Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: The Language of God

I recently read The Language of God by Francis Collins and have been meaning to write my thoughts on it. Francis Collins is a ROCK STAR scientist. Have you ever heard of (genetic) breast cancer? What about Cystic Fibrosis? Well he was instrumental in discovering the genes that are responsible for both diseases. He also led the Human Genome Project. Needless to say, he commands a great deal of respect from the scientific community. I think this fact makes it even more awesome that he’s also an evangelical Christian and wrote this book. Because you probably won’t be surprised to know that a lot of scientists look down on religious types, to the point of assuming that they are not intelligent. But Francis Collins is helping to prove them wrong.

In his book, Collins examines both sides of the argument. He discusses the evidence for an atheistic worldview where everything is random and also for a Creationist worldview where everything was directed by God. And then he eloquently points out that neither worldview is wholly accurate. Collins believes in things like the Big Bang theory and evolution and he also believes in an omnipotent God who created the world and is involved in the lives of His people. He argues that the scientific explanations for the origins of the world and life are in no way incompatible with Christianity when one simply examines the evidence and holds back on the assumptions. Just because God said “let there be” doesn’t mean He didn't mean for particles to slam into each other to create the earth. Our genetic similarity to primates in no way precludes the fact that we are different from them in that we have souls. And even the Bible says that time is different for God, showing that the young earth philosophy is incredibly misguided.

This book hit home for me. I was raised in a very fundamental church where the anti-evolution drum was beat loudly. As I became more interested in science during college I started wondering, why all the fuss? The Bible is not a scientific document. It is a compiled book with history, poetry, and prophecy genres of writing and a literal reading of it misses the point (case in point: Song of Solomon). Likewise, science can admit that it is an incomplete discipline and that there are some things we do not know.

Science is the study of the visible world and theology is the study of the unseen world. They do not need to compete with each other, and in fact, they can complement each other nicely. I’m not saying that we should use God as a placeholder for things that are unknown in science. A God of the blanks is not the One I worship. But if we look at the scientific explanations of the world we can say, “Wow! God did that, he used these elegant processes to bring about the world and its inhabitants.” Every day as I read papers and do experiments I am struck with this feeling.

And it is beautiful.

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