Books

The Language of God. Francis Collins.

Frances Collins was at the head of the Human Genome Project which succeeded in sequencing human DNA, and it is therefore not ‘hype’ when he is referred to as ‘one of the world’s leading scientists.’ This book is both a narrative of his conversion from agnosticism to Christ and a compelling apologetic for not merely the compatibility of science and Christian faith, but their complementarity. It is therefore a must read in the project of ‘Re-Faithing Science.’ It contains very succinct treatments of atheism, agnosticism, young-earth creationism, Intelligent Design and his preferred view of theistic evolution. His rejection of ID and preference for theistic evolution is based on both scientific and theological grounds, and though at times one wishes for more detail (the scope and intended audience of this work is more popular), his treatment is a compelling one. The crucial points of his argument are (i) that ID fails to qualify as a scientific theory, and that (ii) ID finds necessary an invoking of the rather unconvincing ‘God of the gaps’ approach … ‘ID portrays the Almighty as a clumsy Creator, having to intervene at regular intervals to fix the inadequacies of His own initial plan for generating the complexity of life (pp. 193-4).’

Proper Confidence. Leslie Newbigin

The late Lesslie Newbigin had a long career as a missionary to India, and experience which gave him unusual insights into the deep differences between Hindu and Christian culture. This book, as the title suggests, is a remarkably lucid introduction to the epistemology–how we know, what we know, and what knowledge is. He develops a strong case (drawing especially on the scientist/philosopher Michael Polanyi, that knowledge of God (theology) and of God’s world (science) is of the same sort–genuine knowledge, but always tentative, exploratory, based on faith. Well worth a read.

The Lives of a Cell. Lewis Thomas

This collection of brilliant essays first appeared in The New England Journal of Medicince, and were published as a book 40 years ago. They are not obviously written from a religious perspective–but they convey a sense of awe, delight, and surprise both about the nature of the physical world–particularly the nature of biological life, and perhaps reflect as well as anything the attitude of astonished thankfullness that informs the best science. They range in topic from Termites to Bach to the roots of language, and each can be read in a few minutes. Here are some to sample: “”The Lives of a Cell”; “An Earnest Proposal”, “Ceti”; “Natural Man”; “On Various Words”; “Living Language”; “The World’s Biggest Membrane”.