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Interview by Karl W. Giberson
Finding Darwin's God
Ken Miller is professor of biology at Brown University. In addition to his specialized research, Miller—a practicing Roman Catholic—is the author of Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (HarperCollins, 1999). He is also the coauthor of a series of high school and college texts and has frequently debated opponents of evolution (see www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/). Karl Giberson spoke with Miller about his faith, his public role as a defender of evolution, and the integrity of science.
Did you ever have any misgivings about the prospects of integrating evolution with your Catholic faith?
It's an interesting question to ask, and the simple answer to it is no. I benefited from the way that Catholics are generally brought up, which is to believe, almost from the get-go, that there is no inherent conflict between faith and reason, between religious doctrine and science. If science seeks truth and religion reveals truth, then how can there be a conflict between these two aspects of the truth?
Even though I saw no particular conflict between science and religion, there were many times when I was disillusioned with religion and frankly left the faith, stopped attending mass, stopped receiving sacraments. And this happened for a couple years at a time, first when I was an undergraduate and second when I was in graduate school. In both cases I had to find my way back to the church after leaving it in the sense of becoming disillusioned with what it had to offer. I simply turned my back on it for a long period of time.
When you came out of that and rejoined the church of your childhood, what was it that brought you back into the sustaining relationship that you have now?
When I was an undergraduate, in addition to being interested in science, I had very serious literary ambitions. I wanted to be a poet, and I wrote quite a lot of poetry. I published a few poems in college literary magazines. Like many people who tried that, the best ...