Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 12, 2008

Science endorses evolution

After reading "Scientists say evolution fits" (Jan. 5), I want to take issue with the statement, "Despite what the NAS says is incontrovertible scientific evidence, nearly 150 years after Charles Darwin first proposed his ideas in his paper, On the Origin of Species, a controversy still swirls."

There is absolutely no controversy among scientists that evolution by natural selection has in fact occurred and explains the diversity and complexity of life on Earth today.

The "theory" of evolution is as accepted by science as the "theory" that the Earth is round and the "theory" that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

The scientific definition of a "theory" is different from the definition of the term in popular use.

A scientific theory is a logical explanation, or a testable model of a set of natural phenomena, which is capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and of being tested through experiment or falsified through empirical observation - not just a conjecture or speculation, as the common use of the term "theory" might suggest.

The theory of creation science and intelligent design has no place in the classroom because it is by no means scientific by any definition and is untestable and faith-based.

It is a travesty of American life that our electorate and some local school boards even consider letting faith-based non-science into our classrooms or electing politicians guided by beliefs in creation science and intelligent design.

Dr. Gregory Pokrywka

Towson

The writer is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

As a scientist, I see that much of the "controversy" surrounding evolution arises because distinctions are not made between a scientific theory about something and the thing itself.

Science does not have a complete theory of gravity, but there is no controversy about whether gravity exists or not.

The same is true with evolution.

There is no scientific controversy about whether evolution takes place, even though the theory of evolution is not complete.

Students need to understand this fact.

Bradley Alger

Baltimore

The article "Scientists say evolution fits" is a refreshing resurrection of an old controversy. It misses a point, however, that all of the articles on this issue I have read over the years also miss - the idea that evolution could be not an alternative to an intelligent creation of the universe but a result enabled by an intelligently designed universe.

As an engineer, a physical scientist and a volunteer at the Maryland Science Center, I regularly deal with the undeniable evidence that evolution exists.

As time goes on, everything in the physical world is constantly changing. Animals change, plants change, the Earth changes, stars change, live and die. This is, without any question, an indication that everything in the universe is in a state of flux and therefore evolving into something different than it was last week or in the last millennia.

Some say that all these changes are a result of the actions of natural forces, of random collision of atoms or the natural selection of the survival of the fittest.

However, all of these explanations depend on the existence of orderly interactions of what are called laws of nature.

What I would like to see discussed - by people better able to do so than I am - is whether these laws of nature were designed by some unknowable superior intelligence in such a way that the evolution we observe all the time can exist.

Sidney Rankin

Baltimore

Loss of freedoms is happening here

Citizens should heed Leonard Pitts Jr.'s warning in his column "Imagine the worst: It can happen here" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 6).

The "it" is fascism.

The title should be changed, however, to "It is happening here."

The change from an open society to a fascist one is a process, and as the column points out, some of the foundations for American fascism are already in place.

Under the Military Commission Act of 2006, the president has sole authority to designate anyone an enemy combatant and to detain that person indefinitely without recourse to a habeas corpus review.

Put another way, under the law, the president can, acting arbitrarily, lock any American citizen away forever.

More recently, the House passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Senate action on this bill is pending.

If implemented, the law would establish a temporary commission to report on internal subversion in the United States and a permanent body to study political dissent as a potential threat.

Complacency in the face of such threats to liberty is akin to complicity.

John Bailey

Edgemere

How state calculates the sales tax owed

Speaking for myself only, and not as an official representative of the office of the comptroller, I feel compelled to defend the tax computations of the comptroller's office.

The tax schedules for the state are all based on a median number within a range.

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