Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Finding Darwin’s God (Part 3)

The book discussion I have been attending here at Purdue finished last week. You can view my previous two posts over this here and here. We finished Kenneth Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God and had a final discussion over it. Here is a quick rundown. The beginning of the book Miller dedicates to discrediting various creationist arguments and gives a multitude of evidences and proofs for evolution. In fact, the entire first half of the book is dedicated to this. He then redirects his attention from attacks by religious believers, mainly creationists, to attacks originating from within the scientific community. He explains that scientists themselves are partly to blame for the reactions against science from the religious community. He again provides quite a long list of examples of well known scientists using evolution to try and exterminate religious belief.

I believe much of the problem lies with atheists in the scientific community who routinely enlist the material findings of evolutionary biology in support their own philosophical pronouncements.

He explains that these atheists are attempting to put forth at type of absolute materialism in place of religion. He continues this section by explaining that evolution does not necessitate disbelief in a creator God. He also gives examples of how the two are perfectly capable of living in harmony with each other. I also liked his explanations how how if evolution were truly false, and the creationists were correct, the resulting god would be a "charlatan" and a "magician".

One part that came up during our final discussion over the book is Miller’s use of quantum mechanics as a way to explain the method of which God could allow humans to be truly free of a predetermined existence. He only spends a brief amount of time on this subject but it comes off as a kind of God of the Gaps theory, albeit a much more supportable version. He uses the fact that science has shown that there is an absolute limit to our knowledge to support his point (Look up the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle if you are unfamiliar with this). His theory is in stark contrast to the general God of the Gaps theory which tries to use phenomena which science has yet to explain, but still may, to provide support. I think this is the weakest part of his book but it also happens to be the smallest, and in the end is not critical to his final argument.

Overall I thought it was a good book and worth reading. I would recommend it to both the religious and atheist alike.  Miller provides a good explanation of the current state of the Religion vs. Science controversy. And I think he, again, does a good job at explaining that the two fields are not inherently opposed to each other.

There is no religious reason, none at all, for drawing a line in the sand at the origin of life. The trend of science is to discover and to explain, and it would be foolish to pretend that religious faith must be predicated on the inability of science to cross such a line.

There will be another book discussion next semester. The actual book has yet to be decided upon as they are  taking suggestions. When one is decided I will post which book and what dates we will be meeting.

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