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The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief [Kindle Edition]

Francis S. Collins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (637 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Does science necessarily undermine faith in God? Or could it actually support faith? Beyond the flashpoint debates over the teaching of evolution, or stem-cell research, most of us struggle with contradictions concerning life's ultimate question. We know that accidents happen, but we believe we are on earth for a reason. Until now, most scientists have argued that science and faith occupy distinct arenas. Francis Collins, a former atheist as a science student who converted to faith as he became a doctor, is about to change that.

Collins's faith in God has been confirmed and enhanced by the revolutionary discoveries in biology that he has helped to oversee. He has absorbed the arguments for atheism of many scientists and pundits, and he can refute them. Darwinian evolution occurs, yet, as he explains, it cannot fully explain human nature -- evolution can and must be directed by God. He offers an inspiring tour of the human genome to show the miraculous nature of God's instruction book. Sure to be compared with C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, this is a stunning document, whether you are a believer, a seeker, or an atheist.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Collins, a pioneering medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project, adapts his title from President Clinton's remarks announcing completion of the first phase of the project in 2000: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life." Collins explains that as a Christian believer, "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." 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. (July 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Scientific American

A devoutly Christian geneticist such as Francis S. Collins, author of The Language of God and leader of the Human Genome Project, can comfortably accept that "a common ancestor for humans and mice is virtually inescapable" or that it may have been a mutation in the FOXP2 gene that led to the flowering of human language. The genetic code is, after all, "God’s instruction book." But what sounds like a harmless metaphor can restrict the intellectual bravado that is essential to science. "In my view," Collins goes on to say, "DNA sequence alone, even if accompanied by a vast trove of data on biological function, will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God." Evolutionary explanations have been proffered for both these phenomena. Whether they are right or wrong is not a matter of belief but a question to be approached scientifically. The idea of an apartheid of two separate but equal metaphysics may work as a psychological coping mechanism, a way for a believer to get through a day at the lab. But theism and materialism don’t stand on equal footings. The assumption of materialism is fundamental to science.

George Johnson is author of Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order and six other books. He resides on the Web at talaya.net


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
225 of 259 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing July 31, 2006
Format:Hardcover
You have to hand it to Francis Collins, he is no fence-sitter, though some may mistakenly so perceive him. Some may think he is trying to win friends and influence people of all types--those who love science and those who love Scripture. In reality, a book like this is sure to displease more die-hards than please them. Evangelicals are sure to get squeamish about Collins' support for the big bang and evolution and his beliefs in a non-literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. On the other hand, as previous vitriolic reviews clearly indicate the so-called loving left will and have attack Collins for daring to value Scripture and claim that believe in God, the Christian God no less, are not only faith issues, but supportable by science. So, he's attacked if he does and he's attacked if he doesn't.

And what does he do? Using his personal faith in God and his professional expertise as an internationally-known scientist, Collins presents a case for the integration of science and Scripture. Both disciplines require the use of reason and logic, as well as faith and experience. Both must interpret the evidence. In Collins' skillful hands and able prose, "The Language of God" is sure to challenge the intellectually honest reader who will read it with an open mind, rather than a defensive heart.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
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218 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and God August 3, 2007
Format:Paperback
In this deeply personal book, Francis Collins tackles the "science vs. religion" debate. Since at least Immanuel Kant, we have known that this is a false dichotomy. However, modernity has in effect turned a deaf ear to Kant. In this book, Collins follows in the footsteps of the Kantian tradition, attempting the great synthesis of the empirical and the spiritual, the pure reason and the practical reason. Like Kant before him, Collins is sure to raise the ire of both sides of the aisle. And that is usually a good sign one is doing something right.

Collins reviews in the first part of the book his personal journey from atheism towards a theistic worldview, and the classical objections against it. His answers are mostly based on the apologetics of C.S. Lewis. This debate is much older than C.S. Lewis of course; most of his ideas can be found in St. Augustin, the Stoics, Pascal and Kant. However he does manage to present those arguments from a modern perspective, in an accessible conversational style.

The second part of the book is a popular science exposition, where Collins draws extensively on his considerable scientific background in both physics and biology and, in particular, the leading role he played in the Human Genome project.

