Francis Collins – “Language of God” Speech

Background

A couple of weeks ago, I listened on as Francis Collins spoke a bit about his book “Language of God“.  The discussion was at the Veritas Forum at California Institute of Technology ( CalTech ) in Pasadena, CA.

The presentation is available at :

Francis Collins – The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGu_VtbpWhE

Quote

He touched on the importance of using Augustine’s writing as a backdrop when attempting to resolve seemingly incompatible thoughts; i.e space things out a bit.

 

Augustine’s Quote

The Literal meaning of Genesis – 400 AD
http://college.holycross.edu/faculty/alaffey/other_files/Augustine-Genesis1.pdf

In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different Interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.

 

Introduction

His introduction was brief and informative.  Areas he touched on includes:

  • Let us reason together
  • Started out as a reductionist and “material”
  • DNA Sequencing problem causing cancer
  • Saw a lady dying and she was at peace with it

 

Question

Faith’s journey invigorated by seeing a dying lady who had come to peace with it.  The lady shared her life and faith with him.  And, thereafter said to him “I told you about my faith, now Doctor what do you believe?“.

 

Francis Collins – “Nature Pointers to God”

Finding pointers in Nature:

  • There is something instead of nothing
  • The unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics
  • The Big Bang
  • The precise tuning of physical constants in the Universe

 

Francis Collins – Possibilities

He iterated possible explanations for the preciseness of Science.

  • Constant – Aporia reason due to relationship – There might be relationships between them
  • Multiverse – There are other universes just like this one
  • Intentional

And, how when one is faced with myriad choices one should apply “Occam Razor“; that is choose the simplest reason.  Which leads us to choosing the the intentional option.  This appears to be where Einstein’s ended up.

Since Einstein’s day, there are more fine tune arguments.

In summary we now have found a Deist God, but not necessary Theist God.

 

Francis Collins – Moral Law

  • We humans are under a moral law
  • It is a Universal Law
  • Is it completely explained by altruism?
  • Reason for Altruism
    • Family
    • Reciprocal – Reproductive reason
    • Martin Nowak – Prisoner Dilemma – Harvard Professor – Entire Group
  • But, all the reasons means that one still has to be hostile to people outside of the group
  • How does one explain extension to other groups
    • Mother Theresa
    • Wesley Autrey, Construction worker – New York Subway
  • Reason to Look further
    • If one is looking for a God that is good and holy

In summary, Mr. Collins arrived at a Theist God via trying to grasp the fullness of a Universal Moral Law.

 

Francis Collins – “Loving God with all your mind

  • No longer have reasons to resist
  • Reasons behind the decision
  • Love God with all your mind
  • Talks about Mark Noll’s book – “Scandal of the evangelical mind

Francis uses  Luke 10:27 “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself“, to affirm that there is no conflict between Mind/Science and worshiping God.

 

Life Sciences

  • DNA – Digital Code
  • DNA Theory is fundamentally correct
  • Evolution – Shared Ancestry of humans and other organisms*
    • Fossil record
    • DNA
      • Compared DNA Sequencing
      • pseudogene ( RIP in humans i.e. GULO – Humans unable to make Vitamin C on their own, while other animals might not have problem )

 

Richard Dickens

Richard Dickens – argument

  • Has a book known as “God’s Delusion”
  • Arguments against God

Richard Dickens – Rebuttal

  • Universal Negative ( Atheism is the most daring of all dogma, for it is the assertion of a universal negative – G.K. Chesterton)
  • Category Error ( God is outside of Nature and thus shall not be placed exclusively in nature)
  • Science is only able to comments on things that are in nature and not on things outside of nature.  Silence has to remain silence in Nature )
  • Richard Dickens “If earth was created by God. it must be a God more complicated than the God we are talking about
  • One cannot be an Atheist and argue that Science totally supports that conviction
  • 40% of Science believe in God
  • God’s role in Evolution
    • God’s planned for evolution
      • Neurological house (brain)
      • Free will
      • Soul
      • Made in God’s image – Mind VS Body
      • Our free will lead to disobedience to God
      • Humans realization of violation of Moral code
    • No violence to faith nor science
    • Theistic Evolution ( BioLogos )
      • Bios = Life
      • Logos = The Word

 

Objections to BioLogos

  • Bacterial Flagellum

 

 

Books

  • Darrel R. Falk – Coming to Peace with Science
  • Karl W. Giberson – Saving Darwin
  • N. T. Wright – Resurrection of Son of God

 

 

Q/A

Here is the Q/A Transcript. Where available I have placed the time-slot where the Question began and Answer ended in parenthesis.

