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Miller Finds Faith in Evolution

"Everything in science should be approached with an open mind," said Dr. Ken Miller during his convocation address. Miller, a Catholic and evolutionist, spoke to Berea students about evolution, intelligent design, and ways in which science and faith can be reconciled.

Ken Miller speaks to the Berea College convocation audience.

Miller is a professor at Brown University in the department of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry. He has written a book called "Finding Darwin's God" about his search for common ground between God and evolution, and has also co-written several biology textbooks used widely in public schools.

"A lot of you may know me and you may not like me," Miller joked. "I have to apologize to all of you for heavy backpacks."

In his presentation "God, Darwin and Design: Thoughts about America's Continuing Problem with Evolution," Miller used scientific facts, extensive knowledge and a quick wit to seize the audience's attention.

He began his talk with examples of the opposition to the theory of evolution. Miller explained that while many arguments against evolution call it "just a theory," they do not take the scientific definition of a theory into account.

"What theories do in science is they explain collections of facts," said Miller. Saying that evolution is a "theory" doesn't mean it's not fact, he added.

Miller's interest in evolution has led him to serve as a witness in court trials concerning the teaching of intelligent design; in one such court case, Miller was called as a lead expert witness in Tammy Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District. He shared some of his views of the court case with the convocation audience, and demonstrated what he deemed the "complete collapse of intelligent design as a theory."

Miller also discussed the background of the intelligent design movement, and voiced his own concerns about the possibility of intelligent design being taught in schools. "Science that includes the supernatural is no longer science," said Miller. He added, "For all I know, it may be true but if it's not testable, it's not science."

To segue from the topic of intelligent design to his views on reconciling evolution and faith, Miller mentioned his own religious beliefs, and played a clip from his appearance on "The Colbert Report," a popular mock-news television show that airs on Comedy Central.

The clip showed Miller's response to Stephen Colbert's challenge to "Explain evolution from the primordial soup to how I got here today in my limo," in thirty seconds. Miller noted that his appearance on "The Colbert Report" gave him more credibility with his students than all his years of education.

In his talk, Miller emphasized his belief that one can believe in God and still follow evolution and science. He cited Gregor Mendel as one such example; Mendel was an abbot who lived in the 1800s and is known as the founder of modern genetics. Miller also quoted two conservative Christian writers for the Washington Post, George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer, who both believe in evolution.

Miller ended his presentation with a quotation that he felt explained his view of evolution, taken from the ending of Charles Darwin's book "Origin of Species."

"There is grandeur in this view of life," wrote Darwin, "With its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Miller's presentation was featured as the 2007 Berea College Science Lecture. For more information about Miller, visit the links below.

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