Need to discuss and use the theory of evolution After reading "Evolution gets dismissed from classes" (Aug. 16) I had a talk with my nine-year-old son. I am disturbed by this effort on the part of some people to "shield" students from controversial topics (aside from "age-inappropriate" topics). The purpose of an education is provide students with the opportunity to be exposed, in an unbiased manner, to as wide a variety of information and ideas as possible, and to learn to think critically.

To discourage teachers from teaching controversial subjects is to tell students there is no validity or value to these subjects - to force an opinion on them rather than give them the tools and opportunity to form one on their own.

So it was with great pleasure that I read the Aug. 17 editorial "Room for Darwin and faith." Once again, I am reminded as to why I read the Monitor: unbiased reporting and open minds. My son and I had another talk. He is expressing the desire to delve deeper into the theory of evolution, to see what the controversy is all about.

Jamie S. Andres-Larsen Santa Cruz, Calif.

The Kansas State Board of Education decision to de-emphasize evolution will place Kansas students at both an educational and an economic disadvantage. Biomedical and agricultural technologies are expected be the major growth industries of the 21st century. Each of these industries depends on a sound understanding of evolution, and that need is growing as the technologies mature. Medicine faces evolving viruses and bacteria, and the agricultural industry faces similar problems with crop pests. Both industries are trying to understand and defeat the mechanisms of biological evolution.

For today's students to take advantage of tomorrow's job market, they need a solid science education - one that includes evolution.

Tom Hopper Clarkston, Mich.

I was dismayed to see the Monitor implying in an otherwise balanced report that there is a serious academic challenge to the theory of evolution. Any challenge has been manufactured by those who explicitly or implicitly advocate so-called "Creation Science," which is simply dogmatic theology masquerading as science.

Those who seek to eliminate or water down the teaching of evolution are not arguing for this kind of systematic scientific advance arising from new data or insights, but, at the dawning of a new century, are trying to drag us back into the last.

Stuart Tyson Smith Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mainline Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism have reconciled Darwinism with their particular religious views on the origin of the universe. How could this group of biblical literalists have imposed their views of science on the public schools of Kansas?

Final or ultimate knowledge about the origin of the universe and life will probably forever elude us. Carl Sagan expressed it well in "Cosmos": "Ten or 20 billion years ago, something happened - the Big Bang, the event that began our universe. Why it happened is the greatest mystery we know. That it happened is reasonably clear."

That mystery has become the province of religion and mythology. Explanation of what happened after the Big Bang belongs exclusively to the realm of science.

Robert E. Nordlander Menasha, Wis.

Millennial clarity

Regarding "A millennium is a millenium is a milennium" (opinion, July 30): Thanks to Stephen Lapointe for his helpful article on the proper spelling of the Y2K's proper name. I hope that puts an N to the confusion!

Mario Tosto St. Paul, Minn.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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