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Ken Miller on the Dennis Prager Show

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For those with a penchant for masochism, check out Ken Miller on the Dennis Prager show discussing his book about how ID is threatening America’s soul. (The Miller segment begins at 11 minutes.) As usual, Ken completely misrepresents ID and ID theorists, and argues that the ID movement threatens to destroy science in America. Miller argues that ID proponents view science as a “cultural construction” and “relativistic knowledge” instead of the objective search for truth. He claims that the ID movement seeks to undermine the view that science is a way to find out the truth about nature, and that it tells stories to support a worldview (gag).

Dennis challenges Miller to explain how belief that there is design in biology will impede the search for a cure for cancer. Ken claims that science uses evolutionary theory in combating cancer, and if one believes that rats and humans are separately designed and have no relationship to each other, we will not use the evolutionary model in cancer research. Miller further argues that the “tactics” of the ID movement will dissuade young people from pursuing careers in science.

The good news is that Prager doesn’t buy these arguments.

If you choose to listen to this interview, a generous dose of nausea medication might be in order.

I can't let this one pass. Ken Miller is just out to lunch. I graduated from a medical school that was founded by not just ID folks, but full blown YLC's. Nobody has taken a poll lately, but it's a fair bet that YLC's are the majority of the faculty. Certainly, they are prominent, and they do cancer research, they use lab animals (I've used lab animals), they believe in microevolution, you know, the kind that predicts that cancer cells and bacteria will become resistant to drugs, all that stuff. Their medical teaching can't be too bad; when I took part 1 of National Boards, I scored 3.25 standard deviations above the (national) mean (and am a YLC). One can reasonably argue that evolution (meaning goo to you via the zoo and no interference too) is helpful to a physician, although personally I share Philip Skell's opinion on that subject. But what is completely unreasonable is to assume that major deficiencies will appear in medical research, let alone care, without believing in Darwinian evolution as the sole explanation of life. See my comments on a NEJM editorial which argued similarly to what Ken Miller is saying. I think that jjcassidy (14 and 17) has most of the psychology right. But there is one more thing. I think these people (Miller is not alone) have a unique way of denying plain facts. It is very much the same as Dr. Bryan Carstens testifying in the Louisiana legislature, after 4 Ph.D.'s (three of them in biology) had testified for the Louisiana Science Education Act, “let us be clear that there is no controversy among professional biologists about fact of evolution.” Apparently, if the facts are unwelcome, they may be ignored. Everybody is entitled to his/her own opinions. Everybody is not entitled to his/her own facts. Ken Miller needs to face reality on this one. Paul Giem
DaveScot says:
Is this guy a liar or just stupid? ... There was so much more that Miller said that was just SO wrong. How can anybody take him seriously? Almost everything that he said was either setting up a straw man or knocking one down. ... I can’t fathom these people. They seem smart but they’re just making crap up out of thin air to support their bizzare beliefs.
Scathing, but justified. This has failed to post twice today so, unfortunately, I am going to quote this time from memory. Miller starts off with a little pedantry and condescension as he chides Prager on the difference between theory and fact - just to make sure he establishes his dominance early. Then he says "you said let's start by telling the truth, so let's tell the truth..." That 'truth', according to Miller, is that ID advocates argue that every time we see complexity in an organism or a new organism in the fossil record it was placed their by the Intelligent Designer as though by magic. Maybe some who latch onto ID without knowing what it is - certainly not the ones who respond to Miller or debate him in public, as Behe has several times. He corrected Prager every time he said anything about IDists believing in design because, of course, Miller, the practicing Catholic, believes in design as well....if we equivocate on what we mean by design and ignore what Prager meant. But his equivocation wasn't finished because he can't get enough different meanings of "evolution" into one interview. As Dave said above, Miller repeated that IDists don't believe in evolution, which is true if you mean the full scale MET, neo-Darwinian, chance+necessity package. But he doesn't mean this because he equates it directly to common descent alone, as noted above. Elsewhere he also equates it merely to change over time when he tells us that it is a fact, that it provably happened in the past and can be observed happening today. Universal common descent is not seen happening today, and chance+necessity cannot be seen at all, so he is hiding behind his various meanings again. Charlie
