Autodidact: self-taught


Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth Miller

by V. L. Craven

Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth R. Miller does an excellent job of showing the people with a fish on their cars that they can have their god and science, too. That’s the first half of the book–-pointing out the flaws in the various Creationist arguments. The second half is supposed to be aimed at nonbelievers, I think, but his arguments then fall apart. He does make some excellent points about the main problems in the arguments from atheists, though, which made me examine the reasons for my own beliefs more closely.

One of his points that I found most interesting was that science and religion answer different questions–science offers explanations of how we’re here and religion handles the why. I hadn’t thought about it in that way, but it’s a fair point. (Unfortunately, some religious people would say they were put here to make nonreligious people crazy–as well as the people who don’t follow their own religion.) And I still think any person with half a brain should be able to figure out that life is less stressful if you’re not an asshole. Miller argues that if it were possible to argue the majority of people out of their religion then pandemonium would reign. Now, I want to give people credit for not being stupid but… yeah, he’s probably right. Some people will always need a supernatural boogieman to keep them in line.

My big problem with Creationists was that I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just say, ‘God created evolution. Isn’t he clever?’ Which is Miller’s premise. He then goes to explain how that could be possible and how the god that did that would be much more interesting than a god who did everything in one day (or seven). One of my favourite bits was when he said that once a woman told him she didn’t believe in evolution because it would have taken too long and Miller thought, “Because god, with all of eternity, was in a rush.”

My other favourite part was when he referenced St Augustine (a 4th theologian) who begged Christians not to stand up in public and make fools of themselves about science because that only made all Christians look stupid. I’m thinking of quoting that bit to the next Bible-thumper who says the Earth is flat or what-have-you.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with Mr Miller after reading his book and I thanked him for at least giving us a way to get along. As much as I admire Richard Dawkins, I don’t think that doing away with religion would do away with all the horrible things on the planet–even without a god on their side jackholes would still be jackholes. There would still be wars over land and money and all those fun things, the only difference would be that the war-makers would have one less thing to use against their enemies. But you can turn a group of strangers into arch-nemeses without invoking their mythologies by simply pointing out all the other ways they’re different from you and yours. Yes, it’d be nice for everyone to be completely rational–I’d like to be more rational about some things–but I’d settle for people just not being jerks. Miller makes a step toward that on at least this one issue.

[This post is from a previous blog. Orig. date: March 13, 2008]

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