Creationist’s column failed to back up outrageous, deceitful statements

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to read Jonathan Wells’ column (“Churches shouldn’t fall for Darwinists’ ploy,” 1/29), which was yet another dishonest criticism of the theory of evolution. Of course, given Dr. Wells’ affiliation with the Discovery Institute — the same think tank whose purpose stated in a 1998 internal memo is “to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies” — the nature of his column is hardly a surprise.

Wells’ arguments against evolution reveal either a profound ignorance of Darwin’s theory or a willful attempt to deceive the reader. For instance, Wells claims that “experiments have consistently failed to support the hypothesis that variations and selection … can produce new species, organs and body plans.” This argument is a fallacy. What experiments? Conducted when? By whom? (Perhaps another fellow of the esteemed Discovery Institute?) Wells is flat-out wrong: Scientists have observed speciation events (e.g., the formation of “new species,” to use Wells’ terminology) in nearly every kingdom of life including algae, plants, invertebrates and even mammals.

Indeed, the data supporting the theory of evolution are abundant, multi-disciplinary and derived from numerous lines of evidence. The fossil record, phylogenetics, and anatomical and molecular vestiges are a few of many examples that are documented. A thorough examination of these and other data can be found in Douglas Theobald’s “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution.” I challenge Wells to provide just a modicum of support for his claims of the “inconsistencies” that “plague” these findings. I have little doubt that his vaunted criticisms will seem trivial when viewed in comparison of the overwhelming body of support for Darwin’s theory.

It is important to dispel a particularly deceitful argument proposed by Wells: that the theory of evolution denies “a central tenet of Christian theology: Human beings were designed and created in the image of God.” The theory of evolution makes absolutely no claims to the veracity of the existence of God and the purported methods through which He works. Thus it is imperative to emphasize that the theory of evolution and a belief in creationism are not mutually exclusive, as Wells would have us believe.

Ultimately, a scientific theory must be evaluated on its merits. Specifically, what new predictions does a theory make, and from these predictions, what are the outcomes? Wells’ darling philosophy of intelligent design unfortunately makes no new predictions, has led to no new discoveries, and has yet to improve the life of a single person. It inspires no new thought, and why should it? It is the wanton resignation that the world is too complex to ever understand: It is not a scientific theory, it is an intellectual retreat. By contrast, the theory of evolution is among the most successful theories in the history of science. It has offered a battery of novel treatments and strategies to fight a host of diseases. It is the central, overarching theme to all of biology. Most importantly, it provides a tangible and testable explanation of where we came from as a species and the courage, in its elegance, that we will know where to go next.

Aaron Ring ’08

Jan. 29

The writer is a molecular biophysics and biochemistry major in Branford College.

Reinstatement of draft would help galvanize protests against Iraq war

To the Editor:

(Re: “Few Elis attended D.C. anti-war rally,” 1/29.) I attended the anti-Iraq-war rally this past weekend and the composition of the marchers was as you indicated: some young people, but not many, and a good number of middle-aged to older people, like myself, who had been on the anti-Vietnam marches. Indeed, I was struck by the fact that there were comparatively few young college-age marchers (and few faculty colleagues) and certainly the fervor of the march was nothing like that of the anti-Vietnam days; i.e., it was relatively quiet. The reason for this placidity is quite simple as far as I am concerned: There is no draft and, therefore, no strong drive for students to protest. The Vietnam draft brought out thousands of marchers who otherwise would not have been there and they played an important part in ending the Vietnam war. I am in favor of a similar draft for this war. Then you will see some protesting by both students and their parents, and a quick end to our presence in Iraq.

Joel Rosenbaum

Jan. 29

The writer is a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.