Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Finding Darwin's God II

Miller, Ken. Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution.New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. ISBN: 978-0061233500.

Part I

In Chapter 2, after stating that his stance as a believer in the scientific field places him outside of the norm, Miller sets out to discuss what science can investigate and how is can be investigated. He is responding to the following critique:
There is a school of thought that rejects the very idea that any theory about the past can be scientific.  Science, the argument goes, is based on experiment and direct, testable observation... Since there were no human witnesses to the earth's past, the argument goes, all statements about that past, including evolution, are pure speculation (emphasis original, p. 22). 
Miller answers this critique giving several examples of how science can investigate events that the scientist did not directly witness.  The first is that of forensic science.  The police do not have to witness a crime to scientifically investigate a crime scene and find scientific evidence that can lead to an arrest and conviction.  The second is the investigation of the sun.  No human has ever been to the sun and directly observed it in a laboratory.  Yet, one can investigate the effects of the sun and make scientific conclusions, such as the elemental makeup of the sun. His third example is somewhat whimsical, but deals with pop-top beer cans produced between 1962-1975.  These pop-tops can be found in trash deposits.  They are evidence left over from the past.  This leads to Miller's last example, which is that the past has left literally mountains of evidence buried in the earth.  It is this evidence that science can investigate and led scientists in the 19th century to conclusions that ended with Darwin's theory of evolution.

Miller wraps up chapter two by discussing the creative power of evolution.  He points out clear examples of evolution in the modern world such as the evolution of bacteria to become resistant to certain antibiotics.  He notes that scientists can actually witness this evolution in process because of the high reproduction rates of bacteria.  He also notes that scientists are beginning to use evolution in their research to create organisms with certain characteristics.  Evolution and natural selection, Miller contends, is a fantastic and creative tool that can bring phenomenal change in living organisms.

Miller concludes his chapter with the following quote:
It is high time that we grew up and left the Garden.  We are indeed Eden's children, yet it is time to place Genesis alongside the geocentric myth in the basket of stories that once, in a world of intellectual naivete, made helpful sense.  As we walk through the gates, aware of the dazzling richness of the genuine biological world, there might even be a smile on the Creator's face--that at long last His creatures have learned enough to understand His world as it truly is (p. 56). 

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