Sunday, July 29, 2001
In the beginning
On the slippery slope to mediocrityThe Board of Education's proposal to encourage scientific confusion about evolution is a chilling reminder of how easy it is to adopt a culture of mediocrity.
To encourage teachers in Hawaii to present "scientific" creationism as equivalent in content with biological evolution and Darwinism is good reason for every parent to demand access to alternative education. Presumably, state performance standards in science should result in graduates who can pick up a weekly news magazine, like Time, and understand the events being reported.
Last week, the cover story was a spate of new African fossils with characteristics of both apes and humans. Was the Judeo-Christian God confused 6 million years ago?
Board sticks noise where it shouldn'tYou quote the Board of Education's new guidelines as they may relate to science studies, in which "a reference to having students explain the basic idea of 'biological evolution' was replaced with students having to explain 'the basic idea of the multiple theories of origin.'"
Does this also mean that, beyond the fundamentalist story of "creationism", the students will also need to learn various American Indian creation stories (such as Raven), various Asian religious stories?
Allowing any religious angle to enter into our public school teachings is just wrong, wrong, wrong -- unless you are offering a course in comparative religion. But to impose these faith-based angles into a science class?
Let me know when they do, and I'll show up to cover Gilgamesh, Raven, the Giant Sea Turtle and possibly throw in some juicy stories about golems!
Creationism isn't based on scienceAll organismal biologists know that adaptation is part of evolution and that evidence has been gathered for decades that support the idea that species can give rise to other new species. Even humans have been creating new plant species in the lab from chromosomal (packets of DNA) manipulation for about 70 years.
Creationism has no solid scientific data to support it. Judges who have struck down laws in states that mandated the teaching of creationism have noted its religious character and the differences between it and real science, chief among which is that science allows falsification by reference to data from the material world, while religious ideas are accepted on faith.
Now creationism has hit Hawaii and threatens sectarian disagreements and threatens to dilute science classes with religious conjectures of a non-scientific nature, especially ones beloved by fundamentalist Christian sects.
BOE goes astray with creationismI am utterly dismayed the Board of Education's Regular Education Committee members' approval of performance standards for science that include the notion of "multiple theories of origin" for life on Earth. This assertion in the context of evolution betrays a fundamental misconception about the scientific process, and about what constitutes a scientific theory.
Efforts to interject religion into school science curricula under the thinly guised veil of "Creation Science" or "Intelligent Design Theory" have been thwarted by the courts. This is not an issue about censorship of a legitimate alternative explanation for life's diversity. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of good science is the open-mindedness and objectivity with which new ideas are received.
Creationism is not a new idea -- it is a very old one, one that has not survived the test of objective scientific scrutiny. Biblical explanations for the origin of life are a matter of religious faith, not science.
Many cultures have creation mythsIt is nice to know that the Judaic myth of origins (creationism) will now be offered as an alternative to evolutionary theory in our public schools.
However, creationism is not a scientific theory, and has no standing among biological scientists. Despite the differences between adaptation and evolution, creationism is a modern restatement of the Judaic-Christian mythology of creation. It has no more standing scientifically than the bear myth ( Korea) or the Sun God (Japan), not to mention the attractive Hawaiian mythologies.
Since this is Hawaii, I would suggest that Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese and Filipino mythologies also be presented as alternate theories. Why should Christianity (fundamentalist Christianity at that) be specially privileged?
Creationists doubt much scientific factI was rather amazed to read that the BOE opened the door to the teaching of alternative theories of evolution such as creationism.
Creationists have problems with virtually every facet of modern science, not just evolutionary biology. Creationism is an attempt to make science "religiously correct" while masquerading as a scientific alter- native. Science figures out how nature works by interrogating it through experimentation and analyses, not by adherence to a religious dogma. The result of centuries' worth of interrogations is that evolution works and creationism fails.
Dr. Stuart A. Weinstein
Other theories merit examinationThe Board of Education and the Star-Bulletin are no doubt being inundated by the outraged cries of people for whom Darwinism is a sacred faith. I urge the BOE to distinguish "creationism" from an unrelated movement called "intelligent design."
Creationism meshes the Bible with science, and hence is seen as a religious theory, something few people want in the science classroom. Intelligent design is advocated by reputable scientists who are not necessarily Christians and who do not appeal to the Bible. Nor do they name the "intelligence," the existence of which they have been driven by their scientific work to affirm.
It is "intelligent design" that ought to be discussed in our public schools as an alternative to Darwinism. These scientists recognize that chance plus physical laws are sufficient to account for much biological development.
But they assert that these two factors alone cannot account for the radical increase of genetic information that is required for the appearance of vastly different life forms.
They use the word "information" advisedly, since no other word adequately describes the "chemical alphabet," the logic, and the intentionality that they have discovered in the complexities of DNA.
They reject the ostrich-like attitude of doctrinaire Darwinists like Richard Dawkins who defines biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."
