Larry Moran has an excellent review of Francis Collins’ silly book The Language of God. You don’t really appreciate Ken Miller until you have contemplated the far daffier arguments made by Collins. Moran writes:
The second persuasive argument is the presence in all of us of a God-shaped vacuum. What the heck is that, you might ask? C.S. Lewis supplies the answer. It’s the sensation of longing for something greater than ourselves. It’s the “joy” you feel when you read a good poem, listen to Beethoven, or view the beauty of nature. The emptiness we are all supposed to feel cries out for an explanation, “Why do we have a ‘God-shaped’ vacuum in our hearts and minds unless it is meant to be filled?” (p. 38)
Apparently, there is no conflict between being a scientist and believing in such silly nonsense. Apparently, scientists don’t have to ask the hard questions like, does everyone really feel this longing? Do Buddhists in China feel it? Do atheists lead miserable lives because they can never fill the void in their hearts?
As Maxwell Smart would say, “The old God-shaped vaccum in the heart trick.”
I’ve heard this argument so many times that I guess there must be something to it. All I can say is that I am not aware of such a hole in my own heart. If your heart suffers from such a defect, by all means fill it with whatever fairy tales get the job done. Just don’t try filling school curricula with those same fairy tales.
Moran mentions that Collins was affected greatly by the writings of C.S. Lewis. That reminded me of a recent post at Uncommon Descent, from GilDodgen:
I was once debating “evolution” with a friend, and I was spouting all the platitudes I had been taught. He said, “Look, rather than debating me, why don’t you read a book, Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton”? I assumed that it would be some nonsensical religious hogwash, but I was in for a big surprise.
I devoured the book in a couple of days, and when I was finished I slapped myself on the forehead and thought, “I’ve been conned all my life!” My atheism was quickly unraveling.
Dodgen goes on to talk about how harmful atheism is, and how he is determined to help a friend’s son recover from the delusion, ruthlessly promoted by the public schools, that evolution is a pretty mifty little theory. Read it at your own peril.
These comments struck me because I read several of C.S. Lewis’ books, and Michael Denton’s book, early on in my research into these areas. I knew little more than the basics of evolutionary theory when I read Denton’s book, but even that was enough for me to see through most of his arguments. Any time he was discussing a subject I knew something about, I could see that he was wrong. (For example, he devotes a chapter to one of those laughable probability arguments anti-evolutionist’s are so fond of.) That didn’t make me optimistic that the remaining chapters were any better.
Likewise for C.S. Lewis’ arguments. Mere Christianity was a revelation for me just as surely as it was for Collins, but not for the same reason. For me the revelation was that I had been giving Christians too much credit. Lewis’ arguments struck me as simply foolish. For example, arguing that we must choose between liar, lunatic or lord in assessing the claims of Jesus Christ simply ignores the possibiltiy that what is reported in the New Testament is not always an accurate depiction of what Jesus actually said. Yet that is one of Lewis’ main arguments.
It’s hard for me to understand people like Dodgen and Collins. I was initially impressed with some of Henry Morris’ books, but I didn’t slap my forehead and make major changes in my life. Instead I suspended judgement until I had read some replies to Morris’ work. I suspect that for both gentlemen there was something more to their conversions than rational contemplation of rival arguments.