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Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul Paperback – May 26, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thoroughly enjoyable and informative, this new book by Miller (Finding Darwin's God), a Brown University biologist and leading proponent of evolution, dismantles the scientific basis of intelligent design piece by piece. He does this by taking seriously the claims of intelligent design (though with tongue often in cheek), such as irreducible complexity, and looking at the biological facts and the dubious conclusions ID concepts would lead to. He turns to the peer-reviewed scientific literature to demonstrate that the two biological phenomena ID proponents say could not have evolved—blood-clotting proteins and bacterial flagella—are now well-enough understood to fully rebut intelligent design. Looking at the underlying philosophical issues, Miller explains that ID's proponents want to replace modern science with  'theistic science'... that would use the Divine not as ultimate cause, but as scientific explanation. Miller effectively explores the devastating consequences such a change would have on both science and society. In a measured, well-reasoned book, Miller explains why evolution does not deny us our humanity or our unique place in the universe. Illus. Colbert Report appearance on June 16. (June 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

" Demolishes the assertions of advocates of Intelligent Design."
-The Baltimore Sun

" A grass-roots defense of good science education . . . a useful overview of a perilous political attack on the nature of science."
-P. Z. Myers, Nature

" Powerfully argued . . . Miller's perspective as a devout believer will allow his case to resonate with believers and non-believers alike."
-Francis Collins, Director, the Human Genome Project
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul" is all we have come to expect from noted Brown University cell biologist Kenneth R. Miller in the course of his many public debates against creationists; a sterling blend of ample wit and elegant prose coupled with his passionate sincerity in defending genuine science's methodology and data from those intellectual Vandals seeking to replace it with their delusional notion of pseudoscientific mendacious intellectual pornography known as Intelligent Design. Here, in this succinctly-worded, quite magnificent, book, Miller has rendered an elegantly stated, magisterial refutation not only of Intelligent Design's pathetic pretense of being genuine science, but of its ongoing - and regrettably still successful - effort to claim America's "scientific soul" as he has defined it, and thus, to pose a dire threat to American scientific and technological supremacy. Fanatical skeptics like Discovery Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers ("Fellows" and "Senior Fellows") Michael Behe, William Dembski, David Klinghoffer, Paul Nelson, and Jonathan Wells, among others, will scoff at Ken Miller's assertions, and accuse him of being "possessed" or "enslaved" by his "atheistic, liberal Darwinist" agenda. However, unlike them, Miller has consistently staked out views recognizing that science and religion must remain separated - despite his own devoutly held Roman Catholic religious convictions - and indeed, his cogent remarks are rather quite persuasive, and, happily, harbor the glimmerings of some hope despite their dire alarmist nature.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The market is crowded with books on the evolution/intelligent design "controversy," so much so that works in this area have become highly repetitious--read one, it seems, and one has read them all. This is a refreshing book in a couple of respects.

First, Miller's rhetorical approach is to err on the side of taking the claims of intelligent design more seriously than they really deserve. As a result, the book does not come across as polemical, and this gives rise to the hope that an ID creation-sympathetic reader might actually read it and learn something truly useful about the flaws of ID creationism rather than getting insulted and putting it aside in disgust. Miller initially presents the claims of design without rebuttal and acknowledges how powerful these claims--if true--are. Only after having given these claims an initially friendly treatment does he then return to them and explain just why they are unsupported by evidence.

Second, Miller argues fairly forcefully that acknowledging the facts of evolution does not compel one to reject religion, and he does so from the position of a person of faith--Miller being, himself, a Roman Catholic. He does not purport to be able to "prove" his religious faith in purely rational terms, but only to show that science does not exclude it. His arguments, being somewhat subjective in nature (e.g., the "fine-tuned universe" argument) are going to seem persuasive to some and not at all persuasive to others, but he does a splendid job of setting them out and putting the case well.

The main thesis comes toward the end, and is reflected in the subtitle, "Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul.
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Format: Hardcover
Last year I left evangelicalism in favor of agnosticism. A major reason for my departure was twenty-four years of negative experiences within the Church. However, another important impetus was an exposure to deeper levels of science and rationality through the works of Hitchens, Dawkins, Stenger, and others. I had become tired of living with the tension between various conflicting ideas that Christianity requires of a believer, and these authors suggested a more rational alternative. One area of tension in particular was the dissonance between evolution and intelligent design (ID). "Only A Theory" addresses this battle, and it's one of the best and most tactful books I've read on the subject. Indeed, it should act as the obsolescence notice that ID has needed for a long time.

"Only A Theory" focuses on the American battlefront concerning evolution and ID. The two foes recently went head-to-head in Pennsylvania, where both camps were put on trial as a result of the Dover Board of Education's desire to add ID instruction in public school. After hearing testimony from both sides (including the author and ID proponent Michael Behe) and examining the evidence, the court ruled that ID was another name for religious creationism, and it was thrown out of the academic setting. Mr. Miller was encouraged by science's courtroom triumph, but given the strength and righteous indignation of the ID movement, he fears for the future of evolution and the scientific method. The title of this book reflects that concern, since one of ID's biggest catchphrases is that evolution is "only a theory," and therefore other competing "theories" like ID deserve equal hearing.

The author has reason to be afraid.
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