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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Language of God, by Francis Collins

Francis Collins is the long-time head of the U. S. Human Genome Project. (Here's the Wikipedia article on him, and here is his page at the National Human Genome Research Institute. Here is a statement by Collins to CNN, with some responses from readers.) I knew that Collins was a Christian, and an important scientist, but, based on the first two chapters, and a later one, I discovered that he is also an important author for the general public. His The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006) is currently among the 300 best-sellers, according to Amazon. It was in the top 10, I believe, when it first appeared. I've read a lot of books related to science and Christianity, and this one has to be in the top five of all of those, perhaps the best. Why? Because Collins is writing for a reasonably intelligent reader, on a simple, but very important topic, namely, "is science compatible with Christianity?" His answer may be summarized in a single word, and it begins with y, and ends with s. (He defends his answer at some length!) The book is also excellent because Collins is aware of contrary arguments, and deals with them, and writes well.

The first chapter of this splendid book describes some of Collins' journey to faith. He was an atheist, but, like many intelligent readers of his generation, found Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. This book, he says, demolished all his arguments as to why there was not a God. I will not rehearse all these arguments here, or re-hash some probably valid criticism of Lewis. Suffice it to say that reading Lewis was a major contributor to the conversion of a great scientist, and he is doing his part toward defending the faith (and science) in this book.

I hope to post more on this splendid volume in the future.


Elliot said...

Books and Culture has an interesting review written by Catherine Crouch (a physicist) in which she compares and contrasts the strengths of Collins book with those of N.T. Wright's Simply Christian.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks. I hadn't seen that.