Book Review: The Language of God

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins. Free Press, 2007.

The value of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief is that it was written by the Director of the Human Genome Project. Francis Collins’[1] personal narrative of coming to faith and his sometimes eloquent plea for an end to the warfare between science and faith are the most valuable parts of the book. These are the strengths of The Language of God and worth the price of admission if you have not heard his story. Likewise, Collins gives a good, if relatively brief, narrative of his work in genomics and the human genome project and some sense of why he thinks this was such a worthy endeavor to pursue both as scientist and Christian.

On other counts, I would rate this book “just OK”. Collins’ apologetic for faith is derived from C.S. Lewis and I would say here, “read Lewis”! His discussion of various theories of origins and argument for his own BioLogos option is cursory, though generous to those who take different views. Likewise with his exploration of bioethical issues. In all these areas, what is gratifying is to see a scientist of Collins’ stature consideration these issues in light of his Christian faith. Yet many objections to his views will remain unanswered in these pages. A list of books and articles for further reading would have been helpful (some possibilities can be found in the endnotes).

I suspect that the reason he chose to write about so many things so briefly was to address a general audience. I would say that Collins has followed up this work well with the BioLogos Foundation.


Dr. Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, directs the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Editor’s note:

    1. Dr. Francis Collins is a physician and geneticist known for spearheading the Human Genome Project and for his landmark discoveries of disease genes. With Collins at the helm, the Human Genome Project produced a finished sequence of human DNA in 2003. He then used this new data to help create powerful tools and strategies to advance biological knowledge about humans and improve their health. Along with his research, Collins has also stressed the importance of considering the ethical and legal issues surrounding genetics. Formerly an atheist, Collins became a Christian in his 20′s after realizing his perspective did not provide answers to profound questions about the meaning of life and was inconsistent with observations about the nature of the universe and humankind. He wrote about finding harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews in The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, which spent 20 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. . . . Collins received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Virginia, a doctorate in physical chemistry from Yale University and a medical degree from The University of North Carolina. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and in November 2007 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the president, for revolutionizing genetic research. This bio was drawn from material posted at BioLogos. Accessed 2/7/2014. For a Veritas Forum presentation by Francis Collins click here (California Institute of Technology, 2009). Also enjoy audio of a presentation he gave at InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministry’s Following Christ 2008, God and the Genome (InterVarsity’s report on a 2008 presentation at Stanford with links to resource material), and Francis S. Collins: By the Book (NY Times Interview. 8/25/2013).
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Bob Trube

Bob Trube is Senior Area Director for InterVarsity's Graduate & Faculty Ministry team in the Ohio Valley (Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania) and leads the ministry to graduate students and faculty at The Ohio State University. He resides in Columbus, Ohio, with Marilyn and enjoys reading, gardening, choral singing, and plein air painting.

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