Evolution More Complex Than Critics' Arguments

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2003

"'Fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. ... Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor)." – Stephen Jay Gould
   "Father [the Rev. Sun Myung Moon] encouraged us to set our sights high and accomplish great things. ... My prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism." – Jonathan Wells
   Dear Editors:
   David Buckna ["Postmarks," Nov. 28] really needs to do a little homework before making pronouncements about science. His statement, "No fossil evidence has ever been unearthed showing giraffes with shorter necks" is horsepuckey. Such miocene-era species as palaeotragus, samotherium, and okapia are all short-necked progenitors of the modern-day, long-necked giraffe.
   Any biologist will tell you evolution is both a fact and a theory (www.tinyurl.com/5vvr). The word "theory" in science doesn't simply mean "random guess." You must have a mountain of verifiable evidence behind you before science will consider your idea a "theory." And where the evidence is concerned, evolution comes up aces.
   The problem with groups like the Discovery Institute and the Institute for Creation Research (whose Web site Buckna linked to in his letter) is that, while it's certainly valid to call any existing scientific theory into question, their attacks on evolution are based not on sound science but religious ideology. They do not wish to expand scientific inquiry, despite their rhetoric to the contrary; they wish to shut it down in favor of docile adherence to biblical literalism.
   For instance, the ICR's Web site has a page of "tenets" that include nonscientific, fundamentalist dogma like the following: "All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week. ... The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false." For an organization like this to claim it encourages students to "think critically" is laughable.
   I do agree that students ought to be made aware of creationists' arguments, though, so they can understand the difference between science and pseudoscience.
Martin Wagner
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