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Yin and Yang of Kenneth Miller
Professor Miller finds Darwin's God
By Amiel Rossow
Posted October 23, 2002
The narrative starts
black-and-white symbol preceding the title of this section is what in Chinese
philosophy is called T'ai-Chi T'u, which roughly translates as "Diagram
of the Supreme Ultimate" and represents a concept named "yin-yang." Here is how
it is defined by Fritjof Capra on page 27 in his immensely popular book Tao
of Science , "Chinese philosophy... has always emphasized the complementary
nature of the intuitive and the rational and has represented them by the
archetypal pair yin and yang..." On page 106 he elaborates, "In the
realm of thought, yin is the complete, female, intuitive mind, yang
the clear and rational male intellect." The symbol of yin-yang implies that these two sub-concepts
smoothly fit in with each other, their interplay entailing no contradiction but
rather an intimate mutual adjustment.
seems to me that the yin-yang concept aptly evinces the composition and
the main thrust of Professor Kenneth R. Miller's book  titled Finding
Darwin's God. (Miller himself does not use anywhere the terms yin
and yang; their use in this article is exclusively my choice).
R. Miller is a prominent cell biologist and teacher, the co-author of popular
textbooks on biology and of scientific articles devoted to intricate problems
of biological science. The book in question is though addressed to
a mass audience and represents a very valiant effort by a very intelligent,
knowledgeable and honest man to assert his heartfelt belief in what he himself
succinctly expressed in the subtitle of the book, A Scientist's Search For
Common Ground Between God And Evolution.
could be anticipated that Miller's position would invoke ire from both sides of
the religion – evolution controversy. While there are scores of scientists who successfully reconcile their
religious beliefs with the operational agnosticism  of their everyday
scientific work, most of them simply manage to separate their faith from their
scientific pragmatism viewing them as two unrelated realms. On the other hand,
many scientists who are either agnostics or atheists adhere to the position of
the late biologist and essayist Steven Jay Gould, according to which science
and religion are two "Non-overlapping Magisteria"  so they are not concerned
with the reconciliation between religious beliefs and scientific empiricism which
may be a problem for their religious colleagues.
position is not a tacit acceptance of the idea of the two nonoverlapping magisteria.
His thesis is that he is firm in his faith not despite his acceptance of
Darwinism, but, on the contrary, because, in his view, Darwin's theory supports
his faith rather than contradicting it.
this article my goal is to evaluate both the yang and yin parts
of Miller's book, the yang being his masterful defense of Darwinism and
the evolution theory and the yinhis assertion of his religious faith, and to see whether or not these
two parts do indeed so smoothly fit in with each other as the T'ai-chi T'a
is a common knowledge that both sides of the religion-evolution controversy
have their extreme fringes. On the atheistic end of the spectrum we see such outspoken
adversaries of religious faith as Richard Dawkins , Peter Atkins , and
Daniel Dennet . On the religious extreme we see such fervent haters of
Darwinism as Phillip Johnson  and Jonathan Wells .
Miller's position is both pro-religion and pro-evolution, we could expect that
his book would be disparaged from both sides of the controversy.
be sure, attacks followed. However, all
of them, often very vitriolic, came only from the camp of
anti-evolutionists. The pro-evolution
side, while meeting with approval the yang part of Miller's book (wherein
Miller eloquently and with great erudition argued in favor of the Darwinian
theory of evolution), mostly keeps silent about the yin part (wherein Miller
argued in favor of his religious faith).
creationist camp seems not to have been mollified to any extent by Miller's
defense of his religious faith. Their hatred of Darwinism is obviously more
important to them than solidarity with their fellow believers. In a book 
Phillip Johnson, in his usual lawyer's style  pounced on Miller's book in a
rude manner, wherein insults seem to be the prevalent substitute for logic and
knowledge about the subject.
