If I see Francis Collins’ pious, simpering facade one more time, I’m going to get really pissed off. Can someone please give that man a Templeton Prize and let him retire to the Cascades, where he can stare at waterfalls to his heart’s content? CNN has an article on “Why this scientist believes in God”, and it’s just more vapid crap distilled from his vapid book.
But OK, let’s take him at his word. He claims to be presenting reasons to believe … what are they? Do they meet any kind of scientific standard?
I’ve thrown out most of his essay, and pulled out just those parts that actually address the issue. Not much was left.
…I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God’s language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God’s plan.
This is an empty tautology. He sees something as a product of a god, therefore he believes in a god…but he offers no reason to see it as a god-product in the first place. If the reason for that is “elegance and complexity”, then he is making the intelligent design argument. We know, however, that complexity is a consequence of accumulating randomness, and that elegance is honed out of the noise by selection. No gods are required for either, this is not a reason to believe.
I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “Why does mathematics work, anyway?” “If the universe had a beginning, who created it?” “Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?” “Why do humans have a moral sense?” “What happens after we die?”
After the first bogus argument, it’s hard to believe it could get worse, but it does.
There are questions that science can’t answer because they are meaningless or make false assumptions. People once wondered whether the miniature human embryo was present in the sperm, or in the egg; the answer was neither, because preformation was false. It was not a failure of science that it couldn’t pick one of the two answers that were thought up, it was a failure of conception on the part of the questioners.
Same here. Some of those questions are nonsense (“What is the meaning of life?” There is no meaning beyond what you give to it), some are more tautologies (“Who created the universe?” Why assume it was a who?), and some have been answered or can be answered by science (“Why do humans have a moral sense?” Look up the word “altruism” in an evolution text, buddy.)
Most damning of all, though, why would an inability to answer a question cause one to turn from science to an alternative, religion, that is spectacularly unqualified to answer any of the questions posed? Religion cannot tell you what happens after you die in any meaningful way. The religious have no answers, nothing that someone trained to think scientifically can trace back to the evidence — they have assertions, and every one seems to make a different claim.
…was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds.
And these rational, plausible reasons are … ? That was the job of this essay, to summarize the reasons to believe, and simply saying that some other author somewhere made a strong case is inadequate … he’s passing the buck.
And, unfortunately, I’ve read C.S. Lewis. His arguments are as flimsy and evasive as Collins’.
after a search to learn more about God’s character led me to the person of Jesus Christ. Here was a person with remarkably strong historical evidence of his life, who made astounding statements about loving your neighbor, and whose claims about being God’s son seemed to demand a decision about whether he was deluded or the real thing. After resisting for nearly two years, I found it impossible to go on living in such a state of uncertainty, and I became a follower of Jesus.
Now we get to the ahistorical lies. There is a poor historical record of Jesus—nothing he wrote survived, all the accounts are second hand, there is no contemporary documentation of his existence. Loving your neighbor is not a remarkable claim, nor is it one first made by Jesus; the golden rule has been around for ages. Atheists can say it, so it’s certainly no evidence of divinity. Claims about being a god’s son, though, are evidence of insanity. He has presented no reason that he would resolve his uncertainty by supporting the claim of kinship with a deity (which has innumerable logical problems already), rather than deciding he was yet another tinpot messiah making ridiculous claims.
And how does a search to learn about God’s character lead to a Hebrew priest, anyway? Why should we assume God even has a comprehensible character? Collins is another example of someone who believes there is “some great big person up there”, one of those naive hicks Elaine Pagels disparages.
I would suggest that this argument by Collins would be better answered by supporting the divinity of Julius Caesar. His existence is far better supported than that of Jesus; we even have examples of his writings preserved, with monuments and first hand personal accounts of his life. He allowed himself to be called a god — Deo Invicto, no less — and his successor built temples to the Divus Julius. It’s awfully silly that Collins thinks the argument that either Caesar or Jesus was a god generates uncertainty, that he resolves in one direction for one of the pair, and in the other direction for the other.
And that’s it. Collins is given space to make an argument for the existence of his god, and this is the best he can do: nostrums, nonsense, noise. He should have been more honest and simply said he believes because he wants to believe, and he has no evidence, scientific or otherwise, to give his belief greater credibility than that of any unlettered church-going yokel.
At least he spared us the waterfall excuse this time, but it’s still all the same insipid mewlings he’s been giving to a willing and anxious media since his awful book came out.