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Todays Letters: Board members reveal a lack of understanding
Letters to the Editor
Published December 20, 2007
Origin theories clash in Pinellas Dec. 18
I was very concerned and disappointed to read that most of the members of the Pinellas County School Board support the idea of teaching the concept of intelligent design as a scientific theory equal to the theory of evolution.
As a Pinellas County science teacher, I am distressed that there is such a serious lack of understanding about what is included in the study of science. Science is concerned with observing, testing and explaining natural phenomena. We do not attempt to explain the supernatural in our science classes. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory because the conclusions are based on overwhelming evidence, and the theory is testable. In contrast, the idea of intelligent design deals with supernatural events, is not supported by any evidence and is not testable. It has no place in a science classroom or in a scientific discussion.
As a citizen who believes in the importance of a strong public school system, I am appalled that intelligent design, which is just another name for creationism, could find its way into a science classroom. The discussion of religion belongs in houses of worship, in the home, or in private schools, but not in the public schools of the United States of America.
I would like to thank board members Linda Lerner and Janet Clark for understanding the difference between science and religion, and for having the courage to stand up to those who would undermine our system of public education. I hope the other board members will do some research and learn more about both the theory of evolution and the idea of intelligent design.
Mary L. Watkins, St. Petersburg
An appalling position
I would like to ask Nancy Bostock and other creationists on the Pinellas County School Board about the "gaps or holes in the theory of evolution." I taught evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago for 27 years and was not aware of these. The theory of evolution is in two parts. The one is fact: that animals and plants change over time, "descent with modification." The second part is Darwin's theory of the mechanism, "natural selection."
A hypothesis is a conjecture about how something happened; a theory is when amassed data leave no doubt about the validity of a hypothesis. Evolution has achieved this. The arguments that remain are about mechanisms. In addition to natural selection, "survival of the fittest," other mechanisms are being explored. We now have an abundance of transition forms from one "kind" of animal or plant to another, e.g.: dinosaurs to birds; bearlike animals to sea lions, walruses and seals; anthropoids to humans.
I have read creationist books by D. Gish (The Fossils Still Say No, 1995), J. Sarfati (Refuting Evolution, 2002) and others. These people never work with the fossils or even examine them themselves. They simply dig through old and outdated publications and quote them out of context.
This is what creationism and intelligent design are all about. To have four advocates for this on the School Board is appalling.
J. W. Rippon, Safety Harbor
Look at the flaws, too
It seems that a compromise to this current debate would be to teach evolution and teach the well documented flaws in the theory (biogenesis, chaos theory, lack of fossil evidence of transitional species) as well.
That way our children could make informed choices without having to insert intelligent design or God into the classroom. This solution would allow both sides to maintain their beliefs in a totally scientific atmosphere.
If you have any intellectual honesty and read the differing opinions (even from Darwin), you can't help but have some doubts either way. To teach evolution as proven science without presenting its flaws is a disservice to all of our students, religious or not.
Dave Hoyt, Palm Harbor
Keep up the search
The purpose of science classes is to teach students to be open-minded, to scrutinize and test theories. The fact that genetic changes can change organism traits does not prove where complex designs come from. In fact, experiments in genetics that change traits in living organisms are themselves the result of intelligent manipulation of the genetic code!
We need to admit that we don't know the origin of complex designs. We need to keep searching and questioning. That's what science is all about.
Ronald A. Baltrunas, Clearwater
By the grace of God
I wish to take a stand in favor of Donna Callaway, the state Board of Education member who believes that evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of the origins of life."
From your Dec. 10 editorial (Ignorance has no place in curriculum), it's apparent you throw your atheistic view toward your readers, showing your ignorance of God and everything he stands for and created. If it weren't for your ignorance, you would know that by the grace of God, Florida students become doctors and scientists. If it weren't for your ignorance, you would know that only by the grace of God you are able to take your next breath.
If you want to believe in Darwin's theory and that you evolved from an ape, that's your business. I myself did not evolve but was created by God, "supernatural" or not, and not from an ape. Before you print more trash, don't be ignorant of another Christian's view.