Over the intervening years the specific order of genes (genome) for a huge number of species, including Homo sapiens, has been mapped. Even within our own species, we can delineate the relationship and ancestry of specific individuals beyond 99% reliability; certainly no surprise if you’ve ever had to prove paternity for child support.
DNA mapping has actually gone back and corrected errors made in the taxonomy of many plant and animal species previously classified through morphology. Beyond a doubt, DNA PROVES Biological Evolution!
Yet still today in backward countries such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Somalia and the United States of America, a large percentage of their populations still tenaciously cling to the creation stories of their assorted Holy Books; tales written back in eras when the causes of weather, disease and the movement of planets were woefully beyond the technology of humans to explain.
But it is incorrect to ascribe these archaic beliefs in a deistic cause for the origins of life to ignorance or illiteracy; some very smart and highly educated people continue to hold Creationist views, though their justifications tend to be more elaborate.
For example, Dr. Francis Collins, physician and geneticist, currently director of the National Institutes of Health and formerly head of the Human Genome Project, believes that DNA itself is proof of the existence of god. In his book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, Collins asserts that the universe was created by god 14 million years ago specifically tuned to promote life on earth. Collins believes that the development of living organisms was part of god’s plan (through the divinely created mechanisms of DNA) and that humans are unique from all the other species in ways that defy evolutionary explanations.
I must give scholars such as Collins some credit for at least attempting to reconcile scientific evidence with their beliefs; most evangelical Christian, Jewish and Muslim believers are satisfied with merely dismissing DNA and Biological Evolution as a “lie”.
I spent some time a few years ago attempting to understand why some very smart and accomplished scientists hold biblical or deistic beliefs. My father-in-law, Melvin, for example, a highly published former university Horticulture professor, is among them. I have attended lectures, debates and read their works – but I find repeatedly that when I pare away the specific elements of their arguments, one underlying theme always seems to be revealed: these folks want very earnestly the reassurance and comfort one finds in belief.
Collins’ desire for there to be a god becomes quite evident in “The Language of God” and is typical of other scientists who I have heard or read. In his book Collins asserts that “God exists because we have an innate desire for him to exist". He goes on to explain: "A duck desires to swim, so water exists. A baby desires food so food exists".
The question comes to my mind: if I don’t have the desire for god, does he/she/it therefore not exist?
I began this post essentially acknowledging what a remarkable volume of human understanding about the workings of our world has accumulated during just my lifetime. In fact, far more knowledge has been discovered during my generation than in my father’s; exponentially even more his father’s. Within only the most recent decade we have acquired a tentative understanding of how this universe actually came to be and what was likely there before the Big Bang and it’s ultimate fate.
As a friend of mine once pointed out: Every day something new is added to the body of knowledge and our understanding of the workings and origins of our universe. Yet religion, for over two millennia, has added nothing.
“The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, Book review by Robert Neary