are a few examples of Johnson's assaults on Miller. On page 130 of his book 
Johnson asserts that Miller's rendition of the position of creationists is a
"caricature." (By the way, Johnson is offended by the appellation
"creationist;" he likes to be called a "design theorist.") On page 131, Johnson
says that Miller "grotesquely distorts the design concept," that he "does not
recognize the problem of information creation." On page 133 Johnson tells the
readers that "Miller's incomprehension of the information problem is
particularly visible when he turns to embryonic development." It would be funny if it were not so
obnoxious to hear the accusations of a highly competent professional scientist
of "incomprehension" of this or that, coming from a lawyer whose own amateurish
understanding, for example, of information, is egregiously inadequate (see, for
example ). Moreover, Johnson is notorious for gross distortions of the
views of those scientist he does not like, often misquoting or brazenly quoting out of context (see, for
example ). However, I think Miller
should not be offended since he is in good company: Johnson's arrogance extends
even to accusing Einstein of lack of modesty and consistency (page 92 in ).
yin and yang parts in Miller's books are not strictly separated;
elements of both are encountered throughout Miller's narrative. However, the
first two-thirds or so of the book are overwhelmingly on the yang side
of the narrative while the rest is prevalently on the yin side.
delving into the detailed discussion of his thesis, Miller tells the story of
his education and his becoming strongly pro-evolution. He grew up in a family
of Catholic believers and from the early childhood was steeped in the
traditional Catholic worldview. There
is little doubt that the emotions experienced in early childhood leave
indelible marks in every person's mind and heart, and Miller hardly could be an
exception. However, possessing a nimble
mind and a keen sense of the importance of truth, he discovered the indisputable
logic of the evolution theory whose main tenets, although appearing to contradict
the teachings of Miller's Catholic instructors, seemed to be beyond a
delightful clarity and brevity, Miller delivers the basics of the evolution
theory in a few paragraphs, stressing the obvious factual foundation of that
basic concepts of Darwinism are exceptionally simple, given the immense scope
of its implications. Miller briefly explains the three principal elements of
Darwinian theory (pages 7-9): a) Domesticated plants and animals show a
tremendous range of variations; b) A similar range of variations exists in
nature among wild species; c) All
living things are engaged in a struggle for existence. "This struggle, combined
with variations, results in natural selection." A few lines further Miller continues, "Incredibly, that's all there was to it. In those principles you
have all of Darwin's theory."
the next several pages Miller tells about those writers who assert that
accepting Darwinism entails abandoning religious faith (the view shared by many
on both sides of the controversy). Now he defines the main goal of his book. He
writes (page 17), "Is it time to replace existing religions with a
scientifically responsible, attractively sentimental ethically driven Darwinism....?
Does evolution really nullify all world views that depend upon the spiritual? ...
My answer, in each and every case, is a resounding no... The reason, as I
hope to show, is because evolution is right. "
we see from the above quotations, Miller's goal is beyond the simple thesis
that one may accept the evolution theory and still keep religious faith – a
thesis which is considered by scores of scientists and laymen alike as non-controversial
– it is to provide arguments in favor of faith based on the veracity of
evolution theory! In this ambitious
endeavor Miller would probably find not too many co-travelers.
achieve his goal Miller's path had to be two-pronged. First he had to offer
arguments in favor of evolution and show the lack of substantiation in the
anti-evolution critiques (the yang of his narrative); second, he had to
offer arguments in favor of his religious faith (the yin
of his discourse). Moreover, he had to show that the yang and yin
in his conceptual system do indeed smoothly fit in with each other.
us review how well Miller did the job he embarked upon and see whether or not he
succeeded in all three components of his discourse.
offering the simple schema of Darwinism, with its three easily comprehensible and
evidently true elements, Miller proceeds to elaborate by providing a set of
arguments in favor of the theory of evolution. In clear prose, with aptly
chosen examples, he explains to his readers how science works. Demonstrating
wide erudition often extending far beyond biology, Miller argues against
creationists who insist that science is not capable of asserting anything about
the past, because the past cannot be reproduced in a lab and directly
observed. He compares scientific
inquiry to criminal detection and points out that circumstantial evidence is
often a highly reliable marker of the events which occurred in the past, for
the "...present always contains clues to the past." (page 23).
pages 23 through 56 Miller offers a fine argument in favor of the validity of
evolution theory, wherein adherence to evidence is combined with entertaining
manner of his narrative. Continuing, in
chapter 3 titled God The Charlatan Miller explains how science has
established the age of the earth (about 4.5 billion years) describing in a
transparent way the methods based on the radioactive decay of isotopes, and
decisively debunking the ridiculous assertions of the young earth
creationists based on alleged data related to the magnetic field of the
earth and other similarly unsubstantiated theses. In chapter 4 titled God
The Magician Miller clarifies the alleged contradiction between Darwinism
and the theory of "punctuated equilibrium" suggested by Steven Jay Gould and
Niles Eldredge .
