While God was working on getting me into His kingdom, I turned on the television one Sunday morning to settle my mind after a baffling series of coincidences,only to find, on a random channel, the old evangelist R.A. Shaumbach saying, “Coincidence is God’s way of talking to us.” I immediately turned off the television.
In 1966, as a freshman at the University of Virginia (we called ourselves First Yearmen then), the entire orientation consistedÂ of gathering in the senior dorm counselor’s room to be handedÂ the college catelogue.Â Charley’sÂ onlyÂ words were, “We study hard during the week and party hard during the weekend.”
My dormitory, Humphreys Hall, connected with another dormitory, Echols Hall. The residents of my dorm seemed to hear only the second part of Charley’s advice, while those of Echols seemed to prefer the first. Consequently, our paths rarely crossed, except when we gathered on folding chairs in the basement of Echols to watch the first Super Bowl. Echols had the only television in the area.
I recalled all of this as I began to read Dr. Francis S. Collins’ breathtaking book, The Language of God. Dr. Collins is the longtime head of the Human Genome Project, and, I discovered, a 1966 First Yearman of Echols Hall. Studying led to the Human Genome Project and partying led to the movies. But both paths, it seems, led to God.Â
The Language of God details howÂ the Kingdom of GodÂ invaded one of the world’s great scientific minds. As with many, C. S. Lewis served as the guide into the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the course of his moving account, Dr. Collins brings scientific precision to many Christian appologetics. For example:
“If God exists, then He is supernatural.
If He is supernatural, then He is not limited by natural laws.
If He is not limited by natural laws, there is no reason He should be limited by time.
If He is not limited by time, then He is in the past, the present, and the future”
“He could exist before the Big Bang and He could exist after the universe fades away, if it ever does.
He could know the precise outcome of the formation of the universe even before it started.
He could have foreknowledge of a planet near the outer rim of an average spiral galaxy that would have just the right characteristics to allow life.
He could have foreknowledge that that planet would lead to the development of sentient creatures, through the mechanism of evolution by natural selection.
He could even know in advance the thoughts and actions of those creatures, even though they themselves have free will.”
Dr Collins shares C.S. Lewis’ great desire to bridge the gaps between the polesÂ within Christian thought. Conseqeuntly, Dr. Collins weighs in on the orgin of life according to Genesis, evolution, and miracles, among other topics. Along the way he reveals things about which I had no clue. For example, thereÂ exists the American Scientific Association , an organization of several thousand serious scientists who are serious believers in God. And I encountered Theistic Evolution, whose premises Dr. Collins outlines:
“1. The universe came into being out of nothingness, approximately 14 billion years ago.
Â 2. Despite massive imnprobabilities, the properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life.
Â 3. While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, once life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long periods of time.
Â 4. Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.
Â 5. Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestry with the great apes.
Â 6. But humans are unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human culture throughout history.”
My favorite part of Dr. Collins narrative occurs in Chapter 11, as, while treating a young farmer in Eku, Nigeria, God breaks into both of their lives. I won’t spoil the story, but instead will urge you to get and read this book.
As a drama student at UVa, I recall meeting Dr. Collins’ parents, Fletcher and Margaret Collins. They had just launched a new project called Theatre Wagon. They stood out on the Grounds (not the campus) because they did not dressÂ likeÂ a typical Virginia Gentlemen and his lady; they were ahead of their time. I recall speaking with his father either during rehearsals for, or following, productions in the UVa chapel of either Murder in the Cathedral or an evening of medieval miracle and morality plays, directed by classmate, D. Patterson Tiller, a very talented fellow. I may even have visited his parents home with Pat. You see, Fletcher Collins was an authority on medieval theatre and drama. In graduate school I read his magnum opus, The Production of Medieval Church Music Drama, and relied on it while writing The Making of Theatre History. I recall the Fletchers as wonderful artists, scholars, and most importantly, people.
Already in 1966, we were being sought for the Kingdom of God, but we were not yet ready.