- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

'Darwinism' is hardly in decline

Philip Gold, in his Commentary article "End of Darwinism?" (Oct. 25), makes statements so scientifically ignorant that they cry out for immediate response. As a working scientist, I would like to comment on Mr. Gold's pomposities, and on those of similarly self-assured lay "thinkers" about evolution.

Albert Einstein is no more "in trouble," as Mr. Gold claims, than physics is in trouble. Only someone who knows no physics would claim the contrary. Relativity remains triumphantly central to modern physics; Einstein remains one of the intellectual heroes of science.

"Darwinism" the silly name by which biology, including evolutionary biology, is reviled by the ignorant is not "virtually stagnant." Evolutionary thought is at the center of all modern biology. The newest and most exciting interdisciplinary fields, such as evolutionary psychology, depend upon its solid core of knowledge.

All the things Mr. Gold says "can't be explained" (the Cambrian explosion, "irreducible complexity") have been explained, well enough anyway to satisfy 1,000 world experts on the history of life on Earth. Not one of the experts, incidentally, is a devotee of "Intelligent Design" or anything like it.

Jonathan Wells has made a huge fuss over some very old and rather imaginative drawings of vertebrate embryos, building up a conspiracy theory of "Darwinism" that outshines even Hollywood on the Kennedy assassination. This argument is irrelevant to any issue of contemporary science, especially to embryology (which is my field).

Finally, "Intelligent Design" is Thomas Aquinas' and William Paley's venerable Argument from Design. It ceased to be taken seriously by anyone in, say, 1850. The new version of it, pushed hard with money and passion in Mr. Gold's Seattle, adds nothing to science: only confusion for biblical literalists and a nuisance for scientists.

All the above is easily checked by anyone who reads the real literature. And oh, I too (like Mr. Wells) have two doctoral degrees, and will be happy to match scholarly and scientific credentials with anybody in Seattle.


University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus

University of Virginia


Front page photos capture Clinton character

One need look no farther than your Oct. 30 front page to see why Texas Gov. George Bush must be elected president.

The Clinton-Gore administration's legacy is summed up in the two photos there: President Clinton's fakery of faith while campaigning for Vice President Al Gore in Alexandria's Alfred Street Baptist Church, his hands clasped piously and eyes uplifted, and his distasteful Esquire cover appearance underneath. The only thing this administration and a prospective Gore administration have to offer is shamelessness, in a nation desperately in need of the restoration of propriety.

Mr. Bush's pledge to restore honor and dignity to the Oval Office is more than a line in a campaign speech. It is a prescription for the restoration of this republic.



Fuel consumption can be reduced without expanding government

Thank you for your Oct. 27 editorial "Apocalyptics for Gore." As you suggest, global warming may or may not be a threat, and if so, of an undetermined magnitude. Regardless, high taxes on carbon-based fuels are not the only way to reduce carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, or even the best way. They are, however, the preferred approach of liberals in government because they increase government revenues and, ultimately, government reach.

One example of another approach may prove enlightening. The primary energy efficiency of the U.S. electric power industry (electricity consumed by customers divided by energy used to produce electricity) is approximately 27 percent. The technology exists to increase this efficiency to approximately 70 percent, using more efficient generators and recovering the massive quantities of thermal energy rejected by the power generators to meet customers' space heating and cooling, water heating, process heating and other needs.

The U.S. Department of Energy has spent more than a decade trying to force relatively minor improvements in the efficiency of electric appliances, while ignoring the potential to more than double the efficiency of the process which provides the electricity. Am I missing something?


Warrenton, Va.

The return of universal health care?

There has been a lot of talk about universal health care in this election year. Vice President Al Gore says that prescription drugs for the elderly is a first step in that direction. There is a glaring problem in having the federal government as the sole health care provider, and nowhere has it been expressed more clearly than in a speech given by President Clinton in laying out his plan to create such a system. Mr. Clinton demanded that people take more responsibility for their health, not for their sake, but as an obligation to society to help keep down health care costs. He cited AIDS, smoking, excessive drinking, and teen pregnancy as examples. The notion of health care as a collective asset is made possible only by a collectivist (communist) view of the individual and society. The clear implication of the Clinton message is that at some point individual behavior that is deemed damaging to society as a whole can be deemed as criminal activity. If the government decides that your diet or other lifestyle choices are contributing to rising health care costs, you could find yourself facing fines or criminal sanctions for your personal behavior. You could also be denied government-provided health care if it is decided that your personal eating, exercise, sexual, or other habits have contributed to your health problems. If any of you want to run the risk of being labeled an enemy of the state then universal health care is for you.


Grass Valley, Calif.

Military is already politicized

Eliot Cohen's Oct. 27 Letter to the Editor ("Military endorsements have political consequences") is an attempt to muzzle retired officers with the threat of politics. Unless these misguided officers are muzzled, Mr. Cohen frets, politics will intrude upon the selection of senior military advisers. Now, I hate to be the bearer of shocking news, but due to today's climate of political correctness and an ever-growing sensitive military culture dedicated to being kinder and gentler and less warriorlike, his fear that we are to soon see a politicized senior officer corps is today a fact. Indeed, for the past eight years, except for Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former chief of staff of the Air Force, we rarely see senior officers withstand the political whirlwinds and remain firm in their commitment to providing their best military advice, unencumbered by politics. And politics is to blame.

Why is that? Essentially, you promote only those who agree with the prevailing political agenda. And today's agenda is increasingly anti-male, anti-warrior and pro-feminist. This results in a situation where those officers who compromise their principles advance up the ladder. This is bad. What is worse are the true believers who embrace political agendas and actively work against the warrior culture. So, I hate to break it to Mr. Cohen, politics already shapes the officer corps. And this bodes ill for the defense of our country.



Kent D. Johnson is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, a former fighter pilot, and political-military adviser with assignments with the U.S. Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

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