( Monday, October 13, 2008 )

The Language of God

I just finished reading a book called "The Language of God," by Francis Collins, who led the now-famous Human Genome Project. It's a fantastic, challenging book. It was also a much needed read.

Talking to a couple of friends over the last year or so who are either scientists or science students, I've been learning quite a bit and finding my beliefs about certain topics changing. So when I first heard about Francis Collins and his book, I knew I wanted to read it. And I'm glad I did. The best I can explain it, it reaffirmed my faith. I hadn't lost it, to be sure, but there are always those intense doubts that nag at the back of my mind. And there's almost a sense of fear in exploring those doubts, because there's the possibility those doubts could be well founded -- and if those doubts are valid, what will happen to everything I've based my life around?

I've found that's the tricky aspect of faith. There are times where it feels as if it's perched precariously on something very shaky. What I've come to realize, though, is that a lot of times it is. It's like my faith as a concept is a brick wall, and as I age and grow I keep adding bricks. But I'm not always quite sure where I'm putting those bricks; I'm taking instructions from someone else (who might not even be sure themselves, but they sound confident so I listen). And by the end of the day, when I stop to look at my work, it looks more like a Jenga puzzle than a fortified structure. And as I study and learn and challenge and change certain beliefs, the whole thing starts to shake and sway. But not wanting it to collapse, I stop trying to change anything and instead decide to live in this atrophied state of borderline faith, refusing to think any deeper than will get me through the day.

But what kind of life is that? How is that Truth? Is truth so unstable?

In maters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we 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.
(Saint Augustine)

Collins quotes C.S. Lewis a lot in his book, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it was C.S. Lewis' logic that led Collins to become a Christian. In fact, they share similar testimonies: well-educated atheists who, when attempting to put the question of God to rest, actually found an undeniable logic to Him. C.S. Lewis is one of my favourite authors, and a lot of that is because of how logical his faith was. I was really impressed with Collins for similar reasons.

It isn't hard to imagine that a good number of Christians (evangelicals mostly, I imagine) wouldn't (or aren't) too happy with the book. To accept the conclusions in it would require some serious shifting in beliefs that many of them (or, I should say, us) have held onto for a long time -- though usually without very good reason. But I don't mind telling you that the more I think about and read on the topic, the more and more I find new wonder in God, new reason to believe, a better wall to build on. For the first time in a very long time, I don't feel afraid to face my doubts.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

[If] the existence of God is true (not just tradition, but actually true), and if certain scientific conclusions about the natural world are also true (not just in fashion, but objectively true), then they cannot contradict each other. A fully harmonious synthesis must be possible.
(Dr. Francis Collins)


Post a Comment

<< Home