- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

Darwinism rests on faith

Because God, by definition is a pure spirit and human beings cannot sense spirits, His existence can neither be proved nor disproved. Therefore, it is as much an act of faith to deny His existence as to believe in it. By extension, it is as much an act of faith to deny the possibility of "intelligent design" in creation and evolution as to believe in it. Neither position can be proved. Thus, those scientists who reject out of hand the idea of intelligent design are operating as much on the basis of faith as believers. Consequently, Sen. Rick Santorum is exactly right in his March 14 Commentary column, "Illiberal education in Ohio schools," in backing the proposal before the Ohio Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinism.
I think what really scares opponents of the intelligent design theory is that when it and Darwinism are laid out side by side and compared, Darwinism comes off second-best and students will see that. No one can prove that Darwinism is wrong, but it is a lot easier to believe some intelligent being had a hand in the evolutionary process than that it all just happened by chance and natural selection. Darwin's theory provides a reasonable explanation of how ducks got webbed feet, but It takes a real act of faith to accept the idea that chance and natural selection alone got us from inert chemicals to microbes to ducks and human beings.


Driving under the influence of prayer

Concerning "Praying bus driver sues school board" (March 13), the issue may not be religious persecution, but it is becoming evident that the behavior of Carroll County school officials is one of deliberate harassment even outright persecution and bullying of a new school bus driver. Every mistake mentioned in stories about this driver are mistakes even the best school bus drivers, with countless years of experience, can make more than once in their careers. An overwhelming emotional moment of praying, triggered by the September 11 event, is so insignificant a disciplinary issue that it should warrant nothing more than casual mention or a simple debriefing by school authorities.
All new school bus drivers are at risk on the road. Treating other school bus drivers like this particular driver would mean Carroll County would have no certified school bus drivers none. Dare any Carroll County school bus driver say amen to that?

Lebanon, Ore.

Evolution is based on science

I disagree with Sen. Rick Santorum's March 14 Commentary column, "Illiberal education in Ohio schools," on the validity of teaching intelligent design in science classes. The question is not one of allowing open debate and discussion, but rather, of whether intelligent design is an actual scientific theory or merely a belief or hypothesis.
Scientific theory unlike political or philosophical theory relies on a prescribed method of investigation, peer review of results and, most important, peer duplication of results. We hear a lot of news about cloning the theories involved in cloning Dolly the sheep have been proved by replication of the cloning process by others in the scientific community. We hear little of cold fusion anymore; its theories and methods did not yield replicable results.
Evolution has gained acceptance in the scientific community for the very reason that investigations and experiments in into its principles and nature can be demonstrated and duplicated. Even laypeople are confronted by the evidence of evolution in their daily lives whether they want to believe in its existence or not. When my older child was growing up, it was still the practice in the medical field to generously administer antibiotics for any sore throat so as to eliminate the possibility of a strep infection. By the time my younger child came along, the medical profession was aware of the evolution of bacteria, and antibiotics were administered only after a culture had determined that strep bacteria actually were present. I am sure the senator has heard the phrase "antibiotic-resistant" used to describe the tuberculosis strains that are a constant threat to our medical professionals. Those strains are the result of the evolution of bacteria.
Intelligent design has not gained acceptance in the scientific community because its postulators have not come up with scientific experiments to demonstrate its principles and nature. People are being asked to accept it as a valid theory because of the logic of its possibility, not because of any repeatable experiments that embody its principles. When one is asked to believe in something because of arguments, not experimental proofs, it is not science.
Postulating the hypothesis that intelligent design exists is a viable scientific beginning now the people behind it must follow through with the remaining steps of using the hypothesis to make predictions, testing those predictions by experiments or further observations and modifying the hypothesis in the light of their results. They must repeat the predicting and modifying steps until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation. Their experiments must be able to be replicated by any member of the scientific community, anywhere. If this cannot be done, intelligent design will remain a hypothesis, a supposition or a belief, but not a valid scientific theory. There is precious little time in the school curriculum to teach all the new real science that has been, and is being, discovered we don't need to teach untested hypotheses, too.
P.S. Senator Santorum Public belief in a hypothesis does not make it a scientific truth. Remember your old school lessons; a common belief in medieval Europe was that the world was flat.

Bethel, Ohio

Vouchers without strings unlikely

William Rusher's March 14 Commentary column, "The ABC's of tuition vouchers," held many truths about the dark side of public education, such as the racism and self-serving interests of various stakeholders. Education has become big business a self-perpetuating, tax-funded monopoly of government bureaucracy and an experimental lab for special-interest groups. I totally agree that something must be done to offer those trapped in poor schools a way out, but I do not think vouchers are the best and only answer.
One argument against vouchers that was not raised is the one I see as the most valid. Vouchers would give government a foot in the door into private schools. This already has happened in private colleges and universities that accept federal funds. Once the strings attached to government money are tied to private education, those schools gradually will become extensions of the public school system, with all the ideologies and politics that have created the problems inherent in that system. The only way vouchers would work would be if there were no absolutely no strings attached to their use for the parents, students or private schools. In this age of accountability to government, this will never happen.
Current education reforms are only going to exacerbate the problems by turning inner-city schools into something akin to job-training centers rather than institutions of genuine academic instruction. With the rise of national standards and federally mandated testing drawing all schools into the same mold, the future looks bleak indeed. Maybe the answer lies not in allowing inner-city youths to escape, but in giving back control of the schools to the parents. If parents thought they really could make a difference in their schools, don't you think most would rise to the challenge? In order for that to happen, we may have to remove Uncle Sam & Co. from the education business altogether. Can you imagine what would happen to inner-city economics if we gave back the nearly 50 percent of taxes paid out to support public education? Maybe parents could afford to do something better for their children with a windfall like that.

Eden Prairie, Minn.

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