Review of Collins, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” -- By: Mark Pretorius

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 12:1 (Sep 2011)
Article: Review of Collins, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”
Author: Mark Pretorius


Review of Collins, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”

Mark Pretorius

Collins FS 2006. The language of God: a scientist presents evidence for belief. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Introduction

Undoubtedly, the credentials of Francis Collins are impressive. As the former head of the Human Genome Project, he is one of the world’s leading geneticists. He is also a Christian with strong a convictions that theistic evolution is the best explanation of the creation aspects of the Bible. Notwithstanding my critique of a number of Collins’ claims, The Language of God will certainly challenge the intellectually honest reader.

Although Collins deals with many issue throughout his book, especially on the human genome, I felt that it would be more pertinent to deal briefly with issues that are important, particularly those with regard to God and humanity.

1. Humanity

In his book, Collins attempts to answer many questions on humanity’s roots, and its relation to the scriptural account of life. He endeavours to reconcile some of the many difficult aspects of scripture with biological research, such as the creation of Adam, Cain’s wife; the successfully

integration of Darwin’s idea of evolution with the scriptural account of creation, and so on. I gleaned much from his book, but I was somewhat disappointed by some of the claims he makes (e.g. his idea that we were created from pre-existent hominids, rather than a special creation by God, and that Genesis is poetic, rather than literal).

Nevertheless, his book is well laid out, starting with his impressive conversion to Christianity, and the subsequent results. He then moves on to the origin of the universe, culminating in a brief discourse on some of the ethical and moral sides of biological issues, and a review of his conversion.

2. Genesis

One must commend Collins for his effort to make sense of difficult issues surrounding the science and theology debate. However, many of his ideas fail closer academic scrutiny, which is a pity, since he has made a bold attempt to answer questions, specifically on the origin of humanity through his study and head of the Human Genome Project. In fact, one tends to have an uneasy feeling when reading how he strives to reconcile the so-called ‘scriptural conundrums’, especially around Adam and the creation acts of Genesis. On certain theological issues, it seems that his work tends to border on heresy. For example, when referring to the book of Genesis, he states that, ‘Unquestionably the language is poetic’ rather than litera...

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