Friday, October 7, 2011

The Language of God, by Francis S. Collins

I'd been meaning to read this book since last summer when I was on a Creation kick.  But the kick ended before I got to the book.  A friend recently asked me to read it and give my opinion (what was he thinking?!?), as we had another scientist from Creation Research Institute at our church who he disagreed with. 

Francis Collins is obviously a genius.  He became the head of the Human Genome Project and carried it through amazingly well.

He was raised very similar to how I want to raise my own children, which gives me great hope. :)  ''like my older brothers, I was home-schooled by my mother, a remarkably talented teacher.  Those early years conferred on me the priceless gift of the joy of learning.  While my mother had no organized class schedule or lesson plans, she was incredibly perceptive in identifying topics that would intrigue a young mind, pursuing them with great intensity to a natural stopping point, and then switching to something new and equally exciting.  Learning was never something you did because you had to, it was something you did because you loved it.'

He is a Christian, and the point of his book was to convince people that you can be a Bible-believing Christian, and still believe in evolution/big bang theory.  Which he obviously does.

It was good to see his point of view and I'm glad I read it.  But, I do ultimately disagree with him.  But I also have to believe that he is a Christian who God is using in the scientific world.  So more power to him!

One thing that bothered me was that he repeated, throughout the book, that 'science proves evolution', but I disagree. The evidence CAN be used to prove the hypothesis of evolution, or it can prove, intelligently, creation as well. But he does not acknowledge that at all. And his entire thesis is based on that fact-that science ONLY proves evolution/big bang/BioEthics. Here are some quotes from the book:

P. 45-'Science reveals evolution'

p. 105 'Evolution, as a mechanism, can be and must be true.'

p.127 'similar DNA sequence in various organisms provide powerful support Darwin's theory of evolution'

p. 133 'truly it can be said that not only biology but medicine would be impossible to understand w/out the theory of evolution.... The study of genomes leads inexorably to the conclusion that we humans share a common ancestor with other living things. '

p. 136 'Unless one is willing to take the position that God has place these decapitates AREs in these precise positions to confuse and mislead us, the conclusion of a common ancestor for humans and mice is virtually inescapable. This kind of recent genome data thus presents an overwhelming challenge to those who hold to the idea that all species were created ex nihilo'. But it doesn't. There are theories about those very things that fit right into creation also.

p. 173 'In general, those who hold these views are sincere, well-meaning, God-fearing people, driven by deep concerns that naturalism is threatening to drive God out of human experience . But the claims of YEC simply cannot be accommodated by tinkering around the edges of scientific knowledge' The YEC scientists are every bit as scientific as himself. It's conjecture and opinion on his part.

p. 177 'YEC (young earth creationists) has reached a point of intellectual bankruptcy, both in its science and in its theology'.

p. 178 'To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide. Presented with no other alternative than Creationism, is it any wonder that many of these young people turn away from faith, concluding that they simply cannot believe in a God who would ask them to reject what science has so compellingly taught us about the natural world?'

In my opinion, he is making wide claims that simply aren't true. You don't have to reject what science says to still believe in the Bible/creation.

p. 183 He talked about the Intelligent design movement. I LOVED Philip Johnsons books and Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. AWESOME books!

p. 190 'Admittedly, we cannot precisely outline the order of the steps that ultimately led to the human clotting cascade . We may never be able to do so, because the host organisms of many predecessor cascades are lost to history. Yes Darwinism predicts that plausible intermediate steps must have existed, and some have indeed already been found.' But ID/Creation addresses those issues just as well, if not better, then evolution.

p. 198 'Truth is truth. Truth cannot disprove truth.' Agreed!

p. 206 'Very well, so the 6 days of creation can be harmonized with what science tells us about the natural world...' Huh?

p. 207 'as noted previously, studies of human variation, together with the fossil record, all point to an origin of modern humans approximately a hundred thousand years ago, most likely in East Africa'.

p. 209 He doesn't believe the stories of Job and Jonah are literal stories. Jesus refers to creation/noah and I believe Job and Jonah as well, although I'm not positive about that.

p. 210 'Will we turn our backs on science because it is perceived as a threat to God, abandoning all of the promise of advancing our understanding of nature and applying that to the alleviation of suffering and the betterment of humankind? Alternatively, will we turn our backs on faith, concluding that science has rendered the spiritual life no longer necessary, and that traditional religious symbols can now be replaced by engravings of the double helix on our altars?'

p. 230 'Science can be a form of worship. Indeed, believers should seek to be in the forefront among those chasing after new knowledge. Believers have led science at many times in the past.' Creationist definitely agree with this. Their studies are a form of worship of their amazing God.

p. 238 The universal presence of mutations in DNA, the price we pay for evolution, means that no one can claim bodily perfection any more than spiritual perfection.' Creation's explanation of entropy/sin and adaption explain this far better in my opinion.
He also makes it sound as though no professional scientist in any branch actually believes creation. Which isn't true.

p.65-'Physicists are in agreement that the universe began as...'
p. 68- 'Scientists believe our own sun did not form in the early days of the universe'
p. 99- 'No serious biologists today doubt the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life'
p. 141 'The examples reported here from the study of genomes, plus others that could fill hundreds of books of this length, provide the kind of molecular support for the theory of evolution that has convinced virtually all working biologists that Darwin's framework of variation and natural selection is unquestionably correct.'
p. 146 'From a biologist perspective, the evidence in favor of evolution is utterly compelling'

But there are physicists, scientists and biologist that do not believe in evolution, and intelligent ones who have combed through all the facts and come to a different conclusion. It's ok to believe it, but don't make it sound that all intelligent, thinking professional people in the field of science believe what you believe. They don't, and some of them have written intelligent books to refute evolution. Although to be fair, creationist approach the subject with just as much assurance and enthusiasm

But, my biggest argument with the book is that the Bible is the FINAL authority on life.  And rather then trying to fit the Bible into science, we need to fit science into the Bible.  If we try and keep the Bible 'relevant' to science today, we are on shaky ground.  Science is constantly changing, and a religion based on it is very shaky indeed.

Science really is fascinating!  I look forward to delving more deeply into it and learning more of God's amazing world! 

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