theory in question has been widely exploited by the anti-Darwinian fighting
force as a tool allegedly devastating to Darwinism. Miller convincingly shows
that Gould-Eldredge's theory fits quite well in with Darwinism. While this
theory has been opposed by many biologists like Richard Dawkins, this has
occurred within the framework of normal, even if sometimes heated, scientific
dispute, and regardless of the outcome of the dispute it will not destroy the
theory of evolution, because if Gould-Eldredge's theory is true, it only will
add fine details to Darwinism; if it is untrue it will be abandoned in the
further development of science.
his defense of the evolution theory Miller had to face adversaries of Darwinism
and show that their attack has no justification in factual evidence. A large
part of Miller's counter-attack is directed against several anti-Darwinists, like
Henry Morris, David Berlinski, Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson.
Miller's critique of Morris and Berlinski, as well as his general critical
remarks regarding Johnson, are well substantiated and convincing, they do not
stand out as especially original since similar arguments against the mentioned
champions of anti-Darwinism have been forwarded by many other critics as
well. Miller's critiques of Behe and of
Johnson's specific assaults on Darwinian biology are a different story. Here
Miller often offers original arguments that stem from his ken as a professional
pages 92-115 Miller shows the egregious fallacy of Johnson's discourse, wherein
the statement of Johnson's incompetence is strongly supported by hard data from
paleontology (the fossils record).
impressing is Miller's revealing the fallacy of Behe's concepts from a purely
biological viewpoint. Although Behe is himself a professional biologist, a professor
of biochemistry, Miller's encounter with Behe looks much like a fight of a bear
with a puppy. Behe's notorious book 
Darwin's Black Box, where he introduced his concept of Irreducible
Complexity (IC) of biochemical systems, has been criticized in many
articles, books, and reviews from various viewpoints – generally biological ,
specifically biochemical , probabilistic and complexity-theoretical, 
and others . Miller's contribution
to that critique seems to be among the best substantiated and most convincing,
and distinct in that it comes from a person highly knowledgeable in the
intricacies of the biological details which are essential for the judgment on
the validity of Behe's discourse. (Miller also indicates that he consulted with
Russell Doolittle in regard to his discussion of the blood clotting cascade; Professor
Doolittle is the foremost expert in blood clotting which Behe chose as one of
examples of IC; hence, although himself a very knowledgeable cell biologist,
Miller, in his analysis of Behe's concept, used also the expertise of other specialists,
thus giving even more weight to his revelation of Behe's fallacies.)
are the main points of Miller's critique of Behe.
chapter 6 titled God The Mechanic, Miller demonstrates the lack of
substantiation in Behe's main thesis. Briefly, that thesis can be descried as
follows. A biological cell contains a very large number of what Behe calls protein
machines. This term denotes complex combinations of multiple protein
molecules working together and each performing a certain function vital for the
cell's existence as part of a living organism. This assertion is obviously
true, and Miller lists several such machines, "These include the pathway
of signaling proteins in the light-sensitive cells of our eyes, the intricate
cascade of proteins that cause blood to clot, the incredibly flexible
antibody-producing machinery of our immune system, and the vital chemical
pathways that are used to produce compounds essential for each living cell." Behe further asserts that many of these
protein machines are "irreducibly complex." This term in Behe's usage means
that the removal of even a single protein from a particular "machine" will
render it dysfunctional. The main point
of Behe's thesis is that irreducibly complex systems could not evolve via a
Darwinian process of descent with modification because natural selection, which
is an essential part of Darwin's theory, can only work on an existing system
performing some useful function. Since an irreducibly complex system "by
definition" has no functional precursors, it cannot be a product of natural
Behe's assertion could be shown to be wrong in at least two ways. First, if it
can be shown that the protein machines used as examples by Behe are not
irreducibly complex, i.e. that the removal of some of their parts does not
render them dysfunctional, this would work strongly against Behe's theory.
