Letters to the Editor - July 27

July 27, 2011

Critical thinking depends on one thing: facts

To the editor:

I find it ironic that Richard Giovanoni (Herald-Mail, July 20) would push the idea of critical thinking concerning evolution. The ability to think critically depends on factual evidence and the ability to interpret it. But his apparent eagerness to include creationism in science classes as a counter to evolution contradicts the first requirement for critical thought — evidence.

Sadly, there is not a shred of evidence supporting creationism. Consequently, creationism and its Siamese twin, intelligent design, cannot be scientifically compared to evolution. Yes, creationism is an idea, but not a scientific one. It is a religious concept better suited for debate in church settings, where evidence is sometimes unnecessary — even subversive.

Giovanoni’s argument is just another attempt to put Scripture-based religious opinion on an equal footing with evidence-based science. The argument seems ingenue.

The Dover trial demonstrated the deception of the anti-evolution forces by exposing the re-labeling of creationism as intelligent design. Additionally, it laid bare the lack of evidence for intelligent design. This combination resulted in the stunning defeat of the Dover school board (and intelligent design) — all at the hands of a conservative judge who was approved by Rick Santorum and appointed by George Bush.

Cherry-picking is another problem. For example: “sex is the queen of problems for evolution,” unsolved after 150 years! Wrong.

Fact: Sexual reproduction results in tremendous variation among offspring (think how different your children are from each other). This variation is a hedge against a species going extinct during hard times because usually a few individuals are better suited to survive. Strictly asexual species don’t last long (think natural selection).

When times get tough, even bacteria switch to a form of sex, called conjugation. So there are precursors to sexual reproduction even in single-celled creatures. I studied this 40 years ago so it ain’t new. Why do creationists continue to bring it up? Don’t they ever learn? Is this called critical thought? Do creationists actually know any science? Maybe scientific understanding is not their goal!

I suppose this sort of critical thought might appeal to those on a mental diet — it’s fact free!

Larry Zaleski

Law of Allah would rule supreme

To the editor:

When all is said and done, the Muslim Brotherhood wants the same thing all Islamists, Salafists and jihadists want: the enforcement of Allah’s draconian anti-infidel laws to govern the earth. They are just smarter — more patient — than their impulsive counterparts in the West.

Democracy equals one man, one vote, one time. Then it is a new world order under Islamic law. Think about that statement. Under Islam, democracy equates to one man (literally), one vote (literally) then the establishment of a Caliphate under Islamic law where all must submit to Allah’s rule as dictated by one Ayatollah, Imam or despotic ruler (Caliph).   

Mohammad Hashim Kamali, in his “Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence,” nonetheless comes down four-square on the notion of the absolute sovereignty of Allah that necessarily pre-empts all other forms of sovereignty — including the democratic concept of sovereignty of the people: “Sovereignty in Islam is the prerogative of almighty Allah alone. He is the absolute arbiter of values and it is his will that determines good and evil, right and wrong.  It is neither the will of the ruler nor of any assembly of men, nor even the community as a whole, that determines the values and the laws which uphold those values.”

In plain English, many Muslims believe that any and all laws created by man, and this includes our Constitution, are subjugated to the law of Allah or Islamic law. The interpretation of Islamic law is best left to Islamic scholars and jurists. Enforcement is left to judges, religious superintendents, clerics and appointed civilian authorities. This will be Egyptian “democracy.”

Roland E. St. Germain
Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

NCLB devil is in the details

To the editor:

On July 8, The Herald-Mail published my letter concerning the No Child Left Behind program. One reader contacted me to explain that I really didn’t understand how the program actually works. He was right.

While the Maryland Teachers Association, including representatives from Washington County, may have devised accountability and created the tests and criteria for passing, there doesn’t seem to be any easy way for nonacademics to discover how this (or any government) program works — or is intended to work. With the restrictions imposed by the federal No Child Left Behind program, Maryland’s teacher representatives were forced to require 100 percent success — never a feasible goal.  

My original letter ended with the facetious comment, “We could just drop all learning disabled, troubled and failing students from school. That would raise the success rate.” I did learn that many such students are held to different standards than the main student body. However, not all of those students are allowed to take those modified exams due to various several criteria for eligibility, including parental consent. Such students’ grades do affect schools’ scores.

So the problem for our county schools still exists. The goal of the No Child Left Behind program is still impossible to reach — by 2014 or 2094. As stated in the July 18 editorial, “…every single child must — by law, under penalty of massive internal school shake-ups — be proficient in every single basic subject ...” As a result, we can expect more schools to “fail” and be subject to more stringent oversight by one or more political groups.

My worry is still that we continue to accept state and/or federal monies — for many areas — without recognizing the devil that always hides in the details.

Karel Henneberger

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