The Language of God

Francis Collins


p1 human genome 3 billion characters long.

p4 Dawkins vs Henry Morris

Ch 1 From Atheism to Belief

Story of his journey from agnosticism to atheism and from chemistry to biology to genetics to medical school with a growing passion for genetics. As medical student dealing with patients, often dying, and with a sustaining faith, led him to consider faith.

p20 Interaction with dying woman which he credits with starting him on the path to faith.

p21 talk with Methodist minister who pointed him to Mere Christianity

p25 comments on Schindler and Mother Teresa

p25-26 Impact of Lewis' discussion of "moral law" upon his journey.

p30 "I had started this journey of intellectual exploration to confirm my atheism. That now lay in ruins as the argument from the Moral Law (and many other issues) forced me to admit the plausibility of the God hypothesis."

Ch 2 The War of the Worldviews

p33 Paul Tillich "Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith."

p35 Isn't the Idea of God just wish fulfillment? Invokes Lewis' Surprised by Joy. experiences of joy "is this .. a signpost placed deep within the human spirit pointing toward something much grander than ourselves?"

p39 Harm Done in the Name of Religion?

p40 Voltaire: "Is it any wonder that there are atheists in the world, when the church behaves so abominably?"

p42 Why Would a Loving God Allow Suffering in the World? quotes Lewis' Problem of Pain.

Ch 3 The Origins of the Universe

p57 Kant "Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them: the starry heavens without and the Moral Law within."

p59 about science and changes in the view of things "These disruptions can sometimes be wrenching for attempts to achieve a comfortable synthesis between science and faith, especially if the church has attached itself to a prior view of things and incorporated that into its core belief system."

p62 on quantum mechanics and Wigner's musing about what could be the explanation for the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics."

p62 Hawking in Brief History of Time "Then we shall all, phlosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God."

p67 from Jastrow's God and the Astronomers

"Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements and the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy."

p71 Anthropic Principle 1. Matter-antimatter asymmetry, 2. expansion rate (Hawking quote "Why did the universe start out with so nearly the critical rate of expansion that separates models that recollapse from those that go on expanding forever, that even now, 10 thousand million years later, it is still expanding at nearly the critical rate? If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in 100 thousand million million, the universe would have collapsed before it ever reached its present size.") , 3. balance of the fundamental forces

p74 says there are 15 constants whose value current theory is unable to predict - interesting to check out.

reference to anthropic principle, ref Barrow and Tipler, then 3 responses to anthropic. 1. Multiverse 2. Only one universe, we are very, very, very lucky. 3. Only one universe where fine tuning reflects the action of the One who created the universe.

p75-76 Quotes of Hawking, Dyson and Penzias that I have included in "Was the universe designed?"Then discusses possible responses to above options.

p77 Leslie's firing squad. "In this parable, an individual faces a firing squad, and fifty expert marksmen aim their tifles to carry out the deed. The order is given, the shots ring out, and yet somehow all the bullets miss and the condemned individual walks away unscathed."

"How could such a remarkable event be explained? Leslie suggests that there are two possible alternatives ... In the first place, there may have been thousands of executions being carried out in that same day, and even the best marksman will occasionally miss. So the odds just happen to be in favor of this one individual, and all fifty of the marksmen fail to hit the target. The other option is that something more directed is going on, and the apparent poor aim of the fifty experts was actually intentional. Which seems more plausible?"

p78 discusses Laplace and his scientific determinism, and his reply to Napoleon, when asked about God "I have no need of that hypothesis."

p80 Hawking "We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determine events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it."

p83 St Augustine wrote with specific reference to Genesis "In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we may find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it."

Ch 4 Life on Earth

p85-86 "But a third pillar of belief continued to carry considerable weight: the complexity of earthly life, implying to any reasonable observer the handiwork of an intelligent designer. As we shall see, science has now turned this upside down. But here, as with the other two arguments, I would like to suggest that science should not be denied by the believer, it should be embraced. The elegance behind life's complexity is indeed reason for awe, and for belief in God -- but not in the simple, straightforward way that many found so compelling before Darwin came along. "

p86 Paley's Watchmaker.

p88 timeline 14 billion, 4.55 billion, rad dating, seventy meteorites and some moon rocks at 4.5 billion.

p88 Origins of life, Woese's exchange of DNA between archaebacteria, Miller-Urey experiment, Crick's extraterrestrial hypothesis, brushes aside 2nd law of thermo as objection,

p89 God of the Gaps

Collins' statement of part of the dilemma, in the context of the origin of life on Earth :

