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Supreme Court's Ruling on Teaching of Creationism

June 28, 1987

Although I agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision to bar creationism from the scientific curriculum of public schools, I think your editorial (June 21), "Another Bitter Pill," lacked humanistic perspective.

First, by the very definition of the word, evolution does not presume to explain the origin of life. There must be something to evolve--that is, to change or (in value terms) to "develop." Evolution, then, does not exclude the possibility that a force other than and/or "superior to" life as we know it created life in some primitive form and even endowed that life with inherent principles, seemingly "random" even (and the term "random" is also a value term) for its change and so-called "development."

That possibility, viewed in the context of other evidence, may be sufficient to provide the ground for religious faith, which St. Paul called "the evidence of things not seen." It is like a juror's judgment: its validity can't be proved scientifically, yet it has sufficient weight to send a man to prison or to death.

In the face of scientific evidence, a literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis is indeed "nonsense," as your editorial says, but we cannot deny the possibility of a creator unless we assert that whatever cannot be proved scientifically to exist does not in fact exist and cannot exist. This is neither scientific nor common sense.

You may infer, but you cannot scientifically prove by some concrete physical demonstration, such as a measurement or a photograph, the existence of a thought, or love, or loyalty, or pain, and the symbolic expression of them does not prove that they actually exist. (For example, a kiss does not prove that love exists, or a moan prove that one is in pain.) Yet the reality of these states of being is not denied.

Indeed, we could not have any science unless we acknowledged the validity of thought itself, and of that logical process of reasoning which, as your editorial points out is a scientific tool. (You go too far, however, when you say "the goal of science is to find truth by reason." Scientists work often by intuition, rather than reason, and the ascertainment of scientific fact is not necessarily finding "truth." That depends on what you mean by truth.)

In sum, faith--which you seem to denigrate--faith in the essential validity of our own perceptions and of our methods of organizing those perceptions into complex systems such as our physical and social sciences, underlies our trust in those human creations. Indeed, we live by faith--including a carefully guarded faith in science and in the human reason that it idolizes and that has brought us into the Nuclear Age.

FELIX DOHERTY

Bellflower

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