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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Textbook watch: Gems from Miller and Levine

Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless--a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. … Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.
- Joseph S. Levine and Kenneth R. Miller, Biology: Discovering Life (D.C. Heath and Co.; 1st ed. 1992, pg. 152; 2nd ed. 1994, p. 161.

[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.”
- (Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine (1st ed., Prentice Hall, 1991), pg. 658; (3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995), pg. 658; (4th ed., Prentice Hall, 1998), pg. 658)

I have heard Miller claim to be a good Catholic, which is either not possible, or illustrative of how elastic the definition of a good Catholic can be. Or maybe there's a story there? Anyway, jsut so you know, when someone says not to worry about what they would tell your kids about origin, meaning, or purpose in the universe because they are "good Catholics", grab the kid and run, will you?

Update A friend notes,
I just learned that there were not only 4 editions of Miller & Levine's "Elephant" Biology textbook, but in fact there were 5. Apparently
there was a 5th edition published in 2000 which also had the "random and undirected" quote. So here's the new, full citation for the quote:
"[E]volution works without either plan or purpose - Evolution is random and undirected. -

(Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine: 1st ed., Prentice Hall, 1991, pg. 658; 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1993, pg. 658; 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995, pg. 658; 4th ed., Prentice Hall, 1998, pg. 658; 5th ed. Teachers Edition, 2000, pg. 658; emboldened emphasis in original.)

My friend comments, "Yet during the Dover Trial, Miller said it only existed in 1 edition and was promptly removed! If only that were true", and refers me here.

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