The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

by Francis S. Collins

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Overview

An instant bestseller, The Language of God provides the best argument for the integration of faith and logic since C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

It has long been believed that science and faith cannot mingle. Faith rejects the rational, while science restricts us to a life with no meaning beyond the physical. It is an irreconcilable war between two polar-opposite ways of thinking and living. Written for believers, agnostics, and atheists alike, The Language of God provides a testament to the power of faith in the midst of suffering without faltering from its logical stride. Readers will be inspired by Collin’s personal story of struggling with doubt, as well as the many revelations of the wonder of God’s creation that will forever shape the way they view the world around them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416542742
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 07/17/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 42,677
Product dimensions: 8.24(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Francis S. Collins is one of the country's leading geneticists and the longtime head of the Human Genome Project. Prior to coming to Washington, he helped to discover the genetic misspellings that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington's disease. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and in his spare time he enjoys riding a motorcycle and playing guitar.

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

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."

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."

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.

Copyright © 2006 by Francis S. Collins

Table of Contents

Introduction

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
Notes Acknowledgments Index

What People are Saying About This

"What an elegantly written book. In it Francis Collins, the eminent scientist, tells why he is also a devout believer.... A real godsend for those with questioning minds but who are also attracted to things spiritual."
-- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"The world respects Francis as a brilliant scientist responsible for breakthrough discoveries benefiting mankind. For a decade I have been privileged to admire him as a devoted family man and talented musician with a charmingly sharp wit. This intellectually honest, spiritually grounded reconciliation of God and science helps answer your greatest questions. I was profoundly enlightened and believe this important book should be required reading."
-- Naomi Judd

"Francis Collins, one of the world's most distinguished scientists, treats the relationship of science and religion with reason and reverence. Collins's mix of clear technical exposition and personal reflection is infused with an intellectual and spiritual honesty. Everyone who questions how religious faith could be reconciled with scientific knowledge, everyone who fears that modern science attacks the heart of religious faith, everyone interested in an enlightened discussion of a crucial issue of our time should read this book."
-- William D. Phillips, 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics

"In today's world, scarred by cultural warfare, it is rare for a scientist to offer a testimony of faith in God. For that scientist to be one of the world's most renowned is rarer still. For his testimony to be so lucid and compelling, combining reason and revelation, science and spirit, is unheard of. The Language of God belongs on the shelf of every believer and every seeker."
-- Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Founding Pastor, the Crystal Cathedral