Second, if it can be shown that the protein machines, even if they seem to meet
Behe's definition of irreducible complexity, still could have evolved via a
Darwinian path, this would decisively debunk Behe's thesis.
of Behe's theory utilized both ways. Some of them cast doubt on the very existence
of irreducibly complex machines and offered evidence that the systems Behe
claimed to be irreducibly complex actually can work even if some of their
proteins are removed. This type of
argument points to evidence that protein machines more often than not possess redundant
complexity rather than irreducible complexity .
also uses this type of argument. For example, he writes (page 140), "As a cell
biologist, I was particularly amused by a biochemist's suggestion that the
complexity of the cilium is irreducible." He provides examples of various
"designs" of cilium, all of which successfully perform the same function despite
variations in the protein composition of the cilium, thus demonstrating the fallacy
of Behe's assertion.
also shows that all the listed protein machines, whether or not they meet
Behe's definition of irreducible complexity, could very well have evolved via a
Darwinian path entailing natural selection. One by one, Miller demonstrates how each of the allegedly irreducibly
complex system could have evolved from precursors via descent with
modification, led by natural selection. The sonar system of the bats, the human eye, the blood clotting cascade
and a number of other systems are analyzed and it is shown that they can be reasonably
attributed to a Darwinian evolutionary process.
some of Miller's arguments against
Behe's concept, although well articulated and convincing, are not much
different from arguments offered by other critics, there is in Miler's book at
least one notion which, to my knowledge, has not been suggested by any other of
Behe's detractors and which constitutes a devastating blow to Behe's conceptual
construct. It is found on pages 161-163.
fatal blow to Behe's thesis comes, ironically, from Behe himself," writes
Miller on page 161. A few lines further, Miller adds, "Behe makes the fatal
theoretical mistake of taking himself a little too seriously." These
statements, with all of their polemical sharpness, seem well justified by
Miller's subsequent analysis of one of Behe's ideas. Behe's idea is that all
the diversity of the biological world was potentially contained in the "first
cell" made by the mysterious "designer" (whom Behe avoids naming God) some four billion years ago.
This first cell, according to Behe, already held the designs of all the
irreducibly complex systems found in the present-days cells of living organisms,
but these systems were not yet "turned on."
convincingly shows the absurdity of Behe's hypothesis. He writes, "If we choose
to give Behe's theory serious consideration, if we treat it as a scientific
hypothesis, then we are obliged to ask what would happen to those preformed
genes during the billions of years to follow? As any student of biology will
tell you, because those genes are not expressed, natural selection would not be
able to weed out genetic mistakes. Mutations would accumulate in these genes at breathtaking rates,
rendering them hopelessly changed and inoperative hundreds of millions of years
before Behe says that they will be needed."
concludes the paragraph with a statement that leaves no route to the salvation
of Behe's "theory": "The result is an absolutely hopeless genetic fantasy of
'preformed' genes waiting for the organisms that might need them to appear
gradually – and the utter collapse of Behe's hoped-for biochemical challenge to
assault upon Behe's concept is informed, often elegant, well supported by many
examples and justifiably results in a categorical succinct assertion (page 150)
"...the notion of irreducible complexity is nonsense."
should be noted that the quoted statement does not mean that Miller denies the
very possibility that certain systems can indeed be irreducibly complex in that
all their parts are necessary for the system being functional. Miller's
rejection of the irreducible complexity concept actually relates to its
rendition by Behe who uses that concept to assert the alleged impossibility of the
evolution of protein machines via Darwinian mechanism.
quoted statement stands alone in Miller's book - he usually is restrained and
respectful of various views regardless of whether he shares them or not.
However, given Miller's strong and clearly articulated arguments against Behe's
theory, the above categorical statement seems to be fully justified.
Miller lays bare the futility of Behe's idea and shows that the latter is just
the worn-out and very old argument from design dressed in a biochemical
is no surprise that Miller's book became a target of ferocious attacks from the
creationist camp (as can be exemplified by Johnson's rude anti-Miller
diatribes ). These attacks show that
Miller succeeded in hitting the anti-evolution crowd very painfully, revealing
the abject futility of their position.
dealt with the anti-evolutionists and inflicted devastating blows on them in
the yang part of his book, Miller then proceeds to the yin part
wherein he sets a goal – to justify his religious faith as supposedly supported
by the data of science. Let us see how he succeeded in that endeavor.
yin part of Miller's book wherein his goal is to assert his religious
faith as supposedly supported by scientific data, differs drastically from the yang
part where he defends evolution and debunks its critics. The yin part is more of a theological
character and is long on repetitive arbitrary assertions but short on factual
or logical substantiation. We do not
see in the yin part any empirical data which would testify in favor of
Miller's Christian faith, nor any logical discourse wherein a certain clearly
stated premise is followed by a logical sequence of notions leading to a conclusion.
