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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Voice of Reason and Of Faith, 2 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Christian Softcover Originals) (Paperback)
Francis Collins argues that the realms of spirituality and knowledge of God are different from that of science. He sees no conflict between the coexistence in the same person of belief in a transcendent God who takes a personal interest in human beings and the exploration of nature with the tools and language of science.

Originally an agnostic/atheist, as is often the case with children in households where religion and church are thought of as one and are primarily social institutions, Collins didn't want to know about the great questions of life until he read C S Lewis's Mere Christianity. From this he concluded that altruism was an expression of the Moral Law, a reasoning he found far more convincing than the ant-centred altruism of E O Wilson and the sociobiologists.

There many problems for any religious believer, of which the problem of evil is perhaps the most apparent. None of these are scientific problems. They are philosophical ones and Collins sets out in detail the war of the worldviews of science and religion. On the one hand there are those who see God as wish fulfilment, excusing incredible evil and asking for the suspension of reason, a view held by many scientists. However, Collins points out, "Science is not the only way of knowing. The spiritual worldview provides another way of finding truth." The latter cannot be understood by the application of the scientific method and it is unscientific to attempt to do so.

Those who see this book as an attempt to reconcile religion and modern science are mistaken. It is an attempt to show that a scientist can believe in God without ceasing to use the scientific approach to material knowledge. For Collins DNA is, by its very complexity, the language of God, not proof of atheism. Evolution by natural selection is for Collins a hypothesis which constantly requires testing but which, in his view, provides the underlying theory for the explanation of the development of today's human beings. In that respect he probably under-estimates the philosophical nature of Darwin's theory.

Collins dismisses Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design as explanations for the development of life on earth. He recognises both were inspired in part by the atheistic message of evolutionary biologists, such as Dawkins, whom he regards as misguided in believing there is no teleological purpose to the universe. He concludes that science does not demand atheism. "If God is outside nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove His existence" and concludes, "Atheism itself must....be considered a form of blind faith, in that it adopts a belief system that cannot be defended on the basis of pure reason." Evolution is an insufficient premise on which to reject either God or science.

Collins does not see the conflict as one of religion and science but one of humankind's attempt to bully their fellow creatures into intellectual submission. That was true when religion was politically powerful (and in places where it still is) and it is equally true where materialism (and science) reigns unchecked. Worldviews by their nature tend to be exclusive. Collins shows they can exist in harmony. Regrettably many people appear unwilling to acknowledge the possibility that their view may be incorrect. An enjoyable book, unlikely to convince many people, but a welcome antidote to the strident atheism of Dawkins.
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