Reading Group Guide

The Language of God Francis S. Collins DISCUSSION GROUP GUIDE
1. "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?" (p.6). What view did you have before reading this book on the integration of science and religion? How would you answer Collins's question now?
2. On page 23, Collins sums up the Moral Law, stating that "the concept of right and wrong appears to be universal among all members of the human species (though its application may result in wildly different outcomes)." Do you believe the Moral Law exists?
3. What caused the author to question his atheism? At the end of the book, he calls on the reader to question his or her current beliefs. Do you think this is a realistic request or will the average reader wait for a "personal crisis" before embarking on a journey of spiritual discovery (p.233)?
4. Did the book fairly assess the different religious "options" of atheism, agnosticism, creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution, renamed as BioLogos (p.159-211)? Did reading these descriptions change your understanding of any of these views? Which option best explains your beliefs?
5. Collins argues that atheism is the least rational of all these choices, since an atheist must claim such extensive knowledge that s/he can conclusively discount the possibility of God. Along those same lines, G.K. Chesterton called atheism "the most daring of all dogmas ...for it is the assertion of a universal negative". Do you agree? Is it possible to be rational atheist?
6. Collins states his belief that young earth creationist opinions ultimately harm the religion they represent more than help it: "But it is not science that suffers most here. Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith, by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world (p.177). Do you agree?
7. Collins presents data from the study of genomes (pp. 133 - 141) that argues for a common ancestor for chimps and humans. Do you find the arguments compelling from the anatomy of human chromosome 2, pseudogenes, and ancestral repeat elements? Why could this not be God using the same general themes in multiple acts of special creation?
8. Collins quotes (p. 83) St. Augustine's warning (in 400AD) that narrow interpretations of Biblical passages with uncertain meaning may place faith at the risk of ridicule if future discoveries conflict with that narrow interpretation. In what situations today do you think that warning may have relevance?
9. Discuss the following quote from Galileo: "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use" (p.158). What was Galileo trying to say? Do you think this statement is in tune with the author's views?
10. In the following quote from the book, Collins refers to "why" questions as those for which science is poorly suited to provide answers: biogenesis as the one event for which science will never be able to provide an explanation: "And as seekers, we may well discover from science many interesting answers to the question 'How does life work?' What we cannot discover, through science alone, are the answers to the questions 'Why is there life anyway?' and 'Why am I here?'" (p.88). Does Collins support this claim elsewhere in the book? Do you agree with him?
11. How does the theme of this book fit together with the opening lines of Psalm 19?
12. Collins frequently describes the danger of basing religious beliefs on the scientific information that we don't know, referred to as "God of the gaps" (p.93). "Faith that places God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world may be headed for crisis if advances in science subsequently fill those gaps" (p.93). However, he also says that the answers he searches for are those that science alone cannot discover (p.88). Does Collins's personal search fall within his description of looking for God of the gaps? Why or why not? See pages 193 and 204 for more references to God-of-the-gaps thinking.
13. Do you foresee a time when organized religion will accept Darwinism, just as we eventually came to accept that the earth revolves around the sun? Is the battle between science and religion destined to continue over each new scientific discovery that is made?
CREATIVE TIPS FOR ENHANCING YOUR BOOK CLUB OR DISCUSSION GROUP
In November, 2006, Time magazine hosted a debate between Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, for a cover story (see http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html). Bring it to your group, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.
Reread Genesis 1 and 2 or read these passages for the first time or bring them to your meeting to discuss with your group. Do you see the two slightly different creation stories? How do you interpret these verses now that you've read The Language of God?
C. S. Lewis is quoted frequently by Collins as the philosopher who helped him discover God, and Collins repeatedly quotes Lewis's work when important religious questions arise. Take a trip straight to the source and read one of the Lewis books that Collins quotes. Choose from The Problem of Pain, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, and Miracles. For more information on C. S. Lewis, visit www.cslewis.org.
As the head of the Human Genome Project, Collins has attracted a great amount of attention in the press and on the Web. Search the Internet for the information that interests you most about Collins and print a copy of what you find to bring in for discussion with the group. Good places to start your search include www.genome.gov, www.cnn.com, www.salon.com, and www.nytimes.com. There is also an online video of Collins located on the Web site for the PBS show "Religion and Ethics" at www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week947/profile.html.
Take your online research of Collins a step further to discover sites dedicated to contemplating the coexistence of science and religion. Head to the Web site of the C. S. Lewis Foundation at www.cslewis.org or take a look at the companion site of the four-hour PBS special "The Question of God": www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/. Take a visit to www.godandscience.org, www.hawking.org.uk, www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/thuxley.html, and www.aboutdarwin.com for even more information.
Try finding Web sites that explain more about the scientific and medical topics mentioned in the book. Search for details on the Big Bang, cystic fibrosis, personalized medicine, and the human genome. Sites such as www.umich.edu/~gs265/bigbang.htm, www.cff.org, http://www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org/, and www.genome.gov are good places to start.

Introduction

The Language of GodFrancis S. CollinsDISCUSSION GROUP GUIDE

1. "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?" (p.6). What view did you have before reading this book on the integration of science and religion? How would you answer Collins's question now?

2. On page 23, Collins sums up the Moral Law, stating that "the concept of right and wrong appears to be universal among all members of the human species (though its application may result in wildly different outcomes)." Do you believe the Moral Law exists?

3. What caused the author to question his atheism? At the end of the book, he calls on the reader to question his or her current beliefs. Do you think this is a realistic request or will the average reader wait for a "personal crisis" before embarking on a journey of spiritual discovery (p.233)?

4. Did the book fairly assess the different religious "options" of atheism, agnosticism, creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution, renamed as BioLogos (p.159-211)? Did reading these descriptions change your understanding of any of these views? Which option best explains your beliefs?

