Another interesting account of Christian belief can be found in "The Language of God" by Francis Collins (Free Press/Simon and Schuster, 2006). This book is available for less than €10 on

Collins' book has a very clear introduction which sets the scene well for the current strident debate between atheistic/agnostic evolutionists and (mostly) American creationists.

There are eleven chapters plus one appendix in "The Language of God".

Chapter 1 deals with how Collins came to become a Christian believer himself.

Chapter 2 considers four objections to the God hypothesis – (a) Isn't the idea of God just wish fulfilment? (b) What about all the harm done in the name of religion? (c) Why would a loving God allow suffering in the world? (d) How can a rational person believe in miracles?

Chapter 3 deals with the origins of the universe, in particular the Big Bang theory and a discussion about what came before the Big Bang. The chapter is good on the issue of "fine tuning", i.e. the various physical constants such as the speed of light and the force of gravity which had to have specific values in order to result in a stable universe capable of sustaining complex life forms.

Chapter 4 is about the argument from design (the elegance behind life's complexity which suggests a Designer) though interestingly Collins does not support this argument.

Chapter 5 tells the history of the famous Human Genome project. Collins takes the view that denying evolutionary theory is a simply untenable position in the light of genetic science.

Chapter 6 looks at the great evolutionism versus creationism debate in the USA and considers the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. Galileo's fate is also discussed and Collins warmly endorses St. Augustine's remarks in connection with science versus scripture (Augustine felt that Genesis did not have to be interpreted literally and thought it unwise for Christians to adopt a rigid stand which further progress in knowledge might undermine).

Chapter 7 looks at the historical rise of militant atheism (e.g. Dawkins' remark that "faith is one of the world's greatest evils"). Militant atheism suggests that science demands atheism. Collins outlines Dawkins' three main contentions and rebuts them (unconvincingly).

Chapter 8 discusses material suggesting that creationism and modern science are incompatible.

Chapter 9 considers the Intelligent Design theory which takes the view that life's dazzling complexity cannot be explained by evolutionary theory. For example, "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe says that the concept of "irreducible complexity" backs evolutionary theory into a corner. Collins denies this and says that Intelligent Design is not a true scientific theory with predictive value. He also suggests that many examples of irreducible complexity will turn out not to be irreducible after all. He suggests that plausible intermediate evolutionary steps may well exist. He also believes that producing God (like a rabbit out of a hat) to explain current gaps in the scientific evidence is not helpful. Such "fixing" of problems by a "God of the gaps" runs out of steam as future science inevitably plugs the gaps with new discoveries and explanations.

Chapter 10 looks at Collins' own preferred explanation for the universe – theistic evolution (this is set out succinctly on page 200).

Chapter 11 becomes personal as Collins sets out his views on what life is all about.

The concluding Appendix about the moral practice of science and medicine (bio-ethics) is a fascinating look at many ethical dilemmas associated with coming advances in genomics and related fields.


Here is an extract from “The Language of God”:

Altogether, there are fifteen physical constants whose values current theory is unable to predict. They are givens: they simply have the value that they have. This list includes the speed of light, the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces, various parameters associated with electromagnetism, and the force of gravity. The chance that all of these constants would take on the values necessary to result in a stable universe capable of sustaining complex life forms is almost infinitesimal. And yet those are exactly the parameters that we observe. In sum, our universe is wildly improbable.

You may rightly object at this point that this argument is a bit circular: the universe had to have the parameters associated with this kind of stability or we would not be here to comment upon it. This general conclusion is referred to as the Anthropic Principle: the idea that our universe is uniquely tuned to give rise to humans. It has been a source of much wonder and speculation since it was fully appreciated a few decades ago.

Essentially, there are three possible responses to the Anthropic Principle:

1. There may be an essentially infinite number of universes, either occurring simultaneously with our own or in some sequence, with different values of the physical constants, and maybe even different physical laws.We ar e, however, unable to observe the other universes. We can exist only in a universe where all the physical properties work together to permit life and consciousness. Ours is not miraculous, it is simply an unusual product of trial and error. This is called the “multiverse” hypothesis.

2. There is only one universe, and this is it. It just happened to have all the right characteristics to give rise to intelligent life. If it hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here discussing this. We are just very, very, very lucky.

