The Language Of God
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Francis S. Collins
Review by: D. Rigas
The latest popularity of the evangelical fundamentalist position on one hand and the growing response of the scientific atheist faction on the other, have recently brought forth an increasing number of books written by believing scientists. This one is the contribution of Dr. Collins, the head of the Genome Project that mapped the human DNA.
As with other similar authors, Dr Collins first establishes his unquestionable scientific authority, and then uses his detailed knowledge of his field (genetics) to prove that Darwin was right and the literal 6000-year creationists wrong. Part of his proof is based on the existence of so-called “junk DNA” segments of purposeless chance-generated code located between genes, and on their similar location in the DNA of other animals along the evolution scale. The average reader, like me, has to accept all that on blind faith, just as he accepts the explanation of gravity and other scientific Truths.
The author’s justification for God’s existence, on the other hand, is based on a somewhat less sturdy foundation. It depends almost entirely on what he calls “The Moral Law,” the selfless altruism that he finds existing in the entire human race and to nobody else in the animal world. He discusses how the “Golden Rule” is found in all societies and ages and then concludes that the knowledge of right and wrong is inherent in all humankind. He maintains that it is a God-ordained plan, somehow planned from the very beginning of the universe fourteen billion years ago. Personally, I am not convinced that all humans have the same sense of what is right and wrong, and I am even less convinced that altruism is missing among animals. How else can you explain the dog who gives up his life protecting his master or the animals he shepherds? Or the numerous stories of dolphins saving drowning people, often fighting off sharks to do it?
When a scientist discusses God he is forced to specify who that God is, something not required of the Catholic priest or the Baptist minister whose religions define him. The God of Dr. Collins is the creator of a universe specifically designed to evolve mankind. For according to the “Anthropic Principle,” if any one of half a dozen universal constants did not have the exact value it does the universe would not have lasted long enough or have been capable of supporting human life. But the author also believes that from the instant of its creation God almost never interfered in the progress of stellar and earthly evolution. And how then does he account for the fact that this evolution has been affected by numerous chance events of defining importance, like the meteor impact on earth 65 million years ago which resulted in the death of the dinosaurs and gave mammals and eventually man an opportunity to develop?
According to Dr. Collins “If God is outside of nature, then He is outside of space and time. In that context, God could in the moment of creation of the universe also know every detail of the future….In that context evolution could appear to us to be driven by chance, but from God’s perspective the outcome would be entirely specified.” Does that mean that after God created the universe and saw that a meteor did not chance to impact earth at the proper time to enable human evolution, he immediately destroyed that particular universe and started all over again until chance events cooperated with his intent?
The writings of C. S. Lewis have apparently helped resolve many of Dr. Collins’s theological puzzlements, and he includes numerous quotations from them. Although these are highly emotional and spiritual I find them to be more philosophically than scientifically inspired. I have the same opinion of most of the author’s own arguments in this book.
(The writer is the author of “Christianity without Fairy Tales: When Science and Religion Merge,” and of the forthcoming “The Way of the Butterfly: A Scientific Speculation on God and the Hereafter.”)