Collins and God’s Language
I just finished Francis S. Collins, The Language of God. It’s a fascinating book; a quick read that gets us into some of the thorny issues related to science and faith. Collins is an established scientist and confessing Christian. He’s clear and confident on both accounts. Collins weaves his own story into the book, which gives it narrative shape and takes the edge off what could otherwise be just another in the long, tired line of ‘clash of worldviews’ diatribes.
Collins believes the Christian faith is compatible with modern science. In this, the book is a welcome contribution to the current discussion (or is it a ‘fight’?). Augustine and C.S. Lewis figure prominently in the book, but I would have liked to have seen a few other theologians referenced. There are a number of prominent, sophisticated folks sympathetic to his position (e.g. Torrance). Engaging them might have helped to soften or nuance the impression that Christian theologians in general have a problem with evolutionary theory. It might have also added a few blocks to his foundation for theism, which is focused on universal moral awareness. I should say, though, that it is not clear to me that the generic category of theism is terribly useful outside of these fundamental discussions.
Nevertheless, in my relatively quick read it seems that Collins has made a convincing case for the compatibility of modern science with the Christian faith. The debate, though, will not go away. So much popular energy and money have gone into the ‘clash of worldviews’ business (from both sides) that an amicable settlement is difficult to imagine. The Language of God deserves the attention it has received. It’s a very readable book that just might affect the shape of this frustrating conversation.