What we see, instead, is a display of
an intelligent and insightful mind desperately trying to prove to himself that
his religious faith has a rational foundation. I don't believe skeptics will be
swayed by Miller's pro-faith arguments. This is not because his arguments are doubtful or weak, but simply
because there are no arguments at all, just assertions not supported by
evidence but repeated time and time again with a boring persistence.
us look at some of the notions Miller discusses in order to prove his thesis
that science is "the best friend" of faith.
line of Miller's supposed proof of the validity of his faith is in appealing to
the modern physics, in particular to the quantum indeterminacy found by science
in nature. Although Miller's narrative in this part is mostly factually
correct, it exaggerates the consensus among physicists in regard to the
mentioned indeterminacy. In fact, the problem of indeterminacy in the quantum
world continues to be a subject of dispute among scientists. Many of them (for
example the late Richard Feynman ) are indeed of the opinion that events on
a subatomic scale are of a non-deterministic nature. In Feynman's words, nature itself "does not know" what the
outcome of an event will be (for example, through which slit an electron will pass
if encountering a partition with two slits in it). There is, though, a competing view (championed, for example, by
Bohm, and Bohm and Hiley ) according
to which nature does know the outcome of an event, in the sense that any
outcome is predetermined by the hidden parameters which are not known to
the observer. The verdict has not yet
been final on that matter. If Bohm's view will one day triumph, the foundation
of Miller's argument would collapse.
even if Feynman's view prevails, this in itself will not justify Miller's contention. Whether there are hidden parameters or the
subatomic events are indeed non-deterministic, both views may be interpreted if
desired as an argument in favor of the creation of the universe by God, but can
equally be interpreted in many other ways. The non-deterministic character of quantum world, if it is indeed such,
does not entail any theological consequences. It is equally compatible both with
faith and the lack thereof. Of course Miller is entitled to draw any
conclusions he is inclined to, but they have no evidentiary value for skeptics
unless he can offer factually and logically uncontroversial evidence in favor
of his position. There is none. Whether the universe we live in is a Newtonian
fully deterministic one or it is non-deterministic on the subatomic level,
neither option requires the hypothesis of a supernatural creator for which
there is no evidence that would satisfy the requirements of scientific rigor. Whatever
the data of science do (or will) show, science has no tools to answer the
question of the existence or non-existence of God or gods. Therefore we have to
follow Ockam's razor and avoid making arbitrary hypothesis as long as we wish
to stay within the framework of logic and factual evidence.
best Miller is able to assert by way of argument is that quantum indeterminacy
is compatible with his faith. I don't believe anybody would argue against such
an assertion. However, quantum indeterminacy, if it indeed is a fact, is
equally compatible with the lack of religious faith. Given Miller's evident great
intelligence and eloquence, the paucity of real arguments in the yin
part of his book seem to affirm the suspicion that real arguments in favor of
faith which would be on a par with arguments normally accepted as legitimate in
a scientific dispute, simply do not exist.
me discuss some of details of Miller's discourse in those parts of his book
where he tries to convince readers in the validity of his religious faith.
page 212 Miller writes, referring to anti-evolutionists, "Part of their problem
surely comes from the act of confusing 'random' with 'indeterminate.' In
ordinary speech, when we say that something is random, we generally mean that anything
can happen, with all outcomes having equal probabilities... Physical events,
generally speaking, are not at all random in this sense because all outcomes
are not equally probable... Events at the atomic level are indeterminate, but not
random – they follow understandable statistical pattern, and those pattern are
the ones we sometimes elevate to the status of physical laws."
