Posted by: Ticktock | December 5, 2008

Darwin’s Soldier: Ken Miller in Cincinnati

I just came back from Ken Miller’s lecture in front of a packed audience at the Museum Center in Cincinnati.  Aside from being an excellent presenter, Ken Miller is good at laying the smack down against the Discovery Institute’s wedge strategy of “intelligent design” in the classroom.

You may not be familiar with Ken Miller (I certainly wasn’t), but he’s been a regular guest on The Colbert Report, he wrote several ubiquitous Biology text books, and he was the first to testify in Kitzmiller V. Dover, the court case against the teaching of “Intelligent Design”, as retold by Nova on PBS.  Seriously, click that last link if you haven’t seen that fantastic “Judgment Day” episode of Nova.  Dr. Miller is also a professor of cell biology at and biochemistry at Brown University, and he’s the author of Finding Darwin’s God and Only a Theory.

Ken Miller seems to be in the middle of this manufactured war between God and Science.  It was his text book that was stamped with a sticker in Cobb County Georgia (my wife’s alma mater) that warned the students that evolution was ” a theory, not a fact”.

It was also Miller’s text book that was being taught in Dover when the school board decided to send the principal into the classroom to read to the children an “intelligent design” statement, which was inspired by the Discovery Institute’s creationist propaganda “text book” Of Pandas and People.  Despite the intentions of the Discovery Institute to wedge a connection between atheism and Darwin, many of the teachers who protested the mandate to teach I.D. were christian.  There were also christians among the parents who sued the school board and christians among the scientists who testified, chiefly Ken Miller.

Ken reminded us about the primary GOP debate when Mike Huckabee raised his hand in response to the question “Who here does not believe in evolution.”  The next day, after the debate, Huckabee gave an interview where he objected to the idea of being descended from a primate.  Ken Miller to Mike Huckabee, “Sorry, bud, but you are a primate.”  Humans are primates, and the person to decide that classification was Carolus Linnaeus, a creationist and scientist.

Ohio also had it’s close encounters with “intelligent design”.  In 2002, Ohio came extremely close to making the mistake of passing a resolution to teach “intelligent design”.  Also, in 2006, the people of Ohio voted to oust a known evolution opponent, Deborah Fink, and put in science advocate Tom Sawyer to replace her.  Thank god because I would be embarassed to live in a state like Texas, which has lately become a hot bed of anti-evolution activity.  The state school board has six members who are affiliated with the discovery institute, and these bozos can decide what nonsense they want taught in Biology classes.  I hope they do, so that we can see evolution destroy “intelligent design” in the court room all over again.

One lesson that should have been learned from the Dover trial is that “intelligent design” proponents base their arguments on lies.  For instance, they testified that there are not enough transition fossils between fish and amphibian.  Except, there are multiple transition fossils, including one important one called Tiktaalik that was found in the exact strata and the exact location where scientists predicted it would be discovered.  That’s one of the beautiful things about evolution is that scientists can make a prediction based on lines of evidence, and the fossils prove that prediction true or false, in this case true.

Answers in Genesis is another creationist group that lies about the facts.  They are still lying to this day, as Ken so rightly pointed out in his lecture.  They claim that Darwinists are jumping to conclusions and interpreting whale fossils that have no backbone or pelvis.  Except they are wrong – we have almost complete transitional fossils of ambelocetus, the walking whale; in fact, there are 22 distinct species that mark the transition of whales from land mammals to water mammals.  Oops.  I guess the Discovery Institute will change that any day now.

Creationism is butter.  It’s bad for you, and it spreads easily.  Take a look at this graph that shows that America has the least amount of people who believe in evolution… just above Turkey.  We should be ashamed.

I encourage those of you who have time to check out this previous lecture by Ken Miller.  The video is in nine parts, but I bet it gives some of the better arguments that Ken made tonight in Cincinnati, packaged for an audience of children.  Good stuff.

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Responses

  1. Oh no … Ken Miller was in town and I missed this. Darn.

    Well said … and for those who don’t know, the Creation Museum is in the Cincinnati Metro area … thus the current snafu between the Zoo and the Creation Museum.

  2. Hey! Ain’t nuthin wrong with butter! Margarine, that’s what you’re thinking of. Don’t knock butter.

    😉

  3. Good summary of key points on the topic, but you fizzle at the end with the butter comment and the chart of countries around the world. Thankfully, truth isn’t decided be democracy, otherwise there would be lots more nonsense floating around. And the jury is out on butter, so I hedge my bets with a hybrid spread of butter mixed with vegetable oil.

  4. My bad endings are usually because the kids are waking up from their nap. The chart came straight from Ken’s speech, but the lame butter analogy is all mine. Sorry about that.

  5. This is a very interesting topic that I wish I had more time to dwelve into. I’m a Christian (I’ve been baptised and everything), but I gotta admit that the older I grow, the more uncertain I become of the faith. I think what makes me cringe the most is that you have to believe in God or you go to hell – even if you’re a good person and you’ve never done anything bad in your life. Now that’s just something I couldn’t get my head around and was probably the loose thread that started unravelling my faith.

    I know you’re talking here about the evidence for Evolution, but I’ve also been told (as part of the baptism classes I received before I got baptised) that there was a lot of fossil evidence proving the truth in the Bible. I’m afraid I can’t quote any of it because I took it all at face value – gasp! (I was a workaholic back then and didn’t spend much time doing anything else so I don’t even know how I managed to find time to attend class).

    Perhaps when my son’s older and I have more time to myself, I’m going to have to really look into Ken Miller’s evidence… I should probably look up my old baptism class teacher and ask him again to show me his evidence, too.

  6. Shen-Li,
    Although some would disagree, keep in mind that the evolution-creation debate from a religious standpoint does not involve chosing between them. Roman Catholics, most Lutherans, United Methodists, United Church of Christ, Presbyterians, and other dominations don’t have issues with evolution. However, some very conservative denominations say and promote that members must make a choice.

  7. I think that any stamps on books should say “evolution is a theory, not a fact, but intelligent design is a hypothesis, not a theory”. Also, let’s be fair and update all other textbooks to say “gravity is a theory” and “the structure of atoms is a theory”, etc. All I ask for is fairness and consistency.


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