Subscribe to Christianity Today
Catherine H. Crouch
Not Too Simply Christian
A high school friend whom I hadn't seen since her cancer diagnosis two years earlier, a passionate writer and literary scholar, was telling me over lunch about the renewed place that spirituality had taken in her life since treatment had left her cancer-free. In the course of our conversation, she told me, "Most of the time I am so sure that there is a God who has been amazingly good to me. But sometimes, especially after talking with some of my more secular colleagues, I wonder whether all these feelings can be explained in terms of brain biology—whether I'm just fooling myself." She was eager to know how I could be thoroughly, wholeheartedly both a scientist and a Christian. As I listened to her, I realized I'd found one answer to the question I asked when I read Francis Collins' The Language of God: "This is a good book, but who is it for?"
Francis Collins, a leader in the field of medical genetics, served as the director of the recently completed Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. He explains his purpose in writing The Language of God as follows: "Many … [assume] that a rigorous scientist could not also be a serious believer in a transcendent God. This book aims to dispel that notion, by arguing that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science." (Collins points out that a recent poll indicates that about 40 percent of professional biologists, physicists, and mathematicians believe in a God who actively communicates with humankind and answers prayers.)
The Language of God begins with a brief description of the author's journey "from atheism to belief" (the title of Chapter 1). Collins grew up in a family in which faith was dismissed as "not very important," moving from agnosticism to atheism during college. Subsequently, while completing the clinical part of his medical training, Collins' convictions were shaken by observing the deep ...