I have no intention of defending the position of anti-evolutionists who often
indeed display miscomprehension of randomness, unfortunately Miller's own
treatment of randomness is on amateurish level. Of course, we may not demand
from a cell biologist cognizance of intricate concepts of mathematics, so
Miller's dilettantism in this particular instance can be readily forgiven,
especially in view of his overall good level of presentation of non-biological
matters. However, since his discourse
in regard to randomness is part of his overall effort to support his religious
beliefs with data of science, we cannot fail to notice the weakness of his
fact, whatever the meaning of randomness in "ordinary speech" may happen to be,
randomness is not an equivalent of equiprobability. There may be various
degrees of randomness, and it has to be defined independent of equiprobability
since the latter obviously cannot have various degrees. Outcomes may be either equally probable or
not equally probable, with no tertiary quid.
is rigorously treated in the algorithmic theory of information/complexity .
First, unless we deal with an infinitely large system, we never can be
confident that a system is indeed genuinely random. That is why the terms
"pseudo-random" or "quasi-random" are common, for example, in computer
science. According to algorithmic
theory, randomness is defined via the concept of complexity (often referred to
as Kolmogorov complexity). A detailed
discussion of Kolmogorov complexity and its relation to randomness is beyond
the scope of this article. I have mentioned this point as an illustration of
how Miller's discourse deteriorates as soon as he leaves his fight against
anti-evolutionists and turns to his unconvincing effort to show that his
religious faith is supported by science.
as Miller continues his discourse he tries to build a bridge from his
interpretation of randomness to the supposed "key feature of the mind of God"
(page 213). This key feature, in Miller's opinion, is "indeterminacy" which, as
Miller says, anti-evolutionists "misconstrue as randomness."
a skeptic's standpoint Miller's argument sounds arbitrary, since the
"indeterminacy" of the subatomic world (which is still a subject of disputes
among physicists) does not require a hypothesis of a supernatural creator of
the universe. Miller concedes that quantum physics does not prove the existence
of a Supreme Being (page 213). However, since the "indeterminacy" puts a limit
on what science can ever reveal about the real world, this, in his view, points
to a "Creator who fashioned it to allow us the freedom and independence
necessary to make our acceptance or rejection of His love a genuinely free
I realize that Miller's thesis exemplified by the above quotation may be
greeted with a heartfelt approval by millions of believers, to my mind of a
skeptic the attempt to use quantum physics as a theological argument sounds unsubstantiated.
While in his yang part Miller's arguments were all based on factual
evidence and transparent logic, in his yin part he resorts to obviously
arbitrary assumptions. If we apply Ockam's razor, there is no basis for
introducing the extraneous hypothesis of a supernatural Creator which has no
foundation in any scientific data. Miller and millions of other believers are
satisfied that the data of science can be viewed as compatible with their
faith, and that is, of course, a personal choice for each individual. Millions of people adhered to various
religions long before the advent of modern science, including quantum
physics. Miller's entire discussion of
indeterminacy does not seem to have any relevance to the question of God's
existence. Science has no tools to decide the question of God's existence, and
Miller's attempt to mobilize the scientific arguments to support his faith is
as fruitless as it is feeble. It
contrasts drastically with his brilliant effort in defending evolution and
disproving the creationists.
pages 217-218 we find Miller's excursion into theology. In my view Miller's
thesis at this point becomes quite obscure, as it is delivered in a way
atypically nebulous as compared with the overall eloquent and transparent
argumentation found in most of the chapters and paragraphs of his book. Here is
a quotation illustrating my remark. On page 218, concluding his theological
excursion, Miller writes, "In the traditional view of God's power held by all
Western religions, God's presence and His power are part of the continuing
truth of existence. What this means, in plain and simple terms, is that
ordinary processes, rooted in the genuine materialism of science, ought to be
sufficient to allow for God's work – yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
am not interested in analyzing the dubious thesis that "all Western religions"
share the same attitude to the God's presence and power. Miller seems to paint here with too wide a brush, but this is neither here
nor there. The entire assertion seems to be of little meaning. For example, what
is the meaning of the expression "continuing truth of existence?" In my view there is none. It looks like Miller, having set out on the job
of showing that the materialistic science supports his religious faith, found
himself at loss, and therefore resorted to an assertion which, although
seemingly sophisticated and evincing some hidden meaning, is actually empty of
"all Western religions," Miller is sometimes not quite accurate in referring to
their tenets (this, again, contrasts with his very accurate references to the
essence of evolution theory in his yang part). For example, on pages 223
through 226, Miller discusses the big
bang and asserts that the modern cosmological science supports the thesis of our
universe having a beginning: "...science has confirmed, in remarkable detail, the
distinctive beginning that theology has always required." This statement is imprecise from the
viewpoints of both theology and science.
