Evolving discussion about the content of science classes
Regarding the May 3 article "Now evolving in biology class: a testier climate": An essential requirement in seeking truth - in science or law or religion - is to ask good questions.
None of the questions that, according to the article, critics of evolution are feeding to high school students passes that simple test. Most of them begin, "Why do textbooks claim ...?" - which is a question of human motivation, not a question about biological science.
"What does the Lord require of you?" is an excellent question that is important to my life and that science cannot answer. But "How do physics and chemistry interact in biological systems to produce the abundant life around us?" is a question that religion cannot answer.
Evolution provides the best approach at present to understanding this and many good related science questions.
The article makes it sound as if discussion within the classroom is a dangerous thing, and that students should simply gulp down everything. Why can't these questions be asked and discussed? Does an aura of pressure or intolerance really exist?
Who are the intolerant ones here - the "religious whackos" asking the questions, or the sacred keepers of the status quo?
The writer is chairman of the board of education for a Christian elementary school which teaches creationism as part of its curriculum.
The article, citing a recent Gallup poll, says, "only 28 percent of Americans accept the theory of evolution, while 48 percent adhere to creationism - the belief that an intelligent being is responsible for the creation of the earth and its inhabitants."
The premise of this statement seems to be that a belief in evolution is incompatible with a belief in God as the creator. Is there some reason to suppose that God couldn't use evolution as a creative process?
Richard C. Withers
As a scientist who teaches biology and as a deacon in my church, I don't find a conflict between evolution and my faith.
In my Bible, Genesis 1:24 reads "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth all manner of living creatures.... and it was so.' " It does not say God waved his hand and - poof - it was all there. I would ask if God's method of creation is what science calls evolution. I will not stand too close to those who claim to have knowledge of all of God's intentions or ways. But evolution may well be the means of creation, and we should seek to understand the science in it that God offers to us. To do otherwise is to reject God.
Toms River, N.J.
Regarding the May 4 article on lawn mowers: We spend money, time, and energy (stored as fat on the body) going to the gym; we also spend energy (gasoline) on engines which produce pollution. Now, if we used reel mowers we would not need the gym or gasoline, there would be no emissions or air pollution, no gasoline spills. Most important, the neighbor can mow at 7 a.m. on Saturday and not wake me up!
What would we get from the deal? We would get a workout at home and a cleaner environment. We would become more healthy and less polluted.
I think of this especially when I see overweight men using riding mowers for a small lawn (if it is less than half an acre, no riding is necessary).
Usually these people look like they could use more exercise and less smoke in their eyes. That is just my opinion.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, 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.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
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 Letters.