o the editor:
I will respect the 11th grade class at Veritas Christian School by ignoring their age. Their letter stated that teachers should explain that "evolution is not a fact." The class is correct, as is the theory of evolution, because the theory subsumes truckloads of facts. As the National Academy of Science stated, "Theories ... incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses and logical inferences." Saying that evolution is in doubt because it is "only" a theory is mere gobbledygook.
Evolution on a small scale is easily observable in and out of laboratories. Have you wondered why penicillin, once a wonder drug, no longer works against many bacteria?
"Mitochondrial Eve" has attracted considerable attention, but "she" does not threaten evolution. The highly technical issue is whether the mutation rate of mitochondria suggests that our Most Recent Common Matrilineal Ancestor (called "Eve") lived around 6,500 or else 150,000-plus years ago. You and your teachers should avoid drawing conclusions unless, unlike me, you understand arguments such as, "Gibbons (1998) refers to mutations that cause heteroplasmy (inheritance of two or more mtDNA sequences). ... Mitochondrial Eve research ... is based only on substitution mutation rates," and, "The fixed mutational rate outside the D-loop is constant and can be used as an accurate mutational 'clock.' "
Last, it is irrelevant whether you find a theory "truly satisfying." Such satisfaction comes from the arts, good food, love and religious faith, all extraneous to science. Good scientists are never satisfied. They are too busy trying to find something new.