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Archive for Sunday, December 19, 2004

Scientific theory

December 19, 2004

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To the editor:

Ann Heschmeyer (Public Forum, Dec. 15) wrote "the evolutionist's denial of man's immortal soul reduces you to the level of an animal." This statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding about science. Science makes no conclusions about our souls. Science relies on observations of the natural world, so it cannot tell us anything about the supernatural. Scientists do not exclude God from their explanations as a personal preference; they do so because God cannot be observed or measured.

Another common misconception is that evolution is "just" a theory. The word theory, as it is used in science, is different from how it is used in everyday language. A scientific theory is an explanation supported by repeated observations and experiments. Evolution is the only explanation of the diversity of life that has been repeatedly supported by observation and experiments; that is why scientists have accepted it over other alternatives.

Another common theory taught in our schools is gravity. Gravity is something we all experience and, therefore, do not question its theoretical explanation. Most people would find it absurd to teach alternative explanations to gravity, so why should we teach alternative explanations to other well-supported theories like evolution?

The controversy over evolution and creationism/intelligent design in our schools is unique to the United States. It is an important part of our cultural and civil history and should be discussed in a comparative religion or social studies course. It is not appropriate to include this non-scientific debate in the science curriculum.

Erin Questad,

Lawrence

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