 

Importance of Prayer

  • Mode of listening
  • In prayer, one might get an insight into one self ( Mystical )

 

Evolution Maturity

  • Age of Universe – 13.7 billion years
  • Age of the Earth – 4.55 billion years
  • The God of Deception
  • If one does not read from Scripture a requirement to postulate a young earth, then one might have to go with what Science is telling us about earth’s age

 

Post Humanist

  • Stephen Hawkins
  • Messing with Human’s germ life safety?
  • What is improvement
  • Who gets access
  • God’s Image thought

 

Sloppiness of DNA ( 1:11:57 )

  • Mitochondria DNA
  • DNA Transition to Nuclear from Genome?
  • Ancient Event / Variability of the event / Recent event
  • He is outside of the data

 

Physical vs Spiritual Death

  • Augustine’s discussion of Genesis
  • Christianity has not been forced to revise its understanding even after aggressive growth in Science
  • Evolution vs Pauline Canon
  • Where does Death come from?
    • Scripture – Death is result of human science
    • Evolution – Death is integer to creation
  • Death integral to creation
  • Scripture
    • Romans 5
    • 1st Corinthians 15
  • Death ? Does it exclude animal death
  • Not a theologian
  • Physical vs Spiritual death

 

Movie – Expelled

  • Prosecution in Academia
  • Whip up resentment against Academic
  • Speak bluntly about those things

 

Miracle

  • Q/A
    • Nature Miracle (Manna from Miracle, Jesus feeding hundreds with bread)
    • Is God contradictory or disorder
    • God is almighty
    • Why did not God not intervene during Holocaust
  • Answer
    • Whether one believes in God and whether one believes that God is the author of nature
    • Moments of great significance
      • Jesus Resurrection

 

 

Book – Born to be good – The Science of a meaning Life

  • Q/A
    • Is there a gene for altruism
  • Answer
    • Neurological Pathway
    • Free will decisions
    • Neurological Pathway
    • Divinely inspired action that needs a path to be carried out
    • Emotions such as Deep prayer life bring about emotion

Pre-commitments Role ( 1:24:30 – 1:27:15 )

  • Q/A
    • The evidence seems to support both a Theistic and Naturalistic viewpoint
    • Pre-Commitment to a world view, conceptual scheme
    • Evidence gains its meaning
    • Internal consistency within a conceptual view
    • Preconceived conclusion – Is one not just as good as the other?
    • If one is better, how does one move from being a Naturalist to been a Theist
  • Answer
    • One has to choose one or the other ?
      • Being other or the other improvises you
      • Placing a High firewall between them
      • Having to choose one is a recent idea and a bit flawed
      • One can find God in the Laboratory or the Cathedral

 

Agnostic Atheism

  • Q/A
    • Mental Crutch of having to believe in a God
    • Physics
    • Free will
  • Answer
    • Physics
      • Predetermination of Classical mechanics
      • Quantum brings more fluidity
    • Agnostics
      • Principled Agnostic
      • Others it might suggest I do want to think about it

Summary

Once again, there is a lot to learn out there.  Veritas Forums, Ted Talks, and many others facilitate important and meaningful discussions.

And, thanks to Google and YouTube unusually smart and “gifting” people are a lot closer than they would otherwise be.  They are well read and do not hide it; in actuality they share their sources.

They are also pen to meaningful reproach.

As Ravi Zachariah likes to say, the Q/A part is where the fireworks happen.

 

Reference

Occam Razor

 

Deism

 

Theism

 

Martin Nowak

 

Wesley Autrey

 

Mark Noll

 

Stephen L. Carter

 

Richard Dawkins

 

Bacteria Flagellum

 

Pau(line) Doctrine

 

God vs Science

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