Our first witness is the poster boy Francis Collins, the born-again Christian who led the US National Institutes of Health’s drive to map the human genome. His recent bestseller, The Language of God, recounts how his bohemian upbringing resulted in a spiritual emptiness that only came to be filled upon reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity as a graduate student in biochemistry. This small fact is telling. Lewis, a colleague of J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford, is often recommended to open-minded people to ease them into the Christian faith.
Lewis’s rhetorical gifts lay in presenting Christianity as demanding little more than what readers are already presumed to believe, but promising much in return if they just take the extra step to accept Jesus as their personal saviour. In a sense, Lewis simply updated the spiritual eclecticism of medieval literature – his scholarly expertise – that had been used to ease the passage of the British Isles’ pagan natives into Christendom. It is a low-cost approach to religion that reappears in Collins’ eagerness to play down any important conflict between God and Darwin. He wants to square things for scientists who don’t want ID on their doorstep but who also don’t want to have to examine their beliefs too closely. (P. 101)