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Allies for Evolution, not Everything

Update: Jack Krebs has now posted a longer summary of the talk and links to audio files. I haven’t listened to the audio yet, but I don’t see anything in the summary that would alter my view on this. I’m glad Jack and Kansas Citizens for Science made sure to get good audio of this. (2nd update: I somehow left out the link to Jack’s post, and have now added it.)

I’m regularly annoyed by angry recriminations that occur when someone discovers that the various people in favor of sound science education and specifically on the teaching of evolution don’t actually agree on all aspects of life, the universe and everything. Currently there is a flap about remarks by Kenneth Miller. Since I don’t have a transcript of those remarks I’m not going to try to critique those remarks. PZ Myers, however, has a rather angry post on Pharyngula calling Ken Miller a creationist because he suggested that creationists’ attacks were misdirected, and should be directed instead at folks like Dawkins.

Myers says:

Thanks, Dr Ken! I know what side you’re on, now

7 comments to Allies for Evolution, not Everything

  • I agree with what you said here in this post. I don’t think anyone should have to “tone down” their emotions or passion about a subject, no matter what “side” they happen to be on…

  • Jack Krebs

    Hi Henry – excellent post, saying some things that really need to be said as part of this discussion.

  • Bob Hagen

    I had the opportunity to hear Ken Miller at both his evening talk and the follow-up Q & A session in Kansas. Based on your comments, I think you and Miller share something that is essential: a willingness to engage in dialogue on these issues. In much the same way that scientific ideas can be broadened and enriched by challenges, ideas of faith also can be strengthened by challenge. I was equally impressed by Miller’s willingness to consider different ways to interpret elements of Christian faith in relation to scientific understanding. (For example, if a key part in the evolution of mammals can be attributed to a global catastrophe 65 million years ago, was that apparently “random” event an essential part in the expression of God’s plan, or could that plan have been realized equally if the Earth were populated by big-brained reptiles instead of big-brained primates?)
    I’ve been surprised by the vehemence of some atheist responses to Miller’s theistic interpretation of science (in Pharyngula and from a colleague and friend here in Kansas). I think some of these atheists/realists ignore the enormous jump required to extend a materialist view from the realm where we know it works to encompass everything. To deny the possibility of supernatural miracles requires faith in the continuity of natural processes at all times and everywhere. The fact that we have not (so far) found anything in the natural world to contradict a materialist world view is no guarantee that it is universally true. Scientific discoveries in the past few centuries have revealed the enormous scales of time and space of our universe. Much has been made of the challenge this poses for theism, but atheism also must acknowledge how little of the universe we can ever directly comprehend. I believe humility is essential to any faith.

  • rubble

    Hello Henry, great post.

    Miller has opened — or re-opened — a can of worms. OTOH these worms really needed to be aired out here, in plain sight of everybody. While one’s religious view, or lack thereof, should matter not a whit to one’s science, it certainly matters a whole bunch in daily life, culture, and politics.

    In many respects, this debate between “evolutionists” is very amusing. I’ve been aware of divisions between Creationists for time — another source of amusement for me. I tend to see the current division in the same way. Miller has essentially placed the spotlight on something I’ve known for some time, but basically ignored. So I laughed today, as the non-Christian theist with his Christian girlfriend, over this.

    Perhaps more seriously, the way out is through. Rather than bury the religious implications, let’s discuss them. Let’s have that adventure, where the end result remains unknown until we actually get there — kind of like science, in a remote way. Ideally, everybody will learn more; practically, only those interested in learning more about this will actually do so. Finding out who learns and who doesn’t learn in this discussion may prove very valuable, perhaps especially between evolutionists and Creationists.

  • Bob Hagen said:

    Based on your comments, I think you and Miller share something that is essential: a willingness to engage in dialogue on these issues. In much the same way that scientific ideas can be broadened and enriched by challenges, ideas of faith also can be strengthened by challenge. I was equally impressed by Miller

  • rubble said:

    Miller has opened

  • […] I really appreciate the post Uniting Against the Common Enemy. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t expect others to back off about their positions on various issues. But we also don’t need to have those additional disagreements prevent us from cooperating on issues about which we do agree. […]