Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul by Kenneth Miller

Kenneth Miller, biologist, professor, and Christian has emerged as a sane voice in support of evolution and against creationism. While there are many books out there which offer evidence and arguments on behalf of evolution, few are written with by a vocal person of faith.

Miller begins the book discussing the oddity of scientists being involved in courtroom battles over the teach of evolution and creationism. The author has been called several times to testify on behalf of evolution's role in science, including the famous case in Dover, PA: Kitzmiller v. Dover. Miller offers a look at the history of the repackaged creationism known as "Intelligent Design" and opens the reader to the clear evidence that ID has nothing new to offer that creationism didn't already possess.

The middle parts of the book delve deeper into the biological arguments made on behalf of evolution, arguments against design, and includes looks at the human genome and a very interesting discussion of vitamin C deficiency in humans and our nearest relatives. The fused chromosome in the human genome is also considered, and the infamous Hox genes are introduced into the discussion as well.

In the chapter "The World That Knew We Were Coming", Miller avoids the vast majority of anthropic arguments in stating that he sees no problem accepting both faith and evolution. He contends that the two are not at odds and that he can maintain these otherwise dueling views of reality without the need to "reconcile". This chapter felt a bit odd given the rest of the book's refusal to deal with personal faith, but Miller handles the subject lightly and with a strong insistence that evolution is his main concern.

Finally, Miller tackles the "Closing the American Scientific Mind" and argues strongly that the strategies of closed-minded religious fanatics have adversely affected scientific learning in the US. He includes strong arguments against the creationism / ID "Wedge" strategy which sought to force a diversion in the teaching of science by injecting religious nonsense into scientific discussions, a strategy which has been mildly effective.

A solid book on the current events in the ID movement and a few strong choice arguments for evolution are in store for the reader of this somewhat short book. Miller is a good writer and brings a long history of experience to the reader in this unique narrative of science, policy, and misinformation. Four stars.

(posted on my blog: davenichols.net)

Tags: creationism, education, evolution, politics, science, society

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