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Evidence, what evidence ?
on 3 June 2017
Collins may be a brilliant scientist, but he’s no author. I was very much looking forward to a rivetting explanation of an intelligent person explaining how and why he changed his mind on such a significant issue, especially as this book kept being referenced in other books.
This tale of coming to accept the idea of God is dispatched with very quickly in the short Chapter 1. As far as I can see, one awkward question from an OAP (p20) and a smattering of C S Lewis (p21) and that’s it. Really, *that* is it !
The ‘proof’ consists of the anthropic principle available elsewhere and nothing special added here (Chapter 3), a refutation of the ‘God of the Gaps’ (Chapter 4), a much better written section on genetics (presumably because he’s on home ground) that’s supposed to say genetics and God aren’t mutually exclusive (he may say that, but why should people change their minds because he says so ?) in Chapter 5, a weak refutation of Dawkins in chapters 6 and 7 (done better elsewhere), a critique of Creationism and Intelligent Design in Chapters 8 and 9 (done better elsewhere), and a very weak explanation of his own preferred ideology ‘BioLogos’ in Chapter 10 that appears to be simply holding both ideologies at the same time. Chapter 11 is a bit more autobiography where he struggles to understand why he went to Africa, only to be told by the recovering patient after he’s performed a difficult piece of surgery that Collins was sent by God to save that person: well, that shows there’s a God then, right ? Not really, no. The Appendix is on the ethics of stem cell research and is actually worth reading because he does explain, quite well, how this is not as black and white as it might first seem.
I have been asking around as to why intelligent people have such stunted theist beliefs that are less developed than, for example, their job skills. The answers I have had are :-
1) when people do their religion, they are relaxing from their jobs and don’t want to think, they need to receive,
2) the parts of one’s personality used by religion are different from the ones used for the job, and the job bits get used more so are more developed,
3) in the sciences, ‘sensing’ and ‘thinking’ are preferred, whereas in religion ‘intuiting’ and ‘feeling’ are preferred,
4) people can not necessarily convey adequately with words the religious experience: it’s a fatuous remark but it needs to be said; it’s the religious ‘experience’, not the religious ‘being told about it’.
Despite the claims of other reviewers, religious faith is a lot more prevalent in the sciences, especially in astronomy and physics in my experience, than one would believe, but such people keep their heads down. They can be found if you’re a theist and meet them at religious events. There are two in my own family, and another three of my own personal acquaintance: and I, by my own admission, don’t get out much (disabled, introvert, happy to stay home). The world needs a proper explanation, but this is not it. I have marked several pages, but mostly for the names of theist scientists.