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When science and belief collide

July 09, 2007

Re "Gut instinct isn't science," Opinion, July 5

When I am asked whether I believe in the Big Bang or evolution or global warming, I try desperately to explain that "belief" has no role in the validity of such scientific theories. I want to thank David P. Barash profusely for giving me far better words to explain the difference between science and "truthiness."

JANET DREYER

Pasadena

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One of the realities global inhabitants face but don't seem to realize is oil depletion. The world is currently using about 3% of the remaining oil supplies annually. If global oil usage remains constant over the next 10 years, the annual worldwide depletion rate will rise to 4.5% just because of the diminishing oil reserves. Some say the usage rate would rise because of the increased demand in China and India. Others say it would fall because of the increasing difficulty and expense of extracting the remaining oil. In either case, pressure for reduced U.S. oil usage will be great.

All of the presidential candidates are silent on oil depletion, yet it will be one of the most important issues in the next two presidential terms. The closest a candidate comes to addressing this issue is Bill Richardson, with his plan to reduce oil demand in the U.S. by 50% by 2020.

DWAIN DEETS

Leucadia, Calif.

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I applaud Barash for his article in praise of rationality over wishful thinking. In a world burdened by irrational religious beliefs, his article is a voice of reason in the desert of human delusion.

MARK M. BRIDLE

Newport Beach

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Is Barash himself practicing "truthiness" in his essay? Here he is depicting scientists as the best prophets of the "truth" in this world: "Science, bless its innovative soul, constantly reveals new realities. Many of them -- global warming, nuclear weapons, overpopulation, threats to biodiversity -- are pregnant with immense risk." Why couldn't he see the irony that scientists had a hand in creating, advancing and advocating modern technologies that have contributed to global warming, nuclear weapons, overpopulation and threats to biodiversity?

Blame governments and industries for exploiting science to the extreme, but don't blame religion for all the ills of the world. Maybe the real truth is all too plain and inconvenient: that science, like religion, can have good and bad consequences when practiced to the extreme.

KUN JIN RHEE

Granada Hills

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