Monday, November 09, 2009
Hearing Ken Miller's Balance
Ken Miller spoke at UAB last week, and I had the privilege of attending his lecture. I was impressed by two things he did. When it came scientific questions and issues, he stuck tenaciously to the evidence. He did this with clarity and expertise in his talk and in the Q&A time afterwards. When it came to questions and issues outside of science, he responded with grace and openness. The combination of the two approaches was powerful to watch.
With regard to evolution, he stuck to the science, and he didn't blink in the face of tough questions during the follow-up period. Some might think that he was attacking creationism and intelligent design, but I didn't. I heard him clearly delineating scientific approaches from non-scientific ones. He kept coming back to scientific evidence and scientific processes, and he kept exposing the inherently religious nature of creationism and ID.
When the issues touched on anything other than science, however, he was gracious and non-dogmatic. He defended religion throughout the Q&A time as something valuable and enriching to humans. He spoke easily and quickly of his own faith (Catholicism) without proselytizing. He pointed out the non-scientific statements that those like Richard Dawkins have made as they've used evolution to attack religion, but he refused to attack Dawkins himself and instead spoke kindly of him.
If you're not familiar with Dr. Miller's work, take a look at his evolution webpage. For me, I'm off to order a couple of his books to see what else I can learn from a man who is unapologetic about the evidence, but gracious in all else. (Also, I'm pretty challenged by his deep knowledge of the evidence for evolution. I still have much so much to learn about the evidence for evolution, but I'm getting more and more comfortable with viewing myself as someone learning about evolution. More on that soon.)