The Language of God

by Francis Collins, Simon & Shuster, Inc., 2006
ISBN-13:978-0-7432-8639-8, $26.00, hardback, 294 pages

Francis Collins is perhaps the most famous living American biologist in the world. He is the head of the Human Genome Project and has been a leader in studies identifying the genetic factors in cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington's disease. He is also a strong believer in God and in Jesus Christ as God's Son. This book is his personal apologetic for his faith.

The book begins with Dr. Collins' story of his childhood and his journey into agnosticism and atheism. He then explains what led him to faith with the work of C.S. Lewis being a major factor, and moral arguments being a driving force. One of the strengths of this book is that Collins anticipates atheist and skeptic objections to what he says and answers them.

Collins accepts the big bang saying, "The Big Bang cries out for a divine explanation. It forces the conclusion that nature had a defined beginning. I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that" (page 67). He then shows design features which support that view again anticipating atheist objections. The argument for the existence of God from moral and cosmological evidence is well done and helpful.

The remaining 200 pages of the book are devoted to biology. Collins begins by explaining DNA, genetics, and his work as the director of the Human Genome Project. The writing is technical at times, but interesting and understandable. The genetic evidence for Neo-Darwinism is explained in depth and Neo-Darwinism is embraced. "Young Earth Creationism and Modern Science are Incompatible" is a subheading and both creationists like Henry Morris and the Intelligent Design Movement are denounced.

Francis Collins redefines theistic evolution as Bio Logos--bios meaning "life" and logos meaning "word." The title of the book The Language of God is rooted in this concept. Evolution is God's tool and DNA is His message that controls and directs life. Collins does not take the Genesis account literally and places emphasis on the fact that it is Hebrew poetry.

This is an excellent book with a wealth of information. Collins' embracement of Darwinism will anger many believers and his attacks on atheists like Dawkins will anger many atheists. The fact that he doesn't look at some modern modifications of Darwinism like punctuated equilibrium is disappointing, but he has strong support for what he believes and presents it well. This book will have a significant impact on college and university campuses, and it will challenge all of us to think and grow in our understanding.

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