Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

November 12, 2005

`Design' advocates must produce proof

This surreal trial leaves me pinching myself so I may be convinced that I actually live in 21st-century America as opposed to some dark corner of medieval Europe ("`Intelligent design' trial testimony ends," Nov. 5).

Reporter Arthur Hirsch writes that plaintiff's attorney Stephen G. Harvey, prior to his closing arguments, quoted the following excerpt from a book called Of Pandas and People, saying that intelligent design "locates the origins of new organisms in an immaterial cause: in a blueprint, a plan, a pattern, devised by an intelligent designer."

Heresy this may be to the Discovery Institute, a think tank that promotes intelligent design, but I reject their intelligent designer for not being intelligent enough to design evolution and for relying on an unverifiable blueprint to set all life in motion.

Instead, advocates of intelligent design are using dogmas to bulldoze their way into the academic world of science.

The theory of evolution's fallacies or missing links are not enough reason to debunk the theory or install intelligent design as its equal partner.

We should train our students to refute fallacious scientific theories with rigorously formulated arguments and proofs. And we should never bow to ignoramuses who employ politics and sophistry to dilute science.

Global fossil hunts are yielding the missing links in the theory of evolution. This theory will continue to unfold.

In the meantime, if we do not want our science to stagnate, our students to be stultified and our country to become a laughingstock on the world stage, we should stop the insidious march of intelligent design.

Usha Nellore

Bel Air

Theory can offer a chance to reflect

As a math teacher, I see merit in intelligent design ("`Intelligent design' trial testimony ends," Nov. 5). But I do not believe that it has the necessary scientific merit to be taught in science classes. I do not believe that ID has accrued the evidence to show that the theory is scientific in nature.

The proponents of ID say that the designer does not, in fact, have to be the God of the Christian religion, but rather could be any one of an infinite number of possibilities.

I see this as an opportunity to discuss other possible designers and try to find out what each person may believe.

As such, I feel that ID would be a much better subject for a class in philosophy.

In a philosophy class, the teachers could discuss ideas and have "thought talks" in which students can share their views on certain topics while learning and becoming more educated in formulating their opinions on various topics and coming up with new ideas.

Intelligent design has presented us with a great opportunity for discussion.

Andrew L. Brown

Jessup

Demonizing critics of stem cell work

I read with interest the results of The Sun's poll on stem cell funding ("State voters back stem cell funding," Nov. 8). And the article is typical.

Those who are for embryonic stem cell research are portrayed as open-minded. The opponents of using embryonic stem cells are religious bigots. They oppose it for the reasons given by Robert Baynes (that the research is immoral).

It is like the Scopes "Monkey Trial" again - at least in the popular portrayal of one side as the uniformed, moralistic hillbilly prudes and the other side as intellectual, open-minded progressives.

But nothing is said about the fact that there have been no cures found using embryonic stem cells.

On the other hand, non-embryonic stem cells are readily available from many other sources and (many believe) actually show more promise, are readily available with rapidly improving techniques and do not raise the same level of ethical or moral questions that the use of embryonic stem cells raises.

Also typically missing in this debate is the point that only federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is disallowed. Private or industry funding is allowed.

If there was such great promise for embryonic stem cells, where is the private money? Industry will put its money where there is promise of a windfall return.

The absence of this private-sector funding makes one wonder whether there really is such promise.

Steve Shive

White Hall

Anne Arundel leads in protecting lands

The Anne Arundel County Alliance for Fair Land Use was disappointed with The Sun's assertion that County Executive Janet S. Owens' refusal to push for a tax to restore eroded and polluted waters in Anne Arundel County showed a deficit of leadership ("A leadership deficit," editorial, Oct. 19).

The Sun says there is a powerful case to be made, but it is incorrect in its facts.

The primary sources of pollution of the Chesapeake Bay are the nitrogen and phosphorus that come from agricultural run-off such as cow, chicken and swine manure and farm fertilizer. This waste comes primarily from the Eastern Shore.

The farmers need to face the same strict guidelines that we have in Anne Arundel County for residential and commercial development. It is that simple.

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