5. Collins argues that atheism is the least rational of all these choices, since an atheist must claim such extensive knowledge that s/he can conclusively discount the possibility of God. Along those same lines, G.K. Chesterton called atheism "the most daring of all dogmas ...for it is the assertion of a universal negative". Do you agree? Is it possible to be rational atheist?

6. Collinsstates his belief that young earth creationist opinions ultimately harm the religion they represent more than help it: "But it is not science that suffers most here. Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith, by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world (p.177). Do you agree?

7. Collins presents data from the study of genomes (pp. 133 - 141) that argues for a common ancestor for chimps and humans. Do you find the arguments compelling from the anatomy of human chromosome 2, pseudogenes, and ancestral repeat elements? Why could this not be God using the same general themes in multiple acts of special creation?

8. Collins quotes (p. 83) St. Augustine's warning (in 400AD) that narrow interpretations of Biblical passages with uncertain meaning may place faith at the risk of ridicule if future discoveries conflict with that narrow interpretation. In what situations today do you think that warning may have relevance?

9. Discuss the following quote from Galileo: "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use" (p.158). What was Galileo trying to say? Do you think this statement is in tune with the author's views?

10. In the following quote from the book, Collins refers to "why" questions as those for which science is poorly suited to provide answers: biogenesis as the one event for which science will never be able to provide an explanation: "And as seekers, we may well discover from science many interesting answers to the question 'How does life work?' What we cannot discover, through science alone, are the answers to the questions 'Why is there life anyway?' and 'Why am I here?'" (p.88). Does Collins support this claim elsewhere in the book? Do you agree with him?

11. How does the theme of this book fit together with the opening lines of Psalm 19?

12. Collins frequently describes the danger of basing religious beliefs on the scientific information that we don't know, referred to as "God of the gaps" (p.93). "Faith that places God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world may be headed for crisis if advances in science subsequently fill those gaps" (p.93). However, he also says that the answers he searches for are those that science alone cannot discover (p.88). Does Collins's personal search fall within his description of looking for God of the gaps? Why or why not? See pages 193 and 204 for more references to God-of-the-gaps thinking.

13. Do you foresee a time when organized religion will accept Darwinism, just as we eventually came to accept that the earth revolves around the sun? Is the battle between science and religion destined to continue over each new scientific discovery that is made?

CREATIVE TIPS FOR ENHANCING YOUR BOOK CLUB OR DISCUSSION GROUP

In November, 2006, Time magazine hosted a debate between Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, for a cover story (see http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html). Bring it to your group, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.

Reread Genesis 1 and 2 or read these passages for the first time or bring them to your meeting to discuss with your group. Do you see the two slightly different creation stories? How do you interpret these verses now that you've read The Language of God?

C. S. Lewis is quoted frequently by Collins as the philosopher who helped him discover God, and Collins repeatedly quotes Lewis's work when important religious questions arise. Take a trip straight to the source and read one of the Lewis books that Collins quotes. Choose from The Problem of Pain, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, and Miracles. For more information on C. S. Lewis, visit www.cslewis.org.

As the head of the Human Genome Project, Collins has attracted a great amount of attention in the press and on the Web. Search the Internet for the information that interests you most about Collins and print a copy of what you find to bring in for discussion with the group. Good places to start your search include www.genome.gov, www.cnn.com, www.salon.com, and www.nytimes.com. There is also an online video of Collins located on the Web site for the PBS show "Religion and Ethics" at www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week947/profile.html.

Take your online research of Collins a step further to discover sites dedicated to contemplating the coexistence of science and religion. Head to the Web site of the C. S. Lewis Foundation at www.cslewis.org or take a look at the companion site of the four-hour PBS special "The Question of God": www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/. Take a visit to www.godandscience.org, www.hawking.org.uk, www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/thuxley.html, and www.aboutdarwin.com for even more information.

Try finding Web sites that explain more about the scientific and medical topics mentioned in the book. Search for details on the Big Bang, cystic fibrosis, personalized medicine, and the human genome. Sites such as www.umich.edu/~gs265/bigbang.htm, www.cff.org, http://www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org/, and www.genome.gov are good places to start.

Francis S. Collins is one of the country's leading geneticists and the longtime head of the Human Genome Project. Prior to coming to Washington, he helped to discover the genetic misspellings that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington's disease. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and in his spare time he enjoys riding a motorcycle and playing guitar.

