Archive for Saturday, June 19, 1999


June 19, 1999


To the editor:

From far-away Canada, my attention is drawn to Ellen Barber's letter on the evolution-creation clash. As you can imagine, I was interested in her analysis of my defence of evolution in the 1981 Arkansas court case, over "balanced treatment" of evolution and creation in the biology classes in the state's schools. I was touched by her reference to my troubled conscience, which apparently led me to regret my testimony, given that she says now I realize that evolution is in the same religious bag as creationism.

This is a good story; I wish it were true. Unfortunately, as Charles Darwin's "bulldog," Thomas Henry Huxley, said of a friend's wild speculation, here we have the tragedy of a beautiful hypothesis destroyed by an ugly little fact. I have always believed that evolution is used for religious ends! There are 250 years of history showing that evolutionists have reached into their theory for moral and spiritual meaning: the need to promote ongoing change and the special place of humankind, the virtues of struggle in society as well as in nature, the emergence of morality and mutual aid in the face of life's challenges, and much more.

As I have been willing to tell all who would listen, this not is the whole truth. There is a scientific side to evolution. You find this in the biology departments of universities and in the learned journals and monographs. The side where theory is tested against experience in nature and experiment, which has no place for values or hopes or moral and political pronouncements. That's what I defended in Arkansas and it's this which stands apart from creationism as science not religion.

I am glad that Ellen Barber's letter allows me to repeat: Science is science and religion is religion. Evolution-as-science should be taught in science classes. Evolution-as-religion should not be taught in science classes. And the same goes for Creationism except that it is religion only and always and should never be taught in science classes.

Michael Ruse,

professor of philosophy and zoology,

University of Guelph, Ontario.

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