It is time to give our youth permission to investigate that appearance without being accused of dragging religion into the classroom.
Donald W. Baron
"You literally can't get lost. There's only two ways to go -- up and down -- and there's railings on both sides." Steve Holmes,
City councilman, on the "Stairway to Heaven," a 3,922-step metal stairway up the Koolau Mountains above Haiku Valley. The stairs are being repaired as part of a plan to create a 600-acre nature preserve in the valley.
"Creationism is not science, it's faith. You believe something that you accept without question. Science deals with what you can question." Gerard Fryer,
University of Hawaii associate professor of geophysics and planetology, on the idea of teaching creationism as a scientific theory.
Attracting gay visitors
Gay tourists will not benefit HawaiiIt looks like the new strategy of Eduardo Hernandez and friends ("Tourism industry urged to market to gays," Star-Bulletin, July 19) is to convince the people of Hawaii that they should accept homosexual behavior because it is good for the economy.
This is laughable. This whole plan has been master-minded by one homosexual "consultant" who is trying to brainwash the tourism industry into believing that we will benefit from homosexual tourists.
It is an outrage that Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau would consider using taxpayer dollars for this plan. It is also ridiculous that HVCB officials and Hernandez think they can get the people of Hawaii to throw away their values for the supposed profit that could be made in this niche market.
Any economic benefits would be dwarfed by social and health care costs that would result from people engaging in homosexual behavior.
Hawaii missed chance to attract gay marketAccording to your editorial of July 20, "gays are an untapped tourism market for isles." No, folks, they were an untapped tourism market for Hawaii. You had your chance to tap this market a few years back by welcoming committed same-sex couples who would travel to your state to legally tie the knot, just as much of your current tourist market does.
One analysis at the time showed that Hawaii would receive multiple millions of dollars of added tourist dollars through lesbian-gay tourism associated with the marriage industry. Instead, the people of your state chose to deny the full humanity of this market by passing an amendment to your Constitution that explicitly excludes same-sex couples from legally marrying.
You've already sent a strong message -- hardly an unwitting one -- to us to please stay home. Perhaps you'd like us to just drop our tourist dollars addressed to Hawaii into the nearest mail box. Good luck on that.
Now where did we put that map of Vermont?
John Wilkinson and David Davenport
(Engaged to be married for 31 years and still waiting)
All niches suffer from excise taxesYour article and editorial on niche-marketing to gays and lesbians omit some obvious truths.
The best way to attract business to Hawaii is to abolish the pyramiding of the general excise tax. Anti-business policies obstruct the growth of many businesses. Importing upscale tourists will not address the underlying obstacles businesses in Hawaii face daily. Pro-business policies for all, not a targeted few, facilitates growth.
Patronage at certain establishments is down. Hawaii residents have less disposable income to spend and the time to spend it. Spending at these establishments is totally discretionary. Common sense dictates that when residents and tourists pay high taxes it leaves less discretionary income to spend at stores, bars, restaurants and coffeehouses.
Keeping pace with the changing tastes of residents and visitors is important. Upscale residents and tourists gravitate to resorts as well as fine restaurants. Visitors and residents in Hawaii want to see natural beauty. If bars were the primary destination they'd just assume stay home.
Jeffrey Bingham Mead
Log Cabin Republicans of Hawaii
Bungled teachers' contract
State deceived HSTA about bonusesIn regard to the ongoing filibuster by the state toward signing the Hawaii State Teachers Association contract, I would like to point out some things that I have observed.
All along during the initial negotiations the state claimed that it wanted a contract that would put better qualified teachers in the classroom. Of course this meant that there must have been discussions about an incentive for teachers who pursue advanced professional development degrees (i.e., masters or professional diplomas). Yet, amazingly, the state never bothered to have the Department of Education prepare a list of those teachers who would be eligible for such an incentive.
Let this be a warning to those considering a Ph.D or national certification. As soon as the state deems that too many teachers qualify for the pay differential the money and the differential will disappear.
The state talks a lot about teacher professional development, but sadly it is just talk.
Cayetano doesn't like teachers' unionDoes anyone in this state not think that Governor Ben Cayetano doesn't like the teachers' union? Is there any doubt after this latest turn of events?
If one reads the wording of the contract, it is quite clear that the word "each" means the remaining two years of the four-year contract. That cannot be disputed. What is disputed is what the state thought it meant.
Isn't the first rule in a contract negotiation to read the whole contract before agreeing to accept it?
One has to wonder that if an "error" were made that favored the state would the governor be holding the union to the agreement.
Michael C. Blasco
Yogi should have done some proofreadingDavis Yogi PLEASE! Your apology on television news is not accepted. A contract involving thousands of state employees certainly should have been proofread to check if the wording and the monies matched up! A lesson I teach to my second graders, "Proofread what you wrote and make sure it makes sense!"
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