Despite fundamentalist Christian arguments to the contrary, Evolution and Faith are not mutually exclusive concepts. Brown University Biologist, Kenneth Miller, is the foremost example of this and has won the highest Catholic award to prove it.
At commencement on May 18, the University of Notre Dame will honor Miller with the 2014 Laetare Medal, an award given annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”Miller's passionate stance on Evolution is not at odds with the official position of the Catholic Church as articulated by Pope John Paul II in 1996 in his speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,Truth Cannot Contradict Truth:
Many consider Miller a paradoxical figure who occupies the thinly populated no-man’s land between science and religion, embracing both with enthusiasm and finding no conflict. He is a life-long practicing Catholic and accepts church teachings on salvation, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus. He described himself in the PBS “Evolution” series as simply a “traditional” Catholic, one who has not had to abandon or distort his beliefs to accommodate his other passion: evolutionary biology.
In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation...Kenneth Miller strongly discredits Creationism or "Intelligent Design" but also "Theist Evolution".
Today, almost half a century after the publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.
Miller certainly cannot be accused of inserting God’s hand into evolution. He even rejects the label used by many Christian evolutionists—theistic evolution—insisting that “evolution” is simply evolution. He told a popular science and religion blog: “I always reject the term ‘theistic evolutionist.’ I am a theist and an evolutionist, to be sure, but the combined term makes no sense to me. Never heard anyone described as a ‘theistic chemist,’ have you?”An on-the-ground warrior for teaching evolution in schools, he has authored the most widely used science texts in both high schools and colleges. His textbooks are often the target of fundamentalists who prefer the bible were taught instead.
When creationists try to remove evolution from public schools, Miller’s text is often the target. He has written, spoken, and even testified in court on behalf of evolution when it has been under assault. He testified in the Dover trial in 2005, and was instrumental in keeping “Intelligent Design” out of the local schools there.Miller's path seems to me to be the best one to reconcile the false equation of Faith canceling Science or Science canceling Faith. The spheres of both are Truths, and-- in the Catholic view-- truth cannot contradict truth.
To be a person of religious faith does not mean that you automatically check your brains at the door.