The third part of the book is where Collins tries to reach a final conclusion about the issue of "faith in science and faith in God." He reviews his options, from Creationism to Atheism, and settles on the middle -of-the-road worldview he calls BioLogos. He expounds this theistic evolutionary view, according to which orthodox evolution theory is a fact, but also a divine means of creation. Here is where Collins slips a little, by trying to chew too much.
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98 of 115 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars C. S. Lewis Rehash April 1, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book, hoping it would describe, in detail, hard scientific reasons to believe in God. The cover, with its picture of DNA, led me to believe this.

It did not. Instead, it recycled the old arguments of C. S. Lewis. Don't get me wrong, I love Lewis and he largely helped me to remain Christian in college. But I have never been convinced by the particular argument that Collins recycles here.

I can summarize the main argument quite rapidly: We have a sense of morality within us. Therefore, God supposedly exists.

Collins tries to argue against the so-called "God of the gaps" fallacy. What people don't seem to realize is that if the gap is large enough, so that there is simply no way for blind natural forces to jump across it, it is not a fallacy to point this fact out.

There happen to be multiple huge "gaps" that there is simply no way for blind forces of nature to bring into existence without God's help. It is not a "fallacy" to point out these huge gaps. For example, it has recently been calculated that the absolute minimum size of DNA required for the simplest life forms is roughly 180,000 base pairs. And without God, supposedly dead chemicals just happened to randomly arrange themselves into the correct sequence? This is a major huge gap, and it simply points straight to God.

If you are looking for serious, hard science to back up your belief in God, I recommend that you read two books that made lifelong atheist Antony Flew recently convert to Deism. The two books are:

"The Wonder of the World" by Roy Varghese.

"The Hidden Face of God" by Gerald Schroeder.

The above two books are excellent, giving you nothing but hard science and great scientific details. This book by Collins pales in comparison, even if Collins happens to have impeccable scientific credentials.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars It was a gift for Pastor. He didn't appreciate ...
It was a gift for Pastor. He didn't appreciate all of the content.
Published 21 hours ago by Barbara A. Hefta
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!
Super intriguing book
Published 2 days ago by KerryChad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Would give even more stars if I could.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written and free of technical jargon.
Published 4 days ago by Andrew Igbo
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
An unfortunate mixture of pseudoscience and science.
Published 4 days ago by Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific approval of God's creative power
For the believer this book will bolster faith with a scientific insight from atheism to belief in a higher power from Dr. Collins. Read more
Published 5 days ago by perkerj
5.0 out of 5 stars Book arrived in good condition within the time supposed to arrive
Book arrived in good condition within the time supposed to arrive.
it was written in a thoughtful way and was suprisingly understandable
for a person who did not have a... Read more
Published 7 days ago by B. Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it
Published 9 days ago by loretta horowitz
4.0 out of 5 stars A well reasoned argument
A well reasoned argument regardless of your various levels of faith & facts.
Published 18 days ago by stlhobbit
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written and very interesting. No need to know much biology or chemistry to understand this talented man.
Published 18 days ago by Gary
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More About the Author

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., helped to discover the genetic misspellings that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, and a rare form of premature aging called progeria. A pioneer gene hunter, he led the Human Genome Project from 1993 until 2008. 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 a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and has a longstanding interest in the interface between science and faith. He currently serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and in his spare time he enjoys riding a motorcycle and playing guitar.

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Human "morality" is explained elegantly by evolutionary science
Human "morality" is also explained elegantly by Christian faith. It would seem that there are (at least) two "theories" here that explain the same phenomenon rather well. Short of proof for (or against) either one, which ever mantle we take up is dependent upon faith.... Read More
Jul 15, 2008 by C. Lambeth |  See all 5 posts
Why Believe in God? Here's Why!
Speaking of science (as opposed to pseudo-science) and Francis Collins, I just saw Collins interviewed on Charlie Rose about the book.

Collins says that human altruism and sense of morality absolutely cannot be explained by evolutionary theory. He thinks God tweaked human evolution to give... Read More
Jul 27, 2006 by B.K. |  See all 30 posts
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