The Personal and Political Ramblings of one guy in Texas.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Review: Finding Darwin's God 

Finding Darwin's God
Kenneth Miller

It was funny to me to be thinking of how to write this review and then stumbling across none other than National Review Online's resident troglodyte, John Derbyshire, delivering the smackdown on Intelligent Design. Somehow he seemed the last person I had thought would be doing such a thing (though in retrospect it is less surprising).

Intelligent Design (or ID) is the one of the more recent attempt by some folks to disprove evolution. And Miller, a Professor of Biology at Brown and author of several biology textbooks, has no more good to say about it than Derbyshire. Miller also has a perspective one doesn't always get from defenses of evolution, and that is due to the fact he is a believer himself.

Miller opens with a brief description of evolution, pursues the three main tracks people have taken in order to disprove Darwin's little idea, tries to explain why evolution seems so contentious (as opposed to particle physics) before giving us his own take on where God fits into the equation.

These three main tracks are : God as charlatan (the Earth really is only 10,000 years old, despite all evidence to the contrary. It all a big fake out), God as magician (Earth is old, but evolution isn't real, because God has personally intervened to cause the changes we see in the fossil record, creating new animals Himself), and God as a mechanic (God created the initial cells, stuffed plans for all life to come in them, wound them up and let them go). Miller demonstrates with wit and language any reasonably educated person can understand just what is wrong with all of these ideas.

From there he examines why he believes evolution is such a flash point. The short version is two-lobed: Many believers have nailed their colors to the mast here, and don't want the special nature of humanity to be watered down by anything. The other is that atheists and anti-religion people have made use of evolution as a weapon in their arsenal. Miller thinks that anti-evolution people have given them that weapon.

Miller then examines the "conflict" between science and religion, and demonstrates why to him at least there isn't a need for conflict, though its apparent why. Religion used to have a hand in the "how" of the universe, not just the "why", and science has been a lot more consistent in its ability to come up with useful answers to "how". This has made some folks who should know better nervous. That this nervousness is misplaced is Miller's contention. He describes how St. Augustine, writing in the 4th century, himself argued that Genesis could not be read literally.

He takes to task those believers whom he feels try to put God in a box, and limits on what or how God might do something. He also reminds people that science itself, via the Uncertainty Principle, admits that it cannot know everything. And I must say that any author who finds a place for the doctrine of Free Will in the weeds of Quantum Theory deserves a very careful reading.

This book has been out for a while (1999) so obtaining a paperback copy should be easy enough. I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Apologies and Coming Attractions 

It's been a looooong time since my last update, and to the 5-6 of you who care, I apologize for that. I've been having enough trouble keeping up the other blog, much less to put in the work I originally envisioned for this one. But I though I'd give you a heads up on some coming attractions.

I have several book reviews lined up for the coming weeks. I've started typing one. The first is Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth Miller, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea by Cahill, and To Rule the Waves by Arthur Herman. We'll see what come up after that, I've got several other books to read in the coming days and weeks.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by