Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kenneth Miller At NIH Tomorrow

Cell biologist Kenneth Miller will be giving a talk at NIH tomorrow (Wednesday), and it will be good. He has been going around the country giving talks about reconciling Darwinism with religious faith, and in the process he has stirred up a ton of debate, often alienating people on both sides of the cultural divide. And you know that can't be bad.

Miller's view is that faith and science are simply two different things. You can't use your faith to provide scientific explanations for observed phenomena -- when you encounter something you don't understand, it's not sufficient to say, in awe, "God put it here, and that's that." There is likely a better explanation, one that most parsimoniously accounts for the most data. For instance, evolution gives a beautifully concise and insightful way to understand the diversity of living things in terms of adaptation. Plants and animals have taken the shapes and functions they have in order to adapt to an environmental niche, which means they have what they need to survive and reproduce. And that includes evolving in the presence of other evolving organisms, pretty complicated, very cool.

The insights of Darwinian evolution do not inevitably lead to the conclusion that the world is a random, meaningless place. This is Miller's argument, and the reason you might want to try to attend his talk, to hear him try to work out the apparent contradiction.

Miller will likely spend much of the talk revealing Intelligent Design as a vacuous mockery of science. Well, there you go: that's what it is. He says that people of faith who want to oppose atheism should oppose atheism itself, not evolution, which really doesn't say anything about the subject one way or the other.

On the other hand, he also criticizes biologists such as Richard Dawkins for assuming a humanistic interpretation of evolutionary theory.

Quoted from a recent talk, very much debated on the Internet (link HERE):
Some of those who take a materialist world view assert that science alone can lead us regarding the nature of existence, or that scientific knowledge is the only kind worth having, said Miller. In doing so, these skeptics ignore the limitations of science, just as the creationists ignore the limits of theology.

Miller is a practicing Catholic, and was the plaintiff's lead witness in the hearings in Dover, Pennsylvania, last year; he is author of a book called Finding Darwin's God, and a biology professor at Brown University.

The NIH talk will be broadcast live on the Internet, through THIS LINK, and if you miss it, it looks like you can catch it later online HERE. If you can get over there, the talk is Wednesday, September 27, from 3:00-4:00PM, in the Clinical Center of Jack Masur Auditorium, Bldg.10. Overflow -- which seems likely -- will be in the Lipsett Auditorium.


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