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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) -- I am a scientist and a believer, and I find no conflict between those world views.

As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a consortium of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God's language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God's plan.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/03/col...ary/index.html

Have any of you read his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief? Any thoughts on it, or this short article? I'm thinking of checking out the book myself sometime.

Perhaps this should be in the Compost Heap... Feel free to move it if necessary.
 

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I liked the article, and wasn't surprised to read the influence of C.S.Lewis

("I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds ")

and Kierkegaard ("But reason alone cannot prove the existence of God. Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as with the mind. You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page. Ultimately, a leap of faith is required.")

in his conversion.

I've noticed that the more I learn about the world in the various studies of knowledge, the more understanding it brings, and the more it reveals of God. Everything from philosophy to language to chemistry genetics and physics. It's amazing. If anything, science points more toward God than away.

perhaps I'll borrow a copy of that book from the library some time, thx.
 

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Yes, I'm listening at work to an interview he did recently on Fresh Air on NPR.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=9207913

It was part of a two part series with Richard Dawkins being the first interviewee. I am interested in Collins' book now that I've listened to the God Delusion. I've also wanted to read, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, the book that inspired him. I've heard it's the best Christian apologist book or one of. If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know.

Collins' story is an interesting one, however, when explaining some of his evidence for God in the interview I linked to, he slightly touched on some speciesism which bothered me, such as implying that only humans act with morals, and that is because God gave us moral law. He implied that humans are "special" and that bothered me.
 

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Originally Posted by Thalia View Post

Collins' story is an interesting one, however, when explaining some of his evidence for God in the interview I linked to, he slightly touched on some speciesism which bothered me, such as implying that only humans act with morals, and that is because God gave us moral law. He implied that humans are "special" and that bothered me.
Humans were the only "living being" to have eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden, and our "morals" have grown since then because of repeated interactions from God throughout the Hebrew history (OT). If we never knew of evil, as the animals, than perhaps I wonder if we would have to have "morals" in the first place.

We are special in that we were the only creature to be made in the image of God, and the only creature God used more than just word to create into being.

But beyond that, Genesis refers to all animals of having the "breath of life". And in fact, humanity was the only to have fallen, and so, we brought animals into this non-ideal state with us; in which Paul speaks on the matter in the NT scriptures as "creation groaning in expectation for the children of God to be revealed", which perhaps could infer that the children of God are to liberate them from this curse.

Since humanity has dominion over the animals, when we fell, we brought them along with us into this curse. And so, when we are redeemed through Christ, and become children of God, creation becomes redeemed along with us.

It is this reason, among others, that I believe all children of God should strive to bring God's love to all creation.

[/tangent]
 

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Originally Posted by Thalia View Post

I've also wanted to read, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, the book that inspired him. I've heard it's the best Christian apologist book or one of. If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know.
I've heard the same as well. I could barely get through it, though, having to wade through a bunch of stuff about submissive wives and all. Context, I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mere Christianity is great, as well as Miracles. I haven't finished Miracles yet, and I've read Mere Christianity twice. C.S. Lewis presents extremely convincing ideas... and I used to be an atheist, and also agnostic. I definitely recommend them.
 

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I think science and faith can be compatible. But I have a problem with this part:

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I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as "What is the meaning of life?" "Why am I here?" "Why does mathematics work, anyway?" "If the universe had a beginning, who created it?" "Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?" "Why do humans have a moral sense?" "What happens after we die?"
Science does answer at least the questions "why am I here" (as a result of evolution), "why do humans have a moral sense" (as a result of evolution and enough cognitive development) and "what happens after we die" (we turn to dust). He just doesn't accept the answers.

And I think his question of "what is the meaning of life?" is ill-founded. Someone commenting on the article said "Science would say 'Life has no meaning, other than the meaning we give to it.'" I agree with that. There's no point in trying to find an external meaning to life. Life should have meaning in itself (life is valuable) and it depends on us what we value in it (what meaning we give to it).

Also, the question "Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms" seems to point to the teleological theist argument (as identified by Wikipedia), i.e. arguing that since life is so complex and yet works so perfectly, there has to be a creator behind it. I haven't read the book referred to but I wouldn't be surprised if that were his main argument. I would personally spend less time wondering about how life works so perfectly and more time wondering why it works so imperfectly: why is there death? why is there pain? why are moths built so as to hurt themselves in flames? why are some animals herbivores but not all? what purpose is served by the random little twitches on my face that I sometimes get? etc.
 

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Originally Posted by troub View Post

I liked the article, and wasn't surprised to read the influence of C.S.Lewis

("I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds ")

and Kierkegaard ("But reason alone cannot prove the existence of God. Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as with the mind. You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page. Ultimately, a leap of faith is required.")

in his conversion.

I've noticed that the more I learn about the world in the various studies of knowledge, the more understanding it brings, and the more it reveals of God. Everything from philosophy to language to chemistry genetics and physics. It's amazing. If anything, science points more toward God than away.

perhaps I'll borrow a copy of that book from the library some time, thx.
But in life there are more far more tragedies than miracles. Why do you think your god made the world like that? Why such an abundance of suffering?
 

