To the editor:
Justin Smitley, on Sept. 23, dismissed evolution on the grounds that "Darwin's theory is still very much without facts," and that evolutionary theory "basically says I can throw parts of a watch into a tornado and have it come out a working, fully together watch." Both his claims are nonsense, rooted in the misinformation that creationists pass off as scholarship.
First, the evidence for evolution is so vast that it takes years to master. One example among millions: In 2001, Gingerich and Zalmout reported the discovery of 47-million-year-old fossils of "walking whales," a species intermediate between land and sea mammals. There's so much more evidence. Raymond Sutera wrote that scientists have collected paleontological, morphological, molecular biological, vestigial, embryological, geochemical, paleoenvironmental, paleobiogeographical and chronological evidence about whale evolution.
Second, Mr. Smitley's comment about watches and tornados embodies the naive hopelessness on which intelligent design is built. Science constantly explains what had seemed impossible, for example, how a small lump of plutonium can destroy a city. Step by step, biologists are explaining the how of evolution. In contrast, intelligent designers merely complain that no explanations will ever be found - until they are.
Evolutionary theory is incomplete, just as is the theory of gravitation, it's still unclear how gravity is transmitted. But the evidence for both is overwhelming. Teaching so-called alternatives to evolution in a science class is as silly as jumping off a cliff on the grounds that gravity is only a theory and alternatives exist to breaking your neck.