ONLY A THEORY by Kenneth R. Miller

ONLY A THEORY

Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul

KIRKUS REVIEW

Balanced account of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate.

Cellular biologist Miller (Biology/Brown Univ.; Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, 1999) analyzes the theory and importance of intelligent design in a civil, open-minded manner. While clearly on the side of evolution, he decides “to take intelligent design seriously” and analyze it dispassionately. In doing so, he finds a variety of flaws but also fully understands its appeal. Moreover, he realizes that traditional science is often lacking in its attempt to explain the universe around us and within us. Miller begins by empathizing with those who simply cannot believe that the intricacies of life, let alone the universe, could be the effects of chance. He counters, however, that science is not based on random chance at all: “There is indeed a grand design to life, and it’s the very one first glimpsed more than a century ago by a fellow named Charles Darwin.” The epochal history of the universe, culminating on Earth with the amazing processes of evolution, provides us with proof that the original design had meaning. And that, Miller argues, is where the scientific community often stumbles, by not answering or even considering the question of whether life has meaning. It does, he replies, and belief in that meaning is indeed compatible with belief in evolution. The author warns that the thrust of intelligent design poses dangers for science as a whole. Having adopted the language of relativism—an ironic development in and of itself—intelligent-design proponents argue that science cannot possibly hold a monopoly on truth, an argument that has the potential to undo the American scientific framework. This may seem like a Chicken Little warning to those not steeped in the issue, but Miller is convinced.

One of the better books on this emotionally charged subject.

Pub Date: June 16th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-670-01883-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2008




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