What's immoral is failing to teach kids scientific...


August 29, 1999

What's immoral is failing to teach kids scientific truths

David Vannoy's letter regarding the recent decision by the Kansas Board of Education barring the teaching of evolution in state schools ("Kansas shows courage in reviving moral roots," Aug. 20) raises several questions that ought to be addressed.

Mr. Vannoy asks, "Is it not censorship to preclude teaching creationism?" Perhaps the question should be rephrased, "Is it censorship to preclude the teaching of pseudoscience as science?" No, of course not.

Should the flat-earth theory or the earth-centered theory of the universe be taught in science courses?

Why should creationism, an idea rooted in Biblical creation and flood stories, and therefore fundamentally religious, be taught as science? A more appropriate place to study creationism would be a history of ideas or comparative religion course.

Mr. Vannoy also asks, "Is evolutionary theory the sole premise for the study of science?"

Again, no. But, taken separately, neither are quantum theory, Newtonian mechanics, or theories about gravity, relativity, cells or plate tectonics.

Should these scientific theories also be discarded because they are not the "sole premise for the study of science"?

The real reason for opposition to the theory of evolution appears in Mr. Vannoy's last statement: "Perhaps more parents would move to Maryland if its leaders and institutions showed some of Kansas' courage to return us to our moral roots."

The implication that the acceptance of evolution and the rejection of a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story somehow leads to moral decay is not only simplistic, but untenable.

How does one explain morally upright evolutionists?

John Soos, Arbutus

David Vannoy's letter incorrectly implies that evolutionary theory is immoral. He goes on to suggest that Maryland would benefit by keeping evolution out of its school curriculum.

On the contrary, failing to teach a valid scientific theory is immoral.

To say that evolution cannot be proved ignores that genetics and heredity -- the basic tools of evolution -- are witnessed every day in laboratories and used to develop new, life-saving medicines .

The notion that Kansas is returning to its "moral roots" is unbelievable. The theory of evolution does not hinder morality, only intransigent religious dogma.

It is a shame that we must once again fight to preserve knowledge. Maryland should be proud that it has not entered a debate many of us thought had been settled long ago.

Jared M. English, Ellicott City

Use tobacco money for smoking-related ills

The Maryland General Assembly agrees with Gov. Parris N. Glendening that addressing the public health problems associated with smoking should be our first priority in spending the state's tobacco settlement dollars.

That's why we enacted House Bill 751, which requires the governor to spend at least half these funds for such purposes -- most notably preventing teen-agers from smoking and prevention, treatment and research concerning cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

In his speech to the Maryland Association of Counties Aug. 21, the governor raised the specter of tobacco settlement money being diverted to tax cuts or road construction ("New rules proposed for school aid," Aug. 22).

He failed to mention that a law on the books governs use of these funds.

Samuel I. Rosenberg, Annapolis

The writer represents Legislative District 42 in the Maryland House of Delegates. He was the lead sponsor of House Bill 751.

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