to the Editor

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Monday, July 30, 2001

BOE needs to do biology homework

There are several definitions of the word theory. To say that evolution is a theory is a scientific compliment. It means that it is a "formulation of apparent relationships or underlying principles of certain observed phenomena which has been verified to some degree: distinguished from hypothesis."

Creationism, as a theory, better fits the definition "a mere hypothesis, conjecture, or guess." The difference is that we know a lot about the fossil record and intermediate forms, and can even perform evolution in the laboratory and observe it happening in the field.

I teach evolution as the first and last word in my courses, using the classic expression of the distinguished geneticist, Theodosius Dobzhansky: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." How else can we understand the ridiculous design of the crisscross of the air and food passages in back-boned animals? It guarantees that we run the risk of choking while eating. How else can we understand why vertebrate eyes have blood vessels in front of the retina, unlike the situation in many of the 39 other times eyes have evolved?

The Board of Education needs to do some serious homework to improve its understanding of the scientific method and of evolutionary biology.

Leonard Freed
Department of Zoology
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Courts have ruled against creationism

I was saddened and appalled when I heard about the recent proposal to include the teaching of creationism as a scientific alternative to evolution under the guise of "multiple theories of origin" in Hawaii's public schools. To do so clearly breaches the wall between separation of church and state.

Board of Education members should be aware that if this dangerous amendment to the state standards is adopted, they are setting the state up for a lawsuit as it would be a violation of the Constitution. Federal judges have ruled in states such as Arkansas (McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education, 1982) and Louisiana (in 1985 by summary judgment, without trial), that the creationist argument invokes an inescapable religious belief, and to teach it in a public school classroom is therefore unconstitutional.

Discussing creationism may be appropriate in courses on religion, history, or philosophy, but it doesn't belong in a science class.

Lisa Privitera

Many other theories should be studied

Everyone in Hawaii should celebrate the possibility that Hawaii's children may study creationism as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

There are serious reasons to question the theory of evolution. The appearance of life is not something that we should be content to rationalize as a series of biochemical reactions, however wonderfully complex such processes may be. There is a beautiful enigma to the appearance of life, a mystery as baffling as if one had to explain the appearance of a self-created living spacecraft from the void.

More importantly, teaching children to be skeptical about all theories is perhaps the most important lesson science teachers should instill in students.

Teaching creationism will invite children to study a plurality of creation hypotheses. For creation is posited not only by the Bible, but also by every known traditional human society. It would be equally important for them to study the theory of creation offered in the Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo, as well as other Polynesian and Native American creation theories.

What I would vehemently oppose would be to teach Genesis as the principal alternative to the theory of evolution. There is almost no evidence to persuade us that the creation hypothesis proffered in Genesis should receive any more credence than those developed in other cultures. To teach only Genesis as an example of creationism would be to implicitly valorize fundamentalist Christian values at the expense of other cultural value systems, and compromise the necessary and sagacious division between church and state.

Wesley Lucas


"I didn't see what was coming. I didn't know what it was or who it was. I just froze and I screamed."

Jeanne Torres,

Salt Lake resident, whose seeing-eye guide dog was attacked by two pit bulls in a corridor of her apartment building. A company that provides guide dogs is pushing for a state law making it illegal to permit a dog to injure or kill any guide, signal or service dog.

"When you turn on the kitchen sink, you ought to be able to drink what comes out without worrying about being poisoned."

Rep. David Bonior,
Democrat from Michigan, who co-sponsored legislation restoring stricter limits on arsenic levels in drinking water established by President Clinton and then rescinded by President Bush.

Abridging free speech would degrade flag

In Thursday's Letters to the Editor, James Taylor denounced our elected representatives for voting against the flag-burning bill. I applaud them. I, like Taylor, also love my country and our flag, and would feel great anger toward anyone who would desecrate it.

Our flag is a symbol. It stands for many great things, including freedom of speech and freedom of expression. To abridge those freedoms in any way, even when it concerns desecration of the flag, would diminish the very symbol that some claim they are trying to save.

Jeff Schriber
Salt Lake

Reps upheld freedom by voting against bill

Like James Taylor (Letters, July 26), I am also an American. I also love my country and everything for which it stands. I also love my family, my job and the principles of freedom. I also love our flag. In fact, I am one of few who fly it every holiday.

It is at this point that I disagree with Taylor, who expressed his outrage at the vote of our elected representatives against the flag-burning bill.

Allowing different views and expressions is what sets America apart and makes us the greatest country on God's earth. Freedom of expression is the standard of the American experiment in democracy. Rather than belittling the flag by their votes, Reps. Patsy Mink and Neil Abercrombie honor their commitment to the freedoms we all hold so dear.

John C. Priolo

Senator should be 'right-sized' himself

I take exception to the terminology quoted in a July 26 story: "Slom, an advocate of government reform, said that if the state is truly interested in downsizing or 'right-sizing...'"

Until I read this statement, I had considered voting Republican (locally) in the next election. One term turned my head around, and reminded me of why I have been a life-long Democrat. For anyone to use the term "right-sizing" in polite company tells me that he has never been on the business end of a pink-slip, and has no compassion for anyone who has.

If that is how Sen. Sam Slom feels, why doesn't he go down to the unemployment office and tell everyone in line they have been "right-sized?" I hope his benefits for being on the public payroll include a good health and dental plan.

For that matter, I hope there are enough working people in his district to "right-size" him out of office.

Larry Solomon

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The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.

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