Miller puts in one hat all "Western religions," obviously Judaism is one of the
religions falling under his classification. However Judaic theology, since its
earliest rabbinical authorities, asserted that our universe was preceded by earlier
universes. Nature, according to that concept, has either existed always or at
least for a much longer period of time than our universe, as a sequence of worlds
replacing each other. Here is, for example, a quotation from an early Talmudic
commentary on the Torah : "God created and destroyed worlds, none of which
he liked, until he found this one." Christian theology abandoned that concept of Judaic theology,
but Miller seems not to realize that there are serious distinctions even
between various Western religions, and hence provides no reason why his
particular version of faith should be preferred to other versions.
yet another excursion into theology, Miller asks (and tries to answer) the
question of the seeming incompatibility between the concept of God who has
created the world according to a plan and with a purpose and the indisputable
role of random factors both in the physical world and the human affairs. For
example, on page 233 we read, "If evolution really did take place, then God
must have rigged everything. Otherwise, how could He have been sure that
evolution would have produced us?" Strangely, Miller, so logical in the yang part of his discourse,
ignores here the obviously more parsimonious conclusion – there is no need to
assume the existence of God to explain the evolution. By assuming the existence of a supernatural creator, he puts
himself in a position where he has no reasonable answer to his question. His only answer, which has been heard many
times before and which does not really answer anything, is that (page 236) "God's
means are beyond our ability to fathom... "If I recall correctly, this thesis had
already been offered about two millennia before our time: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are
your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are My ways higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:8). This statement may be viewed as a great
poetry, but has no real evidentiary or explanatory significance.
with a strange inconsistency, a few paragraphs later Miller, again, admits that
his supposed explanation does not explain anything. On page 239 we read,
"...miraculous is beyond explanation, beyond our understanding...Miracles, by definition, do not have to make
scientific sense." If that is so, why
should we believe in miracles whose occurrence is supported only by ancient
legends without a verifiable proof? Miller the believer obviously applies to his beliefs the criteria
which are different from those he applies to the findings of science. When he writes about evolution, he strictly
adheres to well-substantiated evidence. When writing about his faith, he does
not offer any evidence, appealing instead to assumptions lacking parsimonious
Miller turns to cosmology, again his statements (pages 224-226) oversimplify
the matter. He interprets the evidence for the occurrence of the big bang as evidence
that our universe had a distinct beginning at some point in time about 12 to 15
billion years ago. On page 225 he
writes, "One of the most remarkable findings of cosmological science is that
the universe did have a beginning."
if we ignore a number of cosmologies which have been offered as alternatives to
the theory of an inflationary hot big bang (such as the cold big bang theory, the symmetric matter-antimatter theory, the
variable G theory, the tired light theory, the shrinking atoms theory, the
theory of eternally oscillating universe, and others), the prevalent theory of the
big bang does not necessarily imply a beginning of our universe at some point
of time. There are several interpretations of the big bang  which do not
require a distinct beginning for our universe. There are also hypotheses of the
possible existence of a preceding universe or many preceding universes. Of course these hypotheses, including those
assuming the existence of preceding universes, are not supported by direct
empirical evidence, but in that they are no worse than Miller's hypothesis of a
Creator. On the other hand, some of the hypotheses which deny the distinct
beginning of time , unlike the hypothesis of a supernatural creator, offer
scenarios which potentially may be tested in the subsequent development of
science and which have explanatory power absent in the hypothesis of a
supernatural creator. Miller provides no arguments in favor of his belief in a
supernatural creator which would reasonably compete with the hypotheses not
assuming such a creator. The latter, although speculative, at least suggest
certain arguments of theoretical nature which are absent in Miller's assumption
of a supernatural creator.
pages 227 through 232 Miller discusses the so-called anthropic coincidences.
