79 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Good, as far as it goes.,
This review is from: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (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.
I found "The Language of God" frustrating for a number of additional reasons - at times Collins appears self aggrandising; in other places he seems to be humbly pleading with the wider scientific community to continue to take him seriously despite being a Christian (he spends much time criticising and distancing himself from his Christian brothers and sisters who hold different scientific views); his personal testimony chapter makes much of CS Lewis but little of the Lord Jesus.
However the book has many interesting and positive aspects. The general scientific education one receives from its pages is fascinating, irrespective of any religious connotations. The bioethics appendix is well thought through and raises helpful questions. It's fascinating to see how someone who appears to adopt everything the scientific establishment tells him from both within and outside his specialist field remains able to maintain an evangelical Christian worldview. It does a good job in presenting one way in which science and Christian theism can peacefully co-habit - Theistic Evolution or BioLogos in the author's own terminology (whether this is the correct answer is for the reader to decide). It is a well timed rebuke to believers who are tempted to use science as an excuse to give up on following Jesus Christ. It's reassuring to those who find the pseudo-scientific ramblings of Dawkins et al compelling. Ultimately this is a well intentioned book seeking to call an end to hostilities between science and the Christian faith and probably worth a read.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Aug 2009 07:58:22 BDT
Jim Sheldon says:
I totally agree. I thought the tiltle misleading because there was no "evidence for belief".
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2010 11:49:16 GMT
When you say "evidence for belief" do you in fact mean "proof"?
In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2011 13:33:57 GMT
S. Wilde says:
No - I mean evidence. Proof, rightly understood, is only available in the fields of pure mathematics and logic. Almost every belief we hold is based on evidence which supports the hypothesis. We don't need 100% certainty to rationally hold an opinion. My complaint was that this book doesn't go far enough to justify the subtitle.
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