The Language of God

An Extended Review by B.J. Marshall

Chapter 1

  • And So It Begins (August 7, 2010)
    A brief survey of Francis Collins’ background and the arguments in this book.
  • From Atheism to Belief (August 15, 2010)
    Francis Collins can’t decide whether he used to be an aggressive, argumentative village atheist or an apathetic, ignorant nonbeliever; also, can altruism be the product of natural selection?

Chapter 2

  • A Doubtful Belief (August 23, 2010)
    Is doubt a normal and healthy element of faith? Does being presented with evidence take away our free will?
  • Ultimate Meaning (August 31, 2010)
    Collins argues that life can have no meaning if it comes to an end.
  • Joy and Wishful Thinking (September 5, 2010)
    Do human beings have a “God-shaped” hole in our hearts? Does desire for something prove that the object of desire exists?
  • Rusty Containers (September 12, 2010)
    Francis Collins claims in all seriousness that Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery is a concrete example of the good that religion does in this world.

Chapter 3

  • Prelude to Cosmology (September 19, 2010)
    Is supernatural belief “simpler” than methodological naturalism?
  • In the Beginning (October 4, 2010)
    Collins gives a good summary of the Big Bang, but disappointingly reverts to “Goddidit” as a glib explanation of what came before.
  • Quantum Quote-Mining (October 10, 2010)
    Misleading quotes from famous scientists are reproduced to suggest that they all held views similar to Collins’.
  • Cosmology and the God Hypothesis (October 17, 2010)
    The concept of a “timeless” god is problematic if that same god is also supposed to act within time.

Chapter 4

  • A Biologist in His Element (Sort Of) (November 8, 2010)
    Collins adeptly refutes some common god-of-the-gaps arguments, but then commits others himself.
  • A Shoddy Harmonization (November 15, 2010)
    Collins answers some common creationist arguments, but his refutations are much weaker than they could have been.
  • On Darwin (December 5, 2010)
    About Charles Darwin’s religious beliefs, if any, and how they affected the development of his theory.
  • Grandeur in Life (December 12, 2010)
    Do naturalistic explanations take “divine mystery” out of the world, and is this a good thing?

Chapter 5

  • Science Works! (December 19, 2010)
    Collins’ advocating faith as a means of knowing undercuts his own efforts (and those of others) to cure disease and improve human well-being through the power of reason.
  • Size Doesn’t Matter (December 31, 2010)
    A primer on DNA, the size of the human genome, and the tree of life.
  • Micro vs. Macro (January 16, 2011)
    Collins attempts to answer common creationist objections, but only accomplishes the task partway.
  • Clarke’s Goalposts (January 30, 2011)
    Any goalposts moved sufficiently far enough away are indistinguishable from no goalposts at all.

Chapter 6

  • Intellectual Dishonesty (February 7, 2011)
    From Augustine to the modern day, politically adroit Christians have been evading the question of how Genesis is meant to be interpreted.

Chapter 7

  • A Flurry of Fallacies (February 13, 2011)
    Just because a government promotion of religion has been going on for longer doesn’t make it more acceptable; atheist evolutionists.
  • Questions for Atheists (February 20, 2011)
    Collins wonders why atheism has become so prominent in recent eras, but doesn’t squarely address his own question.
  • Collins vs. Dawkins (March 4, 2011)
    Francis Collins takes on the most famous atheist of all.
  • The Irony of Misunderstood Agnosticism (March 13, 2011)
    A critical look at Collins’ analysis of agnosticism.

Chapter 8

  • YEC Is Dumb (March 20, 2011)
    Although Collins is opposed to young-earth creationism, he misses several opportunities to decisively refute it and ultimately builds his own argument on the same flawed premises.

Chapter 9

  • Intelligent Design (March 27, 2011)
    Collins rebuts several specific claims of ID, but doesn’t address its philosophical underpinnings.

Chapter 10

  • Bridging the Gap Between Science and Faith (April 3, 2011)
    Collins promotes his own theistic evolutionary synthesis as “intellectually satisfying”, but largely adds nothing to standard scientific models other than “Goddidit”.
  • Biologos: It’s All Greek to Me (April 10, 2011)
    Collins contemplates the question of why theistic evolution hasn’t caught on more widely.
  • Biologos: Epic Fail (April 18, 2011)
    An astonishing admission: Biologos, Collins’ preferred theistic version of evolution, isn’t a scientific theory at all.

Chapter 11

  • Truth Seekers (April 30, 2011)
    The moral argument and the argument for historicity of Jesus are invoked as the two best reasons to be a theist and a Christian.

Closing Thoughts

  • A Final Word (May 8, 2011)
    While scientists and religious believers may have some of the same goals, the ways they justify them couldn’t be more different.