Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project, the monumental and successful effort to map the 3.1 billion letters of the human genetic code and, surprisingly in a world where “leading scientist” is assumed to mean “hardboiled agnostic,” a serious Christian. In his new bestseller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, he draws upon his training as a geneticist and physician to make a case to a popular audience for both Darwinian evolution and a transcendent Creator.
The evolution he argues for involves no direct intelligent input after the origin of the universe until the origin of humans, and yet he also makes a case for a specifically Christian theism, arguing not only for a Creator but also for the possibility of miracles, the deity of Christ, and a literal resurrection. He insists that a scientist can believe these articles of Christian doctrine without checking his brain at the door.
The mainstream media have emphasized two aspects of the book: Its insistence that Darwinism is no threat to Christianity, and its argument that Darwinism better explains a range of physical evidence than either creationism or intelligent design. What has gone begging for ink, however, is a feature of the book hidden in plain sight: Francis Collins makes a scientific case for intelligent design.
According to the theory of intelligent design, which extends from the origin of matter to the origin of mind, an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world. In chapter nine Collins argues against intelligent design in biology, and this the media have picked up. But in chapter three, “The Origins of the Universe,” he argues that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world, in this case, features that existed before the origin of life.