This particular view reached its widest audience in the writings of Sigmund Freud, who argued that wishes for God stemmed from early childhood experiences. The problem with this wish-fulfillment argument is that it does not accord with the character of the God of the major religions of the earth. Lewis argued that such wish fulfillment would likely give rise to a very different kind of God than the one described in the Bible. Instead, as we begin to come to grips with the existence of the Moral Law and our obvious inability to live up to it, we realize that we are in deep trouble and are potentially eternally separated from the Author of that Law.
Furthermore, does not a child as he or she grows up experience ambivalent feelings toward parents, including a desire to be free? So why should wish fulfillment lead to a desire for God, as opposed to a desire for there to be no God? Finally, in simple logical terms, if one allows the possibility that God is something humans might wish for, does that rule out the possibility that God is real?
The fact that I have wished for a loving wife does not now make her imaginary. The fact that the farmer wished for rain does not make him question the reality of the subsequent downpour. In fact, one can turn this wishful-thinking argument on its head. Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger exist if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfillment?
Again, Lewis says it well: A baby feels hunger: A duckling wants to swim: Men feel sexual desire: In the case of the universal constants, Collins is committing the same errors he accuses the proponents of intelligent design of using. Proponents of Intelligent Design claim that there are some parts of living things that are so complex that natural selection on random mutations i. These parts such as the complex eye and the bacterial flagellum indicate an Intelligent Designer.
Likewise, Collins says that the development of so many universal constants is so improbable, that they provide evidence for an intelligent designer. As he said about Intelligent Design, this is another "God-In-The-Gaps" argument, one that is in danger of being explained by science as our knowledge progresses.
In short, Collins' use of the word evidence in the subtitle is premature. As the religions I am most familiar with would attest, belief in a supernatural being is ultimately a matter not of natural evidence, but of revelation. Therefore belief in that supernatural being comes down to a person's willingness to accept revelation, whether it be through scripture or prayer, as a valid way of understanding the world.
Natural phenomena can be considered consistent with ones conception of the Almighty, but not the ultimate evidence for God. View all 3 comments. I have no doubt in the sincerity of Dr. Collins's beliefs, but I found this book insufferable. I picked it up at the store, hoping to catch a glimpse of how an established and wildly successful scientist reconciles his faith with the tradition of scientific rationalism. Instead, I found a lot of C.
Lewis fan-dom mixed with a clumsy rehashing of pretty tired theological arguments hinging on a mysterious intrinsic "Moral Law". To be honest, it reads like Collins is trying to convince himself m I have no doubt in the sincerity of Dr. To be honest, it reads like Collins is trying to convince himself more than the reader. Reading and suffering through this book did make me wonder if it's at all possible to honestly be both a scientist and a spiritual person.
Ironically, before I read this book I would've said maybe, but now I think I have to say no. A career as a scientist necessarily requires a dedication to rational observation, and most importantly, the flexibility to change models to incorporate new information. Religion at least organized religion requires a rigid flexibility to fixed beliefs. In other words, as Collins describes it, science is an inherently humbling study - somebody, someday will find a clever exception to your work, and these acts with time are the stuff of legend.
There aren't "paradigm shifts" it pains me to use that buzzword in religion - I mean, how can "eternal truth" be mutable? Personally, for me, the most troubling part of religion is that at its core, it reads like an exercise in vanity - no matter what other people say, the key endpoint of religion is to stratify people - some people will get rewarded whether that's enlightenment, heaven, View all 9 comments. Jul 08, David rated it did not like it Shelves: There are atheists who believe science is inconsistent with religious belief. There are religious people who do believe in science, compartmentalizing the two and judging them by different standards.
As far as I can tell, he never really thought about religion for a long time, and then the first time he read anything erudite and well-written on the subject C. New input is not fully processed anymore.
The Language of God - Wikipedia
I like that he, and people like him, like science. But I really wish they would just admit that their faith is irrational and not empirical, and then we could all get on with our lives. I would still disagree with their faith, but it would be philosophical and in terms of utility. I approached this book with some trepidation, as a lot of people I respect have looked at it and declared it all bollocks, but I wanted to give Collins a fair hearing.
He did not make this easier by making an obvious arithmetic error literally on page 1. Then in the introduction he makes the inexplicable though common assertion that religion is needed because science can't answer questions like "what is the meaning of human existence? What is the meaning of the asteroid Pisarenko? What kind of question is that? You can ask "what is the meaning of the president's last speech" because you know there is an intentional being behind it.
I know the president exists. However, asking the question "what is the meaning of human existence" assumes something gives it meaning - that would be assuming the existence of a god, unless you're a humanist who thinks people give it their own meaning. This is not a question you can ask if you're trying to establish the existence of God and argue for religion in the first case. Teleology went out the window when we stopped using Aristotle as the ultimate authority.
