview, and this may be a key to turning down the rhetorical volume. I don’t think that this argument is going to turn many materialists into believers, but I do think that it can show the faithful a way to reconcile the discord between their revealed text and the revelations of scientific inquiry in an intellectually and spiritually satisfying way. Collins would, I suppose, also have it the other way, and bring non-believers into the fold. That may or may not be the case. But anything that gets people thinking about these issues in a non-reactionary, and more informed way, is a good thing, I think.
  • (3/5)
    Collins presents his personal story of how he came to faith in the Christian God. He was largely influenced by C.S. Lewis's arguements. Along the way he presents some information releated to his work on the Human Genome project, explaining some stuff about genetics and DNA. He does a pretty good job of explaining scientific concepts in easy to understand terms. He lays out his arguments well and without being bombastic. Whether or not the reader finds them convincing will of course depend on the reader's own set of convictions and how deeply they hold them. His attempt to blend modern science with Christianity is laudible and I liked the way he keeps going back to the axiom that all truth is God's truth. It's an important reminder to us all.
  • (5/5)
    Step by step Francis Collins addresses the arguments for and against belief in God. Admitting no one will ever prove (or disprove) the existence of God, Dr. Collins demonstrates that a rational person (read scientist) can certainly believe in God without giving up science as a tool for understanding the world, nature, the universe.
  • (5/5)
    This marvelous book combines a personal account of Collins's faith and experiences as a genetics researcher with discussions of more general topics of science and spirituality, especially centering around evolution. Following the lead of C.S. Lewis, whose Mere Christianity was influential in Collins's conversion from atheism, the book argues that belief in a transcendent, personal God—and even the possibility of an occasional miracle—can and should coexist with a scientific picture of the world that includes evolution. Addressing in turn fellow scientists and fellow believers, Collins insists that "science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced" and "God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible." Collins's credibility as a scientist and his sincerity as a believer make for an engaging combination, especially for those who, like him, resist being forced to choose between science and God.