On October 26, Brown University biology professor Dr. Kenneth Miller, the Catholic, evolutionist author of the compromising book Finding Darwin’s God, visited Cincinnati, Ohio, to support Sam Schloemer, a member of Ohio’s school board seeking re-election earlier this week. Miller presented a talk titled “Science, God & Intelligent Design: Why All of These Matter in the 2006 Ohio School Board Elections.” A representative from Answers in Genesis was there.
Most of the evening was no surprise; after all, one could get a good idea of what would be said by reading the description of Miller given by an ad for the event:
Professor Miller is a scientist and a believer, who sees religious faith and science as fully compatible—including Darwinian evolution. He has worked to improve the public understanding of evolution, answering challenges such as “intelligent design” and has debated a number of anti-evolutionists. Miller believes it is crucial for America to move past the false assertion that people have to somehow choose between accepting evolution and believing in God.
Appended to the paragraph was the line, “Science education in Ohio must be strengthened in order to move Ohio’s economy forward.” The advertisement also noted that Dr. Miller is the co-author of “High School Biology Textbooks Nationwide,” as well as emphasizing (through boldface and underlines) that Dr. Miller was an “[e]xpert witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover School District “Intelligent Design” Trial, 2005.”
Before Miller spoke, candidate Sam Schloemer briefly reviewed his position on the creation/evolution issue. He first asserted—wrongly—that Kitzmiller v. Dover “reaffirms” Edwards v. Aguillard, the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case that Schloemer misrepresented as having banned the teaching of creation in science classrooms. Schloemer alleged that “creationism” has many disguises, including intelligent design, “teach the controversy,” and “critical analysis of evolution” (that’s right-according to Schloemer, critically analyzing evolution is just the same as teaching creation!). Schloemer also portrayed the debate as being between a “pro-science” side and a “creationism” side, and argued that creationists were putting politics into education.
Schloemer then retreated toward a more moderate stance, explaining his view that creation is a “beautiful story” and that religion “gave God structure,” but that such teachings were for homes, private schools, and religious institutions. Finally, Schloemer labeled creationists as not respecting other faiths because “they” want to present one side of the issue (a misconception that we have refuted so many times we are beginning to wonder if these faulty assertions are deliberate), and claimed that creationists only single out evolution for critical analysis (only true because there is no other educational topic for which open discussion has been so strongly censored and restricted).
An Ohio State University biology professor said a few words, then introduced the guest of honor, Dr. Miller, who reviewed his background, then began his lecture on “Science, God, and Intelligent design.”
Miller first recounted a March 2002 debate, with Lawrence Krauss, against Jonathan Wells and Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute. He stated that although there was a “scientific veneer” to the debate itself, the event as a whole had a distinctly different tone: Miller displayed a slide of a picketer whose sign effectively said that evolutionists were going to hell. Miller added that the creation/evolution issue is crucial because it determines “how kids learn science.”
“It is Simply Not a Scientific Issue”
A student once asked Miller what proof creationists would accept for evolution. Miller responded that there was no proof of evolutionists that would sway creationists, and that he had once been given a book that proved this. Why is evolution under attack, according to Miller? “It’s not because it’s a shaky scientific theory. There’s a deeper reason.”
Answers in Genesis does attack the scientific holes in evolutionism, in addition to pointing out the consequences of rejecting God’s Word.
A familiar image appeared on the projector screen: an old photograph of Ken Ham, along with the cover of an old edition of The Lie: Evolution that featured a serpent and apple. Miller pointed out the overt religious imagery on the cover, and told the 100 or so in the audience that the “Answers in Genesis ministry,” rather than attacking the scientific aspects of evolution, depicts the theory as the “rock-solid” foundation of … (he trailed off, letting an old, black-and-white variant of this AiG image speak for him). Most in the audience scoffed or shook their heads disapprovingly. Of course, Answers in Genesis does attack the scientific holes in evolutionism, in addition to pointing out the consequences of rejecting God’s Word.
Miller also displayed an old, black-and-white version of AiG’s popular “castle diagram,” but merely laughed at the fact that no “Judaism flag” flies from the “creation” castle. “It is simply not a scientific issue,” Miller concluded.
Miller then discussed the Dover, Pennsylvania, “intelligent design” trial, arguing that it showed that intelligent design is simply creation in disguise because the judge—a religious judicial conservative—ruled that ID is religious instruction. Furthermore, Miller explained that all the plantiffs (who filed the lawsuit against the school system for its ID instruction) but one were religious, showing that religious people can still accept evolution, and that the “God versus science” mentality is wrong—something AiG agrees with! Miller's “two lessons from Dover” were that “ID dissolves as science,” and that “ID is shown to be religion.”
