Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Ken Miller at Lehigh University

Burt Humburg, a long-time supporter of science education, attended Ken Miller’s talk on evolution, intelligent design and creationism at Lehigh University on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University and author of Finding Darwin’s God.

Lehigh University is also the home of intelligent design activist and biochemist Dr. Michael Behe. During the past couple of weeks both Miller and Behe have testified, on opposite sides, in the Dover intelligent design trial now being heard in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

Recently, the Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences, of which Dr. Behe is a member, posted the following “Department Position on Evolution and ‘Intelligent Design’" notice on its website:
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

Burt sends along this report of what amounts to a stinging rebuke of Dr. Behe from his collegues at the meeting:

Professor Vassie Ware, and associate professor in the Department of Biosciences, whose research is centered on understanding the molecular biology of ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotes, began by introducing Dr. Miller.

Keeping in mind that I've heard most of the anti-ID arguments used by Dr. Miller before in other contexts, writes Burt, I've gotten pretty used to them. So, perhaps I can be forgiven for saying that, in retrospect, Dr. Ware's comments were the most explosive of the evening...

"This evening could not have happened without the support of the Vice Provost Dave Williams, the biosciences office staff, and the graduate students,” said Dr. Ware.

"We are at the epicenter of this public discussion. We felt, as a university, that it was important to show a public display of solidarity for the role that evolution plays in biology.”

Dr. Ware then went on to describe how she also attended Brown University as an undergraduate. She described the gratitude of "those who have had Dr. Miller's time today."


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