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The Language of God 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 100 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Over the last hundred years a battle between Christian fundamentalists and evolutionists has been greatly intensified. As more and more scientific evidence for evolution has been revealed, many Christians (including myself) started to feel that science was attacking their beliefs. In response to this attack, they have closed their eyes, ears, and minds to the overwhelming facts that point to evolution as the process that created mankind. In his book The Language of God Francis S. Collins, who directed the Human Genome Project, writes to both sides of the argument arguing that Christianity can, and does, work in perfect harmony with evolution. For most of my life I have included myself as a follower of young earth creationism, a group of people Collins calls a ¿well-meaning, God-fearing people, driven by deep concerns that naturalism is threatening to drive God out of human experience.. I, along with the rest of this group, often fill gaps in our knowledge of the formation of the world with God. When science then fills those gaps, the foundation that we have set our beliefs on crumbles, and often our faith crumbles with it. Collins urges Christians to change their foundation to science, whose rules were made by God, and will only support the argument for his presence and his creation of the earth. In a time where science seems to be attacking religion from all angles, the brilliant Collins raises a clear, intelligent voice that speaks up for believers of both religion and science. For Christians and seekers alike, The Language of God can give harmony within by showing the harmony that exists between science and God.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a non believer, I am sort of attracted to this opposing point of view. However, this book had a greater affect on me and I am starting to reexamine the possibility that I may have been arrogant to be so certain of my position. This is a difficult realization to have as a very well established scientist myself. Congratulations, Dr. Collins.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I assumed the tag line "A scientist presents evidence for belief" meant the author would present (or at least try to present) scientific evidence for belief. The only thing the author points to as evidence is what C. S. Lewis called the "Moral Law". While that might be compelling to some, I read this book hoping to be presented evidence informed by the author's amazing career. With that said, this was a fun read about genetics and it was cool to learn about the Human Genome Project and the author's own faith journey. But again, nothing new as far as evidence for belief
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a book looking to indoctrinate Intelligent Design upon the reader. Rather Dr. Collins rejects the ID concept entirely. Rather he proposes the concept of theological evolution (BioLogos), which was a revelation to me and one that I was entirely unaware of. Dr. Collins offers amazing insight into the compatibility of science and faith. Dont be intimidated by the subject matter. In a world that frequently marginalizes faith as a fairy tale or mythology Dr. Collins offers hard science as a means to counter those that reject God and forces them to realize it takes a leap of faith of their own to back their own belief system. Challenge yourself no matter your belief and read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We continue to fight the battle of Creation: Evolution vs. the Bible. Collins in this short but thorough treatment has shown us that science and religion can reach the same conclusions, there is no reason for the constant bickering. He presents powerful scientific evidence to support the concept of evolution while at the same time giving strong support to faith and a belief in a Divine Creator. His arguments are cogent and his data lend strong evidence to his argument. He says, in effect, "Let us reason together." He gives equal weight to the values of both science and religion. Perhaps some of the most convincing evidence comes late in the book in the words of Darwin himself. Collins is trying to bridge the gap between the two warring factions and points out the strengths of both sides. To him, there is no reason for the dispute. "Blessed are the peacemakers..."
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is well written and does have value but its argument for belief is extremely weak. Dr. Collins' conversion from atheism to belief is clearly based on C.S. Lewis' argument that morality is proof of God. This Moral Law argument is based on very simple analogies, the assumption that all humans have the same moral values, and seriously flawed logic. In my eyes, Dr. Collins loses credibility by embracing the Moral Law with such enthusiasm and his failure to critically analyze C.S. Lewis' argument. The book does pose a serious threat to those that believe in Intelligent Design. Dr. Collins' comparison of the DNA of humans and animals clearly supports Darwinian evolution. He argues that the second human chromosome is a fusion of the second and third chromosome in primates, convincing him that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor - not exactly the kind of information that will be embraced by the literal readers of the Bible. This observation is clearly not the 'evidence' promised in the subtitle as it does more to advance the cause of atheists and agnostics. Dr. Collins ultimately settles on a belief system that he calls BioLogos, a renaming of Theistic Evolution. This is nothing more than Deism with more scientific understanding. It promotes the view that God 'who is outside of space and time' got the universe started, jump-started life and then evolution took over. This view has no need for theology, the Bible, a belief in Jesus, or any of the dogma of the world's religion. It is a view that has so little claims that there is no need for proof or no logic to analyze. It is, in my opinion, a very lazy approach to religion with no room for critical analysis. In summary, Dr. Collins gives much 'evidence' of evolution but does not offer any for God - nor does his belief system require any. His aim does not seem to be to prove that God exists but to say that science and faith can exist together in harmony. I agree that science has not proved that God does not exist but Dr. Collins does not give any 'evidence' that He does either. Because of this, I find the subtitle misleading. Dr. Collins may have 'belief' but what that belief relates to is not necessary the God believe in by the Abrahamic religions. For those interested in evolution, I strongly recommend Part Two. Part One and Three, however, hold little value to the believer or the skeptic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a very powerful novel written discussing the relationship of science and religion with reason. Collins is finally the voice of reason we have long awaited. Collins discusses how evolution and faith are compatible. Collins a former atheist, discovers god and sees his faith in a new light. He discusses the bond between science and faith. As well as the great questions of Human existence, and the origins of the universe, and our existence on Earth, and in the end lessons of the Human Genome. In the end Collins leaves you with the discussion of Faith in Science and Faith in God. A book that is a must read for anyone wishing to look deeper into their faith and believe in a new repect.
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
The language of God had a profound effect on me. As a corporate director for a fortune 500 company I continually strive to incorporate spirituality in the workplace. Not as an in-your-face endeavor, but rather as an example. With the way the world is becoming and indeed, our own nation, I find this to be an ardous task.

