June 23, 2008

[Book] "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief"

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Francis S. Collins
Free Press / Hardcover

Book Description:
Collins, a former atheist, but most notably the head of the Human Genome Project, presents BioLogos (theistic evolution) for a new generation. Comparing it to atheistic evolution, Intelligent Design (ID) and creationism, he highlights the good points of this proposition that God directed evolution to its resolution in mankind. Working within this framework, he details BioLogosian logic about the origin of life, hypotheses from the Human Genome Project, and bioethics.

Publisher's 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.

Library Journal:

When the head of the Human Genome Project calls the genetic code "the language of God," he deserves to be taken very seriously. In a discussion that is both broadly ecumenical and scientifically incontrovertible, Collins entertains propositions both for and against the existence of God and biblical authority, as well as the moral implications of bioethics. He personalizes the narrative by recounting his own journey from atheism to faith, portraying it as much an intellectual quest as a spiritual one. His excellent discussion of intelligent design seeks not to debunk the theory, but rather to cite its limitations and to show how a scientific worldview transcends them without, in his opinion, conflicting with faith. Finally, he talks about his vision of "BioLogos," or science and religion in harmony. An essential read, equally for readers of religious or secular persuasions. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publisher's 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 2006 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews:
"What an elegantly written book. In it Francis Collins, the eminent scientist, tells why he is also a devout believer.... A real godsend for those with questioning minds but who are also attracted to things spiritual." -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"The world respects Francis as a brilliant scientist responsible for breakthrough discoveries benefiting mankind. For a decade I have been privileged to admire him as a devoted family man and talented musician with a charmingly sharp wit. This intellectually honest, spiritually grounded reconciliation of God and science helps answer your greatest questions. I was profoundly enlightened and believe this important book should be required reading." -- Naomi Judd

"Francis Collins, one of the world's most distinguished scientists, treats the relationship of science and religion with reason and reverence. Collins's mix of clear technical exposition and personal reflection is infused with an intellectual and spiritual honesty. Everyone who questions how religious faith could be reconciled with scientific knowledge, everyone who fears that modern science attacks the heart of religious faith, everyone interested in an enlightened discussion of a crucial issue of our time should read this book." -- William D. Phillips, 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics

"In today's world, scarred by cultural warfare, it is rare for a scientist to offer a testimony of faith in God. For that scientist to be one of the world's most renowned is rarer still. For his testimony to be so lucid and compelling, combining reason and revelation, science and spirit, is unheard of. The Language of God belongs on the shelf of every believer and every seeker." -- Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Founding Pastor, the Crystal Cathedral

Customer Reviews:
Average Rating:
4 out of 5 stars, 4 of 4 Reviews Showing:

4 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Andrew (Istanbul, Turkey), February 18, 2008

As a former Christian who became an atheist over several years of hard inquiry, I read this book to see if I had missed anything. In short, not theologically. His arguments do not adequately take the last few decades of serious New Testament biblical scholarship into account. In not doing so, they also fail to answer the key questions of why one particular system of belief and not another one. Moving from knowledge gap and intuition, to death on the cross is just too big of a leap for me. His spiritualism is heartfelt and real. However, it really does not provide much in the way of evidence for belief. It would not surprise me if his publisher wrote the title. It did remind me yet again, however, of what atheists are missing. His very honest, intelligent, and passionate discussion of his reasons for moving toward a more spiritual life was very humanistic and respectful in a way that, unfortunately, is missing these days from the increasingly vitriolic atheist camp. It is ironic that we who espouse humanism cannot be more humanistic. In terms of shear decency and who most readers would rather share the planet with, Collins puts the current crop of popular atheist authors to shame.

2 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Mary Jo Burchart (Orion, MI), October 12, 2007

As a Christian and a scientist, I was eager to read Dr. Collins' book. I found it very intriguing, as cellular and molecular biology is my concentration. However, if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, you will have a hard time reconciling Dr. Collins' Biologos with Genesis. He considers this book more "allegory and poetry". I was disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars Reviewed by BW (Northwest Ohio), February 14, 2007

This book is incredible! As a science teacher AND a Christian believer, Francis Collins filled in a lot of gaps that tend to separate the two. His book is highly readable and thought-provoking. What a treat!

5 out of 5 stars Reviewed by David Buchanan (Stillwater, OK), February 09, 2007

Francis Collins is the Director of the Human Genome Project. This makes him one of the most recognizable scientists in America. He is also a Christian. “The Language of God” is his very public assertion that it is possible to be a person of science and a person of faith simultaneously. He has been joined recently by other scientist-believers (Owen Gingerich – Astronomy, Harvard University; Joan Roughgarden – Evolutionary Biology, Stanford University) in making this assertion (“God’s Universe” and “Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist”, respectively). Collin’s book covers a lot of territory. He presents his autobiography, his testimony and a brief history of the Human Genome Project. He also presents his views on naturalism, intelligent design, creationism and his preferred view, theistic evolution, which he would like to rechristen as “BioLogos”. In addition, he discusses current genetic-medical issues such as stem-cell research and cloning. Despite its wide range, the book is relatively brief and highly readable. It is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

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