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The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief Hardcover – 4 Sep 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (4 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743286391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743286398
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.2 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Francis Collins, one of the world's most distinguished scientists, treats the relationship of science and religion with reason and reverence. Collins's mix of clear technical exposition and personal reflection is infused with an intellectual and spiritual honesty. Everyone who questions how religious faith could be reconciled with scientific knowledge, everyone who fears that modern science attacks the heart of religious faith, everyone interested in an enlightened discussion of a crucial issue of our time should read this book."-- William D. Phillips, 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics

About the Author

Dr Francis S. Collins is one of the world's leading geneticists and the long-time head of the Human Genome Project. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By S. Wilde on 19 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is both interesting and frustrating. It is interesting because as a prominent theistic scientist (who took over leadership of the Human Genome Project from a prominent atheistic scientist) Collins has a unique vantage point from which to contribute to the science / faith debate. It's frustrating because, in this reviewer's opinion, Collins should have gone so much further in engaging more fully in the wider Christianity / Atheism debate.

The book's subtitle "A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" is misleading. The pro-belief argument rests almost exclusively on the Moral Law whilst evidenced-based reasoning fills relatiely few of the book's pages. The reliance on philosophical argument is odd as one might expect the main evidence for belief from such a prominent scientist to be scientific in nature (Collins does touch on the Cosmological and Fine Tuning Arguments but these do not come across as central evidential pillars). However this reflects the thrust of the book - science doesn't land blows for theism or atheism - science should not even be in the fight.

Consequently I would say that this book does not add a great deal to the Christian / Atheist debate. Collins surveys that battle and seeks to pull back science from the front line. However I struggle to see how that is consistent with the worldview of someone who believes that the entire natural world has been created by the agency of a personal God, in order to declare his glory (which Collins must believe, as a self-confessed Evangelical). Science, as the study of God's creation, should be a powerful apologetic tool for those who have eyes to see, and thus I would recommend the book of another evangelical Scientist - John Lennox's "God's Undertaker" - above this book.
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180 of 193 people found the following review helpful By N. F. Whitehead on 20 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
As a Christian trained as a physicist, I have always been drawn to books that tread the road between science and faith. "The Language of God. A scientist presents evidence for belief" by Francis Collins is one of the best. Dr Francis S Collins is head of the Human Genome Project and one of the leading scientists working on DNA, the code of life. He is also a man whose unshakable faith in God is clear throughout this book.

If you have been drawn to "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins then I would urge you to read Collins too. How can two men with such similar backgrounds and similar scientific interests come to completely opposing conclusions? Indeed Collins admits that in his student days and for sometime afterwards he was an atheist himself.

"The Language of God" is part autobiography, part layman guide to DNA and evolution theory; cosmology and quantum physics (though I can think of better introductions than Collins) making an interesting comment on Einstein's famous phrase "God does not play dice". It is also a profound analysis that fully endorses evolution theory as explored by science whilst fully upholding faith in the Christian God of the Bible, including the miraculous. These two worldviews are not incompatible in Collins' mind, and he builds some important bridges: "It is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit. The war was never really necessary."

Along Collins' road he tackles the main alternative positions including the atheism of Dawkins that he challenges on several grounds, concluding that atheists must find some other basis for taking their position, evolution won't do.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE on 7 April 2010
Format: Paperback
We are assured by Richard Dawkins and others of that ilk that no self-respecting intelligent person, let alone scientist, could possibly believe in a God. Their case is undermined by the fact that scientists like Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project not only believe in God but can make the intellectual case for their position, and with substantially more force than the case against God made in "The God Delusion".

In this book, Collins charts his own journey to faith, guided largely by C.S.Lewis (Mere Christianity), and then outlines his own intellectual position on the issue of origins. He identifies three main positions - atheism, creationism and intelligent design - correctly showing that ID is a distinct intellectual movement - but also identifies what he considers weaknesses in all three. His own position is "Theistic Evolution", or "BioLogos" to use the term he coins. He argues that the evidence suggests that the history of the universe does not show evidence of external agency (unlike the position of creationism or ID), but that there are aspects of the universe which are not adequately explained by purely naturalistic perspectives (unlike the position of atheism). He also argues that the culture wars, which have little to do with science and much to do with philosophical presuppositions, are damaging both science and faith, by firmly scribing an unnecessary line between the two. In this regard, Collins adopts the reciprocal position of Stephen Gould (Rocks of Ages), who advocates a complete separation into non-overlapping magisteria.
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