Incredible. Miller claims that science is hurt by ID because IDists would reject using mice, for instance, as model animals in drug testing, cancer research, etcetera because they believe mice have no evolutionary relationship with men. Is this guy a liar or just stupid? First of all, even our YEC contingent believes in deep similarity between mice and men due to common design. And the rest of us, which are many, accept common descent! Then Miller goes on to say we wouldn't be able to research cancer cells well because we don't believe in "evolution" and because cancer cells "evolve" in the body we'd be somehow impaired. What utter tripe! Every IDist I know, and I know a lot of them, believes that random mutation & natural selection work in microevolutionary adaptation such as cancer cells. None of us would believe (without seeing it happen) that a cancer cell in a trillion generations will learn to bark at strangers and fetch the newspaper but we all sure as hell believe a cancer cell can mutate such that it acquires resistance to various chemotherapies. No IDist disputes microevolution. Unbelievable. There was so much more that Miller said that was just SO wrong. How can anybody take him seriously? Almost everything that he said was either setting up a straw man or knocking one down. One notable exception was in the middle of the interview where he said he believes there's a omnipotent sky daddy who is responsible for the existence of every particle in every moment of time in the universe. Oh really. Got evidence of THAT, does he? I'm an IDist but even I don't believe there's enough rational, objective evidence to support more than a tentative conclusion that the there's some purposeful order in the universe and in life itself. There's nothing at all that makes me think that the entity imposing that order is Miller's mystical Catholic bearded thunderer. I'm not a mystic. Ken apparently has some deeply rooted superstitious beliefs. Amazing. How can I trust people like HIM to keep his mysticism out of the laboratory? I think it's people like him who are a danger to rationality and science. I can't fathom these people. They seem smart at times but they're just making crap up out of thin air to support their bizarre beliefs. At least my ID fellows, even the YECs, try to show that science supports their beliefs. I don't think there's much science that supports their beliefs but there's certainly strong evidence of something intelligent out there that transcends and/or predates human intelligence. That lends a certain amount of support to a lot of different religions but sure doesn't help in making a case for Christ being God incarnate or anything of that sort. Evidently Ken must believe that or he couldn't possibly call himself a Christian. I wonder what scientific evidence he's got that Jesus Saves? DaveScot
Miller introduces irrelevant facts, twists the context, and tries to make things appear exactly as they are not. Example: Social constructivism really is a liberal concept because it claims that truth is created not discovered. So, Miller implies that, since ID seeks to amend the oppressive rule of methodological naturalism (he wasn’t explicit about this, but I am sure that is what he is talking about) , then ID is making up truth.” But ID isn’t making up the truth, it is looking for more effective ways to discover it. On the other hand, Miller, who falsely accuses us of “creating truth,” creates his own truth at will. Example: To accommodate his Darwinist ideology, he socially constructs new teachings in the Bible (he denies God’s teaching about manifest design and reduces Adam and Eve to mythical status) Whenever Miller accuses ID of anything, it is almost always the case that he alone is guilty of it. StephenB
I was deconstructing Miller’s notion. Because ID-ers argue that they are “making up stories” he sees in that the same thing as saying that Science is made up stories.
I understand what you are saying now. Of course, ID advocates only claim that Darwinists (and perhaps multiversists) are making up stories, which they are. We don't claim that all of science is made-up stories, especially the hard sciences (including the non-Darwinian biological sciences), engineering, and mathematics. GilDodgen
I didn’t argue that it is a social construction, I argued that it makes up stories (just-so stories in particular) to support a worldview
I fail to see how those two differ. If you're making up stories, are you not constructing them? If they play key roles in Darwinism as proselytized is that not also a "construction"? Do we tell stories to ourselves or communities? My point is perhaps too subtle for a forum where everything gets taken as the ever popular "refutation". (BTW, the above does not attempt to "refute" you either, it is simply an adjustment.) I was deconstructing Miller's notion. Because ID-ers argue that they are "making up stories" he sees in that the same thing as saying that Science is made up stories. Therefore you disrespect the "Science" as he knows it. He's essentially equivocating. But he's also demonstrating something more subtle and more revealing. There's a sort of reflexive orthodoxy in him. Deconstruction can't have validity because it's leftist--and one of the chief developers was decidedly deceptive for the redistribution of power. Being immersed in something that is wrong, cannot cause Johnson to eventually see patterns of agreement. It's "leftist" because it's like the leftists and started in leftist ideas (well, not exactly, but Miller's out of his depth here.) I see in Miller a tendency to make the mistake that many orthodox Christians have made, My vision God's vision. I see the way God made things, anything that attacks the balance that I have made, by attacking my ideas about God attacks God. I can see a muted parallel to how the Aristotelians in the Roman church basically argued what Father Melchior puts here:
...the existence of God, and the incarnation, should be tolerated sooner than an argument to prove that the earth moves.
