Friday, December 21, 2012

Francis Collins On God

FRANCIS COLLINS (born 1950), Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

1. In the introduction of his book The Language of God (2006) Francis Collins wrote:
“For me 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. Many will be puzzled by these sentiments, assuming that a rigorous scientist could not also be a serious believer in a transcendent God. This book aims to dispel that notion, by arguing 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.” (Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, New York, Free Press, 2006).

2. “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.” (Collins 2006).

3. “I have no reason to see a discordance between what I know as a scientist who spends all day studying the genome of humans and what I believe as somebody who pays a lot of attention to what the Bible has taught me about God and about Jesus Christ. Those are entirely compatible views. Science is the way – a powerful way, indeed – to study the natural world. Science is not particularly effective – in fact, it’s rather ineffective – in making commentary about the supernatural world. Both worlds, for me, are quite real and quite important. They are investigated in different ways. They coexist. They illuminate each other.” (Collins 2000).

4. To the question, “Are you a mainline Protestant? An Evangelical Protestant? What are you?” Dr. Collins replied:
“I guess I’d call myself a serious Christian. That is someone who believes in the reality of Christ's death and resurrection, and who tries to integrate that into daily life and not just relegate it to something you talk about on Sunday morning.” (Collins 2000).

5. “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.” (Collins 2006). 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

John Stewart Mill On God

JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873), English philosopher and economist, the major exponent of Utilitarianism

 Concerning the existence of an Intelligent Creator, Mill wrote this:
1. “Whatever ground there is to believe in an Author of nature is derived from the appearances of the universe. The argument from design is grounded wholly on our experience of the appearances of the universe. It is, therefore, a far more important argument for theism than any other.
The order of nature exhibits certain qualities that are found to be characteristic of such things as are made by an intelligent mind for a purpose. We are entitled from this great similarity in the effects to infer similarity in the cause, and to believe that things which it is beyond the power of man to make, but which resemble the works of man in all but power, must also have been made by Intelligence armed with a power greater than human.” (Mill, as cited in Castell 1988, 181-182).

2. “Among the facts of the universe to be accounted for, it may be said, is mind; and it is self evident that nothing can have produced mind but Mind.” (Mill 1969, 439). 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Richard Swinburne On God

RICHARD SWINBURNE (born 1934), Oxford Professor of Philosophy, one of the most influential theistic philosophers

1. “The basic structure of my argument is this. Scientists, historians, and detectives observe data and proceed thence to some theory about what best explains the occurrence of these data. We can analyze the criteria which they use in reaching a conclusion that a certain theory is better supported by the data than a different theory – that is, is more likely, on the basis of those data, to be true. Using those same criteria, we find that the view that there is a God explains everything we observe, not just some narrow range of data. It explains the fact that there is a universe at all, that scientific laws operate within it, that it contains conscious animals and humans with very complex intricately organized bodies, that we have abundant opportunities for developing ourselves and the world, as well as the more particular data that humans report miracles and have religious experiences. In so far as scientific causes and laws explain some of these things (and in part they do), these very causes and laws need explaining, and God’s action explains them. The very same criteria which scientists use to reach their own theories lead us to move beyond those theories to a creator God who sustains everything in existence.” (Richard Swinburne, Is There a God?, Oxford University Press, 1996, 2, italics in original).

2. “What the theist claims about God is that he does have a power to create, conserve, or annihilate anything, big or small. And he can also make objects move or do anything else. He can make them attract or repel each other, in the way that scientists have discovered that they do, and make them cause other objects to do or suffer various things: he can make the planets move in the way that Kepler discovered that they move, or make gunpowder explode when we set a match to it; or he can make planets move in quite different ways, and chemical substances explode or not explode under quite different conditions from those which now govern their behaviour. God is not limited by the laws of nature; he makes them and he can change or suspend them – if he chooses.” (Richard Swinburne, Is There a God?, Oxford University Press, 1996, 5-6).