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With no facts or proof to back them up, creationists must rely on pointless decrees

December 04, 2005|By Hans K. Buhrer

Commentaries like the one by Charley Reese ("Evolution is just as much a leap of faith as creationism") always fill me with great sadness.

They show a deep and thorough lack of understanding of how science works. There is no need for antagonism between science and religion.

And it is very unfortunate that science and religion are based on sharply contrasting principles, but that's the way it is.

Faith is the cornerstone of every religion, yet faith has absolutely no place in science.

No valid scientific theory has ever been, or ever will be, based on faith. On the contrary, good science is based on criticism, rejection, distrust, ridicule, doubt, questioning, re-questioning, cross-checking, and - of course - continuous hard work by the proponents of a scientific theory to answer the critics and to produce an ever-mounting body of hard, reproducible evidence.

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I am a mathematician, but trust me, I do not believe in the theorem of Pythagoras. No, it is the mathematical proofs I have seen that convinced me that the theorem of Pythagoras is probably correct.

Similarly, I do not believe in Newton's theory of mechanics or Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, but experiments I have performed and papers I have read convinced me that they are probably correct. And finally, I do not believe in Darwin's theory of evolution, but evidence I have seen convinced me that it is probably correct - despite my lack of faith.

It is a long and arduous task for a scientific theory to establish itself as "valid." The proponents of such a theory have to continuously answer to the critics, and continuously provide more and better evidence - all the while understanding that criticism, rejection, distrust, ridicule, doubt, questioning, re-questioning, and cross-checking are necessary parts of the process. The proponents of creationism do not understand that.

They take criticism as an assault on their religion, an attempt to kill their children's faith, or worse, maybe even an insult to God himself.

It is not.

One more thought: It is very tempting for the proponents of a struggling scientific theory, like creationism, to take a shortcut and avoid all the critics.

Instead of providing convincing scientific evidence in support of their theory, they simply enlist political bodies or other secular powers - such as school boards - to decree that their scientific theory is valid.

Nothing good has ever come from that approach. Remember the Catholic Church, the leading political power of the time, which forced Galileo Galilei to proclaim that the earth is standing still in the center of the universe? Or Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for conjecturing that the stars are other, faraway suns?

Forcing creationism into school curriculums is a pointless waste of effort, because decreeing that a scientific theory is valid, or teaching it to our children, does not change its factual status.

Yes, we could decree that the earth is standing still in the center of the universe and teach that to our children - but would that over time change reality? Or even make the world a better place? I don't see how.

Please leave science to the scientists, and let the scientists decide what is or is not a valid scientific theory. Yes, scientists are not perfect either. But if a scientific theory like creationism does not get the respect its proponents think it deserves, then is it possible the proponents have not worked hard enough yet to convince the critics? Just a thought.

Hans K. Buhrer
Hagerstown

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