That's right. The existence of God? The incarnation? What's that to the immobility of the Earth for potentially non-existing God's (who possibly did not visit us) sake?!!! [Note to Dave: No, I'm not saying here that Miller's going to jail Galileo--or even Gonzales.] jjcassidy
Gil, you’re spot on about the irony. But you have to understand that by arguing that Darwinism is a social construction...
I didn't argue that it is a social construction, I argued that it makes up stories (just-so stories in particular) to support a worldview, as opposed to ID which simply infers design from the evidence, which is not making up stories. GilDodgen
Dr. Philip S. Skell, Member, National Academy of Sciences, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Penn State University:
Darwinian evolution is an interesting theory about the remote history of life. Nonetheless, it has little practical impact on those branches of science that do not address questions of biological history (largely based on stones, the fossil evidence). Modern biology is engaged in the examination of tissues from living organisms with new methods and instruments. None of the great discoveries in biology and medicine over the past century depended on guidance from Darwinian evolution--it provided no support.
http://www.idnet.com.au/files/pdf/Phillip%20Skell%20Open%20Letter.pdf GilDodgen
Gil, you're spot on about the irony. But you have to understand that by arguing that Darwinism is a social construction, then to Miller, you're arguing that something he considers "Science" is a social construction, so you are arguing that Science is a social construction. It doesn't matter if you ultimately reject that model. Of course, Miller does border on implying that the idea is that because Science is a social construct, we can put anything we would prefer in this bucket, and that is a theme behind ID. So it does appear muddles the picture. Now, that you mention it, it's odd how many times Miller uses the theme of "What would the others think?". Both in painting ID as originally "leftist"--which left alone is the Genetic fallacy. And if the ID-ers have their way, other countries won't let us join in scientist games. In fact, its no surprise that exposed to it, Johnson could end up making agreements within the vernacular of "leftist" thought. The difficulty in dealing with the leftists on Science as a social construct might lie in an some actual tendencies of the institution being actual social constructs. The result is that it provokes the positive POV that Science has allowed itself to be swayed by social influence. Oddly enough, that's a factor that Miller twice invokes. jjcassidy
Almost 200 years before Darwin, William Harvey dissected dogs and deer to study the circulatory system. It's not like the idea that we are functionally similar began with Natural Selection, and our ability to "explain" it. And in regard to Behe, who accepts Common Descent, Miller's argument a complete strawman. jjcassidy
* worst Charlie
Miller's irony shone on that point. If ID is accepted science will lose its authority, nobody will want to do it and the American empire will fall. But, says Prager, Americans have always accepted a designer and American science is quite healthy. Ah, says Miller, but ID is new, its only 15 years old or so. It hasn't had time to infiltrate and do its nefarious worse. But Ken, you just said that ID was borrowing its destructive view of science as a social construction from the leftist academics and that it was an old position. In fact, no coincidence, you say, Phil Johnson came out of Berkely, where he would have been inundated with it. Ken Miller has a box of sticks with which to beat ID depending on his moods. Its old, its new, its rightwing, its leftist .... all I know is it's BAD! Charlie
Miller argues that ID proponents view science as a "cultural construction" and "relativistic knowledge" instead of the objective search for truth. He claims that the ID movement seeks to undermine the view that science is a way to find out the truth about nature, and that it tells stories to support a worldview (gag).
