Catholic scientist who defends evolution to be honoured

A Catholic scientist known for his public defence of evolution is to receive a prestigious honour from a top American university.

Professor Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University, is to receive the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal.

A previous recipient was President John F. Kennedy.

“Like many other scientists who hold the Catholic Faith, I see the Creator’s plan and purpose fulfilled in our universe,” Professor Miller said in a Notre Dame news release announcing the award.

Professor Miller has a considerable public profile in helping people understand evolution.

He is the co-author of two of the most widely used biology textbooks in the United States, one each for high school and college students.

When creationists try to remove evolution from public schools, his text is often the target.

The professor has written, spoken, and even testified in court on behalf of evolution when it has been under assault.

He has taken on some of the country’s top creationists, tapping supporting evidence from a wide range of scientific fields, from astrophysics to cell and molecular biology, which is his specialty.

Professor Miller argues that science and religion are not incompatible and has written two popular books on the subject, “Finding Darwin’s God” and “Only a Theory”.

In the PBS series “Evolution”, he described himself as simply a “traditional” Catholic, one who has not had to abandon or distort his beliefs to accommodate evolutionary biology.

Notre Dame president Fr John Jenkins describes Professor Miller as an “incisive witness both to scientific acumen and religious belief”.

The professor has been a prominent public critic of the notion of “Intelligent Design” and has fought to keep it out of schools.

Professor Miller sees the Earth “bursting with evolutionary possibilities”, and understands God to be continuously creating with providentially ordered “design to life”.

But he says “the name of the design is evolution”.

He also rejects the term “theistic evolution”, but says he is both a theist and an evolutionist.



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