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Decoding the Language of God: Can a Scientist Really Be a Believer?: A Geneticist Responds to Francis Collins Paperback – December 22, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a wonderful book--sound, elegant, and readable. If you are looking for a common-sense explanation for matters generally taken on faith, this is it." --Barbara Oakley, author Evil Genes.

"The Language of God by Francis Collins is a good example of how a minority of scientists compartmentalize their thinking and blinker themselves to the contradictions between their faith and their science. This timely and complete analysis lays bare the many weaknesses in Collins thinking and the paucity of his knowledge of theology, philosophy, and any science outside of his own narrow speciality." ----Victor J. Stenger, author of the NY Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis

About the Author

George C. Cunningham, MD, MPH (Pacific Pallisades, CA) now retired, is the former chief of the Genetic Disease Branch of the California State Department of Health Services. He has published more than 150 articles in scientific publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, the American Journal of Human Genetics, and Pediatrics.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Original edition (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027669
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George C. Cunningham, MD, MPH (San Francisco, CA), now retired, is the former chief of the Genetic Disease Branch of the California State Department of Health Services. He has published more than 150 articles in scientific publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, the American Journal of Human Genetics, and Pediatrics. His education includes graduation with a B.S. from the Jesuit University of San Francisco, where he received training in theology and philosophy, and successive attendence at University of Southern California, University of California Berkeley and University of California Los Angeles where he received his M.D, As a member of the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Medical Genetics, he was one of the authors of the organizations' Ethical Code. He organized the Advisory Committee on Human Cloning for the state of California which issued the policy document "Cloning Californians" He is the receipent of many state and national awards for his statewide programs of screening pregnant women and newborns for preventable genetic and birth defects.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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71%
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See all 14 customer reviews
Therefore God does not exist.
D. Lawrence
Cunningham strongly disagrees with this premise and devastatingly refutes all of Collins' arguments one by one.
Aaron
Although this is a serious book, Cunningham has an excellent sense of humor.
Paul Gehrman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Johnny London on September 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I truly enjoyed this book. Dr. Cunningham is a sharp thinker and an excellent writer. Although written as a rebuttal to Francis Collins' book "The Language of God", this book serves as a great survey of common arguments used by Christians to defend their faith. Dr. Cunningham is respectful, yet blunt when it is called for. He goes to great lengths to not construct a straw man, but rather it is clear that he truly wants to understand, and to articulate sincerely and accurately the positions which he argues against. This intellectual honesty, for those of us who find such things very edifying, is refreshing. Highly Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Decoding the Language of God: Can a Scientist Be a Believer? by George C. Cunningham

"Decoding the Language of God..." is a wonderful, well-written book by geneticist George C. Cunningham who rebuts Francis Collins' best-selling book, "The Language of God..." It's a book that cogently, and with lucid logic effectively destroys all of Mr. Collin's main points. The book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1. From Belief to Atheism, 2. Evidence and Rules of Engagement, 3. The War of Worldviews, 4. What's Wrong with The Moral Argument?, 5. Cosmology Origins of the Universe, 6. The Bible, 7. Naturalism (Atheism and Agnosticism), 8. Supernaturalism (Ethical, Monotheism, Spirituality) and 9.A Personal God?

Positives:
1. A gem of a book! Well written, researched, and reasoned book that was a treat to read.
2. Elegant conversational prose that uses a direct yet respectful tone in destroying Mr. Collin's main points.
3. This book is critical thinking at its best. Profound without being unintelligible.
4. More wisdom for your buck! I've learned so much from this book.
5. Great explanations for knowledge...worth the price of the book!
6. Great defense of science.
7. Reason versus faith, a one-sided battle.
8. Mr. Cunningham obliterates Mr. Collins' main defense of his religious beliefs. No contest!
9. How religious dogma do more harm than good.
10. Omnipotence and free will discussed.
11. The inconsistency of hell with "God's" infinite power of forgiveness. Compelling arguments throughout.
12. The problem of evil.
13. Unreliable biblical accounts and related matters. No evidence for the great Flood, the exodus or the existence of Abraham, Job, and Moses.
14. Miracles debunked...
15.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on June 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, fellow geneticist George Cunningham takes on the major points former head of the Human Genome Project Francis Collins makes in his best-seller The Language of God. Collins attempts to demonstrate that belief in evangelical Christianity is compatible with a scientific worldview. Cunningham strongly disagrees with this premise and devastatingly refutes all of Collins' arguments one by one. For anyone who has read The Language of God, believers and skeptics alike should read Cunningham's book as well. I have read both books and I definitely feel Cunningham comes out on top.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Shirts on April 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought Collins did O.K., and found many things I disagreed with as I read his book, but this book return/review against Collins assumptions is very powerful and quite excellent at showing the short comings of scientists who want to have faith in some kind of Christian God. It *always* ends up as the defeated God of the gaps arguments for those defending God. The reason why is because, of course, God obviously isn't all that interested in much going on o this earth. READ this book by another geneticist every bit as well read and intelligent as Collins, and vastly more powerful with using real science to discuss the issues. I give this terrific read a HUGE 5 star rating. READ IT. The other thing that I so enjoyed is it is easy to read. Profound, but simple to understand. There is no intellectual clap trap and showing off with condescending language struttin his scientific prowess against a 3rd grader understanding. Nope, just straight forward, real analysis, and solid refutations. I just love informative books like this that keep the compass on true north for reality and truth.
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25 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gehrman on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have to admit that at some points while reading this book, I felt so much sympathy for Collins that I didn't want to read on. Cunningham absolutely eviscerates him. Normally, I don't mind if someone's arguments get hammered because we need to vigorously challenge ideas in order to move forward; however, I do have a lot of respect for Collins' scientific achievements (it should be noted that Cunningham is an esteemed scientist as well). Collins is quite deservedly held in high regard and this book takes nothing away from those achievements, nor should we lose sight of the fact that Collins operates well above the ignorance of the creationist/fundamentalist community.

Although this is a serious book, Cunningham has an excellent sense of humor. He points out the absurdities in Collins' views, though it's almost unfair given how easy it is to attack faith-based claims. As many authors in the freethought community have noted, supernatural ideas don't answer any questions, all they do is create more absurd and irrelevant questions (consider the issue of theodicy, for example).

Finally, I think we can perhaps speculate on the author's motivations here. That is, why write a book like this, particularly since presumably Collins' intentions are good - that is, he's aiming for some sort of reconcilation between science and religion. Having spent a lot of time in the freethought community (in addition to the faith community), and having the pleasure of meeting Dr. Cunningham personally, it's clear to me that Collins' book is offensive for largely the same reasons that televangelists and imans are offensive. They make claims with no evidence; claims that represent an implicit attack on the foundation of human knowledge, and do nothing but divide humanity along schisms of "faith".
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