The title of this book comes from the words used in a speech by former U.S. President Bill Clinton after the entire human genome (pronounced GEE-nohm) had been sequenced or "read." ("The human genome consists of all the DNA of our species, the hereditary code of life.")
The book itself was written by geneticist Francis S. Collins, the longtime head of the Human Genome Project (HGP), the project responsible for the incredible scientific accomplishment mentioned above. The HGP was the ambitious international scientific effort that began in 1998 and the first draft of the human genome was completed in June 2000.
Here are the aims or goals of this book as Collins states them:
(i) "This book aims to...[argue] that [a] belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complimentary with the principles of science."
(ii) "[H]ere is the central question of this book: In this modern era of cosmology, evolution, and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews?...The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views."
(iii) "I will argue that these perspectives [or views] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience."
This book is divided into three parts. Below I will give the names of all three parts (in uppercase) and what each part generally discusses:
(1) THE CHASM BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FAITH. (2 chapters.) Discusses the author's journey from agnosticism, through atheism, to belief and looks into the philosophical issues (examples: "Isn't the idea of God just wish fulfillment?" and "Why would a loving God allow suffering in the world?") that believers have to contend with. Believers should enjoy these chapters as Collins makes numerous arguments based on his experiences, observations, beliefs, and the writings & stories of others. He mentions such things as faith, God, miracles, and the supernatural. Non-believers will be disappointed as no hard evidence of Collins' belief (as suggested in the book's subtitle) is presented.
(2) THE GREAT QUESTIONS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. (3 chapters.) In this part, the origins of the universe, life on Earth, and lessons from the human genome are presented. Excellent science is presented that's easy to follow. Collins presents some interesting arguments and presents his beliefs and inferences, but there is no hard evidence of God's existence presented.
(3) FAITH IN SCIENCE, FAITH IN GOD (6 chapters.) In my opinion, this part is the best part. There is good discussion and excellent science evidence presented on topics of atheism, agnosticism, creationism, intelligent design (including "God in the gaps"). The penultimate chapter is on "Biologos" where science and faith are in harmony. This chapter especially is interesting because it presents the little known concept of "Theistic Evolution." Believers' eyes will probably be opened by this part and non-believers will probably learn much also. Again, actual hard evidence on God's existence is absent.
There are ten illustrations in the book that show some science concepts. I would have liked to have seen more illustrations but these ten are, in my opinion, both excellent and interesting.
There were a few problems I found:
(1) As can be deduced from my brief summary above, there is really no hard "evidence for belief." However, there is much hard scientific evidence presented. The phrase "evidence for belief" is found in the book's subtitle and was why I was attracted to this book in the first place. Thus, I was disappointed when none was really presented (even though there's a lot of inferential evidence).
(2) At many points in the book, Collins talks about his belief in a "supernatural Creator." He wants the reader to believe this also. However, a belief is not evidence.
(3) Collins says the existence of the "Moral Law" or knowledge of right and wrong is evidence of God's existence. (He states this a few times.) Implied here is that you halve to be religious to be moral. This is untrue.
(4) Collins tells us that science cannot answer all questions and strongly implies that this is one of its faults. Actually, this is not a fault. Science never claimed and is not designed to answer all questions.
(5) There are some factual errors in this book. While these don't affect its readability, I found them to be annoyances.
In conclusion, this book presents some excellent scientific evidence but no "evidence for belief." I think this book will not be satisfying to all believers (except perhaps for those who have read only the first two chapters) or convincing to non-believers (but they should find the scientific material presented that is found after the first two chapters interesting).
(first published 2006; introduction; 11 chapters or 3 parts; main narrative 235 pages; appendix on Bioethics; notes; acknowledgements; index; about the author)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>