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Review of Collins’s New Book in WashPost

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Given Francis Collins’s view of evolution, how does science support the idea of “genetic code as sacred speech”? Or is this simply a faith move?

From the Washington Post, Sunday, July 9, 2006; BW05

Reason to Believe
A leading geneticist argues that science can lead to faith.
Reviewed by Scott Russell Sanders
THE LANGUAGE OF GOD
A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
By Francis S. Collins
Free Press. 283 pp. $26

. . . The God in whom Collins believes is no aloof Prime Mover who set the show in motion and withdrew to watch. He’s a deity who intervenes (albeit rarely) in the course of things. Why God permits the suffering of innocents is a puzzle Collins does not pretend to solve, although he speculates, following C.S. Lewis, that we may need to suffer in order to learn. The resurrection of Jesus is, for Collins, the key intervention by a God “who takes personal interest in human beings.” Late in the book, after a lucid account of genetic research and a spirited defense of evolutionary theory against proponents of creationism and “intelligent design,” he reveals that on his path toward faith, Jesus was a crucial “bridge between our sinful selves and a holy God.”

One can respect his belief in the divinity of Jesus without agreeing that such a belief logically follows from his argument for the existence of God. Likewise, Collins goes beyond the evidence when he speculates that “God’s intention in creating the universe” may have been “to lead to creatures with whom He might have fellowship, namely human beings.” Many readers will doubt that all 10 or 15 billion years of cosmic history merely prepared the way for us, a pack of inquisitive primates pondering the starry expanses from our speck of planetary dust. Still, it’s bracing to be reminded, in our disenchanted day, that an eminent scientist can read the genetic code as sacred speech.

Comments
Nancy Percey eloquently informs us of those religious gadflies who safeguard their faith in the upper tier fairyland that the spider promises to protect. At the end of the day, however, we can be sure that the diversity of religious faith found in the likes of Behe, Dembski, Klinghofer and Wells will be better equipped to defend itself.Rude
July 10, 2006
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It becomes such a convoluted mess when scientists who are theists stray from traditional theistic interpretations to propose their own. I'd rather them just say where the information points to on the most general level, than start advancing their own theological worldviews. I'm not saying Collins can't do this; it just makes the book an awkward read.Doug
July 10, 2006
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What becomes clear is that he has only been aquainted with a Strawman of ID.Scott
July 10, 2006
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Unlike Ken or Keith Miller, Collins appears to be pretty clearly saying that humans, and the genetic code, were intended (and to be designed is simply to be the actualized object of an intention). Furthermore, he seems to be saying that this is something he has rationally concluded from observing the genetic code. Given that, it's not clear what his real difference with ID is.Deuce
July 10, 2006
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Elegant? How bout wasteful and cruel.Scott
July 10, 2006
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I think Collins needs to take his meds - quick. Which side is he on???lucID
July 10, 2006
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Collins quote from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2220484,00.html :
“I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way,” he says.
Darwinian evolution has no goal. Collins is an ID supporter and doesn't even know it.j
July 9, 2006
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Without the same sort of preconceptions and prejudgements that characterize Darwinian views (i.e., an unfounded precept that "it can't have happened"), the science of History--yes History is a science--verifies the reports of the Resurrection, that the physical bodily resurrection of the person named Jesus of Nazareth did in fact occur. Ancient literature including but not limited to the New Testament histories and the flow of history itself, especially the history of Western Civilization, are inextricably intertwined and unexplainable if the Resurrection did not occur. Without the blinders of preconception, the Resurrection is a staggering event.glennj
July 9, 2006
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