"This could be an appealing hypothesis, given that no serious scientist today would claim that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is at hand. But that is true today, and it may not be true tomorrow. A word of caution is needed when inserting specific divine action by God in this or any other area where scientific understanding is currently lacking. From solar eclipses in olden times to the movement of the planets in the middle ages, to the origin of life today, this "God of the gaps" approach has all too often done a disservice to religion (and by implication, to God, if that's possible). Faith that places God in the gaps of current understanding about the natural world may be headed for crisis if advances in science subsequently fill those gaps. Faced with incomplete understanding of the natural world, believers should be cautious about invoking the divine in areas of current mystery, lest they build an unnecessary theological argument that is doomed to later destruction. There are good reasons to believe in God, including the existence of mathematical principles and order in creation. They are positive reasons, based on knowledge, rather than default assumptions based on (a temporary) lack of knowledge."

"In summary, while the question of the origin of life is a fascinating one, and the inability of modern science to develop a statistically probably mechanism is intriguing, this is not the place for a thoughtful person to wager his faith."

p93 discusses fossils and transitional forms, Gould's Wonderful Life, Cambrian explosion, argues that this is "God of the gaps", development of life from the sea, through dinosaurs, CT extinction, Homo sapiens 195,000 years,

p96 Darwin's revolutionary idea.

p98 Darwin in The Origin of Species "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

p99 "No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life. In fact, the relatedness of all species through the mechanism of evolution is such a profound foundation for the understanding of all biology that it is difficult to imagine how one would study life without it."

p100 DNA and Mendel's rules. Avery, MadLeod and McCarty in 1944 showed that it was DNA that was capable of transferring characteristics.

p102 description of DNA Need to dwell a lot more on this later.

p103 and 105 diagrams of DNA

p107 "Evolution, as a mechanism, can be and must be true. But that says nothing about the nature of its author. For those who believe in God, there are reasons now to be more in awe, not less."

Ch 5 Deciphering God's Instruction Book

p110 His research on fetal hemoglobin and sicle cell anemia.

p110 3 million base pairs in human genome.

p111 discussion of a gene, introns, "Despite all the uncertainties, there was no question how valuable a complete genome sequence would be. Hiding in this vast instruction book would be the parts list for human biology, as well as clues to a long list of diseases that we understand poorly and treat ineffectively."

p113 work on cystic fibrosis gene

p117-123 Human genome project

p124 3.1 billion letters of the DNA code arrayed across 24 chromosomes. Only 20,000-25,000 actually code for proteins. 1.5% . Gene counts for simpler organisms similar.

p125 At the DNA level, we are all 99.9% identical. Other species 10 to 50 times more diverse.

p126 points to common set of founders, about 10,000, lived about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago, most likely in east Africa.

p127Table of gene sequence similarities.

p128 Tree of life

p131 mutation statistics

p133 Collins got malaria in Africa even after having taken chloroquine.

p135 similarity of human and mouse chromosone.

p135 ARE's ancient repetitive elements, jumping genes. 45% of genome. Damaged ARE's similar or same in mouse and man - argument for common ancestor.

p137 humans and chimps 96% identical at DNA level. Each chromosone contains hundreds of genes. Figure comp of human and chimp chromoshones. Chimp 24 pairs of chromosones, humans 23. Two ancestral chromosones fused to generate human chromosone 2. The telomeres are found in the center of this chromosone 2.

p138 human and chimp -- pseudogenes --

p139 FOXP2 gene and the development of language.

p141 Theodosius Dobzhansky, a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Ch 6 Genesis, Galileo and Darwin

p147 2004 results 45% yec, 38% God-guided evolution, 13% no God influence

p148 24hr clock comparison

p151 St Augustine on Genesis

p153 Galileo story.

p155 Scriptures used to oppose Galileo Ps 93:1, Ps 104:5, Ecc 1:5

p156 In 1992, 359 years after the trial, a public apology was offered.

p156 long quote of St Augustine, need to copy later.

Ch 7 Atheism and Agnosticism

p162 Discusses Edward O Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Alister McGrath, Huxley on agnosticism

p 165 "The major and inescapable flaw of Dawkins' claim that science demands atheism is that it goes beyond the evidence. If God is outside of nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove His existence. Atheism itself must therefore be considered a form of blind faith ..."

Ch 8 Creationism

p173 Incompatibility of YEC and science, Warfield quote at end which I should copy.

Ch 9 Intelligent Design

Discussed Johnson, Behe,Dembski, irreducible complexity, Johnson Darwin on Trial and The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism. Starts out sympathetic with the intent, but raises objections to the irreducible complexity argument. Argues that ID makes no predictions and is thus not scientifically testable, and that it makes no suggestion about a mechanism of operation for intelligent design.
























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Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reasonable faithR Nave
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