Why I agree with Behe over Miller
Today I am going to commit an act of ultimate heresy. I fully expect to be burnt at the stake by the evil Darwinian Inquisition for stepping out of line – but for the sake of the truth, this is the way it has to be. I am going to support Michael Behe, famed IDist and Dover bungler over Kenneth Miller, theistic evolutionist and star of the Dover trial.
First, let me point out that Miller is fully free to believe that his god set evolution in motion and that evolution somehow leads one closer to god. I am also free to argue that his position is inconsistent as best and completely muddled at worst. Often, theistic evolutionists claim that evolution is compatible with religion without realizing that their view crumbles once you get into the finer details of it. As for those who have successfully compartmentalized science and religions belief so that they do not conflict, I have the utmost pity at the amount of wrangling they would have to have done to arrive at their position..
The scientific theory of evolution itself (like the theory of gravitation) does not posit that there is no god. However, my view is that the fact of evolution cannot be reconciled with traditional theistic beliefs unless some serious compartmentalization or redefinition of terms are brought into the picture.
Back to the Behe vs Miller debate: At Behe’s Amazon blog, where comments are obviously disabled, he (again) admits that the Designer is the Christian god. Old news, folks. However, the point that I agree with is this:
Ironically, Miller is an intelligent design proponent when it comes to cosmology, but is contemptuous of people who see design extending further into nature than he does.
Behe is actually right on target for this one. If you have read Finding Darwin’s God, I am sure you would have noticed that Miller is inconsistent in his rejection of the argument from design. In the first part of the book, he offers a brilliant smack-down of the usual ID arguments, but in the second half of the book, he weirdly turns around and claims that the universe was fine-tuned to allow evolution and this restated design argument somehow points to the existence of a god. He first claims that we should not look for god in the ‘gaps’ of our understanding of evolution, but somehow claims to see god in the ‘gaps’ in our understanding of cosmology. This was the first contradiction I noticed when I read his book, and I am surprised that not many theistic evolutionists seemed to have called him out on it.
In Chapter 6 of Finding Darwin’s God, Miller goes as far as to argue that since we do not know exactly how certain aspects of human nature such as language and consciousness evolved, this somehow points to the existence of a god, or at the very least, a way of disproving atheism. The leap from Chapter 5 where he dismantles Behe’s ramblings about irreducible complexity to Chapter 6 where is restates the god-of-the-gaps argument in scientific sounding language was a jarring shock when I read the book. This goes to show that religion can, and often does warp rational and scientific thinking no matter how hard someone tries to compartmentalize them.
In Chapter 8, he goes on and on about how the universe seems fine-tuned for life, and how the chances of certain physical constants ending up the way there are is slim enough to be near impossible, and that since we can be certain that the current explanations are the correct one, we might as well take the other side of the coin and believe that God did it.
Here is a direct quote from page 232:
The traditional alternative, of course, is God. Even as we use experimental science and mathematical logic to reveal the laws and structure of the universe, a series of important questions will always remain, including the source of those laws and the reason for there being a universe in the first place.
Why on earth does Miller think that science would not be able to give an answer to those questions? By closing off these avenues of scientific inquiry and claiming that they have to be in the realm of religion, Miller is doing what every ID creationist does: Claiming that since science does not have a definite answer for X right away, X will never be solved by science, and therefore X shows us that god the designer exists. Behe has hit the nail on the head – when it comes to cosmology, Miller’s view is indistinguishable from the views of the IDists.
Nonetheless, if we once thought we had been dealt nothing more than a typical cosmic hand, a selection of cards with arbitrary values, determined at random in the dust and chaos of the big bang, then we have some serious explaining to do.
Well, that is exactly what science is supposed to be doing and is doing – explaining the natural world. What Miller spent this chapter doing is telling us about how impossible the odds of the universe existing with the current set of physical constants is, science does not have an answer to this yet, and for some reason never will, and so there is a god. Doesn’t this sound exactly like what Behe and Dembski claim about the bacterial flagellum?
On page 251, Miller continues to sound exactly like an IDist:
Once He had fixed the physical nature of the universe, once He had ensured that the constants of nature would create a chemistry and physics that allowed for life, God would then have gone about the process of producing creatures….
A god tinkering with the physical constants, intelligently designing the universe to sustain life, creating the whole universe with humans, on this tiny insignificant planet on the grand scheme of things to worship him….something does not sound right here. Why do I feel like I am reading one of Dembski’s god-saturated ID books all of a sudden? Behe has been shown to be right once again – Miller is an ID creationist (at least by the look of what he has written in his own book) when it comes to fields apart from his own. When it involves evolutionary biology, he soundly and rightfully criticizes the ID proponents and exposes their nonsensical arguments for what they are. However, Miller is a typical ID creationist when it comes to cosmology.
Although I would readily admit that Miller has contributed a lot in helping some Christians embrace evolution, these glaring inconsistencies have to be addressed, especially when they are so blatantly clear to those on the ID proponent side of the fence and even more so when the theistic evolutionist side seems to be strangely silent.