Belief systems belong to religion, not science
With all the attention being paid to evolution now in The Sun, I think it is important to realize that the word "evolution" really refers to two disparate but related ideas ("Witness says Pa. hurting science education," Sept. 27).
The first, natural selection, says that animals born with genetic traits that make them more fit will have more offspring, and thus the environment pushes the population to have certain traits. The second is that all biological species are the result of the action of natural selection on one or a few single-celled ancestors over millions of years, the so-called "origin of the species."
Darwin himself explained that if his hypothesis was true, the fossil record would contain every intermediate form for all species that are found. He said in his book, The Origin of the Species, that if the fossil record was incomplete, that would disprove his hypothesis.
The fossil record is indeed incomplete. In fact, it is so incomplete, that Stephen Jay Gould, the prominent evolutionist, had to come up with the hypothesis of "punctuated evolution" to account for the gaps. That hypothesis is still controversial and not accepted by all biologists. The elephant in the room is that evolution as the origin of species is on rather shaky ground according to Darwin's own criteria. When biologists talk about "belief" in evolution, and when they say evolution has been "proven" beyond a doubt, they are leaving the realm of science and turning evolution into a type of religion. Scientists should return to the scientific method, and leave belief systems to religion, where they belong.
Avraham Sonenthal, Baltimore
Downtown track could save racing
Michael Hill asks the question all those touting slots in Maryland should be asking: Can racing in Maryland, and its premier event, the Preakness, be saved? If so, is it worth the considerable costs of introducing slots? ("Racing Toward Oblivion, Sept. 25").
No doubt Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and other slots proponents will continue their quest, bearing the "Save Maryland Racing" standard. One can just hear him, in his best radio talk show bravado, saying, "Not on my watch," when asked about the loss of the Preakness. But while the watch of any governor is relatively short, the costs of his mistakes can last a lifetime.
If proponents of slots really want to save racing, and not just legalize another form of gambling, they should look for a new, innovative and bold approach to breath new life into this old sport. Carl A.J. Wright, Mr. Ehrlich's own appointee as the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, made just such a bold suggestion, a new track at the Camden Yards-M&T Bank Stadium complex. But nobody seems to be listening.
A new track could be managed by Magna Entertainment, which would have the opportunity to help design the optimal facility for its grand plan of a national racing broadcast network. It would be Magna's flagship track. In return, Magna would legally guarantee the Preakness in Baltimore for the long term as well as pay rent like the Ravens and Orioles. This new Pimlico could offer a night at the races as well as day racing. The Baltimore Convention Center and area hotels would promote the track, which would be only minutes away by shuttle or trolley, as another exciting attraction in Baltimore.
What we do know is that Pimlico and Laurel have failed to keep racing viable. Betting on them in the future doesn't make horse sense.
Eric F. Waller
Sheehan is fortunate to protest in America
So Cindy Sheehan is carried away smiling after being arrested for sitting on the sidewalk in front of the White House ("Sheehan arrested at White House," Sept. 27). She is lucky she lives in America. In many countries of the world she would not be smiling.
America is a great country and we should all appreciate the freedom we have to express our views without fear of persecution.
Rabbi Leonard Oberstein
United Nations' role limits its reach
Did the United Nations fail to deliver on promises of peace and hope, or did the world of nations fail to deliver? As the United Nations has no army, it cannot be blamed for starting or stopping wars ("At 60, United Nations fails to fulfill promise," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 28).
Likewise, the United Nations is not a singular political or economic power that can threaten independent, rogue nations onto a more humane path. Yes, the United Nations is bloated by its bureaucracy and corrupted by its undue influence, but there is no other place for nations to talk collectively.
The United Nations is a venue as effective as its individual members. Nations have disappointed the United Nations much more than the other way around.
FEMA saga shows depth of cronyism