June 12, 2006


I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome (Steven Swinford, 6/11/06, Sunday Times)

THE scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome is to publish a book explaining why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real.

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”. [...]

For Collins, unravelling the human genome did not create a conflict in his mind. Instead, it allowed him to “glimpse at the workings of God”.

“When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it,” he said. “But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

“When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind.”

Collins joins a line of scientists whose research deepened their belief in God. Isaac Newton, whose discovery of the laws of gravity reshaped our understanding of the universe, said: “This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Although Einstein revolutionised our thinking about time, gravity and the conversion of matter to energy, he believed the universe had a creator. “I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details,” he said. However Galileo was famously questioned by the inquisition and put on trial in 1633 for the “heresy” of claiming that the earth moved around the sun.

Among Collins’s most controversial beliefs is that of “theistic evolution”, which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further.

“I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way,” he says.

“Scientifically, the forces of evolution by natural selection have been profoundly affected for humankind by the changes in culture and environment and the expansion of the human species to 6 billion members. So what you see is pretty much what you get.”

At this rate the brights will be able to hold their meetings in a phone booth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2006 8:37 AM

Good for him! Once again, God draws straight with crooked lines.

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 12, 2006 9:58 AM

Schroeder's "The Science of God" is another great book.

Posted by: Bruno at June 12, 2006 10:00 AM

Although Einstein revolutionised our thinking about time, gravity and the conversion of matter to energy, he believed the universe had a creator.

This is highly misleading. Einstein was no monotheist. :

Einstein himself, it turns out, was a pantheist. In his own words:

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestation of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this sense alone, I am a deeply religious man.

Moreover, Einstein strongly resented having his religious convictions misrepresented:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

All this shows is how useless the term god has become.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 10:21 AM

Not believing in a personal God is not not monotheism.


Indeed, that's likely the source of your own confusion.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 10:28 AM

No, I think that you are confused, if you think that you can be a Christian and not believe in a personal god:

Read here:

The broadest definition of this term is a God who is a personal being, i.e. a being with a personality, including the capacity to reason and feel love. In the case of the Christian belief in the Trinity, God is a personal being in manifested in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This view is intended to challenge the concept of a deity who is merely a guiding principle, a blind creative force or a philosophical ideal.

And here:

THE fundamental dogmas of Christianity are realised wishes of the heart; the essence of Christianity is the essence of human feeling,. It is pleasanter to be passive than to act, to be redeemed and made free by another than to free oneself; pleasanter to make one's salvation dependent on a person than on the force of one's own spontaneity; pleasanter to set before oneself an object of love than an object of effort; pleasanter to know oneself beloved by God than merely to have that simple, natural self-love which is innate in all beings; pleasanter to see oneself imaged in the love-beaming eyes of another personal being than to look into the concave mirror of self or into the cold depths of the ocean of Nature; pleasanter, in short, to allow oneself to be acted on by one's own feeling,, as by another, but yet fundamentally identical being, than to regulate oneself by reason.
To see God is the highest wish, the highest triumph of the heart. Christ is this wish, this triumph, fulfilled. God, as an object of thought only, ie., God as God, is always a remote being; the relation to him is an abstract one, like that relation of friendship in which we stand to a man who is distant from us, and personally unknown to us. However his works, the proofs of love which he gives us may make his nature present to us, there always remains an unfilled void, the heart is unsatisfied, we long to see him. So long as we have not met a being face to face, we are always in doubt whether he be really such as we imagine him; actual presence alone gives final confidence, perfect repose. Christ is God known personally; Christ, therefore, is the blessed certainty that God is what the soul desires and needs him to be. God, as the object of prayer, is indeed already a human being since he sympathises with human misery,,,rants human wishes; but still he is not yet an object to the religious consciousness as a real man. Hence, only in Christ is the last wish of religion realised, the mystery of religious feeling, solved: solved however in the language of imagery proper to religion, for what God is in essence, that Christ is in actual appearance. So far the Christian religion may justly be called the absolute religion. That God, who in himself is nothing, else than the nature of man, should also have a real existence as such, should be as man an object to the consciousness this is the goal of religion; and this the Christian religion has attained in the incarnation of God, which is by no means a transitory act, for Christ remains man even after his ascension, man in heart and man in form, only that his body is no longer an earthly one, liable to suffering.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 11:27 AM

Einstein was a monotheist, not a Christian.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 11:33 AM

Robert just can't get by the idea of a "personal god", whatever the heck that is.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 11:36 AM

OJ, you're a monotheist and not a Christian as well.

