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The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief Paperback – July 17, 2007


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The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief + Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith + The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Paperback Edition edition (July 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416542744
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416542742
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (591 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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.

Customer Reviews

The book is well written, and easy to read.
John Edward Schultz
Finally, the argument for "theistic evolution" is weak and unsupported and violates all the premesis the author had used to argue against "intelligent design".
Yehia Mishriki
In this deeply personal book, Francis Collins tackles the "science vs. religion" debate.
Ulisses Braga-Neto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

201 of 231 people found the following review helpful By Ulisses Braga-Neto on 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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214 of 248 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on 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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164 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Rich Gaffin on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Collins' book is a good introduction to its subject matter but is unlikely to be satisfying to anyone who has spent any time reflecting on the issues discussed. If you are an atheist/agnostic who assumes belief in God is irrational or a Christian who assumes that Darwinism is incompatible with your faith, the book makes some thought-provoking arguments to jog you from your "dogmatic slumbers." But for people in both camps who have already spent some time reflecting on the issues, Collins' superficial treatment is disappointing. One question that both atheists skeptical of Christianity and Christians skeptical of Darwinism might want an answer to -- and the reason I bought the book -- is the question of how a process of evolution fraught with death, suffering, sub-optimal "design" and waste is compatible with the existence of a loving God. Collins doesn't even bring this question up, despite his discussion of Christian objections to Darwinism. Given his scientific stature, I encourage Collins to write a second more scholarly book to flesh out the arguments begun here.
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523 of 640 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on July 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read Dr. Collins' book with great anticipation, because of the his scientific reputation (one of the most respected research scientists in the world and the head of the Human Genome Project). I figured he'd offer a balanced approach to scientific and theological issues. I think that's why many people will read this book.

So, to the text. A large portion of the book is devoted to the basics of science such as the Big Bang, the theory of evolution, etc... In my opinion, this part of the book is probably one of the better overviews of the contentious issues in science today. Dr Collins makes an extremely convincing case for the plausibility and likelihood that the Universe was created through the Big Bang and that life on earth was created through evolution. This is the part of the book I have no qualms with.

The second part of the book is where my quibbles begin. At the beginning of this section Dr Collins lays out the case for the "Anthropic principle", a hypothesis that points to various aspects of the universe and suggests that they may point to God. Many of these points are very interesting and make for some thought-provoking discussions.

The more dubious part, to me, is where Dr Collins points to parts of the human psyche as evidence of Godliness. While initially deploring any explanation that suggests "God's in the Gaps", Dr Collins continues on to suggest that the human altruistic drive along with the collective search for spirituality is evidence of God. With this, Dr. Collins falls prey to the very philosophy he deplores, the "God in the Gaps" theory. It's unclear to me if he realizes that he's fallen prey to it, as he does not address this potential problem in his philosophy.
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