On truthdig.com, Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and the soon-to-be-released Letter to a Christian Nation, serves up a contemptuous panning of Francis Collins’ new book, “The Language of God.” Harris’ delivery, as always, is compelling, and anyone with a respect for science and a disdain for anti-intellectual and pseudointellectual drivel from people who by all appearances should know better cannot help but be as aghast at Collins’ ideas as Harris himself is:
Collins: “On a beautiful fall day, as I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains … the majesty and beauty of God’s creation overwhelmed my resistance. As I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful and unexpected frozen waterfall, hundreds of feet high, I knew the search was over. The next morning, I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and surrendered to Jesus Christ.”
If the beauty of nature can mean that Jesus really is the son of God, then anything can mean anything. Let us say that I saw the same waterfall, and its three streams reminded me of Romulus, Remus and the She-wolf, the mythical founders of Rome. How reasonable would it be for me to know, from that moment forward, that Italy would one day win the World Cup? This epiphany, while perfectly psychotic, would actually put me on firmer ground than Collins–because Italy did win the World Cup. Collins’ alpine conversion would be a ludicrous non sequitur even if Jesus does return to Earth trailing clouds of glory.