This book, helped me over some rough spots. Having recently read the God Delusion and God Is Not Great, I was in dire need of a refreshing view from my side of the fence.

This book will fortify what you already know and will be a great comfort to you as you live out your life in this changing time.

Now I only need for the author to continue the tread and write several more books. I can assure you that I will buy and cherish all of them.

Michael L. Gooch, SPHR
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually hate the Christian non-fiction selection of books, but this one was intelligent, thoughtful, and portrayed an acurate view of what science is and is not. More importantly is shows how Christians should not be afraid of science, even more, that they should encourage their children in the sciences as much as any other school subject. Dr. Collins shows that you can be an evolutionist and still a faithful, God-honoring, Biblically based Christian. Yeah!
Mason Smith More than 1 year ago
It seemed like it took forever to explain a christians belief in evolution through biologos but it was deeply satisfying and an excellent thought provoking read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first saw Dr. Collins at a scientific lecture, at which time he mentioned that later that evening he would be presenting a lecture on Science and Religion. I found him a dynamic speaker and decided to buy the book. This book presents insightful and thought provoking arguments for why Science and Religion are not truly at odds with themselves as many would like you to believe. A portion of it was his journey from atheism to faith as well as the experiences of several other believing scientists, which lightens the reading to keep it from being to much like a textbook. The rest of it analyzes how the big bang theory, evolution and other hot-button topics in relation to religion. It is written so that someone without a strong scientific background can understand both the theory and the reason that the theory is not incompatible with faith. One of my favorite quotes from the book is a quote from Galileo, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Guest More than 1 year ago
very good investment of your time and money. One of the best things I've ready in a long while - If you liked Blink or Tipping Point by Gladwell - you'll like this even more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is rare. A first rate scientist relates his scientific understanding and his faith in terms which can be understood by those not formally trained in the laws of chemistry and physics.Science helps my faith walk with Christ. It does not hinder.
Rendfest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Of course it matched up pretty well with my own ideas about how religion and science co-exist. If you didn't enjoy Biology class this book might be a bit heavy.
GarycUT More than 1 year ago
One of the worlds top bio scientists explains his change from an agnostic thru a wondered to a careful consideration about the wonders of all living things. He is not preaching any single religion, but shares his amazement at the complexities of DNA & what it means & implies. Very carefully thot out, should be a "must read" for all who think about life & it's meaning.
caldara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
jdmays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
claudiabowman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
latenite4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Cyberpedia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A paradigm between Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics
M.Campanella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
alanjlevine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
dougshow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
deusvitae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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!