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Originally published Saturday, December 25, 2004 at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Behold, a start

Birth of Earth: Faith and science are good providers

Editor, The Times:

Biological evolution is a fact, and not a theory ("Evolution sticker shock" and "Entertaining the notion of a place of wonder," Times guest commentaries, Dec. 16).

Darwin's theory was that beneficial traits (like antibiotic resistance) randomly arose, leading to survival of the fittest individuals, and were passed on to offspring (natural selection). Lamarck's theory was that individuals directly responded to environmental changes resulting in new traits inherited by offspring.

These competing theories of evolution are taught in schools. While we accept the ideas behind Darwin's theory, it has evolved substantially over time, and is far from complete.

As a scientist who studies evolution, and as an atheist, I have no problem with "intelligent design" being taught as a theory that accommodates the Neo-Darwinian view (i.e., a "creator" has deemed biological evolution to occur through a process that includes variation and natural selection).

Intelligent design should also be taught to include humans themselves as creators (since most people in America consume organisms "intelligently designed" by humans). These interpretations of "intelligent design" would help demystify the process of evolution, and separate theories from fact.
— Ram Samudrala, assistant professor, Computational Genomics, University of Washington, Seattle

Theory of unrelativity

There are few issues which better reflect the poverty of our intellectual and political culture than the so-called "debate" about evolutionary theory. Creationists insist that evolution is "just a theory." They, of course, are absolutely right. All theories are "just" theories, subject to modification and replacement.

Woody Allen once suggested that we were all part of some dog's dream. A French philosopher thought it likely that Earth was the insane asylum for another planet.

The creationists are mistaken in concluding that because evolution is just a theory, there are alternative explanations that are equally plausible.
— Sol Saporta, Seattle

Scopes reveal link

A problem with the book "Darwin on Trial," utilized by many non-Darwinists as "proof" that there is no evidence of "macro-evolution" is the time period in which the book was written ("Divine sparks: None so blind," Northwest Voices, Dec. 20).

In 1993, DNA sequencing was in its infancy, and no genome had yet been deciphered. A decade later, we have the genomes of organisms ranging from bacteria and sea urchins to humans. The diversity (or lack thereof) and arrangement of genes within these genomes give scientists a way to reconstruct the genomic phylogeny that led to the evolution of us from "simple" prokaryotes such as bacteria.

While the reasons for this evolution can only be hypothesized, the evidence of it is clear. Where do we draw the line in deciding that while, semantically it will always be a theory, reality dictates that it is how it happened?

All we can hope is that people will accept the fact that, just because they don't understand it, doesn't mean that nobody else can either.
— Derek Clayton Einhaus, Seattle

A book of common sense

I take exception with Chris Maden's letter ("Heavenly slide ruler," Northwest Voices, Dec. 17), in which he seems to claim that 275 million American Christians believe exactly as he does with regard to evolution. Most Christians believe in God and in Darwin's theory of evolution.

Most Christians and Jews understand that the Bible is metaphor, intended to teach important moral lessons by inference but not to be taken literally.

Is it important that Jesus walked on water, or is it important that we know the power of faith? Is it important that God created the world in 144 hours, or that we are all a part of God's creation? Is it important that Jonah be swallowed by a great fish, or that we know that heartfelt repentance leads to redemption and salvation?

You can believe in God, the Bible and in evolution. I do it every day. What is important, what Jesus taught us, is that we should do our best to lead moral and upright lives, that we leave the result in God's hands, that we know that we are our brother's keeper and that the end does not justify the means.

You don't need proof of God's existence. That's where faith comes in. The world is not flat nor is it the center of the universe. Accepting that truth did not bring about the end of Christianity. Accepting the truth of evolution is no different.

Have a little faith.
— Garth Culver, Snohomish

Wary Christmas

Gospel according to math

Merry Christmas! There, I've said it. As much to extend a sincere wish as to equally demonstrate my freedom of speech.

More than 80 percent of Americans profess to being Christian, and greater than 95 percent exchange gifts at this time of year. Do the math: Suppressing Christmas doesn't add up to the minority being tolerant of the majority, does it?

I'm very sorry some take offense at the wonder of the coming of Christ and the public commemoration of that historic event. For greater than 200 years, the Christian majority has welcomed all forms of religious expression.

Convince me Thomas Jefferson had in mind an ACLU or NEA lawsuit for the teachers who allowed their classes to sing "Away in a Manger" or "The First Noel."
— Mark Bowers, Issaquah

Wishing all the best

I am a Christian, and a conservative, and I have no problems with wishing a Jewish person a "Happy Hanukkah!" during that particular celebration. The problem that I have is the propensity for people to take offense.

Nobody means ill will by wishing someone a "Merry Christmas!"

For those of you in polite society (or impolite, your choice) who choose to be offended when someone wishes you good will, I offer this piece of advice: Get over yourselves. In this society, where the state supports no particular religion, all of us are free to express our celebrations how we see fit.

So, I wish you, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
— Jacob Shepherd, Marysville

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