Attack on Darwin
Our report on the growing controversy over teaching "intelligent design"--a faith-based alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution--in public-school classrooms drew hundreds of impassioned letters from scientists, clergy, educators and students on both sides of the debate, all arguing for freedom of thought
The implications of the "Evolution Wars" over teaching intelligent design along with Darwinian theory are primarily philosophical, not scientific [Aug. 15]. To suggest that stimulating debate about evolution would hamper U.S. leadership in science and technology is ridiculous. Teaching the controversy can challenge students like me to think analytically about what we are learning.
Dallas Center, Iowa
The headline for the TIME forum of experts' views on the intelligent-design debate, "Can You Believe in God and Evolution?", posed a misleading question. Belief has nothing to do with acceptance of the theory of evolution or any other scientific theory; observations and data have everything to do with acceptance. Science accepts evolution as the logical conclusion of multiple lines of evidence, countless experiments and observations stretching back more than 150 years. Because beliefs cannot be validated or disproved in the world of science, they have no place in scientific debate.
FRED SPILHAUS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION
Evolutionists are trying to maintain a kind of dictatorship in our schools that allows for nothing but one theory and denies students the right to think for themselves. Evolutionists are un-American and are afraid that if intelligent design is discussed, students might take more interest in God than in science.
In my medical practice, evolution is not just a theory espoused by a long-dead naturalist. I see evolution at work when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics or when cancer cells grow despite chemotherapeutic regimens. Without Darwin's theory of evolution as a framework, medical science would still be in the days of bloodletting and demons.
YEE CHANG, M.D.
Evolution is being taught as unquestionable scientific dogma. As a high school student, I have repeatedly observed that any attempt to debate Darwin's theory is immediately shot down by the teacher and quickly followed with the accusation, direct or implied, that the student who dares to think outside the evolutionary box is an anti-intellectual idiot. That approach hampers science, for it is a field that thrives on the testing of theories and on the questioning and seeking of more accurate knowledge. How will science ever be able to progress if students are told there is only one way to think?
The debate over Darwinian evolution vs. intelligent design is not one of science vs. religion or of two competing theories. It is a debate of science vs. nonscience. Evolution is a scientific theory supported by scientific evidence. There is no evidence for intelligent design. It is an idea, not a theory. It cannot even be called a hypothesis since it is untestable. As such, intelligent design is better taught in a theology or social-studies class than in a science class.