Notre Dame to award 2014 Laetare Medal to biologist Kenneth R. Miller
Observer Staff Report | Sunday, March 30, 2014
Notre Dame will award the 2014 Laetare Medal to Kenneth R. Miller, a cell and molecular biologist who ardently supports the compatibility of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Christian faith, at Notre Dame’s 169th commencement ceremony May 18, according to a University press release.
“Kenneth Miller has given eloquent and incisive witness both to scientific acumen and religious belief,” University president Fr. John Jenkins said in a statement. “As an accomplished biologist and an articulate believer, he pursues two distinct but harmonious vocations and illustrates how science and faith can mutually flourish.”
The Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, annually honors a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity,” according to the press release.
“Miller is a prominent and outspoken critic of proponents of the creationism and intelligent design movements who argue that Darwin’s theory of evolution is inherently atheistic and incompatible with Christian faith,” the release stated.
Miller, a current professor at Brown University, researches the structure and function of biological membranes. He has appeared on television shows including “The Colbert Report” and C-SPAN programs to debate with supporters of creationism and intelligent design, according to the press release.
“Like many other scientists who hold the Catholic faith, I see the Creator’s plan and purpose fulfilled in our universe,” Miller said recently, according to the press release. “I see a planet bursting with evolutionary possibilities, a continuing creation in which the divine providence is manifest in every living thing.
“I see a science that tells us there is indeed a design to life, and the name of that design is evolution.”
Miller graduated from Brown in 1970 and earned a doctorate in biology from the University of Colorado before teaching at Harvard University from 1974 to 1980 and then returning to Brown. He authored two books, “Finding Darwin’s God” and “Only a Theory,” as well as co-authored biology textbooks for introductory college courses and high school classes, the press release stated.
Recipients of the Laetare Medal date back to 1883 and include former President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, actor Martin Sheen and University president emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, according to the Archives of the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame announces the award recipient each year on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, the press release stated.