Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Language of God by Francis S. Collins ~ Book Review

Part one deals with how he went from atheism to belief. He was homeschooled by his free-thinking parents until the age of 10 in a rural community. When he was 10 his family moved to town to care for an ailing Grandmother and he entered the public school system. For many years he was agnostic and drifted toward atheism until a patient asked him what he believed. This question started him on an odyssey where he sat out to prove or disprove God's existence. He references C.S. Lewis a lot at this point. Eventually he came to the conclusion that there is a God and that God and Science can peacefully coexist.

Part two deals with the great questions of human existence.

Science is progressive and self-correcting; no significantly erroneous conclusions or false hypothesis can be sustained for long, as newer observations will ultimately knock down incorrect constructs. But over a long period of time, a consistent set of observations sometimes emerge that leads to a new framework of understanding. That framework is then given a much more substantive description and is called a "theory" - the theory of gravitation, the theory of relativity, or the germ theory, for instance. (page 58)

Many Christians today demonize Darwin, but this is unfair.
Far from being ostracized by the religious community Darwin was buried in Westminster Abby.  Darwin himself was deeply concerned about his theory on religious belief, though in The Origin of Species he took pains to point out a possible harmonious interpretation. (page 98)

I have always wondered how many of Darwin's detractors have actually read The Origin of Species?

No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life. In fact 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. (page 99)
The examples reported here from the study of genomes, plus others that could fill hundreds of books of this length, provide the kind of molecular support for the theory of evolution that has convinced virtually all working biologist that Darwin's framework of variation and natural selection is unquestionably correct..... As Theodosius Dobzhansky a leading biologist of the twentieth century (and a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian), has said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." (page 141)

Part three deals with Faith in Science, Faith in God

If God created the universe, and the laws that govern it, and if He endowed human beings with intellectual abilities to discern its working would He want us to disregard those abilities? Would He be diminished or threatened by what we are discovering about His creation? (page 153)

Following is a discussion on how the CHURCH was threatened by Galileo's claim that the earth revolves around the sun.
But along the way (to accepting Galileo's conclusion), considerable damage was done-and more to faith than to science. In his commentary on Genesis, Augustine provides an exhortation that might well have been heeded by the seventeenth century church "The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but the people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men." (pages 156-157)

Augustine sounds like a pretty intelligent guy.
How did Atheism gain such a foot hold, consider the following.

Both the French royal family and the church leadership were seen as harsh, self promoting, hypocritical, and insensitive to the needs of the common man. Equating the organized church with God Himself, revolutionaries decided it was better to throw off both. (page 162)

But Collins argues against using science to promote atheism.

Science cannot be used to justify discounting the great monotheistic religions of the world, which rest upon centuries of history, moral philosophy and the powerful evidence provided by human altruism. (page 169)

Creationism especially Young Earth Creationism (YEC) has it's own problems.

Young Earth Creationist argue that accepting anything other then the acts of special divine creation during the six twenty-four-hour days of Genesis 1 would put the believer on a slippery slope toward a counterfeit faith. (page 174)

Recognizing the overwhelming body of scientific evidence, some YEC advocates have more recently taken the tack of arguing that all of this evidence has been designed by God to to mislead us. (page 176)

This image of Gad as a cosmic trickster seems to be the ultimate admission of defeat for the Creationist perspective. Would God as the great deceiver be an entity on would want to worship? (page 177)

It seems they equate God with the trickster Q of Star Trek fame.
Intelligent Design has it's own flaws.

So, scientifically, ID fails to hold up, providing neither an opportunity for experimental validation nor a robust foundation for its primary claim of irreducible complexity. More than that, however, ID also fails in a way that should be more of a concern to the believer than to the hard nosed scientist. ID is a "God of the gaps" theory, inserting a supposition of the need for supernatural intervention in places that its proponents claim science can not explain. (page 193)

What's the answer according to Collins Biologos otherwise known as Theistic Evolution.

Theistic evolution is the dominant position of serious biologist who are also serious believers. That includes Asa Gray, Darwin's chief advocate in the United States and Theodosius Dobzhansky, the twentieth-century architect of evolutionary thinking. (page 199)

Unfortunately many people have never heard of Theistic Evolution, I did a Google search, below you will find a list of websites I found.
To conclude Collins points out.
Science in not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible.
The appendix deals with bioethics.
I encourage you to read this book for yourselves, it is very thought provoking.