Nov. 13, 2007

Evolution advocate to speak at SMU

Professor Kenneth R. Miller
Kenneth R. Miller was among those interviewed by PBS' NOVA for a show, "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," which aired on Tuesday. Miller talked about science and religion and the work of Sir Isaac Newton.
Read a Q&A with Miller or hear his presentation at SMU.

Kenneth R. Miller, author of several science textbooks and a professor of biology at Brown University, will speak at SMU on Thursday, Nov. 15, on the long-accepted definition of science as a tool for testing and understanding what can be observed in the physical world.

The lecture – "Time to Abandon Darwin? What the Collapse of "Intelligent Design" Means for Science & Faith in America" – will be at 5 p.m. in the Ballroom of Hughes-Trigg Student Center. There will be a reception at 4:30 p.m. in Hughes-Trigg.  The lecture is free and open to the public,

Miller,  who was a lead witness in the 2005 trial on evolution and "Intelligent Design" in Dover, Pa., opposes diffusing the role of science by including religious and supernatural beliefs advocated by the "Intelligent Design" movement. He will advocate that the evolutionary theory fully explains the wonders we see around us every day. He also will discuss the appeal of "Intelligent Design" to peoples' sense of unease about science and technology, and how science and religious faith are not on opposing sides.

A staunch defender of the theory of evolution, and an eloquent explainer of the scientific evidence that supports it, Miller has for 25 years debated creationists and "Intelligent Design" advocates and presented pro-evolution arguments in interviews with outlets such as National Public Radio and The New York Times, as well as essays in Discover, Technology Review and Cell.

"There are a lot of ways to define science but I think the best way is one that I have seen several states adopt for their K - 12 educational programs and that is that science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we see in the natural world," Miller told NOVA for "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," which aired on PBS on Tuesday, Nov. 13. "What science isn't very good at is answering the questions that also matter to us in a big way, which is the meaning and purpose of things."

"What intelligent design does is it pretends to be in the tradition of Newton," Miller told NOVA. "What intelligent design actually is, to be perfectly honest, is they are in the tradition of the Middle Ages, where they stop investigation by saying we cannot answer this mystery. It is the work of God the designer."

Miller served as the first witness in the Pennsylvania court case filed to prevent the Dover school board from requiring high school biology teachers to read a statement to their students that attacks evolution. Miller also served as a witness in a federal trial in Georgia, where a group of parents were appealing a school district’s decision to place stickers on a high school biology textbook, co-authored by Miller, which labeled evolution as “a theory rather than a fact.” In both cases, the school boards’ decisions were reversed.

Through state teacher’s associations and scientific societies, Miller delivers more than 20 major talks each year to public school science teachers across the country on the importance of, and challenges to, science education. Miller has received the Walter H. Annenberg Distinguished Professor of the Year Award given by Brown University, the President’s Citation Award given by the American Institute for Biological Sciences, and the Public Service Award given by the American Society for Cell Biology.

After graduating from Brown with a biology degree, Miller earned his doctorate at the University of Colorado and went on to teach at Harvard University. In 1980, he returned to Brown, where he teaches Bio 20, an introductory undergraduate biology course. The course – which includes readings from Walt Whitman and James Watson – is one of the most popular on campus.

Miller is also the author of three biology textbooks for high school and college students. Together, the textbooks have sold nearly 4 million copies and are used in every U.S. state. His popular book, Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution, addresses the scientific status of evolutionary theory and its relationship to religious views of nature.

Thursday's lecture is sponsored by SMU's departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Anthropology, Geological Sciences, and Physics; the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man; the dean of Dedman College, University Chaplain William M. Finnin Jr.; Women in Science and Engineering; the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students; the Chemistry Society; and the Society of Physics Students.

For more information, please contact Pia Vogel of SMU's Department of Biological Sciences at 214-768-1790 or


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