Of course, science has answered the second question what happens when we die , but Collins doesn't like the answer, so he ignores it. This is not a promising start to a book advertised as a rational look at faith and science. That Collins found and still finds the existence of human morality evidence for God appears due to the fact that he approached biochemistry from the chemistry side. He does not appear to have really listened to his biologist colleagues who are working on the question of why morality actually exists, and have indeed come up with some answers.
I can't believe Collins has never heard of, e. Most remarkably, at one point he says, "for the evolutionary argument about group benefits of altruism to hold, it would seem to require an opposite response, namely, hostility to individuals outside the group. He provides examples of two, count 'em, two people who were not hostile to some other group.
Collins would explain the small number of greatly altruistic people by the fact that we're all imperfect, but some are better than others so there must be some ideal. Okay, but as far as I can tell, this means the ideal is for humans to not use oxygen in our metabolic processes. Sure, we're all imperfect, and use it, but Ed Viesturs can climb Everest without supplemental oxygen, so he's proof there's some airless ideal we all strive for.
Now, I'm not arguing against morality. Marc Hauser , in Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong , convincingly argues that there is some sort of universal moral grammar in humans, although its realization is culture-dependent. One merely has to look at, say, Muslim honor killings to see that Collins' detailed universal morality is bollocks.
However, this occurs in other animals as well - in certain situations, chimps will abstain from rewarding themselves if it means another, unrelated chimp will be punished. This behavior is not observed in Wall Street firms - perhaps they should hire chimps. The problem here seems to be that while Collins is intelligent, he's not broadly educated.
He's not aware of even basic recent research in biological morality, or theoretical cosmology he seems proud of making it through A Brief History of Time , which is nice, but limited and dated. This isn't a failing for most people, and Collins doesn't need to know this stuff to do his biochemistry research. However, if he's going to make these things the root of his argument about the entire nature of reality, he really does need to know what he's talking about, and he can't just parrot C. Lewis may have been bright and articulate, but at the very least he lived before many of these scientific advances that really do undermine his arguments.
It does feel weird lecturing someone smarter than I am, but good grief, Collins, on the subject of the anomalous compassion of Oskar Schindler and Mother Teresa, go look up "outliers" and "regression to the mean". And does he not understand evolutionary byproducts? Humans didn't evolve to see faces in trees and the Moon because it was useful - it's a byproduct of other things that are themselves useful.
If in-group altruism is useful, evolution is not a scalpel that can cleanly separate that from out-group altruism. An expert in DNA must understand this, so is he willfully blind? And then Collins says that, "This was a God who was holy and righteous. He would have to be the embodiment of goodness. He would have to hate evil. If good is good because it's what God is and made Because God could decide tomorrow that it's good to kill your children, and it would be good, by your definition. That's not even addressing theodicies, which have never been satisfactorily resolved.
And Collins thinks science has a hard time explaining morality? Collins he thinks turns the wishful-thinking argument on its head: Daniel Dennett wrote a cogent book on why Breaking the Spell , but this is just a silly argument to begin with. Because lots of people would like to fly on their own power that means humans can fly?
If humans universally don't want disease, does that mean disease doesn't actually exist? Apparently, Collins continues to ride the "I just wrote down whatever was in my head without thinking about it" train. Come on, google, say, the Battle of Hunayn. Summary of page I know this is well intentioned and stoic, but step back from it and take a look And then Collins ties up and gags Bayes' theorem, and beats it with a stick until it says, "miracles!
Especially when your prior of 1 is for the existence of God. This is the exact same argument used by Intelligent Design proponents. Collins bashes ID, but turns around and uses the same argument in physics. Again, how can someone so smart be so intellectually inconsistent? Now Collins is arguing that there might be a deterministic theory that underlies quantum mechanics, and therefore the randomness isn't random to God.
But he was just arguing that QM overturned the deterministic universe of Laplace which left no room for God , and now he wants determinism again? Which I find astonishing, as his book is one long exercise in God of the gaps, and he clearly compartmentalizes things because he judges religious ideas by entirely different standards than scientific ideas. I doubt he would fund a grant application whose methods section includes the phrase "then we leap beyond the evidence and just believe our answers. But he is a confused, confused man. I can't read any more.
The Language of God
I'm on page 96, and we've gotten into intro biology lectures, which is boring. Collins has already utterly failed on philosophical and physical grounds, and I don't need a DNA lesson. But I did skip ahead a bit to where Collins lashes out at Richard Dawkins. He uses the standard argument that Dawkins is attacking some straw man of God, and not God as Collins and Augustine, C. Francis, old buddy, it's not a straw man. There are lots, and lots of religious people who are antirational, don't believe in evolution, take the Bible literally, etc. Dawkins did not make them up. They really exist, and probably make up half of the religious people in the US.
