Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Drivers of the Evolution Debate

Here is an article of a talk given by Ken Miller, "Brown University professor breaks down evolution debate". If you aren't familiar with Dr. Miller, I would be surprised. Not only has he been publishing books, maintains a very interesting website (Ken Miller's Evolution Page), and testified at the Dover trial, but he's been taking on ID proponents for years. One of the things Dr. Miller is known for is that he is a Christian and accepts a more theistic answer to the whole 'why we are here' question. He does not attribute specific actions to a deity when it comes to biology, but seems to have no trouble with God in the mix, so to speak.

Two particular statements in this talk stood out to me, one I know I have spoken about here in my blog on numerous occasions, the other I'm not sure how well I've talked on it. Dr. Miller describes two things that are used to drive people away from science and evolution. The first is the one I have talked on ad infinitum, "intentional distortion of the facts".

How many times have folks pointed out to others that they are mischaracterizing evolutionary theory. That the things they are saying simply aren't true. Everything from mis-stating the second law of thermodynamics, quoting out of context about a supposed dearth of transitional fossils, and over-emphasizing the role of randomness in Random Mutation. These things either show a lack of education on the part of the person who uttered them, or a deliberate distortion of the truth. When it comes from folks like William Dembski, Michael Behe, Casey Luskin, and others form the Discovery institute, I have to put it in the 'deliberate' column. These are not uneducated people, yet they say things specifically designed to distort other's understanding of evolution. When they come from people like Ann Coulter and Ken Ham, I do put it down as a very poor education and understanding of evolutionary theory -- although I think there is a lot of deliberate misleading there as well.

The second driver of this debate is one used over and over again by the Discovery Institute and others, simply put 'fear'.

"The "fear of evolution itself," or the argument that evolution takes away all significance for humans because they become just a product of chance, is the second weapon, he [Ken Miller] said."
This is an emotional argument that causes some religious people to campaign against evolution, and science, not because they think it is in error, but they think that supporting such an idea is against their religious beliefs. This is an incredible manipulation of people! Creating and maintaining this artificial dichotomy, taking advantage of someone religious beliefs in such a way should be criminal!

Looking at both of these two drivers, a deliberate campaign of mis-information and using the fear of something demonstrates to me that anyone listening to these arguments needs to get the facts! Don't be mislead and don't fear something you don't truly understand. If you want to disagree with Evolution, first learn what evolution is really about. It will also go a long way in combating any fear over science and how it impacts your belief. If people did this, i think we would see a drop in the number of so-called academic freedom legislation, a significant drop in donations to the Discovery Institute, and a nice drop in attendance at Ken Ham's Folly (The Creation Museum of Kentucky). I can't see anything wrong with any of that!

The article had one other quote from Dr. Miller, some very good words:
"A material science devoted to the study of nature need not be hostile to religious faith, nor must such faith be hostile to science,"

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