Friday, June 13, 2008

Only a Theory by Kenneth R. Miller

Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, by Kenneth R. Miller. 2008: New York, Penguin/Viking. hardcover. 244 pp. inc. index.

Kenneth R. Miller, a biology prof at Brown U., testified on behalf of evolution in a DeKalb County, Georgia courtroom. He also met with a certain Kansas school board regarding intelligent design and had some doings in Dover, Pennsylvania. Unlike the more controversial Richard Dawson, Miller is a monotheist.

The book is written in understandable English and includes a few scattered black and white illustrations. Miller covers the plagiarism inherent in Intelligent Design (I.D.), recounts the history behind the phrase "intelligent design," the distancing of most proponents of I.D. from the young earthers, and attacks the fallacious 'logic' behind the famous mousetrap argument. He also explains where the artifacts are for a particular enzyme whose lack forces humans (and closest primate relatives) to consume vitamin C rather than produce it naturally in the liver, where the artifacts are for the two clotting factors missing from those humans who have hemophilia A or B, and the evolutionary descent of horses.

Miller does not hesitate to plunge into the factors which have contributed to the in-fighting between Americans and I.D. vs. evolution in public school science classes. As an expert witness, his job was to build a case for evolution in the courtroom. Miller has penned a comprehensible book which answers many questions from a scientific standpoint. Particularly refreshing is his willingness to take on Intelligent Design as a serious theorem for the origins of life. Those who are proponents of I.D. probably will not come away converted. The average layperson who views evolution as the basis for all modern scientific understanding will come away better able to refute the claims of the most ardent in the I.D. camp.

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