Category Archives: The Language of God by Francis S. Collins

Agency or Personal Choice and Genetics

“There is an inescapable component of heritability to many human behavioral traits. For virtually none of them is heredity ever close to predictive. Environment, particularly childhood experiences, and the prominent role of individual free will choices have a profound effect on us. Scientists will discover an increasing level of molecular detail about the inherited factors that undergird our personalities, but that should not lead us to overestimate their quantitative contribution. Yes, we have all been dealt a particular set of cards, and the cards will eventually be revealed. But how we play the hand is up to us.” (p. 263)

DNA Can Predispose But Not Predetermine Homosexuality

“An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20 percent (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” (p. 260)

Science Is Not Threatened By God

“It is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit. The war was never really necessary. Like so many earthly wars, this one has been initiated and intensified by extremists on both sides, sounding alarms that predict imminent ruin unless the other side is vanquished. Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible. So let us together seek to reclaim the solid ground of an intellectually and spiritually satisfying synthesis of all great truths.” (pp. 233-234)

Balance Between Science and Religion

“Science is the only legitimate way to investigate the natural world…the nature of science is self-correcting. No major fallacy can long persist in the face of a progressive increase in knowledge. Nevertheless, science alone is not enough to answer all the important questions. Even Albert Einstein saw the poverty of a purely naturalistic worldview. Choosing his words carefully, he wrote, ‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’ The meaning of human existence, the reality of God, the possibility of an afterlife, and many other spiritual questions lie outside of the reach of the scientific method…Science is not the only way of knowing. The spiritual worldview provides another way of finding truth. Scientists who deny this would be well advised to consider the limits of their own tools, as nicely represented in a parable told by the astronomer Arthur Eddington. He described a man who set about to study deep-sea life using a net that had a mesh size of three inches. After catching many wild and wonderful creatures from the depths, the man concluded that there are no deep-sea fish that are smaller than three inches in length!” (pp. 228-229)

Christian Tolerance

“Far too much has been said by Christians about the exclusive club they inhabit. Tolerance is a virtue; intolerance is a vice. I find it deeply disturbing when believers in one faith tradition dismiss the spiritual experiences of others. Regrettably, Christians seem particularly prone to do this. Personally, I have found much to learn from and admire in other spiritual traditions, though I have found special revelation of God’s nature in Jesus Christ to be an essential component of my own faith.” (p. 225)

Prayer Is Seeking Fellowship with God

“Prayer is not, as some seem to suggest, an opportunity to manipulate God into doing what you want Him to. Prayer is instead our way of seeking fellowship with God, learning about Him, and attempting to perceive His perspective on the many issues around us that cause us puzzlement, wonder, or distress.” (p. 220)

Finding Peace Between God and Science

“Will we turn our backs on science because it is perceived as a threat to God, abandoning all of the promise of advancing our understanding of nature and applying that to the alleviation of suffering and the betterment of humankind? Alternatively, will we turn our backs on faith, concluding that science has rendered the spiritual life no longer necessary, and that traditional religious symbols can now be replaced by engravings of the double helix on our altars?

“Both of these choices are profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both will diminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devastating to our future. And both are unnecessary. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful–and it cannot be at war with itself. Only we imperfect humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.”