His discussion of that matter is on such a level that it is hard to believe it
belongs to the same author who so brilliantly discussed evolution on the
preceding pages of the same book.
exists a large body of publications about the Anthropic Principle – a term
introduced by Brandon Carter in 1973 – which is based on the observation 
that the universe seems to be extremely well "fine-tuned" for the existence of
life. Miller writes (page 228), "... the
very fact that we are here to make a fuss means that the physical constants of
the universe were set up in a way that made our existence possible."
submit that the values of the physical constants, which seem to be precisely
what they must be to enable the existence of life, in no way substantiate Miller's
notion that these values were intentionally "set up." On the contrary, if life existed despite the
values of those constants being non-conducive to the existence of life, this
would logically support the hypothesis that a supernatural power was necessary
to create life against the natural odds. If, though, the physical constants happen to be so precisely
"fine-tuned" for the existence of life, there is nothing surprising that life
indeed does exist in such a hospitable universe, thus requiring no arbitrary
hypothesis of a supernatural source of life.
Miller asserts that unbelievers among scientists are in an "anthropic
trap." This is a wishful thinking.
There is no "anthropic trap" for a number of reasons, one of them being the
above simple logical conclusion which shows that the supernatural
interpretation of the "fine-tuning" is an example of a circular reasoning.
against the supernatural interpretation of the anthropic coincidences have been
advanced from various viewpoints [26, 27, 28, 29], but Miller limits his
discussion to a few selected arguments, such as those offered by Dennett  which
are by no means among the most telling ones. He leaves without discussion many
other, much stronger arguments [26, 27, 28, 29].
his discussion of anthropic coincidences, Miller actually admits that the very
existence of life presupposes the "fine-tuning" of our universe for life's
existence. He writes (page 232), "...we knew that we existed, and that alone should
have told us, from the beginning, that our universe was one that made life
possible. Therefore, we should not be even slightly surprised to learn that the
physical constants of gravity, electromagnetism, and the nuclear forces are
compatible with life." This seems to be a very reasonable statement. However
Miller continues, "Nevertheless, if we once thought we had been dealt nothing
more than a typical cosmic hand, a selection of cards with arbitrary choices,
determined at random in the dust and chaos of the big bang, then we have some
serious explaining to do."
second statement has no logical connection with the first one. If we "should
not be even slightly surprised" by anthropic coincidences, why do we need any
explanation? Explanation is needed when
we are surprised. If we are not, we need no explanation. This is a simple logic and Miller strangely
seems not to notice the inconsistency of his position on that point.
Miller proceeds beyond his discussion of anthropic coincidences, somewhere
around page 250 and further, his discourse deteriorates into lengthy and
repetitive ruminations regarding the interpretations of the book of Genesis,
and similar subjects. Time and time again we see here statements which clearly
contradict each other and merge into a nebulous din of little interest.
has noticed the discrepancies in the book of Genesis, like those between
Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 which provide incompatible stories about the order of
creation of plants, animals and humans. His explanation? The book of Genesis is
not about science, it is about spiritual matters. Those who see in the book of Genesis just plain words of ancient
writers who had no knowledge of the universe beyond the narrow experience
provided by their senses, in Miller's view are guilty of an "extreme literal
reading" (page 270). However, he offers no clarification how the supposed
hidden spiritual essence of the book of Genesis can be extracted from its
apparent contradictory narrative about the six days of creation. Without such clarification, all Miller's
mantras about reason supporting his faith remain just words with no evidentiary
is an example of an inconsistency in Miller's yin part: On page 272
Miller writes about the history of evolutionary development and concludes as
follows, "Surely this means that mankind's appearance on this planet was not
preordained, that we are here not as a product of an inevitable procession of
evolutionary success, but as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in
a history that might just as well have left us out. I agree."
this statement can be reconciled with the fundamental tenets of Christian
religion is beyond me (using Miller's own words on page 172 which he applied to
his bewilderment at Dembski's position). This is a question of simple logic which points to the incompatibility
between the statement that the existence of human intellect is a minor detail,
a happenstance in history, and the fundamental principle of Judeo-Christian and
Islamic faiths according to which humans are the product of a purposeful,
deliberate, planned action by God. Miller fails to explain how the two incompatible views can be
believe the above example suffices to show that a detailed discussion of
Miller's effort to substantiate his thesis of complete harmony between his
Catholic faith and his scientific views would be hopelessly fruitless.
is certainly entitled to his beliefs, whatever they may be. There is no reason to doubt his
sincerity. There is a good reason to
admire the larger, yang part of his book. There seems to be no reason to
take seriously the smaller, yin part.
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