David, read the Feuerbach essay. A personal god is a very easy concept to grasp, even a child understands what it means. Where is your incomprehension coming from?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 11:40 AM


For all these guys it's pretty much a matter of why should I believe in a God who won't talk to me? It's just an ego deal.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 11:41 AM



Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 11:48 AM

What, exactly? That you are not a Christian?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 1:11 PM

Robert: It's not my incomprehension that's at issue. It's your insistence that the very specific god in which you don't believe is the only possible god. For someone who claims not to believe, you seem over-invested in dictating to me the characteristic of my G-d.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 1:16 PM


It's just that I like words to mean something. God, in its popular usage for the vast majority of people who ascribe to a belief in Him, is a personal being. I know that many people keep the word but imagine some other set of traits, such as calling God "love", or the "ground of being". To me that's like saying "I have a cat also, except my cat has feathers and chirps".

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 1:53 PM

Robert: Exactly. You think that you get to define G-d and that the only possible god is the one in which you disbelieve.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 2:07 PM

And, as well, Robert believes that the only sincere believer is one who believes exactly what he feels he would be compelled to believe if he were a believer, which he is not.

Posted by: Peter B at June 12, 2006 2:43 PM

Yahweh is a personal God. He enters into personal relationships (covenants) with individuals and with groups of people. Unless of course David and Peter are saying such that is not the case.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 2:51 PM

You think that you get to define G-d and that the only possible god is the one in which you disbelieve.

No, this is not my definition of God, this is the popular definition of God. Neither do I decide on my own definition of cat. A parrot is not a cat, and a ground of being is not a god.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 2:59 PM


Yes, as you define it, I'm not Christian. I've not had any personal experience of God/Christ and I'm not Born Again. My faith is rational, not personal.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 3:01 PM


Out of curiousity, does your rational faith change the way in which you behave? Where you to believe differently then you do, do you think that you would act differently as well? I can understand if feel my question is non-sensical, but I as I said, I'm curious.

I believe in a personal God, in the Christian tradition, one who does (at least to my limited ability to perceive) interact with me in my life. I also believe in this God because it makes sense to me. In other words, I believe in a personal God for rational, as well as more subjective, reasons. Does my position then conflict with your thoughts on the matter?

Posted by: Jay at June 12, 2006 3:22 PM


I believe in a personal God, I've just had no personal experience wih Him. That I haven't yet had one doesn't give me any reason to doubt the many people I know who have nor to doubt Him. It just means I'm not Born Again. Only egotists believe that God's existence depends on personal communication with Him.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 3:29 PM

Ah, I see now where I was confused. Thanks for the insight.

Posted by: Jay at June 12, 2006 3:33 PM

Robert: The basic statement of Jewish belief is the Shema:

שמע ישראל י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו י-ה-ו-ה אחד

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.

Hear, O'Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.

Or, "Listen, Israel, the nameless G-d is the one G-d."

Here we see that G-d's covenant is with Israel, not with each individual Israelite. We see that our G-d is the nameless G-d -- so unknowable that we can't even know His name; so unrestricted that He can't even be reduced to a name. We see that our G-d is the only G-d. What we would like to be true of Him, or what others think is true of Him, is irrelevant; He is that He is.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 3:46 PM

I see Gods hand at work through the mechanism of evolution

Sounds like the guy still believes in evolution, so why is OJ so thrilled? He's no IDer, and in fact he's an example of my months-ago point that evolution doesn't necessarily contradict faith.

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 12, 2006 3:47 PM

That's not a point, it's a truism. Everyone believes in evolution. If it wasn't an element of the faith science never would have had to choose it for a model.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 3:53 PM


The question is whether thru rational thought you conclude that God is a "personality" capable of interfering with natural events. In other words an "acting personality". If yes then you may be a Christian , if not then you can't be. Otherwise what is the point.

It is this concept of "personal God" that Einstein (all atheists ultimately) reject.

What you and OJ describe is a "personal God" as I read Robert's original statement.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 3:54 PM

Only Moses got to talk to the bush, yet they all followed him.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 3:54 PM


Sic transit coherence. You demand that this God have a personality but not that He be a person. Einstein never questioned that God "interfered" in the world, which is why he wasn't an atheist. Indeed, his peers admonished him to stop insisting that God interfered only in certain ways.

Robert is just angry that God hasn't personally talked to him.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 4:03 PM

If a mountain gets angry with me and sends a boulder onto my head, then it has a personality and has an effect on future decisions I might make in order not to p*ss it off.

If the mountain has no personality, but due to tremors of the Earth's crust sends a boulder crashing into my b*tt then I will curse it and not fear that retribution.

Einstein believed in the second type mountain and thus was an atheist.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 4:22 PM

OJ, you're parsing language to have it both ways. If god has a personality, He is personal. That is what personal means. He doesn't have to be a mortal person.

H-man is right about Einstein's god. It didn't interfere with the workings of the world, it is just an anthropomorphic way of describing the Logos.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 4:35 PM


Your explanation of the Jewish idea of God does not jive with Dennis Prager's idea:

The God of ethical monotheism is the God first revealed to the world in the Hebrew Bible. Through it, we can establish God's four primary characteristics:

1. God is supranatural.

2. God is personal.

3. God is good.

4. God is holy.

The second essential characteristic is that God is personal.

