Almost two years ago now Francis S. Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published a book entitled The Language of God. This book describes how Dr. Collins, an outspoken evangelical Christian reconciles his faith with his science. With this post we begin a blog series on this book. Of course there are many good books available dealing with the relationship of science and faith – so why, you may ask, is this book so important? And why is it worth a blog series?
First – this book is by an absolutely top rate scientist. Dr. Collins has made several seminal advances and as a consequence has been elected to both the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine. Non-scientists may not realize the significance, but to use a baseball analogy Dr. Collins is a real Hall-of-Famer in this business. His research group (science is a team endeavor, usually involving a professor, post-doctoral scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students) at the University of Michigan identified the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis and a gene responsible for an inherited susceptibility to breast cancer. Second – Dr. Collins is a devout evangelical Christian with a high view of Scripture and a firm conviction of the reality of God and his atoning work through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost.
This book has three sections. The first is autobiographical. Dr. Collins tells the story of his journey to faith from a childhood raised by parents best classified as highly educated unconventional free-thinkers; how he found God (or God found him) and how he reconciles the various attacks on faith with his belief.
The second section of the book deals with the scientific evidence for the origin of the Universe, the age of the earth, and most significantly the evolution of life. Dr. Collins is at his best here when he discusses the areas of his expertise.
The third section of the book discusses the various ways that science and faith have been and can be reconciled.
Finally in an appendix Dr. Collins discusses several of the ethical dilemmas arising from modern bioscience.
Before beginning to dig into this book in the next post there are several questions to consider.
Do you think that there is a real conflict between science and faith? Why or why not?
How does the rhetoric of the 20th and now 21st century on the science/faith conflict impact the church?
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