Letters to the Editor

Professor agrees with editorial headline but not idea presented

I read with interest the editorial in Friday’s Stater. While I would agree with the headline – “Intelligent design shows flaws in education” – I believe that applies more to the members of the editorial staff than the generic high school classroom described in the piece. Deficiencies in your education relative to the understanding of “science” as a pursuit or process led to some unsupported conclusions. First and foremost, to suggest that scientific theory is “settled” would be incorrect. We (scientists) continually review and revise theory as new evidence (provided through experimentation, observation, correlation, modeling, etc.) becomes available. The simplistic explanation for the diversity of life that intelligent design provides – it’s too complex, therefore a deity must have done it – explains nothing. Design the experiments to prove or support the hypotheses related to intelligent design, generate some data and I’ll be happy to consider it, as well as teach it alongside the theory of evolution. The beautiful thing about the theory of evolution is that it is supported by such a broad range of disciplines (and resulting evidence) including the fields of physics, chemistry, anthropology, geology, cosmology, and mathematics – just to name a few.

“Our science” as you call it, has provided human kind with a variety of products and approaches including but certainly not limited to the discovery and design of antibiotics, life-saving medications, fertility treatments, cancer therapies, surgical approaches, the light bulb, the car, the cellular phone and even the iPod. Certainly the process used to produce the aforementioned must have been validated (by your simple acceptance or use) at some point in your lives.

Kim R. Finer, Ph.D. Biological sciences, Stark Campus

Reader disappointed with editorial’s stance on intelligent design

I read the editorial on Friday (“Intelligent design shows flaws in education”) with dismay. Indeed, it appears that intelligent design shows flaws in education, at least the education of some.

It is a most interesting example of building an argument on restructuring education. The biological theory of natural selection is about as settled as the theory of universal gravitation. And just as a complete understanding of gravity entails study of relativity theory in addition to Newtonian mechanics, a thorough examination of biological evolution begins with botany or zoology and includes historical geology and paleontology besides.

If one is searching for a framework for instruction in critical thinking, there are so many more examples. Fourth- or fifth-graders could debate whether the Earth is flat or spherical, and can understand the observations required to demonstrate each hypothesis. Opportunities abound.

The history of the intelligent design movement reveals the underlying political motivation behind the “teach the controversy” argument. Intelligent design is but the foot in the door leading to the replacement of “materialistic explanations” with the understanding that nature and human beings are created by God in science education (Discovery Institute). Intelligent design is a form of creationism lite, with no scientific credentials to its name.

Science educators would find it more productive to teach critical thinking by studying real scientific examples, such as the theories of plate tectonics, or relativity, or molecular genetics. This process is efficient, combining both the development of critical thinking and the learning of real scientific data and understanding. Pseudo-science like intelligent d esign isn’t fully up to the task. I’m disappointed in you.

Cal Frye Class of ’78, ’89