Recap of Ken Miller Talk
UPDATE: Since PZ Myers linked to this post, some people are coming over here to read my review. However, in his post, he includes another review that he received in e-mail, but that review did not come from me. Just wanted to clear that up.
UPDATE #2: Here's another account of the event.
Last night Ken Miller spoke at St. Catherine University. I've seen video of Miller speaking so I wanted to make sure I was up close for this talk:
From what I could tell when I looked behind me during the Q&A session, the event was well-attended.
The crux of Miller's talk is that evolution is as true of a theory in science as any other theory that we have in science. The pieces of evidence that exist to support the theory of evolution is vast: numerous transistional forms, our chromosomes clearly show that we share a common ancestors with other animals, etc. The problem is that there are people who fight evolution for various reasons and will distort the evidence to fit their twisted versions of creationism. The court systems have seen this battle played out again and again, and while science has almost always been the victor in these cases, the war is still not over (the recent events in Texas is a good illustration of this). Near the end of the talk, Miller started to get into how he bridges his theistic view (he says he is a Roman Catholic) with evolution. He says that evolution basically is the way God brought forth the species and that it's actually a very elegant way to view design (although not in the way Intelligent Design sees it).
Overall, I thorougly enjoyed Miller's talk. While I started to disagree with him as he got into the religious aspect of his talk at the end, it was very interesting to learn more about the background of the Dover case and just how much evidence is out there to support evolution. Miller is also an excellent speaker, and this is one reason I really wanted to see him. Over the last 2 or 3 years, I've started to do a lot more public speaking and while I think I'm not bad at it, seeing someone like Miller give a presentation shows how far I have to go. I didn't pick up on any speaking "ticks", like him saying "um" or a specific word over and over and over again. He's very engaging and he has a lot of passion about what he's talking about. Not once did I even get remotely bored listening to him.
He also handled the Q&A section very well (I was the one that asked the question about how can one get involved to ensure we keep science in the school systems). He was very gracious to all those who asked questions, but there was one yahoo in the back who I'm guessing was a creationists because he asked one of the stock questions they usually ask to try and throw people like Miller off: "Please supply one case where a mutation is beneficial." Miller started to answer the question, and the guy interrupted Miller rather rudely - that was a big mistake. Miller said, "please let me answer the question" and proceeded to list 3 cases off the top of his head of beneficial mutations. I was extrememly impressed with the force Miller used to completely dismantle this guy's question.
I was glad I was able to attend this event. It's reinforced in my mind that science is so criticial for the success of a society and humanity in general. It's also encouraging to see a person who is a devoted theist state that evolution is simply a "fact"; to say otherwise is basically to deny the reality that God has created. I was a creationist early on in my life, and only when I actually started to challenge the assertions that creationists made did I realize what a fool I was. People who claim that evolution is false are either willingly deceiving themselves and/or others, and we as a society need to ensure that we do not let them influence how science is done in this country.
If you get a chance to see Miller speak, I encourage you to do so. I felt it was more than worth my time to catch his presentation.
* Posted at 04.09.2009 10:40:04 AM CST | Link *