Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller is a leading opponent of intelligent design. In Only a Theory he explains why.
How would you quickly sum up the central flaw in intelligent design?
No evidence. Was that quick enough? When you look at the arguments that are raised for ID, no one says: hereís the fingerprint of the designer or here we can see design taking place. Rather, the argument is, we see a feature of a biological system that evolution couldnít have produced. Therefore something else must have made it. Now thatís equivalent to saying, letís suppose, you think the moon is made of granite and I think itís made of green cheese. And we get soil samples back from the moon, and you know what? Theyíre not made of granite. So I say, great, thatís evidence for the green cheese theory. Well, itís not. Itís an entirely negative argument.
How did you become involved in the debate over intelligent design?
In 1981, a group of students came to me and said, ďWeĒómeaning the Campus Crusade for Christóďhave invited a scientific creationist to campus. Why donít you debate him on evolution?Ē I put them off, but listened to an audio tape of a lecture to know where this guy was coming from. And the more I listened, the more upset I got, on two grounds. The first was the scientific misrepresentation and distortions. And the second was that these guys would dare to say, ďWe speak for religion.Ē When we finally had our debate, quite frankly, I whooped the guy. In his own in-house newsletter, he said that this guy Miller at Brown was the most effective evolutionist debater he had ever encountered.
Why do you say that intelligent design is a greater threat to science than creationism was?
First, intelligent design is less easily identified as religious in nature. And second, it promotes a kind of relativistic interpretation of science. Phillip Johnson, the father of intelligent design, has said science is simply a collection of stories told by the dominant hierarchy in order to reinforce its position and privileges. The reason thatís dangerous is it undermines the reason why most people choose to go into science, and it undermines the reason why ordinary people are interested in scienceóhonest curiosity about the natural world.
Is resolving this debate a matter of education?
There is no question that we donít do as good of a job as we should of scientific education in this country. But itís also partly the way members of the scientific community present themselves to the public. All too often they say, we donít want to get involved in squabbles in the political arena or the pop arena. And I think that is self-defeating, because science in a democracy like ours depends on popular support and popular understanding.
10 out of 10 scientists agree, Intelligent Design is not science or a scientific theory... and if you say it is science, you're not a scientist.
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