They also dominate the political-religious discourse in this country, so it's not like we can ignore them. They are senators and governors, not straw men. Then Collins spirits God out of the world, so science can't look at it. This is a cop-out. Special pleading about God, despite being a favorite past-time of many religious people and a standard theodicy , is not convincing.
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
This book includes one great quote of C. Mar 28, Dave rated it it was amazing Shelves: It was very refreshing to hear a reasonable person discuss these issues without trying to overemphasize controversy. There are two portions of the book: Collins personal story of how he came to faith in God, and his views on a number of controversial issues in the overlapping worlds of science, ethics and faith. The first is particularly intriguing to scientists who are interested in faith.
The second portion is more technical but valuable to anyone who wrestles with these issues. Sep 27, Linda rated it really liked it Shelves: While I am not usually a big fan of non-fiction takes too long to read this book really affected me. As a scientist I was ready to disagree with the ideas of this evangelical Christian, but his arguments were well, scientific. His rational arguments struck a chord with me and he convinced me that theistic evolution is a valid possibility as to where we came from.
This book is now my recommended first read for anyone who is asking the question, "Can a scientist be a Christian or even believe in God? He began as an agnostic. Feeling that agnostics who have not really tried to find God have no basis to defend their position or criticize others, Collins endeavored to see whether belief in God is possible. He leads the reader through the pr This book is now my recommended first read for anyone who is asking the question, "Can a scientist be a Christian or even believe in God? He leads the reader through the process by which he has concluded that not only is belief in God possible, he believes it is the most likely explanation for his cumulative observations.
He further goes on the conclude that for him Christianity has the most credibility of the religions. Collins addresses evolution, creationism, and intelligent design. He concludes that evidence for evolution, including the evolution of man from a common ancestor with the apes, is becoming more and more convincing as time goes on. He feels that seven twenty-four-hour days of divine creation is not the most likely explanation of the origin of the earth based on both scientific evidence and scripture.
He feels that intelligent design makes a god who is too small, being reserved only for the gaps; he further feels that more and more of those gaps are being explained by already established scientific principles as we learn more. Collins adds an appendix in which he discusses several controversial topics involving ethics and genetic research. This appendix is a great source for discussion. Jun 15, Sean rated it it was ok Shelves: I didn't read this whole book, as I was principally interested in Collins's arguments against Intelligent Design, so that and his arguments against atheism were the only two sections I have read so far.
I will therefore confine myself to addressing those two sections. Collins is a world-renowned scientist, a geneticist who headed the Human Genome Project, and as such his words carry a great deal of weight. In the cases where he gets it right, this is a good thing; where he gets i Full disclosure: In the cases where he gets it right, this is a good thing; where he gets it wrong, this is a terrible thing, especially since many of his readers will depend on him and his reasoning instead of their own to reach his conclusions. Where he gets it right is in the case of Intelligent Design: Collins argues that ID is simply not science, because it fails to solve any scientific problems, because it is unverifiable, because it fails to make any sort of useful prediction, and because it is ultimately a "god of the gaps" hypothesis.
The fact that Collins is arguing this as an avowed theist who does not want to see faith fail because of a weak reed like ID does not undermine his arguments. Collins is a scientist, and—when he is not blinded by his own agenda and preconceptions—he can recognize science when he sees it. Unfortunately, his arguments against atheism are utterly specious. In fact, they fail to be arguments at all: Sadly, he misquotes and mischaracterizes Dawkins's position ironically calling it a "straw man" , and simply accepts Gould's controversial, to say the least position on "nonoverlapping magisteria" at face value.
Collins apparently has traveled from atheist to evangelical Christian, a journey that I can only describe as irrational in the extreme. I don't deny that he has thought long and hard about his beliefs, but it seems perfectly ludicrous to me that a person starting from square one, blank slate, as it were, could possibly narrow down the religious field to a specific set of beliefs using any kind of logic.
And, reading ahead in his book, I find that this is the case: This is the same kind of apologetic, feel-good nonsense that C. Lewis churned out by the pound, and it is irrational, unscientific claptrap unworthy of one of the greatest geneticists of our age. Comments telling me to read the whole book will be deleted.
Comments from people who clearly didn't read or understand my review will be deleted. Comments that annoy me for any other reason will be deleted. Apr 18, Brooke rated it really liked it Shelves: I picked this book up because I thought it would be interesting to read about the religious views of the head of the Human Genome Project. What does someone who has his scientific credentials think about God and spirituality? The Language of God is a well- I picked this book up because I thought it would be interesting to read about the religious views of the head of the Human Genome Project.