The God of ethical monotheism is not some depersonalized force: God cares about His creations. As University of Chicago historian William A. Irwin wrote in a 1947 essay on ethical monotheism: "The world was to be understood in terms of personality. Its center and essence was not blind force or some sort of cold, inert reality but a personal God." God is not an Unmoved Mover, not a watchmaker who abandoned His watch after making it, as the Enlightenment Deists would have it. God knows each of us. We are, after all, "created in His image." This is not merely wishful thinking why would God create a being capable of knowing Him, yet choose not to know that being?

This does not mean that God necessarily answers prayers or even that God intervenes in all or even any of our lives. It means that He knows us and cares about us. Caring beings are not created by an uncaring being.

The whole point of ethical monotheism is that God's greatest desire is that we act toward one another with justice and mercy. An Unmoved Mover who didn't know His human creatures couldn't care less how they treat one another.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 12, 2006 4:48 PM

Yes, God can't be both supranatural and a person.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 5:20 PM


No, Einstein believed it was God who made the mountain that sent the rock down on your head, though the rock hitting you was a coincidence. Atheists believe the rock, the human, the planet and the universe are all mere coincidences.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 5:26 PM


A non-mortal person isn't a person by definition.

Obviously if God were a person he'd not have needed to experience being a person by becoming Christ.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 5:27 PM

Robert: I must have missed where Dennis Prager was elected Pope of the Jews.

According to Moses Maimonedes, who has a much better claim to the title, here is what a Jew must believe:

1 Belief in the existence of the Creator, be He Blessed, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.

2 The belief in G-d's absolute and unparalleled unity.

3 The belief in G-d's noncorporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.

4 The belief in G-d's eternity.

5 The imperative to worship Him exclusively and no foreign false gods.

6 The belief that G-d communicates with man through prophecy.

7 The belief that the prophecy of Moses our teacher has priority.

8 The belief in the divine origin of the Torah.

9 The belief in the immutability of the Torah.

10 The belief in divine omniscience and providence.

11 The belief in divine reward and retribution.

12 The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era.

13 The belief in the resurrection of the dead.

But Jews feel free to disagree with him, too, and the resurrection of the dead, for example, has fallen out of favor.

I still don't get this "personal G-d" thing, but no, I don't think that G-d has a personality.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 5:33 PM

Prager represents how America has turned religious Jews into Evangelicals.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 5:42 PM

Hey, Robert, for what it is worth (not much, I suspect), here's another Christian who doen't believe G-d has any particular duty to take time out from His busy day for a personal one-on-one. He certainly works in mysterious ways, but I have to countenace the possibility that He thinks I do too.

Posted by: Peter B at June 12, 2006 6:16 PM


Its difficult to ascribe human attributes to God because he/she is not human. However Moses Maimonedes clearly states that God acts and those acts have effects on humans. For instance Numbers 6, 8,11 in your list. A mountain does not communicate to man thru prophecy.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 7:21 PM

Sharks act and it has an effect on humans. Doesn't make them persons.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 7:45 PM

Does God have a will? If not then you are correct, he has no personality.

Sharks have a personality (without being persons)and when one goes for your crotch it will focus your mind on theology I assure you.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 8:10 PM

If by "personal G-d" you mean "a G-d that acts," then I believe in a personal G-d. But then it seems that personal is redundant, and you just mean "G-d."

Posted by: David Cohen at June 12, 2006 8:10 PM


So you aren't even talking about a personal God but a God with a personality, like the one that even dogs and other critters have?

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 8:24 PM

I just know that God talks to me and he seems to always tell me to do what I wanted to do anyway. And yes some have said I was a dog err..or other critter.

Posted by: h-man at June 12, 2006 8:34 PM

Yes, that's what Robert is waiting for, a God who will address him.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 9:03 PM

Incontrovertible evidence that He has addressed someone else would do, though the best way to get your point across is to broadcast it to everyone at the same time. The evidence has to be more than hearsay. Get suspicious when the addressee says things like "God spoke to me, and told me that I will be the father of a great nation", or "God will bless my seed, and any woman who carries my seed. Line up, ladies!"

None of us are obligated to accept secondhand hearsay as Divine Truth. Especially when the world is so full of it. Now if you seekers were truly serious, you'd be searching through every account of revelation by every holy fool and backyard mystic that comes down the pike, and not settle on the first story that comes out of your parents mouth.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 13, 2006 9:05 AM


You nicely illustrate why Christianity is a necessary element of successful societies--trust.

Posted by: oj at June 13, 2006 2:27 PM

That's why we have no need for the separation of powers, because we trust each other so much.

And that's why we don't have many Christian denominations, because we trust each other to represent Christ's Truth accurately. After all, we all trust the Pope to peak to God for us, don't we?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 13, 2006 3:30 PM

Yes, that's the staggering thing--even with all that we're still the most trusting societies of humankind. Without absolutist morality there's no basis for trust.

Posted by: oj at June 13, 2006 3:47 PM