|Action & Reaction - June 1999|
|by Do-While Jones|
In John’s letters he makes it quite clear that he believes that anyone who seriously questions evolution is part of a vast fundamentalist conspiracy that is trying to force Christianity into American schools. His letters primarily deal with the hidden, sinister motives of creationists. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to suggest to him that his ability to read minds might not be flawless.
John believes that refereed scientific journals print articles based entirely upon the contents of the articles, without any consideration of the reputation of the authors and the degrees they hold, without regard to any backlash that might occur in response to the publication of an article critical of evolution. He believes that researchers publish honest reports, regardless of how that will affect their possibility of obtaining future funding. It is a wonderful, naïve world he lives in. We wonder how long it will be before he discovers that the academic world is just as strongly controlled by money and politics as the business world and government agencies are.
John doesn’t recognize the difference between fact and belief. Apparently, if he believes it, he thinks it must be a fact. He says things like, “the universe did not emerge from matter, but rather matter (as we know it) condensed out of the (highly ordered) early universe.” He apparently is incapable of seeing that he has accepted this statement without scientific proof. He thinks that since he didn’t mention God, his belief about where the universe came from isn’t a religious belief. But it is a religious belief. The natural origin of the universe is a doctrine he has accepted by faith. There is no experimental proof that matter condensed out of an earlier hypothetical universe.
We tried very hard to engage John in a scientific dialog, but he viewed any scientific discussion as a red herring. He believes that, “since their [creationists’] cause is political it is only the response to their legal arguments which is really relevant. … The scientific issues were settled over a century ago.”
John’s main problem is that he still accepts 19th century scientific explanations. He is unaware that 20th century science is causing real problems for the theory of evolution. Although he can’t tell us what the modern scientific evidence in favor of evolution is, he believes that it must exist.
We really pushed him about the scientific evidence that dead things can come to life naturally. He said, “The fact remains that living cells do consist entirely of ordinary chemicals. Pasteur disproved the spontaneous generation of existing species, but did not address the origin of life itself.”
Well, a can of chicken noodle soup contains ordinary chemicals, including a high concentration of the proteins and amino acids necessary for life, and lots of chicken DNA. John believes that Pasteur proved a can of chicken soup can’t turn into a chicken, but didn’t prove it can’t turn into an entirely new life form. John believes ordinary chemicals can (and did) turn into something living that was the origin of life itself. But he has no scientific proof. It is just his belief.
John apparently believes that if scientists believe it, it is fact. If someone is a creationist, he isn’t a scientist. This resolves any controversy. All true scientists believe in evolution, at least in John’s mind. That allows him to make these “factual” statements: “Scientists generally believe that the first cell was the product of a system of self-catalyzing chemical reactions which developed the geometrical pattern of a liposome enclosing a molecular template.” “Every living thing on this planet has a common ancestor, a species of prokaryote (living at the time, I would imagine) which was itself the product of a long process of evolution.”
He says the scientists “generally believe,” and he “imagines.” Somehow, he can’t see that these are religious statements. It is his religion, so he thinks it must be true. Since it must be true, it must be a fact. There is no scientific evidence that any “self-catalyzing chemical reactions” created the first cell and brought it to life. Not one experiment has demonstrated that this is even possible, let alone proved that it really happened.
John may write us another letter. If so, we will publish it on the web page and let him have the last word. We suspect, however, that there will be nothing new in it to respond to.
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