Monday, May 24, 2010

The Language of God, by Francis Collins

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for BeliefHaving enjoyed Francis Collins' other book, The Language of Life, so much, I thought this one was sure to be quite good, as well. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Collins borrows quite frequently from the apologetics of C.S. Lewis, which I happen to have read and possess copies of in my library, so if I wanted to listen to the "usual suspects", I'd just go to the source.

Collins came to faith a bit late in life, and had some issues reconciling contemporary Christian doctrine, especially that of the Young Earth creationists and the Intelligent Design proponents, with his background in science and genetics. Much of the book describes his personal quest to do this. If you're a scientist trying to figure out spiritual principals, or a christian fundamentalist struggling with scientific dogma, this book may help a bit.

One of the key things to bear in mind is that the Bible was never intended to be a science textbook. Its authority is supreme in spiritual matters, but it really doesn't address things like atomic structure or the universal gravitic constant. Interestingly enough, in Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, he mentions that certain prominent scientists in history, such as Newton and Bacon, believed that the bible contained a wealth of scientific knowledge, if only it could be decoded. Brown dances around this point cleverly by expounding on Noetic science in his novel, wherein humans are able to affect changes on the world around them soleley by the power of their minds. But, I digress.

Some quotes from Collins:

"...I found it difficult to imagine that there could be a real conflict between scientific truth and spiritual truth. Truth is truth. Truth cannot disprove truth."

"The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful - and it cannot be at war with itself."

"...If God is truly Almighty, He will hardly be threatened by our puny efforts to understand the workings of His natural world. 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?'".

He quotes Lewis frequently, as in this bit of his views on Man and evolution, " the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say 'I' and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgements of truth, beauty and goodness."

Whatever your position, this book should make you scratch your head and think a bit.

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