Faith, Reason and HumanismIn her Oct. 17 response to...


November 02, 1992

Faith, Reason and Humanism

In her Oct. 17 response to Philip Stahl's letter about humanist values, Mary Ann Ayd is correct when she says that science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.

However, Mr. Stahl's point was that since there is no scientific evidence for the existence of God, no onus should be put on rationalists for their nonbelief.

Ms. Ayd also quoted Mr. Stahl as saying, "The basis for all religion is not rationally motivated but arises from a highly subjective and emotive background."

To which Ms. Ayd answered: "Why should we acknowledge such a presumptive statement?" Yet later she concedes that "most of us who believe in the existence of God know perfectly well that such a belief is a matter of faith." That is what Mr. Stahl was saying in so many words.

Regarding Genesis, we have something completely different insofar as evidence and faith is concerned. It is one thing to have faith in something for which there is no evidence for or against; it is quite another to believe something that is contradicted by the evidence.

For example, according to the Bible, creation occurred about 6,000 years ago. However, there is considerable scientific evidence that Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Moreover, we can see galaxies that are billions of light years away, which means that the light we see them by has traveled for billions of years, and we see them as they existed billions of years ago.

We can even see events that occurred before the biblical creation supposedly occurred: For example, in 1987 a supernova (a massive star blowing up) was observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud, but that explosion actually took place 169,000 years ago because it has taken its light that long to reach us.

Ms. Ayd said that even creationists who take Genesis literally do not think the point is how the world was created, but that God created it. If that is so, then why are the creationists trying so hard to get their mythology taught as science in the schools?

People who believe in the existence of God accept all sorts of irrational and unwarranted propositions concerning God, then condemn as somehow immoral anyone who does not accept those propositions.

However, if there is no God, then the Bible is merely a collection of myths, superstitions and embellished histories.

Even if there is a God, that does not mean that the Bible is His word, any more than it would mean that the Koran is or the Book of Mormon or any other sacred text.

The problem with faith is that it leads to so many diverse and contradictory viewpoints. The followers of each faith consider every other faith an abomination. The rationalist, however, says that none of them can be accepted without question.

David Persuitte


Unsung Heroes

R.O. Bonnell Jr. (letter to the editor, Oct. 16) will be very pleased to learn that rewarding and recognizing exemplary teachers is a top priority for many of us in Baltimore City.

In my capacity as director of programs promoting teacher effectiveness throughout Baltimore City for the Fund for Educational Excellence, I have the opportunity to visit many of our schools and converse with those teachers who so creatively implement projects we fund.

I am unendingly excited and invigorated by the creative teaching strategies that I am privileged to witness and the reactions to those strategies by students.

Our newest initiative, "Teachers for Teachers," is a program which allows educators to share their successful ideas with one another. It provides money for the dissemination and adaptation of meritorious strategies.

Teachers network with one another, attend professional summits and workshops, contribute to national newsletters and are given a "voice" through teacher-led forums.

Further, the Kurt L. Schmoke Teacher Award, which the fund promotes, pays tribute to superlative teachers exhibiting excellence. The repeated recognition of their accomplishments, perhaps long overdue, acknowledges and supports their tireless efforts.

Teachers, truly the unsung heroes of our times, can never be thanked enough. For it is their nurturing, their compassion, and their vision that inspires students to achieve and to be successfully led into their adult lives.

Drue K. Whitney


Second Look

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Those famous words of Charles Dickens have a familiar ring, given our country's present condition.

America is a blessed nation but that doesn't mean there won't be tough times or hardship.

The good times have spoiled us but we are a tough, resilient people who can pull from our faith and use our forefathers' beliefs -- neighbors help neighbors.

That is what we need now -- a closeness in families and neighborhoods. Job holders helping those without jobs.

The problems are global. Famine in Somalia, ethnic killing in Yugoslavia and economic chaos in the former Soviet Union, to name just a few. This bigger picture should make us take a second look at our problems at home.

Doris Ann Lee

Perry Hall

Superb Turandot

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