The only downside from my point of view is that Collins is Christian; I feel like I've spent enough time reading about how people arrived at their faith in Jesus. I'd love to read something written from the perspective of someone who became just about anything else, just for the sake of hearing some different experiences. To Collins' credit, though, in the few times he discusses the Bible, he refers to the original Hebrew.
He also acknowledges several times that although his exploration of his personal beliefs brought him to Christianity, that every person will find what is right for them. A strike against him, though, is his use of the phrase "Judeo-Christian" several times, especially in reference to religious texts. That phrase needs to be disposed of and never used by anyone ever again. The book ends with an appendix detailing some current bioethics concerns, and while it's interesting especially since a bioethics class I took with Lori Andrews was one of my more interesting law school classes , I'm a little puzzled about its placement in this book.
View all 4 comments. Jun 20, Lynn Hay rated it did not like it Recommends it for: This book was a disappointment to me, i did not gleam any new insight from it. It was the old circular 'I believe because I believe' argument meets an ode to C. He quoted him so often it started to feel a bit plagiarised. Jan 23, Joey rated it did not like it. Collins at least encourages fellow evangelicals and other fundamentalist believers to leave behind the bronze age science of religion and cross over into the 19th century.
As the head of the Human Genome Project, he dispels the myth that science is a godless, liberal conspiracy to destroy religion. Collins' arguments for god are lacking. Human morality has a perfectly legitimate, natural explanation. Collins feels the desire to reach out and help that starving African child on The Good: Collins feels the desire to reach out and help that starving African child on the television because the genes and epigenes that built his brain evolved in hunter-gatherer societies without televison and where any suffering child that was witnessed was overwhelmingly likely to have shared genes.
See a Problem?
It's kin selection and reciprocal altruism. Collins, don't insult our intelligence. How someone as bright as Dr. Collins theoretical physics in undergrad, medical school, genetics fellowship, Human Genome Project, etc. I read this book as an overture to my wife after she threated me with divorce for declaring my unbelief. I was literally nauseated by the ignorance and half-truths contained in its pages. Mar 11, Jennifer rated it really liked it Shelves: This was a book I read for my seminary class on Science and the Christian Faith.
I liked it enough that I would choose to read it again in the future when I'm not needing to speed through it for class. I think it is an important book in the conversation regarding Science and Christianity and how the two do not need to be at odds with one another. Sep 19, John Wiswell rated it really liked it. He makes and assesses several arguments for and against belief in God, but they make up less than half the book.
Justifiably tired of religious fundamentalists and anti-theists polarizing discourse, Collins sets out to harmonize and inform on a range of topics. Another addresses the ethics of cloning, stem cells and invitro fertilization. He summarizes the careers of Darwin and Galileo, attempting to dispel untruths about their lives as well as illustrate the history of science.
He also gives a cursory biography of what led him from childhood to agnosticism, from agnosticism to atheism, from atheism to Christianity, from chemist to biologist, from researcher to government employee, and from that position to his work in the Human Genome Project.
The whole is so readable that I went through it in a couple of days. Collins is remarkably calm and conversational, which renders his great breadth of topics universally understandable. Selected chapters would make fine introductory reading for basic science and theology courses. He is also well-read and perhaps tries too hard to let you know it — two pages seldom pass without him quoting Sigmund Freud, St.
Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould or some other notable thinker. But his biggest flaw lies in that giant library for he has so many topics to address that he sprints through them. No serious agnostic is going to be convinced by the couple of pages he devotes to arguing against it, and it would be a pleasure to get more detail from the man himself on the struggles of the Human Genome project. Yet in discussing how evolution might not produce such complex altruism in its subjects, he ignores theories of reciprocal altruism and modern neuroscience. With its appendices his book is over three hundred pages, but you have the urge to slow him down and get him to expand.
Explore the entire Star Trek book collection, apps and more. Get relationship help, parenting advice, healthy recipes, and tips for living a happy life from our author experts. Get access to the best in romance: See More New Releases. The Language of God. An instant bestseller, The Language of God provides the best argument for the integration of faith and logic since C. It has long been believed that science and faith cannot mingle. Faith rejects the rational, while science restricts us to a life with no meaning beyond the physical.
It is an irreconcilable war between two polar-opposite ways of thinking and living. Written for believers, agnostics, and atheists alike, The Language of God provides a testament to the power of faith in the midst of suffering without faltering from its logical stride. Your Cart items Cart total.
Buy from another retailer. It lets non-churchgoers consider spiritual questions without feeling awkward. Refuting the tired stereotypes of hostility between science and religion, Francis Collins challenges his readers to find a unity of knowledge that encompasses both faith and reason. In it Francis Collins, the eminent scientist, tells why he is also a devout believer