According to Miller, the arguments anti-evolutionists in the Dover trial used against the fossil record “backfired”—for example, questions about missing seal mammal intermediates. Miller responded that there are now 22 fossils that “quite brilliantly” demonstrate whale evolution. (Read our responses to alleged whale evolution sequences in “Walking Whales, Nested Hierarchies, and Chimeras: Do They Exist?,” “Fossil Evidence of Whale Evolution?” and our Mutations topic page.) Another “evidence” for evolution Miller gave is the alleged merger of two ape chromosomes during evolution to form human chromosome 2. But Miller didn't mention that chromosome 2 contains unique information not on ape chromosomes—and evolutionists have never shown how such information can originate by chance.
Miller also pointed that the intelligent design textbook used in Dover, Pennsylvania, schools, Of Pandas and People, was originally an overtly creationist book, Biology & Origins, retitled and with references to “creation” replaced with “intelligent design” and “intelligent Creator” replaced with “intelligent agency.” Miller also displayed overtly Christian quotes from some leading intelligent design advocates. Miller argued that this proves that intelligent design and creation are the same theory. But this is rejected by both creationists and intelligent design theorists. The fact that the intelligent design movement got its start using creationist arguments is clearly not evidence for the two being identical, nor is it particularly relevant that some intelligent design advocates are Christians. So are many evolutionists. You can read Answers in Genesis’views on the movement at The Intelligent Design Movement: Does the Identity of the Creator Really Matter?
Miller again argued that one can be “a person of faith” and an evolutionist at the same time, citing Francis Collins’ recent book, The Language of God. Miller argued that God wouldn’t “fool us” with evidence for evolution, yet apparently does not recognize the uniformitarian, unbiblical assumptions that must be made in order to interpret the so-called “evidence” within an evolutionary paradigm. For example, alleged whale transitional forms aren’t found with stickers stating, “I’m the evolutionary ancestor of a whale!” Rather, evolutionists see what they want to see in what are often very meager collections of unchanging bones.
A Lower View of God?
Miller also asserted that anti-evolutionsts have a lower view of God because we must believe bad design is God's fault. However, Miller’s statements revealed that he was entirely unfamiliar with our arguments that harmful mutations have accumulated since the Fall, causing what some would call “bad design.” Miller believes a “higher view” of God is to believe that God designed a mechanism—natural laws and evolution—that brought about life.
Miller believes a “higher view” of God is to believe that God designed a mechanism—natural laws and evolution—that brought about life.
Miller finished his lecture by defending his view against atheists, and arguing that it is okay to be religious and scientific. He asked “what kind of science you would get” by mixing science and faith, and showed pictures of Gregor Mendel, claiming you get “da[r]n good science—you get genetics” by mixing the two. Answers in Genesis agrees; however, Miller presented Mendel as a friend of evolution, when in fact, he wasn't.
Miller finished by quoting Charles Darwin, from a passage in On the Origin of Species: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” Miller then answered a few questions, some of which were relevant to Answers in Genesis.
Did God Create Life? “No Idea!”
When asked if God created life, Miller responded emphatically that he had “no idea” and merely believed God created a universe that made the evolution of life inevitable—yet clarified that this belief is not scientific, but a belief he holds because it is more “theologically satisfying” to believe we came straight from matter, because the Bible states that we came from dust. It is quite interesting that Miller would so blatantly accept an unscientific idea because it comports with the Bible, yet reject good science that confirms the entire biblical account!
Miller was asked if students should be encouraged to visit the Creation Museum to help them learn about propaganda. Surprisingly, Miller tangentially stated that he “very much admires [AiG] because they don’t make any bones about [being a ministry],” wrongly adding that AiG is a ministry that doesn't “do” science or research.
In response to another question, Miller stated that creationist theology is “disasterous” because it attributes bad designs to God, including parasites, viruses, etc.—again, Miller appears to not understand the disasterous physical consequences of the Fall, and thus believes the creationist must accept a “diabolical” God. In an interesting critique of long ages, Miller points out that if one accepts the geological column as representing millions of years, one must also believe that God repeatedly created bad designs, waited for an extinction, did some more creative work, messed up again, and so forth—like a young kid toying with a bicycle, as Miller put it. Miller claimed he believed more in intelligent design than creationists, because he believes God is such a good designer that He could design a mechanism for creating life, rather than directly creating it Himself. The fact that the Bible says differently does not seem to matter to Miller, and the god he describes has numerous problems.
Miller, without realizing it, gave a humorously revealing answer to one question. When asked why approximately half of the American public rejects evolution, Miller explained that an “equal percentage” believe summer is caused by the earth moving closer to the sun (in fact, seasons are caused by axial tilt). The audience laughed, understanding the implication that half of the public is ignorant, and that this is the creationist half. Of course, what Miller overlooked is that since about half of the population accepts evolution, Miller’s response could easily be turned on its head and used to poke fun at evolutionists! Miller’s flippant response doesn’t address the many qualified scientists who accept the Bible’s account of creation.
Ken Miller is certainly notable for his rejection of the staunch atheism of many evolutionists, but it is disappointing to see a man who understands evolutionary theory and claims to see it as God’s design, yet does not appear to know or understand the problematic theology that must follow a God who used evolution.