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In a world where the rate of scientific discovery outpaces anything ever dreamed of in any other era of human history, the idea that “science disproves God” is perhaps one of the commonest arguments now invoked against the existence of an omnipotent Deity.

But according to Francis Collins, who headed the team of scientists who cracked the human genome, the argument is a fallacious one.

In the world-acclaimed scientist’s upcoming book, The Language of God, set to be published in September, he argues that science cannot possibly disprove the existence of God, since science is relegated to the natural world.

If anything, Collins argues, it may be the exact opposite—science aids not in disproving God, but may help in proving His existence.

“For me,” says Collins about his work on the human genome, “the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.”

“When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind you can’t survey that, going through page after page, without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind.”

This was not, explains Collins, always his way of looking at the world. Indeed, according to Collins’ own description of himself, at the age of 27 he was “a pretty obnoxious atheist”.

The Language of God sets out to “explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.”

At the age of 27, relates the scientist, “Somebody pointed me towards C.S. Lewis’s little book called Mere Christianity, which took all of my arguments that I thought were so airtight about the fact that faith is just irrational, and proved them totally full of holes. And in fact, turned them around the other way, and convinced me that the choice to believe is actually the most rational conclusion when you look at the evidence around you.”

The Language of God will argue, according to its introduction, that “belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science.”

“In my view,” explains Collins, “there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us.

“Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science.

“It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul — and the mind must find a way to embrace both realms.

“I will argue that these perspectives not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience.

“Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence.

“But science is powerless to answer questions such as ‘Why did the universe come into being?’ ‘What is the meaning of human existence?’ ‘What happens after we die?’

“One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen.

“The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.”

[Jalsevac BETHESDA, MD, 12June06]