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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Language of God, Chapters 7-10

This is my next to last post on The Language of God, by Francis Collins. (previous post)

The titles of these four chapters of Collins' book tell their story. They are:
"Option 1: Atheism and Agnosticism (When Science Trumps Faith)"
"Option 2: Creationism (When Faith Trumps Science)"
"Option 3: Intelligent Design (When Science Needs Divine Help)"
"Option 4: BioLogos (Science and Faith in Harmony)"

From these titles alone, you should be able to deduce that Francis Collins is a Concordist. That is, he believes that, properly understood, science and scripture are both part of God's revelation, and they don't contradict each other.

He has some particularly important words for the Intelligent Design movement:
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 cannot explain. . . . Ultimately a "God of the gaps" religion runs a huge risk of simply discrediting faith. (p. 193)

The sincerity of the proponents of Intelligent Design can hardly be questioned. The warm embrace of ID by believers, particularly by evangelical Christians, is completely understandable, given the way in which Darwin's theory has been portrayed by some outspoken evolutionists as demanding atheism. But this ship is not headed to the promised land; it is headed instead to the bottom of the ocean. If believers have attached their last vestiges of hope that God could find a place in human existence through ID theory, and that theory collapses, what then happens to faith? (p. 195)

As far as I know, Collins invented the term, BioLogos. As he says, it is a combination of Greek words meaning life and word, and he refers to John 1:1, where logos occurs three times in the original, referring, at least in part, to Christ's creative work. As Collins puts it:
BioLogos doesn't try to wedge God into gaps in our understanding of the natural world; it proposes God as the answer to questions science was never intended to address, such as "How did the universe get here?" "What is the meaning of life?" "What happens to us after we die?" Unlike Intelligent Design, BioLogos is not intended as a scientific theory. Its truth can be tested only by the spiritual logic of the heart, the mind, and the soul. (p. 204)

This is a link to the next, and last, post on this book.

Thanks for reading.


Rob Rumfelt said...

I agree with Collins that ID does not lend itself to experimental validation. How can it? In order to test whether or not something was designed, wouldn't the researcher need to know something of the intention and purpose of the designer? In the case of ID, that would be God. Can any human claim to know the mind of God?

I've always thought that ID belonged more in the realm of philosophy anyway. I much prefer the direction taken by Gerald Schroeder in his book, "Genesis and the Big Bang." Physics brings as much to the table as biology.

Martin LaBar said...

I haven't read Schroeder, and I guess I should look that book up.

Yes, ID seems to be more philosophy (or religion).