3. There is only one universe, and this is it. The precise tuning of all of the physical constants and physical laws to make intelligent life possible is not an accident, but reflects the action of the one who created the universe in the first place.

Regardless of one’s preference for option 1, 2, or 3, there is no question that this is potentially a theological issue. [Steven] Hawking, quoted by Ian Barbour, writes, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.”

Going even further, in A Brief History of Time, Hawking states: “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us”.

Another distinguished physicist, Freeman Dyson, after reviewing this series of “numerical accidents,” concludes, “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming”. And Arno Penzias, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who codiscovered the cosmic microwave background radiation that provided strong support for the Big Bang in the first place, states, “The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole”.

(A quotation found on page 74 of Francis Collin's book)


Stephen Pletko, a Canadian book reviewer on Amazon, has written a helpful review of Collins' book –

The title of this book comes from the words used in a speech by former U.S. President Bill Clinton after the entire human genome had been sequenced or "read." ("The human genome consists of all the DNA of our species, the hereditary code of life.")

The book itself was written by geneticist Francis S. Collins, the long-time head of the Human Genome Project (HGP), the project responsible for the incredible scientific accomplishment mentioned above. The HGP was the ambitious international scientific effort that began in 1998 and the first draft of the human genome was completed in June 2000.

Here are the aims or goals of this book as Collins states them: (i) "This book aims to...[argue] that [a] belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complimentary with the principles of science."

(ii) "[H]ere is the central question of this book: In this modern era of cosmology, evolution, and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews?...The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views."

(iii) "I will argue that these perspectives [or views] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience."

This book is divided into three parts.

(1) THE CHASM BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FAITH (2 chapters). Discusses the author's journey from agnosticism, through atheism, to belief and looks into the philosophical issues (examples: "Isn't the idea of God just wish fulfilment?" and "Why would a loving God allow suffering in the world?") that believers have to contend with. Believers should enjoy these chapters as Collins makes numerous arguments based on his experiences, observations, beliefs, and the writings & stories of others. He mentions such things as faith, God, miracles, and the supernatural. Non-believers will be disappointed as no hard evidence of Collins' belief (as suggested in the book's subtitle) is presented.

(2) THE GREAT QUESTIONS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE (3 chapters). In this part, the origins of the universe, life on Earth, and lessons from the human genome are presented. Excellent science is presented that's easy to follow. Collins presents some interesting arguments and presents his beliefs and inferences, but there is no hard evidence of God's existence presented.

(3) FAITH IN SCIENCE, FAITH IN GOD (6 chapters). In my opinion, this part is the best part. There is good discussion and excellent science evidence presented on topics of atheism, agnosticism, creationism, intelligent design (including "God in the gaps"). The penultimate chapter is on "Biologos" where science and faith are in harmony. This chapter especially is interesting because it presents the little known concept of "Theistic Evolution." Believers' eyes will probably be opened by this part and non-believers will probably learn much also. Again, actual hard evidence on God's existence is absent.

There are ten illustrations in the book that show some science concepts. I would have liked to have seen more illustrations but these ten are, in my opinion, both excellent and interesting. There were a few problems I found:

(1) As can be deduced from my brief summary above, there is really no hard "evidence for belief." However, there is much hard scientific evidence presented. The phrase "evidence for belief" is found in the book's subtitle and was why I was attracted to this book in the first place. Thus, I was disappointed when none was really presented (even though there's a lot of inferential evidence).

(2) At many points in the book, Collins talks about his belief in a "supernatural Creator." He wants the reader to believe this also. However, a belief is not evidence.

(3) Collins says the existence of the "Moral Law" or knowledge of right and wrong is evidence of God's existence. (He states this a few times.) Implied here is that you have to be religious to be moral. This is untrue.

(4) Collins tells us that science cannot answer all questions and strongly implies that this is one of its faults. Actually, this is not a fault. Science never claimed and is not designed to answer all questions.

(5) There are some factual errors in this book. While these don't affect its readability, I found them to be annoyances.

In conclusion, this book presents some excellent scientific evidence but no "evidence for belief." I think this book will not be satisfying to all believers (except perhaps for those who have read only the first two chapters) or convincing to non-believers (but they should find the scientific material presented that is found after the first two chapters interesting).