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Creationist Cults

Kansas Board Votes To Bar Evolution From Classroom

Date: 09-14-99 11:57
From: Don Martin

Bullard of the Detroit News said:

thanks for the thoughful comments

Thanks for the reply; I write such notes far more often than they ever get responded to. Would you believe that I have _still_ heard nothing from the Kansas State School Board? Yes, I rather imagine you would.

i happen to subscribe to the theory of evolution and keep up with developments, including the refinements of Darwinism proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and others.

You're right. it is enriching, educational. I recommend it. but it's not essential to my worth as a human being. arguably, there are millions in the world who are fine specimens and who have ever heard of Darwin, must less studied him

Knowledge is not essential to the worth of any human being, but the lack of it may have unpleasant consequences. The fact that native Americans knew nothing about European technology in the 15th century did not diminish them one iota as human beings, however much it contributed to the decline of their populations. I suppose though that it must be said that the Europeans tended to take that ignorance as an excuse to do as they liked with people they saw as subhuman, but that points to a moral defect on the part of the Europeans, not to any on the part of the Americans.

i guess i'll stand on the premise that evolution is a tiny part of science and, however rewarding, is not essential to anyone's self worth.

I disagree that it is a "tiny" part of science, inasmuch as it underlies all our thinking in the life sciences as much as the theory of gravity underlies our thinking in astronomy, cosmology, geology, and a number of other areas. Not to teach such basic insights to the young even as they well may become participants in what may be the greatest demonstration of evolution the world has ever known is to do them something of a disservice amounting to a dereliction of responsibility. The demonstration to which I refer is our alteration of the environment of certain bacteria by the application of antibiotics, to which the bacteria population has responded, like all stressed populations, by adapting to the stress. A few decades ago, we were preening ourselves on "the conquest of disease"; now, we are not so sure. In fact, many in the medical profession are appalled at the "new" diseases against which nothing seems to work.

Frankly, the insistence on keeping it in schools as a ring of zealotry, as if knowing such things is something sacred.

Knowledge of such things is knowledge. Call me a zealot if you like, but I think knowledge is preferable to its lack.

Not your letter, but i do find some defenses of evolution downright religious. No, I don't confuse evolution-the-process with an explanation of the origin of life. But that's my point. It's just a bunch of facts, like the knowledge of electricity. For those of us who read extensively on evolution and electricity, fine. But the rest of humanity are fine people, too, because knowing such things is arguably optional.

So long as you don't mind dying of a bug in designer genes. "Bunches of facts" may help bunches of average citizens figure out whether or not it is a good idea to continue putting antibiotics in the drinking water of their poultry and the feed of their cattle.

Saying studying evolution is somehow mandatory is like declaring it mandatory to believe Christianity, Islam or other religion.

Telling the truth to the best of one's ability is all science has going for it. When Galileo was forced to deny the moons he had seen orbiting Jupiter (a finding running contrary to the orthodox geocentric view of the universe), he murmured "still, they move." Your view would discard the study of such non-geocentric motions in pretty much the same terms, I expect, which would have NASA unable to get a rocket _to_ the moon, in the unlikely event they ever got one off the ground.

In science, the basic theories _are_ mandatory to the understanding of the subject at hand. When anybody understands the subject at hand well enough to propose a better basic theory, as Einstein did with that of Newton, the improved theory becomes mandatory. This process has nothing to do with belief. Only those who do not comprehend the process confuse it with faith.

Between some factions, I see the public fight getting down to whether evolution is a largely-mechanical process or a be-all explanation for the origin of life. Frankly, I have no idea which is right. And, probably, neither do ardent creationists or evolutionists.

Again, evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life. That confusion is practically a hallmark of the sad fact that "public fights" are often exercises of ignorance. When both sides are informed, you have public debate, a valuable thing in a democracy.

i appreciated the sarcasm of your letter. but, frankly, you carried it a couple of paragraphs too far and it got tiring as a device.

You will pardon my hubris, but "Too many notes, Herr Mozart" springs to mind.

Anyway, thanks for your time. I always enjoy exchanges on such matters.

As do I. Please feel free to use for publication anything you may find interesting. I certainly do.

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