Mar, 06, 2009Book Review: The Language of God by Argosy Project
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief
By Francis S. Collins
Published by Free Press, 2006
It’s only befitting that the head geneticist who led the international Human Genome Project to success, dare to follow-up his accomplishment with an almost as daring task to tackle. Basically, that a “rigorous scientist” who believes in evolutionism- can also believe in a Creator.
In “The Language of God,” Francis S. Collins argues, “that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science.” The recent success of sequencing the human genome that consists of all the DNA of our species, unlocked “the instructions for building a human being.” Yet Collins was humbled and happy to evoke his awe of God to the world for this milestone in biology.
The crux of Collins’s book is his firm view that the scientific and spiritual world views do not have to be antithetical.
Collins spent his youth in “willful blindness,” with a willy-nilly attitude about religion he inherited from his parents. By the time he reached Yale graduate school he had become a full-blown atheist.
As a young physician in training in North Carolina, Collins faced an awkward moment from an older woman suffering from severe untreatable angina. His patient asked him what he believed. “I’m not really sure.” he replied.
The brief encounter with the older woman haunted Collins: “Was I answerable to someone else other than myself?”
Collins set out to “disprove faith on the basis of logical argument.” However, Collins ran into a stumbling block early on when he read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. More specifically, Lewis’ Moral Law argument. Which became the basis, and later foundation, for Collins forgoing atheism, and becoming a Christian.
As should be expected, Collins never breaches the subject of Bigfoot. But he does briefly discuss our closest known living relative, the chimpanzee. “The chimpanzee genome sequence has now been unveiled, and it reveals that humans and chimps are 96 percent identical at the DNA level.”
Collins does elaborate on the occasional genetic glitches between humans and chimps. Here’s an insightful example:
“We can also now begin to explain the origins of a tiny fraction of the more mechanical differences between us and our closest relatives, some of which may play crucial roles in our humanness. In one example, a gene for a jaw muscle protein (MYH16) appears to have mutated into a pseudogene in humans. It continues to play a significant role in the development and strength of the jaw muscles in other primates. It is just conceivable that the inactivation of this gene led to a reduction in the mass of the human jaw muscle. Most apes have relatively larger and stronger jaws than we do. Human and ape skulls must, among other things, serve as an anchor for these jaw muscles. It is possible that the development of weaker jaws paradoxically allowed our skulls to expand upward, and accommodate our larger brains. This is clearly speculation, of course, and other genetic changes would be necessary to account for the much larger brain cortex that represents a major component of the difference between humans and chimpanzees.”
The steep polarization of the evolutionists versus the creationists Collins fully acknowledges. Collins also realizes the vast majority of Americans, including scientists, are caught in between these two opposing world views.
The heart of “Language” is heady, and will read like a dissertation for many folks. Collins runs the gamut from St. Augustine to the modern-day atheist, Richard Dawkins, to demonstrate arguments from both sides the great divide.
Collins calls for “a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit.” A war that “has been initiated and intensified by extremists on both sides.”