Sunday, August 20, 2006


Sam Harris Says Science & God Book is Meaningless Drivel

In this essay, the bestselling secularist author of The End of Faith delivers a scathing review of The Language of God, a new book by Human Genome Project head Francis Collins that attempts to demonstrate a harmony between science and evangelical Christianity.

Sam Harris says: "Francis Collins—physical chemist, medical geneticist and head of the Human Genome Project—has written a book entitled The Language of God. In it, he attempts to demonstrate that there is “a consistent and profoundly satisfying harmony” between 21st-century science and evangelical Christianity. To say that he fails at his task does not quite get at the inadequacy of his efforts. He fails the way a surgeon would fail if he attempted to operate using only his toes. His failure is predictable, spectacular and vile. The Language of God reads like a hoax text, and the knowledge that it is not a hoax should be disturbing to anyone who cares about the future of intellectual and political discourse in the United States."

Mr. Harris' critique of the book sounds a little too harsh even for me. There has to be a reason for this bitterness. Maybe they just don't see each others perspective in the same context as they do.
I found the book in question an intelligently written account of how Christian faith can reasonably co-exist with an evolutionary picture of the world. It is remarkable just for clearly showing that such a view is reasonable. Mr. Harris does not really address the book on these terms, but considers the book as if it were a work of apologetics (which it is not). He writes with unacceptable vitriol.

I found the book slightly weak from the perspective of apologetics, but every believer will have his preferred reason(s) for faith, whether cosmological, moral, anthropological (eg René Girard), philosophical or historical, and I have personally never been as swayed by the 'moral law' argument as by the other arguments.
Mr. Collins' perspective that the scientific findings offer proof of belief in "The God of Abraham" should be dismissed as a personal bias choice. Had he been a Muslim, Pagan or Buddhist there would be proof of their divine foundation of the universe. I am all for seeing a divine construct in genes but please, spare me Judeo-Christian scientists sliding their unfounded beliefs in when each person could, and should see God their own way without being preached to.
I'd say the following passage makes the book worth reading:

"No, this God, if I was perceiving him at all, must be a theist God, who desires some kind of relationship with those special creatures called human beings, and has therefore instilled this special glimpse of Himself into each one of us."

..and no, I don't believe God exists, but that's besides the point.
Scientists killed the radio star
And Sam Harris seems to be another Richard Dawkins in his ability to be a respected & effective teacher.
God? Schmod...
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