I don't know if any of you caught the big irony here. The situation is exactly the reverse. ID theorists simply infer design based on the evidence and the known cause and effect structure of the world as we know it (e.g., intelligence is the only known cause of information-rich machinery). It is the Darwinists who make up stories despite the evidence in order to support a materialistic worldview. This is the real threat to objective science. In addition, as has been pointed out, if anything will dissuade young people from pursuing careers in biological science it will be trepidation about being blackballed, ostracized, and ridiculed for challenging Darwinian orthodoxy and proposing ideas that threaten the ruling priesthood, especially the High Priests like Ken Miller. GilDodgen
David Berlinski appeared on the Dennis Prager show: http://townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?ContentGuid=f8b0ada7-7661-479f-b0c9-5388c137b7f6&RadioShowId=3 GilDodgen
Mr. Prager I enjoyed listening to the conversation with Mr. Miller, having already listened to the conversation with Mr. Behe. A perhaps brilliant suggestion would be to have David Berlinski on your show. If I assume for a moment that you are unfamiliar with Berlinski; he has more than once started fires with his take on the subject. His piece in Commentary (of which he is mildly famous) received responses from Ken Miller of Brown University, Richard Dawkins of Oxford, Eugenie Scott from the NCSE, Allen Orr from the University of Rochester, Daniel Dennet from Tufts, Robert Shapiro of NYU, and on, and on. Berlinski had Art Shapiro of the University of California putting fresh lipstick on the scientific process, while Paul Gross went apoplectic by his second paragraph and called for Commentary to censor themselves more respectfully in the future. In other words, he pisses off the right people. These are the fielded elite who are fruitfully compelled to find themselves as moderators on any claims made in the name of scientific knowledge. They are the credentialed and the exclusive, or so they say. I've bought and sold your show (both TV and radio) in several markets, and I think you recognize that no one can tee off that many of those people without actually having hit them where it hurts. In this case, as in the case of Design itself, the evidence is the evidence. I think David Berlinski would make a great guest in the Ultimate Issues hour. It would make a nice follow up to his most recent book. Of course, I don't speak for Mr. Berlinski, but I would be happy to email him on your behalf. Upright BiPed
bfast: OK: Thanks for the clarification. On the confusion: I think that you may have responded to Gil while he was a guest on another thread and imported Miller's name by accident. I suspect that I complicated things by continuing the march. I think I will stay withing the bounds of Pragers show while I am here, and wait for another opportunity to take up that other theme. I apologize for not being more alert. StephenB
StephenB (from AAAS #32):
What you are describing sounds like front loaded ID evolution which is teleological and inconsistent with Darwinisms no-loaded evolution.
No, no, I'm not talking about front-loading. Now, I respect that if the "by law" model is true, then there is at least one primary uncovered law. However, it is conceivable that laws alone, laws that were established before the big bang, could account for all that is. I have no trouble believing that laws alone account for the terrasphere, for the cycle of water, clouds, mountains and streams. bFast
How about Prager's penetrating quetion, "Do you mean a designer that didn't design? Miller ran for the hills because that is exactly what he believes. Notice that everytime Prager nails him Miller moves quickly to another subject as if the one coming up was the real one. Naturally, it couldn't be the previous one that just got blown out of the water. There is one thing about Miller that is very humourous. Whenever he begins his comment with, "I want to be very clear about this," you are about to experience the most irrational, convoluted, impossible-to-comprehend series of non-sequitors ever visited on the mind of man. StephenB
Giving answers to the question: How would ID impede the search for a cure for cancer? "The first one is the way in which we use, today, evolutionary theory in studying and analyzing and combating cancer. First of all, we study animal models, laboratory systems, on the basis of comparative biology. We study the mouse and we study the rat because they are evolutionary relatives, and if they are separately designed and they have no relationship to us those models are useless." So...Ken Miller is saying that ID theorists would give up mouse and rat models because they aren't evolutionarily related to humans? Give me a break. Dennis Prager rips him pretty good on this. "It is not intelligent design that is a threat, it's the tactics of the intelligent design movement that undermine science and faith in the scientific process that will tend to dissuade young people from scientific careers. And that's my biggest worry." Ken Miller ... What do you think, Mr. Miller, that young people pursuing scientific careers who know they stand a good chance of being fired if they speak against Darwinism would say to that? I'm exercising a great deal of self-control in not using profanity right now, but really now. Who are the ones discouraging young people from pursuing scientific careers here? tragicmishap
"To a believer, God is involved in the design of everything because God is responsible for every moment of existence. So once again the issue is not God's involvement. The issue..is not so much what ID says as the way in which it seeks to find a place in the classroom." Ken Miller What? lol. So Ken could be an ID theorist as long as it's not taught in class? tragicmishap
I vote for ii unless Miller's brain has somehow shut down when it comes to comprehending ID theory. Behe has explained to him repeatedly that irreducible complexity is not defined as the fact that none of the parts of an IC system can serve other purposes, but Miller continues to claim that finding other functions for parts of a supposed IC system refutes the IC challenge to Darwinian mechanisms. Miller is so heavily invested in Darwinian orthodoxy -- professionally, academically, monetarily, and prestige-wise -- that it is perfectly possible he is living in some kind of self-induced cognitive fog that he doesn't recognize. It's either that or option ii in my opinion. GilDodgen

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