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Letters to the Editor

August 08, 2008

Science is full of holes



To the editor:

I see that our good-natured critic of religion, Allan Powell, is back with a column (Aug 2) about "the perennial tension between the world of fact and the world of faith."

As usual, he is back with another rerun of the Galileo affair - this time courtesy of some remarks by the English scientist Stephen Hawking. It is amazing that Hawking could say that his presentation of a "possibility" was a proof of anything and that he had somehow made the pope's position wrong.

What kind of science is that? His concept of "finite but unbounded" is hardly new. The surface of a basketball fills that specification. You can trace a path over the surface and never come to an end, even though the surface is finite. On a plane - finite and bounded - you would come to an edge or boundary.

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Forty five years ago I was using this example in presentations to high school science students. If you substitute a balloon you can demonstrate the expansion of the universe and show that all galaxies move away from each other. Hawking is in the same position as his hero Galileo - he has no proof - and in the case of Galileo his idea was falsified by other scientist when they tested for predicted stellar parallax (with their then best equipment) and found none.

The pope was by far the better scientist. It was more than a century before actual measurements could be made which actually found it. The system of Copernicus which Galileo was advocating was fundamentally flawed. I wonder if students are shown the actual diagram with all the epicycles. It is a complex set-up, no better at predicting the position of the planets than the geocentric epicycles of Ptolmey that had been in use for centuries. It was only under house arrest that Galileo did his best work. Maybe Hawking should try it.

I also wonder how Powell can write with a straight face that the Catholic Church has been an enemy of science. It was the establishment of papal chartered universities like Cambridge that gave Hawkings his education. Every time a student earns a degree or makes an oral defense of a dissertation he is participating in a legacy of the Catholic Church.

Did Powell check how many time he used "estimated" in relation to various values he was using as proofs? Does he realize how many compounded estimated estimates he is using to prove ages and distances?

How about back in the '80s when the facts about the smoothness to the microwave background radiation was falsifying the standard big bang model. Without any data we simply issued a patch (just like Microsoft) called inflation. Why do we not teach our children that Darwin's evolutionary "Tree of Life" has been falsified?

Or tell them that our latest space mission proves that the amount of ethane on Titan falsifies the predictions based on an age of 4.5 billion years. The data from space telescopes show what are said to be pictures of galaxies very close in time to the big bang. They are too similar to what we see in our local neighborhood. Where is the evolutionary progression of forms that was predicted?

How about the report in Aug. 2 Nature on rampant fraud in scientific research?

There is so much more but I will end with a quote from evolutionist and science writer Gordy Slack. He was writing about intelligent design adherents - whom he pretty much despises - and allowed they had some good questions which were not being answered.

He wants materialistic answers and says: "I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My faith is well founded, but is still faith."

If Powell will look at the data, he will have to say that it's his faith vs. my data, which informs my faith.

Richard Giovanoni
Hagerstown




Boonsboro needs bus service



To the editor:

The Commission on Aging and the city and county governments in Washington County have been very helpful in many ways with transportation and assistance with my handicap (low vision). Visiting my wife, who is a permanent resident of Reeder's Memorial Home presents a real problem.

I cannot drive, have no family in the Hagerstown vicinity and the only public transportation from here to Boonsboro is taxi. I visit my wife three to four times a week. Her condition makes it very difficult to change to a nursing home in Hagerstown.

If the contract which the County Commuter has with the state and federal government could be modified to extend service to Boonsboro, it would help me personally. I am sure there are many people in Boonsboro who would benefit from the service. I am writing to Sen. Donald F. Munson and am planning a personal campaign. I also plan to call Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman, mayor of Boonsboro, to solicit his support.

Lino Giannoni
Hagerstown

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