The Language of God by Francis S. Collins is a thought-provoking and challenging book written by one of America's preeminent scientists and the head of the Human Genome Project that is responsible for the discovery of the sequence of the code of life -- "the language in which God created life."
Collins' book is a detailed look at the competing ideologies regarding the origins of the universe in a style that is readable even for a scientific or religious layman. He believes that the age-old battle between science and religion in matters regarding the origins of the universe and life on earth is futile and ultimately unnecessary because the two are not only compatible but also harmonious.
Francis Collins is a devout believer in God and speaks about his faith in a style rarely found in scientific circles. He argues there is no conflict between a scientist and a faithful believer.
Unlike some evolutionary scientists like Richard Dawkins who believe that "faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence," Collins leans towards scientific thinkers and biologists like Russian Orthodox Theodosius Dobzhansky. Dobzhansky is considered one of the architects of modern evolutionary science and sees "nothing in biology [making] sense except in the light of evolution" and yet he too remains a believer in God.
Collins has no problem reconciling the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe and beginning of life with the belief that God nonetheless played His role in setting everything in motion. Here he is in agreement even with Darwin. Though Darwin perceived randomness in the natural selection of all species on earth, he nonetheless concluded his famous treatise on The Origin of Species with the following:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or in to one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.
In order to avoid the same fate of countless other theories that have met their demise in future discoveries or the embarrassing apologies of religious ignorance, Francis Collins proposes a new understanding of life he dubs "theistic evolution." The fundamental principles of theistic evolution are that the universe, set up to bring forth life came into being out of nothing some 14 billion years ago and has been guided by an evolutionary process that requires no supernatural intervention. The crux of the hypothesis is that, even though humans participated in the evolutionary process by sharing their ancestry with the great ape, humans were nonetheless unique by virtue of the spiritual nature endowed to them by God at some point along the evolutionary cycle. It is this view of God's amputated hand in the evolutionary process that Collins renames biologos to describe the new synergy between evolution and faith.
Christianity has to be careful not to make another mistake like the Galileo incident some four hundred years ago. But at the same time it cannot recoil immobilized by the bullying tactics of staunch evolutionists like Richard Dawkins who consider faith one of the "world's greatest evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate."
So where exactly did we come from and how did we get to where we are today? Even if we take for granted a belief in a God who is eternal and the sole creator of the universe, could we also cling to the conventional belief that this same God ordained that an evolutionary sequence take place according to His plans and design?
Many in the scientific community claim that the Bible is not a detailed scientific manual. Yet the reverse is also true about science. Scientific thought and analysis is not a detailed account of something that is beyond anthropological understanding. Louis Neel, the Nobel prize winning physicist put it clearly when he said: "The progress of science, no matter how marvelous it appears to be ... leads to dead ends and shows our final ineptitude at producing a rational explanation of the universe."
Creation is a mystery. Science can only try to grasp at perceived evidence by trying to theorize an unknowable divine thought. All evidence is material, yet the universe, even according to scientists like Collins, has divine beginnings. Theology need not beg for explanations from science, because theology transfigures the immaterial and unknowable.
Just like the general theory of evolution, there is much in Dr. Collins' view of theistic evolution that is missing. Evolutionists point to missing links in the creation story, so called "gaps of God" that they can't explain, however they fail to point out the mythical assumptions, unverifiable hypotheses, and fictional accounts of so-called natural progressions in their own theory: the 'gaps of Darwin.'
At its core, evolution denies the existence of God. Even theistic evolution can only claim belief in a mythological god that fumbled his way through a random creative process that somehow illogically led us to where we are today. Belief in the Biblical God cannot in the end be reconciled with theistic evolution.
In the final analysis, evolution in all its evolving forms is far from being scientific theory and resembles something right out of science fiction. So much of what is passed on as scientific fact is nothing more than unsubstantiated evidence and therefore purely conjectural. Dr. Michael Denton, an evolutionary scientist admits to as much calling evolutionary theory "a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe."
Theistic evolution, like all its forbearers cannot be reconciled with the sovereign Creator that is proclaimed in Scriptures. Theistic evolution is perhaps the latest and "fittest" of the evolutionary theories to be naturally selected, but it too, like its predecessors is doomed to extinction.
At its core, theistic evolution denies the essence and existence of Adam and that death came to humanity by Adam. And without Adam's death there is no redemption required by Christ. Paul explains it all quite clearly: "When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone ... So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life" (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NLV). According to Collins' theistic evolution, death came about in a preexistent form through the survival of the fittest, not because of Adam's disobedience to God.
Besides, when Luke describes the ancestral record of Christ he follows it through like this: "Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli. Heli was the son of Matthat ... . Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God" (Luke 3:23-38 NLV). Christ cannot be the second Adam if there never was a first Adam.
God's creative work in the world still continues. St. Basil the Great explains that "nothing springs out of disorder, out of infinity, just by chance. Nothing moves about the universe accidentally, or out of luck ... Nothing is neglected by God. The sleepless eye of God beholds all." John Chrysostom goes on further to say that God "not only having brought the universe into being, but preserving and shaping ... all visible and invisible creation enjoys His providence, without which they would cease to exist, would disappear, would be annihilated."
Everything in the universe testifies to God's creative wisdom and divine plan. Creation says John of Damascus "is the work of the will of God." Everything created by God essentially has its divine reason. Maximus the Confessor puts it this way: "God is the principle, the center and the end insofar as He acts without being passive ... . for "everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory" (Romans 11:36 NLV).
Most of us can remember the story of Job. When God answers Job's complaints and finger pointing, recall what God tells him:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth ...? Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying ...? Who defined the boundaries of the sea ...? Have you commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise ...? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain ...? Have you given the horse its strength ...? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? (Job 38:1-30 NLV).
The scriptures don't reveal a passive God. Put in plain English God was telling Job: Hey, take a look around you! My fingerprints are on everything created! Step back from all your self-centered thinking, your know it all attitude, your pushing and shoving at ideas about things far too wonderful for you to understand. Look at what I've created all around you. Then you'll find the answers and the truth. Then you'll see me with your own eyes.
John Kapsalis has an M.T.S from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.