What is unobservable is a theory -- no more
Richard Dawkins' Aug. 26 diatribe against Republican presidential candidates ("Views on evolution say a lot about a candidate") does not recognize that creationists also believe in evolution.
Within the species, evolution can be observed and scrutinized in the development of new life forms such as variants of corn and cattle. Dawkins says: "Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science ..."
Fine, if he is referring to what can be seen and touched. However, evolutionists and creationists diverge where observation ends and ideology takes over.
The idea of evolutionism is to place different life forms side by side and show how each successive level is more adaptable than the previous one. This represents a "juxtaposition fallacy."
Placing graduated fossils or living plants and animals side by side proves only that they are different or similar. One does not actually see a life form generating the next level from conception to birth outside of its boundary that serves as an invisible wall.
These limitations separate evolution from, for instance, the law of gravity. Evolution might yet be revealed as a justified belief.
But where it is unobservable, it may still be considered a construction of the mind -- a theory. Political candidates who refer to creationism in less than a negative manner need not be demeaned.
JAMES SCHACHER, Blaine
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Dawkins is unquestionably one of the leading authorities on evolutionary biology. His commentary was right on the money.
Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry apparently lack any real knowledge of the science they criticize. They also lack any knowledge of the scriptures they pretend to defend. I would presume they are fundamentalists when it comes to the Bible.
They probably know very little about the formation of the scriptures -- the legends, traditions and influence of culture on the various authors. I'm sure they know little about the complex problem of multiple translations and the whole canonization process.
I doubt if they know how very much of the truth of the scriptures is communicated in the metaphorical language Jesus used in his parables.
It is scary and sad that the Republican Party would even consider choosing someone to be the leader of our great country who is so naive.
ARNOLD ERICKSON, MESA, ARIZ.
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Catholic Church would seem to be out of touch
The Rev. Peter A. Laird, a high official of the local Catholic archdiocese, wrote that "the position of the Catholic Church on artificial birth control is well-known, though not always well-understood" ("Birth-control mandate puts religion in a bind," Aug. 26).
My experience, compared to his, could not be more antithetical.
When Pope Paul VI proclaimed his birth-control letter in July 1968, married couples knew all too well what it meant. They were shocked by a celibate's unilateral rejection of his own Birth Control Commission.
They were hurt, too, by the insensitivity of the teaching, and by the cold, calculating failure to allow modern science to help them regulate the size of their families. They declared the teaching dead on arrival.
The birth-control letter has led millions to abandon the church of their childhood. Most who remain practice birth control with a free and clear conscience, and they wisely ignore sporadic efforts such as Laird's to resuscitate this lifeless doctrine.
ED KOHLER, ST. PAUL
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Laird argues that "to suggest that one may without consequence use contraception in pursuit of human flourishing is manifestly contradicted by studies such as the one reported by the Guttmacher Institute showing that 54 percent of women who have had abortions have been using birth control."
He omits the report's further observations that, of those 54 percent, 76 percent of pill users and 49 percent of condom users had failed to use them consistently; that about half of unintended pregnancies occur among the 11 percent of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancies but are not using contraceptives, and that U.S. women who are not using contraceptives consistently account for 95 percent of the unintended pregnancies that occur each year.
JAMES GAFFNEY, ST. PAUL
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More reasons why such a position is needed
When you rarely travel without a car, it's hard to see the need to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians ("More grist for the no-taxes crowd," editorial, Aug. 28).
When Hennepin County rebuilt 26th Avenue in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis last year, it forgot to included bike lanes, even though the city's bike plan had called for lanes there for 10 years. After an outcry by residents, lanes were striped this year.
A similar situation is occurring with the new Lowry Avenue bridge that's under construction. So it is correct to say, as the editorial did, that the creation of the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position is "untimely" -- it should have been created years ago.
ALEX BAUMAN, MINNEAPOLIS
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Part of the responsibility of local government is to plan ahead, and that's exactly what Minneapolis and St. Paul are doing.
They see the writing on the wall for rising gas prices and health care costs, and connect the dots that bicycling and walking are inexpensive, healthy alternatives in many cases to always using cars for transportation.
SAMANTHA HENNINGSON, ST. PAUL