Letters to the Editor

God and Science; Potshot or Put-on? You Decide.; Dancing Around the Issue

God and Science

Looking for the wrong miracle: "Intelligent design" is silly nonsense ("Looking for God at Berkeley," June 20). If we can't understand how some feature of life on Earth came about naturally, then we claim it's "irreducibly complex" and thrill to have found the handiwork of God. This is not science; it's not even close. Science is the idea that we should not throw up our hands, but keep working on the things we don't understand, and try to construct a theory -- an explanation. "Intelligent design" doesn't explain anything.

Those poor people at UC Berkeley, trying so hard to find the miracle that marks God, have totally missed the real, awesome miracle of life itself. Life, by its very nature, can make changes to itself. That's why there are so many different forms of life, adapted to so many different niches.

Surely, being Bible Christians trained as scientists, these folks must believe their God created our system of nature, which all works together and follows rules we can understand. But paradoxically, their religious beliefs blind them to this obvious evidence of an awesome creator. They won't see the hand of God unless God does a trick -- something that disrupts the system of nature and makes it not work. Nature that does work does not impress them.

Steve Geller

Darwin's new clothes: It's a delight to find out that someone in Berkeley besides Phillip Johnson recognizes that the emperor (Darwinism) is naked. Jed Macosko is a scientist, but his science is leading him to the "wrong" conclusions, at least as far as the Darwinian establishment is concerned. Unfortunately, Mark Athitakis' article is typical of what we see when intelligent design or creation science is addressed in the popular media. The issue is almost always cast as religion vs. science. There are manyhighly qualified scientists who are advocates of design or creation, and the number is increasing. It is not necessary to portray them as religious zealots or as having a nefarious religious agenda.

Darwinists complain that books like [biochemist Michael] Behe's Darwin's Black Boxstep outside the peer review process. Of course they would like to use the peer review process to keep the lid on the design movement. Submitting a scientific paper supporting a design argument to the Darwin-monopolized scientific community would be like submitting a paper on the merits of democracy and capitalism to the Chinese communist printing agency. It has about as much chance of being published as a snowball's chance in hell. As usual, advances in science are only made when the paradigm is shifted. Old ideas like Darwinism are hard to give up. In some respects, it is a religion vs. science issue, but both sides of the debate have religious and scientific axes to grind.

Chuck Nelson
Castro Valley

Leave it in the pew: A scientist is a person who conceives a hypothesis, devises an experiment to test it, then interprets the data from the experiment to confirm the hypothesis, deny it, or conclude that no conclusion is possible. Dr. Macosko is not doing this at all, therefore he is not doing science. He is posing as an authority in a field outside his specialty (theology, or possibly philosophy), and thereby helping to deceive the credulous. When he has some data regarding his hypothesis, I and many others would love to see it. Until then, he should confine his comments to the local church newspaper.

Michael Goldenberg
Duboce Triangle

Make some coffee; it could be a while: Excellent article. You presented both sides adequately, yet you (maybe unintentionally) helped to convince readers that there is a God who intelligently designed each one of us and our tiny little DNA strands. God is real. He created the world. Now we just have to wait and see how long it takes for everyone to realize that.

Laura Johnson
San Jose

We know people closer to 100 percent: Advocates of "intelligent design" hypotheses like Phillip Johnson scoff at evolution. Ironically, their scoffs are being drowned out in the flood of biological information pouring out of the many genome projects, all of which bolster the theory of evolution. We now know that in terms of gene numbers, our own genome is only twice the size of the humble fruit fly's, and 10 percent of our genes are shared with roundworms. The similarity between humans and animals, predicted by evolution, will become even more pronounced when the chimpanzee genome is completed. We already know that the overall genetic similarity between us and chimps is about 99 percent. Phillip Johnson better have a few scoffs saved up for that not-far-off day when we will know exactly the subtle genetic differences between a former Berkeley law professor and man's closest primate relative. My money's on the chimp and evolution having the last laugh.

Meanwhile, 10 years after Johnson's book Darwin on Trial, the scientific community awaits the debut of a single peer-reviewed paper on intelligent design in a recognized journal. The problem here is not one of science but philosophy; Johnson freely admits his Christian bias in Darwin on Trial. That is not to say scientists don't have biases, but the power of science is its ability to be self-correcting.

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