Most helpful positive review
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2006
Miller's book is an attack on Creationism but not creation. He believes in God but not a God of the gaps or an Intelligent Designer (qua Behe/Irreducible Complexity). ...Indeed, Miller gives several examples of claimed irreducibly complex organisms the kind Intelligent Design advocates use and shows very convincingly, that they are actually reducible. He actually did the same thing in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, demonstrating the reducibility of the Bacterial Flagellum, Michael Behe's favourite demonstrative organism, for claimed Irreducible Complexity.
Miller actually defends God not through scripture but ironically through Darwin's evolution. He attempts to show that one can be both an evolutionist and a theist.
My favourite chapter in this book has to be "The Road Back Home" ...I would happily give this book Five Stars for this chapter alone. For the none scientific amongst us and that includes me, this gives an excellent laymans rudimentary understanding of quantum mechanics. I never understood Einstein's comment "God doesn't play dice" until I read this chapter, now I get it, this is not the purpose of the chapter though, the purpose goes something like this: A light beam is a wave, which is deterministic as a wave, thus, a light wave hits a mirror and one can determine that the light will be reflected... However, light waves consist of particles called quanta... Because these particles act at the quantum level they do something rather strange. A percentage of the particles aren't reflected but actually pass through the mirror. Now it has been shown that this quantum behaviour is non-deterministic in that, the actually particles which pass through the mirror can never be predicted... Thus, at the quantum level "God does play dice".
This is where Miller gets very clever, he points out that creationists are so anti-evolution because it is completely deterministic and thus as a scientific theory can be reduced to fundamentals and so, leave no room for God, Miller demonstrates that this is not so. At the level of genes where genetic random mutations take place we approach the very small... At this level quantum behaviour takes over... It is this quantum behaviour that allows for random non-predictable mutations (which are of course what Darwin's natural selection act upon).
He also goes on to say that the creationists are shrinking the need for God because the shadows of unknown mysteries that they could use as an attack on science are shrinking. What Miller does is to say they are looking for God in the wrong place. Miller believes he has found a place for God, not a God of the gaps as claimed by creationists, such as those found in the fossil record... But rather, a god of the gaps at the quantum level.
Unlike Ken Miller I am an atheist, however... though I cannot find room for a supernatural God that can perform miracles, that would defy the laws of physics. I can look at the quantum level and at the most, agnostically think of the possibility of a quantum intelligence... Indeed, is that how our consciousness works at the quantum level. From that thought I can extrapolate at least the possibility of advanced conscious beings that would seem God like to us, but would have evolved through the same evolutionary processes as us. Would such evolved individuals be Gods of the universe and would their consciousness be found in gaps at the quantum level.
I would say following on from this... If quantum actions did not take place, then surely evolution could not take place ether, because randomness would not be possible. We would have to be a different kind of species, that was not evolved as part of a random proccess... By definition, we would be in a deterministic universe.
Whatever the ulimate answers, I can only call Ken Miller's book a brilliant achievement.