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even when i was a christian, i never really thought "mere christianity" was very good as a "this is why christianity makes sense" book.

this guy collins annoys me (and most other scientists). fine--be a scientist and a christian but you don't need to go on a crusade about it.
 

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I do think Collin's statement "i know there is no god" from his younger days and a couple of other comments are a bit odd and maybe even short-sighted.
 

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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

I think science and faith can be compatible. But I have a problem with this part:

Science does answer at least the questions "why am I here" (as a result of evolution), "why do humans have a moral sense" (as a result of evolution and enough cognitive development) and "what happens after we die" (we turn to dust). He just doesn't accept the answers.
For the scientific answers you offer to work, you have to reconceive the questions somewhat. That may not be a bad thing, but it is important to be aware that this is happening.

"We are the result of evolution", for example, answers the question "how did we get to be as we are?", not "Why are we here?". The first is a question about cause-and-effect ("efficient cause" in Aristotelian language). The second is a question about purpose (final cause).

Likewise, it is not obvious that "moral sense" is a result of evolution and cognitive development, even if behaviors we label "moral" are.

As for what happens when we die, your answer equates a person with the physical matter that constitutes a person's body. That's a strongly physicalist, reductionist position, and is not shared by all.

The physicalist versions of these questions, which science can plausibly attempt to answer, may be better questions that the less specific, more metaphysical versions. But they are not the same questions, and a person looking for answers to the metaphysical questions is likely to regard science's answers to the narrower questions as unresponsive.

Quote:
Also, the question "Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms" seems to point to the teleological theist argument (as identified by Wikipedia), i.e. arguing that since life is so complex and yet works so perfectly, there has to be a creator behind it.
This is a version of the so-called anthropic principle. Like you, I do not find this line of reasoning very coherent or compelling.
 

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Originally Posted by Seusomon View Post

"We are the result of evolution", for example, answers the question "how did we get to be as we are?", not "Why are we here?". The first is a question about cause-and-effect ("efficient cause" in Aristotelian language). The second is a question about purpose (final cause).
I know; I guess I could rephrase that science answers the question in this way: "we are just a result of various natural processes, and so there is no deeper 'why' to us being here". On the other hand, purposes or meanings are not the subject matter of science and in that sense science doesn't answer questions concerning them. Science does provide the answer that there's no evidence for a supernatural being who would have intentions about our lives.

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Likewise, it is not obvious that "moral sense" is a result of evolution and cognitive development, even if behaviors we label "moral" are.
Well to me personally it is obvious: moral sense as an ability is cognitive -- by affecting the brain in suitable ways you can remove this ability, and so on -- and there are explanations in evolutionary psychology for our cognitive abilities. I understand that it's not obvious in the sense that someone can think there's some higher reason for moral sense (the reason why God wants humans to possess it), but from the scientific standpoint, I don't think it's anything mysterious.

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As for what happens when we die, your answer equates a person with the physical matter that constitutes a person's body. That's a strongly physicalist, reductionist position, and is not shared by all.
I'm not sure how you would define reductionism in this context, but what is clear to me is that you can hold that mental properties are based on physical ones in some way (by supervenience or emergence) without identifying a person with the body. And yet a person who holds this view is likely to think that when our bodies die, everything that is mental about us dies along with them.

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But they are not the same questions, and a person looking for answers to the metaphysical questions is likely to regard science's answers to the narrower questions as unresponsive.
Well I think the answer provided by science is that we have no evidence of any kind of mental substances as distinct from bodies and thus no reason to believe in them. I wouldn't call that unresponsive, although I agree with you that science isn't the best tool in answering metaphysical questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's interesting to read and discuss these ideas that Collins presents, so can we please continue to keep the discussion in that area?
To those who would like to question specific religions, feel free to make another thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Originally Posted by catswym View Post

this guy collins annoys me (and most other scientists). fine--be a scientist and a christian but you don't need to go on a crusade about it.
Perhaps he is going on a "crusade about it" because he knows many people struggle with defending their faith/beliefs scientifically to those who don't believe the same things they do, in addition to many people who don't have faith because they don't find convincing scientific ideas.
 

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Why should people defend faith/beliefs scientifically? If you believe in something based on scientific arguments, I don't think it's faith, I think it's the conclusion of an argument.
 

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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Why should people defend faith/beliefs scientifically? If you believe in something based on scientific arguments, I don't think it's faith, I think it's the conclusion of an argument.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Why should people defend faith/beliefs scientifically? If you believe in something based on scientific arguments, I don't think it's faith, I think it's the conclusion of an argument.
I don't anyone should have to, I'm just saying lots of people who don't believe in God will say, "how can you have faith in something you can't prove?" - or something to that effect. So I'd imagine a book about the science of faith would help someone in that situation. Or maybe not, who knows?
 

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Originally Posted by veggiejanie View Post

I don't anyone should have to, I'm just saying lots of people who don't believe in God will say, "how can you have faith in something you can't prove?" - or something to that effect. So I'd imagine a book about the science of faith would help someone in that situation. Or maybe not, who knows?
Yeah well a book could have an audience composed of those kind of people, but my point is that if you're a theist and someone comes up to you and says "how can you have faith in something you can't prove?", you can just say "I just do, we all have some beliefs without evidence, why don't you respect my beliefs" and leave it at that.
 
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