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Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul Paperback – May 26, 2009
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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 Â '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.
" 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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For example, some of the most convincing evidence is demonstrated by the genetic flaws of evolution. Although most mammals can synthesize Vitamin C, humans cannot and this is a clear disadvantage. Do we lack the gene for it? NO. We possess the GLO gene but it has been corrupted by mutations and no longer performs its task. Moreover, the gene is similarly corrupted in our closest relatives among the other primates! Intelligent design??
Similar evidence is given in that humans have only 23 pairs of chromosomes whereas other primates have 24. And evidence of the awkward fusion of two pairs is shown to be very obvious.
Echoing Daniel Dennett concerning Darwin and evolution, Miller wickedly comments “If I had to give a prize for the best idea that anyone in the antievolution movement has ever had, I’d award it to whomever came up with the term “intelligent design.”” He points out this term effectively masks what has historically been a religious appeal; moreover, it appeals to our hopes for purpose and meaning.
But Miller makes a real effort to understand and sympathize with opponents. “Evolution strikes at the heart of who and what we are… Does evolution mean that we are nothing more than beasts?” Unfortunately, “it’s simply not a scientific question.” p 135
So, could we simply give in and dispose of evolution? No. “evolution is … the glue that binds the biological sciences together.” p 195
Miller sees a connection of intelligent design with post-modern critiques of the sciences, although the former is associated politically with the right, and the latter with the left. As Alan Bloom did in The Closing of the American Mind, he interprets the relativism of postmodernism as a fundamental attack on science and “the power of reason to seek truth.” Not so far from the aims of “intelligent design.”
One quibble. IMHO the “quote” from St. Augustine on p 160-161is just too good to be true, too reminiscent of Darwin’s last sentence in The Origin of Species. Moreover, the reference to Only Six Numbers by Martin Rees ( p 103 in my edition NOT p 115 as cited) is a dead-end as Rees gives no reference. Couldn’t find it anywhere. If you find it, please comment.
It is important to note that Miller demonstrates through scientific experimentation and observation, how living organisms become more complex over time.
Miller, a Catholic who states Evolution is a fact, gives multiple proofs of evolution. In addition he totally destroys the arguments for Intelligent Design. Miller does this by showing that the common "mouse trap" and the flagellum of bacteria are not irreducibly complex as Michael Behe (an ID proponent) states.
Also included in "Only a Theory" are Millers arguments for the meaning and purpose of life in a world where evolution is true.
This book is the best book I have read concerning Evolution and Intelligent Design.
This book should be a staple for all High School science courses.
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