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'The Fires of Creationism'

July 20, 1985

In your editorial you assert, "the fact is that the theory of evolution is correct, and no amount of religious faith can gainsay it." You add that although the "mechanism of evolution remains open to debate . . . the fact of evolution does not." Such an ex cathedra pronouncement is perfectly astonishing. We have not heard the likes of it since the Great Scientist of the U.S.S.R. pronounced Lysenko's genetics no longer "open to debate."

If "creationism is harmful to education," then not only the Bible, but also the Declaration of Independence--and indeed many other works of Jefferson--must be banned from the schools. Jefferson wrote "that all men are created equal" and that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." But he also wrote, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?"

The theory of evolution is, as its name implies, a theory. It is not "a fact." No serious scholar or scientist would make the statement made by The Times' editorialist. As a theory, evolution sets forth an hypothesis with respect to how all organic changes have taken place, and how they can take place. Integral to such changes--and part of such changes--are ideas themselves--including the idea that is the theory of evolution.

But the theory of evolution also declares that evolution is an ongoing process, and that everything brought into existence by the changes it describes, can be replaced by future changes. Will this ongoing process replace the theory of evolution with another--perhaps contradictory theory? According to the theory of evolution we cannot say. Hence we cannot say that the theory of evolution is a fact--that it is true in any final sense. In fact, we cannot say that we know that the theory of evolution will not itself evolve into some version of the doctrine of creation!

HARRY V. JAFFA

Claremont

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